Choosing which kitchen worktop to go with is a difficult decision, but once you have narrowed your choice down you can look forward to a long-lasting result. If you have decided to go with granite for your new worktop then you have made a very hard-wearing and durable decision, but one area which may be confusing you is all this talk about ‘grades’.
The grading system of granite can be a mystery because there literally is no international system available, which means it is basically all open to interpretation to some degree. Prices are usually dependent on the manufacturer themselves, and that means you need to shop around in order to find the best deals for you. Prices are also dependent on availability, supply, demand, and the colour you have chosen. Despite this, you can find lower grades of the stone which are cheaper than those slabs which are considered higher quality, but are just as hard wearing and attractive.
Let’s look at the various grades of granite in a bit more detail, to give you more information to make your final decision on.
High quality granite – the number one choice if you have the cash
This is the first choice of granite, and the highest in terms of quality and overall appearance. The stone will have a very high gloss content and no imperfections which are visible to the eye, which is what basically makes it the top choice. These types of granite are often in rare colours or they have patterns which are very distinctive, therefore making them higher in demand, and higher in price in turn. We should point out however that this grade doesn’t always indicate higher strength or durability, and they can also be difficult to cut, because of the number of different veins involved. Grading in this particular case is literally about how the stone looks.
Commercial granite is what you will see most commonly on the market, a very readily available version of the natural stone. The downside of this grade of granite is that you will usually always see ‘defects’, which can take the form of cracks, veins, or colour clouds, although there are also many manufacturers who can hide these imperfections and create a very well polished stone to sell on. These types of granite are obviously cheaper than the first choice we talked about, and they can also be a little more durable, because they have less veins to work with.
Second quality granite
This is obviously the cheapest type of granite you will find, and because of that it can contain a few more imperfections, such as marks or cracks. If you can find a high quality manufacturer however, they may be able to iron out these imperfections and leave you with a very attractive granite slab, for very little cost; again, this is about shopping around and also checking testimonials in order to find the best final appearance of the granite once smoothed out.
Whilst these are the three main grades of granite, we should point out that they are certainly not universal or international, and that they vary from manufacturer to manufacturer overall. Checking out the grades is more about how they look than how they work, or how they stand up to pressure, because even the highest quality granite grading doesn’t necessarily make it more durable or stronger than a second quality granite – it’s all about the individual slab, how it is maintained and looked after, and how it is installed in the first place.
For this reason, shop around, try and find the best deal for you, don’t always go with the first choice you find, and be sure to ask questions and advice if you’re not sure. A work surface is one of the biggest investments you will make in your kitchen, and if you want it to last the test of time, and to be replaced very soon after installation, then time and thought needs to go into the initial shopping around process. If you do want to spend more, then obviously the first choice is for you, but again, it doesn’t guarantee that it’s going to last forever!