Granite countertops have had quite the run as the kitchen's most celebrated countertop debutante, but we have to admit that we've never been huge fans. Is granite beautiful? Yes. Is it durable? More or less, but even that is debatable. Is it eco-friendly? Definitely not.
The Dirty Little Secrets You Might Not Know About Granite
We have installed plenty of granite slab (like, hundreds of them) over the course of the last two decades. But, our favorite countertop choices are actually Corian and Quartz. Why? Because both of these products offer all of the benefits of granite, with the major bonus that they are more durable, less apt to crack, chip, etch or stain, and they are produced from start to finish using more earth- and human-friendly means than granite.
Did You Know Granite is Strip Mined?
Granite slabs are extracted from the deep reaches of the earth's surface. In most countries, this work is done using strip mining practices. In other words, huge chunks of earth are removed from hillsides or sections of land, leaving a gaping hole in its wake. Once the quarry has been mined, surrounding areas take hundreds of thousands of years to be restored. Strip mining and unregulated quarry practices result in massive, wide-scale erosion, polluted streams, silted streams and riverbeds and devastating mudslides.
Child labor is used in virtually every granite quarry around the world.
The main producers of American granite slabs are Brazil, India, China and Africa, all of whom exploit child labor in their quarries. Plus, poor working conditions, inferior equipment and a lack of labor laws and/or labor law enforcement have led to very unsafe labor practices that result in high numbers of worker deaths and/or injuries that take their toll on the social and family structure.
The harsh and undesirable reality is that responsibly and sustainably mined granite is almost impossible to find.
Additional Downfalls of Installing a Granite Slab
In addition to its lack of sustainability, there are other issues that need to be considered before a granite installation. For example, granite is a porous stone, meaning it is vulnerable to moisture. Once water gets into the pores and fissures that create granite's beautiful patterns, it is apt to develop mold and bacteria pockets in its unseen interiors.
The temperature fluctuations in your home, combined with the infiltration and erosion of the slab minerals can result in large-scale cracks that ruin the slab. Plus, the porous surface is also prone to acid etching and staining from dark sauces and liquids.
See what we're getting at here? Without a committed dedication to sealing granite slabs on an annual basis, odds are a granite slab will not look the same way it looks now in one or two more decades.
If you have your heart set on granite, we recommend using it as an accent piece in your kitchen (perhaps the kitchen island?) while choosing a more sustainable and durable option for the higher-traffic areas.
Contact Kitchen Magic to learn more.