The use of granite slabs as a kitchen countertop material is a relatively recent phenomenon. 15 years ago granite was rarely used for interior applications. Times have changed quickly and granite kitchen countertops have become a defining element of most modern luxury kitchens. Along with stainless steel appliances, granite kitchen countertops have become standard in most new homes and a must-have item for most major kitchen renovations.
To many North Americans, the word “granite” has long been associated with red granite. As the official rock of Wisconsin, red granite is very common in the northeastern states of the U.S. and in the eastern provinces of Canada. Red granite has long been used for headstones and monuments and is often crushed and used extensively for decorative gravel. Red granite, which gets its red or pink color from grains of feldspar, has seen only limited popularity as a kitchen countertop material.
The word “granite” comes from the Latin word “granum” or grain that refers to the crystalline grains of the various component minerals found in granite. Black granite and green granite gained popularity in the early days of granite kitchen countertops. Many new condominium developments in Clearwater and across the country feature black granite countertops.
Black granite is actually a misnomer for a related group of intrusive igneous rocks called gabbro. While geologists have different standards for what can be called “granite”, the construction and home renovation industry commonly lump together all naturally occurring, harder than marble rocks quarried in slabs as granite.
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Designers and Homeowners Discover Exotic Granite for Kitchen Countertop
The world of exotic granite has exploded in recent years. Italy, which for several decades had supplied most of the world’s marble and granite slabs, has been joined by major production from India, China and Brazil as well as smaller supplies from countries like Norway, Russia, Mexico and Canada.
In seeking to cash in on the new popularity of granite countertops, developers may have been guilty of overkill on some of the most popular colors and patterns. Since black or green granite kitchen countertops have become so common in new construction during the past 15 years many consumers want something new. Many people in Clearwater who are planning a new kitchen or kitchen renovation have begun looking for different colors and patterns to create a more individual statement with their kitchen countertops.
The selection of granite today bears little resemblance to what it was only a few years ago. The boom in granite, estimated to be between 1.5 and 6 billion dollars a year in the U.S., and a growing domestic market in China, has opened up many small quarries in remote locations that produce a variety of exotic colors and patterns. A fantastic selection of exotic granite from around the world is available for your kitchen and bathroom right here in Clearwater.
Amazon Blue, Costa Esmerlda and Juparana Bordeaux are just a sampling of the names used to describe these new exotic varieties of granite. Some names are derived from the color and grain pattern while others describe the place of origin. Many small remote quarries have developed a worldwide reputation based on the signature look of the stone extracted there.
Even within a small quarry there can be considerable range of color and pattern. It’s important to remember when selecting natural stone for your kitchen countertops that each slab is unique and you should examine the stone firsthand before deciding to purchase. Relying on samples or photos may leave you disappointed with the final project.
From the Mountains of Brazil
The quality and selection of granite coming out of Brazil has helped it gain a dominant position among overseas suppliers of granite slabs to the North American market. Two of the most popular Brazilian granites include Giallo Veneziano and Lapidus, both found in Espirito Santo state where many exotic granite quarries are located. The same geological forces that created the iconic Sugarloaf Mountain that towers above the high rises of Rio de Janeiro have produced many similar granite massifs or large granite blocks in Brazil.
The Giallo Veneziano Quarry, after which the stone is named, is located near the small town of Nova Venezia in the northern part of Espirito Santo state. The stone extracted here has a coarse grain with a distinct layered appearance. The color ranges from a light ochre-yellow to a dark rich golden-brown.
The deposit is in the form of a steep sided 300 foot high solid granite outcrop. When this stone was first introduced into the North American market in the 1970s it was the first gold granite ever seen. The color of the stone from this quarry has changed over the years as the quarrying operation has dug deeper into the mountain. At present it is estimated that another 500 years of Giallo Veneziano granite exists at the current production of 10-12 truckloads of granite per day.
The Lapidus Quarry is located in an area known for its unique geological features near the city of Cachoeiro de Itapemirim along the banks of the Itapemirim River. Lapidus quarry granite is distinguished by seams of iron oxide and crystallized minerals created by water seeping into the stone over millions of years. The golden colored stone is punctuated by flowing seams of gray and islands of dark brown.
It has a coarse grainy appearance with heavily foliated or layered bands of varying hues. Individual slabs are treated with an epoxy resin before polishing to fill the many small holes and gaps in the rock. Because each piece is unique, the slabs are cut in sequence and kept in order to allow pattern matching when more than one slab is needed for a kitchen or bathroom installation.
Preparing Granite for the Trip to Clearwater
Before leaving Brazil, blocks of granite are cut into slabs using a gang saw which can cut four to six slabs of granite at a time. Slabs are then polished and many also receive a coat of resin before they are mounted in wooden frames and loaded in containers for shipping. Cutting and polishing is typically done as near the quarry as feasible.
Many broken slabs can still be used in the production of granite tiles.Cutting and polishing the slabs near the source avoids the possibility of shipping a slab all the way from Brazil to Clearwater only to have it break and need to be discarded.
Once the slabs arrive in our showroom they are available for our customers. You can choose from among the many beautiful exotic granites we have in stock from Brazil and around the world. With the variety of colors and patterns available it’s easy to match cabinets, back splashes, floor tiles or even window coverings with a natural granite slab that will be completely unique to your kitchen.
We handle all the final fabricating to the precise specifications of your kitchen. The granite slab is cut, finished with the edge profile for your granite countertops that you have selected and installed. The journey from the remote mountains of Brazil to your kitchen countertop in Clearwater is complete. The beautiful natural stone that was once lay hidden has been revealed for you and your family to enjoy for a lifetime.