Granite is a beautiful, relatively rare stone that has incredible heat and scratch-resistant properties making it a desirable material for kitchen worktops. The stone is found in the continental plates of the Earth’s crust, in tors or outcrops. While it exists all over the Earth, the biggest exporters are India, China, Brazil, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Germany and Canada.
Quarrying & Slicing The Raw Granite
Granite is formed from a matrix of interlocking mineral crystals (predominantly quartz and feldspar). These crystals are complemented by an array of varying minerals, which help make every slab completely unique. The white you see in the stone largely comes from the feldspar, while the light grey streaks are quartz and the black is mica.
It is mined in a process that has not changed much in centuries. Huge blocks, up to 3.5 meters long, 2 meters wide and 2.5 meters thick, are chiselled and blasted out in quarries. These enormous blocks are then moved to a facility where they are sliced by a massive diamond-edged saw into thin slabs (around 2-3 cm thick). Diamond is used because the stone is so hard that diamond is all that will reliably cut it. It’s an incredibly impressive process – a marvel of engineering.
Cutting & Finishing The Granite Slabs
Diamond is also used on pads to polish the granite to a shiny, brilliant finish – at first using rougher pads and gradually getting finer.
This raw stone is then turned into a granite worktop using special tools, and is cut precisely by a stone mason into the required shape. Computer-operated stone routers, in combination with hand routers, are then used to shape the edges of the worktop into dupont, waterfall, ogee, bullnose or some other granite edge shape. They then polish the edges until they, like the stop surface, are beautifully luminescent.
Finishing & Installing The Granite Worktops
Sink, cooktop and water pipe holes are cut using similar machines, and then the various pieces (if there are more than one) are transported to the kitchen and glued down. Often a little extra polishing or shaping is done on site to make sure they look absolutely perfect.
The fabrication of granite worktops is part art, part precise science. It requires high levels of expertise and very specialised equipment, but the result – stunning, long-lasting worktops – is worth it. There’s a reason they have remained in fashion for so long – granite worktops are beautiful, practical and anything but a fad. If you’re interested in one for your home, you can see our range of granite worktops here.