You have decided to upgrade your counters to granite. What a great decision! Granite countertops are excellent for adding elegance and color to your kitchen. The durability of granite also makes it a wise investment for those who want a natural stone that won’t chip or scratch that easily.
However, before you decide to go shopping around for the perfect granite slab, we are going to let you in on a little secret. There are different grades, or tiers of quality, for granite, that determines how much it is worth—and how durable it will be. Even the appearance of the stone will change.
As someone who wants to upgrade, knowing the differences between the grades is important. So keep reading to find out more.
Granite Grading Determining Factors
There are three tiers of granite—level 1, level 2, and level 3—that have been created to separate entry-level granite from superior quality. These grades are determined by a couple of factions, including coloring, pitting, marking, thickness, and so on. That said, there is no set standard for what is considered commercial grade versus high grade.
Here are some factors that go into deciding granite grade:
- Country of origin. Granite can come from anywhere in the world. While the origin does not often dictate the quality, it can change the cost. For example, granite from Italy or Brazil tends to cost more than granite from China. Also, consider the shipping costs. Granite is heavy, and thus it is going to cost you more to import it than it will to buy granite from the US.
- Color. Some colors are rarer than others. Blue granite, for instance, is going to be rarer than browns and beige, meaning the cost will increase—and the grade.
- Thickness. Granite is cut from the Earth as gigantic slabs that are then sent to manufacturers to be cut into pieces. Thicker pieces of granite are going to cost more and be more durable than lower grade cuts.
- Appearance. Inspect a piece of granite and you may see dents, dings, scratching, and so on. These imperfections increase the potential of breaks and cracking. The fewer imperfections a piece of granite has, the more it is worth.
- Porosity. Depending on the minerals and stones the granite is made up of, it may be more porous than other kinds. If your granite is porous, it will absorb liquid quickly without sealant and has a greater chance of staining. It will also require more maintenance.
Now that you have familiarized yourself with how grades are figured out, let’s look at what each grade means.
Entry-level granite is also called low-grade, level 1, or even builder’s or commercial grade. This kind of granite is often prefabricated or imported from China and can be found in apartments and remodeled homes, as well as accenting furniture. Low-grade granite is cut rather thin, usually around 3/8 inch and requires a plywood backing to increase durability.
Low-grade granite is also simplistic in appearance and has little color variation. Because of the availability and reasonable cost of level 1 granite, it is a popular choice for those who want stone countertops on a budget.
Level 2, or mid-grade, granite is a bit more unique in color and design. The patterns you will see are much more varied than low-grade granite. The average thickness of mid-grade granite is around ¾ inch, making it about as durable as high-grade but at a lower cost.
The reason granite is usually put into the middle tier is pitting on the surface. Mid-grade granite typically comes from Brazil and India.
Although we said that granite has three distinct quality levels, you can consider high-grade granite on another scale, going up to about level 6 or 7. The reason is that level 3 grade and above is considered the finest granite around. Depending on the source of the stone, the colors, patterns, veining, and hard and soft minerals, it can be worth double or triple of what the other grades cost.
Top-quality granite comes from all over the world, as well. You can find it cut at ¾ inch thickness (or more).
Caring For Your Granite Countertop
Regardless of the quality of your granite counter, you will need to give it some routine maintenance to make sure that it doesn’t get scratched or stained. Lower quality granite may have less effective polish, so be sure to use a cutting board. Make sure you are maintaining the sealant. Do not ruin your investment by using the wrong cleaning products, and make sure you are not cutting directly on the counter.
Try to polish your granite countertops weekly to enhance the shine and keep the stone water-resistant. Also, your countertops will need to be resealed about every 18 months or so, depending on the grade.
While it may be tempting to go for low-grade granite and spend less money for a beautiful countertop, just remember what level 1 entails. Think about your needs in the kitchen and what level of quality will enhance the space the best. Sometimes, it may be worthwhile to spend a little more!
Are you looking for more information about granite grades? Need to discuss your needs with an experienced design and installation team? Get in touch with us by filling out the contact form.