Granite countertops are a great choice for many homeowners when doing a kitchen upgrade or remodel. They are sure to find the one slab among hundreds available that will fit their kitchen style and personalities. Granite colors range from white to black and all the colors in between. Some colors are more common than others are, but they are all quite gorgeous and unique.
This is not surprising. Granite is present in all parts of the world and comprises about 80% of the Earth’s surface. It is inevitable that stone formations will reflect its environment, which includes a myriad of minerals and other materials that will influence the color and patterns of the final product. Here are some colorful facts about granite countertops you might find of some interest.
What is granite, exactly?
Granite is a natural stone of the igneous type. It formed from magma over millions of years under great pressure. Magma is similar in composition to lava, in that it is a molten mix of the different minerals present in the area. They are very hot and in liquid form. The main difference between magma and lava is that magma remains under the surface of the Earth, while lava erupts on top of it. As a result, lava cools quite rapidly. So, it does not have the chance to form into granite. Magma cools a million times more slowly, creating the visible crystals, streaks, and striations of different minerals, also known as granum, distinctive to granite.
Not all igneous rocks form granite, however. It depends on the composition. True granite has a minimum of 20% and maximum of 60% quartz. Other major elements of granite include several types of feldspar, comprising between 10% and 65% of the stone, different types of mica minerals, and amphiboles.
The presence and proportion of these minerals will determine the appearance of granite. If you come across white granite, for example, it probably has a significant and equal proportion of quartz, which is clear or white, and white feldspar as well as small quantities of other minerals.
While the range of colors is extensive, granite is typically gray, yellow, pink, white, or black, and they are rarely a single color. The most recognizable is speckled gray granite, which has a white or light gray base color and generous speckles of darker grey. In some instances, this will have a bit of brown or green, but the predominant color is gray. This is due to the presence of amphiboles, which can be black, yellow, blue, brown, or black, in equal parts with quartz and plagioclase feldspar.
Other colors are not so common, and this is because of peculiar circumstances surrounding their composition and formation. Here are some of the more unusual granite colors that may be available commercially.
As mentioned earlier, white granite has equal parts of quartz and white feldspar. However, this is not a common combination, as contaminants usually present overwhelm these light-colored minerals. White granite typically results when the area in which it forms has little or no water, or other conditions that inhibit the formation of amphiboles.
Some amphiboles will still form, and other minerals may be in the mix, which is why white granite will rarely be solid white. Solid white kitchen countertops are mostly likely not true granite, or even a natural stone. It is mostly probably some type of engineered stone like quartz stone.
Black granite will most probably have a generous complement of black feldspar, amphiboles, and/or biotite. But like white granite will not be solid black. It will have streaks and speckles of lighter color due to the presence of white quartz and other light-colored mica minerals.
Solid black granite will most probably be some type of granitoid such as gabbro or basalt, which are also igneous stones but without the requisite amount of quartz. Retailers often pass off gabbro or basalt as granite because they exhibit many of the features of granite, and are often no-porous, so they are a good choice for kitchen countertops.
Pink or red granite
Potassium feldspar is a pink to red mineral that gives pink and red granite their primary color. In most cases, this type of granite is more pink than red, except when iron oxide contaminates the feldspar. This results in a much darker hue, producing red granite.
Pink and red granite will have generous speckles and streaks of dark and light colors, depending on the area in which it forms. When the granite exhibits white and black speckles, it probably has a good complement of quartz and amphiboles, which is a good indication of high durability.
While amphiboles may be blue, predominantly blue granite is extremely rare. If you find a blue granite slab, in most cases it will not be true granite, but monzonite or anorthosite. These are both igneous rocks and very beautiful, but do not qualify as true granite.
Monzonite has less than 5% quartz, so it is not as tough as granite. The primary material in anorthosite is labradorite, a blue feldspar mineral. It has no quartz, but it is quite durable because of the presence of feldspar. If you have set your heart on blue kitchen countertop, anorthosite is your best option for natural stones. You might also want to consider one of the quartz stone brands that offer blue stones that mimic the look of granite.
Green is another rare color for true granite, although it does crop up occasionally. True green granite contains a generous amount of amazonite, which is green feldspar. You cannot count on it being available all the time, however. You might be able to find a metamorphic rock such as marble or soapstone that looks like green granite but note that these are not as durable.
Granite colors are a fascinating study and provide some interesting facts about the chemical makeup of igneous rocks. However, when it comes to the business of choosing, fabricating, and installing granite countertops, it is not the time to go with the unknown.
Find a reputable countertop specialist in your area to make sure you make the most of your investment. Silver Marble Granite has the best reputation in the areas of Washington D.C., Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church, Fairfax, Chantilly, Herndon, Centreville, among others.
We are your ONE-STOP SHOP for home improvement. And we specialize in providing you with the best granite countertops in Northern Virginia. You can visit our showroom in Sterling, VA to see the colors of actual slabs before you buy. We will walk you through each one and identify the slabs that are true granite.
We work only with the best brands in the business and can offer better aprices and faster turnarounds than big box stores. Aside from granite and marble, we also carry top brands in engineered quartz, including Silestone, MSI, Cambria, and Caesarstone.
Check out our website for some of the best deals in kitchen countertops and other products to make your home a better place. While you are at it, take advantage of our free quote. You will be amazed at the deals we can offer you!