There are differences between granites that can make the difference between your kitchen surface being a pleasure and it becoming a big big problem. For instance, some granites are easily scratched, pitted, and can dry out and twist, or they can break along hairline cracks when drying out.
In recent years cheaper granites have become widely available from Asia and we don’t think the quality of some of these granites is good enough and it would harm our excellent reputation for quality and service if we accepted and sold those granites. We simply won’t do it. The best granite in the world comes from South Africa, Brazil, Angola, Spain, Norway, Finland etc, and that’s where we get ours. Granite slabs are priced by their quality rather like diamonds.
1 – Hairline cracks
A hairline crack in a granite slab is a weak point along which the slab can easily shear. Cheaper granites can contain hairline cracks. If the slab is twisted during fitting, or if there’s any movement at all afterwards, the slab will break.
2 – Inconsistent thickness
We’ve often seen a cheap granite slab that’s 30mm thick at one end and thinner at the other, even down to 24mm which is quite a difference. Often there’s a difference that’s not immediately apparent until you look along the edge. If you try to use a granite like this, for instance, an L section, you’ll end up with an obvious difference in heights underneath. Where the worktop meets another.
3 – Edge polishing
A polished edge from Granite Worktops (UK) Ltd takes approx. 30mins labour per foot. Other companies spray wax on the edges to produce a shine, this takes minutes and wears off quickly (try scratching it with a coin, it will remove the wax). Our work is guaranteed for years. In practical terms, our edges will never wear they are polished by hands using diamonds.
4 – Contractors
Many companies say they have employees who fit their granite surfaces, but almost everyone uses contractors, and often there’s one contractor to measure out the worktop, another to make it, and another complete stranger to fit it. The person making who’s making the worktop doesn’t know anything about how the slab which is going to be installed or brought into the house and fitted, where the steps are and so on, and you’ve no idea who will come to your house to fit. With Granite Worktops (UK) Ltd, it’s me, Paul Bond. I measure, I make and I fit. Everything is under my control.
5 – Hardness
Check the hardness of the surface. Ask for a sample so you can try to mark with a normal kitchen knife. A cheap granite will easily mark because it’s softer than a quality granite. Its possible to mark granite but much harder to mark a good granite, of course a scratch can be polished away, but you’ll always be able to see the dip.
6 – Pitting
All Granite contains holes which, when the surface is polished, shows as pitting. Get close and look at a light’s reflection on the surface. If you make bread or bake on the surface, flour gets into these holes and the surface will require a light scrub to get it clean. The fewer pits there are, the higher quality the granite. Check your granite slab isn’t too pitted.
7 – Graining
Cheaper granites can have inconsistent colouring from one end to the other end of a slab which becomes visible once you try to butt one slab against another, for instance in a corner. Our granites have consistent colouring.
8 – Joints
Bad quality workmanship is shown partly in the joints between granite slabs. A quick and cheap joint is formed by simply butting two slabs together with silicone sealant. Our joints are also pinned underneath to make sure the slabs stay together and don’t move over time. A biscuit joint is forever lasting.
9 – Water content
Granite slabs should be completely dried out before fitting. We don’t recommend you try this, but if you put a blowtorch to granite and see condensation – the granite has not been dried out properly, in other words it contains water. That doesn’t happen with our granite because we thoroughly dry the granite out before fitting it. We then seal it (our granite is sealed before installation so it completely repels water, water should act like a mercury bead on a granite surface), depending of the colour and type of granite you choose, some require extra sealing than others.
Why is water in granite a problem? Granite can bend, like wood, as it dries out. So you might have a lovely kitchen to start with, but as the granite dries you may start to discover that the joints are no longer as tight as they were. If the granite is fixed in place, it might even simply break one day along a hairline crack. Our granite is dry and won’t bend. Far superior materials.
10 – Great service
There are many companies selling cheap granite and offering no real peace of mind, I’ve seen problems you just wouldn’t believe, and these companies seem to be so brazen about it. Ask how long the granite company have been trading, ask for several references before you buy!!