If you’re considering installing granite countertops or worktops in your house, you likely already know about its aesthetics and the performance specs that make it an exceptional countertop material. So, what’s the deal with granite? Granite is an exquisite and distinct natural stone that is well known for its unique natural shimmer. The luster and beauty of granite – and considering its availability in various colors – can make you question whether it is derived from a natural source.
In this read, we will look at how granite is formed and used to make the striking surfaces and home accentuations that you frequently see these days.
What Is Granite?
Granite is a natural stone, meaning it isn’t a fabricated material such as quartz countertops – granite is extracted from the Earth and split into slabs, which are then used for fireplace mantles, tabletops, countertops, and more. Granite is a magmatic rock (also igneous rock), which implies it is created through the cooling and hardening of magma. This igneous rock consists of micas, feldspar, amphiboles, quartz, and a combination of extra trace minerals. This composition often gives granite the various textures and colors exhibited in granite countertops, including gray, pink, red, or white.
Officially, granite is classified as a plutonic rock, meaning that it consists of around 10 to 50%quartz (semi-transparent white) and 65-90% complete feldspar (white or pinkish hue).
Granite is an invasive igneous rock, suggesting it was created when molten rock cooled. Granite gradually begins to take shape underground due to volcanic eruptions. Way before granite rests on your countertops; it withstands tremendous pressure and heat equivalent to millions of years. As a result of being exposed to such extreme heat conditions, granite is extremely sturdy and long-lasting, in addition to being resistant to deterioration and cracks. There’s nothing in your kitchen that can match the extreme environments granite is exposed to when coming together underground.
You can find granite buried underground in nearly all continents. It is extracted in big slabs from deep in the ground. These slabs are taken to factories where they are split, polished, and shipped out for commercial use. Also, note that the granite frequently seen these days is more near the ground and, therefore, at some moment in time, uplifted, resulting in superimposing sediment to be discarded through erosion. This change from high temperature and pressure to atmospheric pressure and temperature can result in granite slightly expanding and cracking. This factor, on top of seasonal temperature changes, can see you acquire a less appealing and weakened granite to design your desired countertop.
How Does Granite Form?
Slow crystallization of magma results in the formation of granite beneath the Earth’s surface. The hardened magma gradually rises to the upper layers of the Earth’s crust and starts to cool down slowly. This gradual cooling process provides granite sufficient time to combine with various grains and forms. The grains that are usually visible in a granite slab mainly consist of feldspar and quartz, with tiny bits of mica, amphiboles, and numerous other minerals. Considering how there’s a whole mineral collection to be located within the structure of a typical granite block, you can expect to see various colors shimmering.
The red and pink grains in granite usually form because of feldspar, whereas the clear and smoky grains consist of muscovite and quartz. Other variants of granite, referred to as a ‘gneiss,’ can be formed from a sedimentary rock that has undergone a prolonged metamorphosis duration. Lava eruptions elicit granite formation. However, the lava must consist of an identical composition like granite (rhyolite) located on the land, not generated by oceanic volcanoes. Granite is created after the continental rocks melt, something that happens as a result of extreme heat and the addition of volatiles (carbon dioxide and/or water).
The reason continents are extremely hot is because they are situated where most of the globe’s potassium and uranium are; they heat their surroundings via radioactive decay. When the outer crust hardens, the interior tends to get hotter, like in the Tibetan plateau. Tectonic plates, usually subduction, protrude basaltic magmas to go above ground. Increase heat to this, and magmas discharge CO2 and water that assists in melting rocks. As basalt erupts fluids and heat, big chunks of continental crust convert into granite.
Why Does Granite Form?
It is believed that big granite slabs materialize because of continents going apart during plate tectonics. This enables granite to come together without pushing, melting, or exploding upwards.
How Is Granite Different From Other Rocks?
There are various kinds of granite, including A-type (anorogenic), M-type (mantle), S-type (sedimentary), and I-type (igneous). The distinctions between these kinds of granites are very slight.
Alternatively, you can use other granite variants like gneiss. However, nothing beats the appeal and sturdiness that granite brings to the table. Some of the things that differentiate granite from different types of rocks include:
• Granite consists of big mineral grains. Granite derives its name from the Latin word ‘grain.’ The separate grains merged into the granite are big enough for the human eye to perceive, which increases its appeal.
• Granite consists of the same minerals. You can expect feldspar and quartz, in addition to various other ‘accessory’ minerals. Feldspar and quartz give granite its lighter hue.
• Nearly all granite is igneous. Meaning it is solidified by magma. It’s also considered plutonic as it is buried beneath big slabs.
The Beauty of Granite
Granite is a naturally occurring stone with unparalleled beauty and strength, which is why it’s a standard kitchen accessory. Granite is used in many things such as paving, wall caps, monuments, etc. The increased traction for granite gives it more value compared to most countertop materials.