One of the first lessons in real estate investing (after location, location, location) is that the best value comes from the kitchen. A beautiful, well-appointed kitchen can make a sale itself, lending credence to why granite countertops are considered to be such a solid investment. Even if you’re not planning on selling anytime soon, you still get to enjoy all the benefits that come along with granite in the kitchen.
On top of adding a charming, natural touch to your kitchen, granite is a sturdy building material that will last the lifetime of your home with basic maintenance and care. Of course, compared to laminate countertops, granite can get a little expensive, but thanks to the abundance of stone being mined all over the world now, it’s not nearly as expensive as it once was.
Average cost of installing granite in your home:
These numbers will of course vary by vendor, type of granite and uniqueness of a specific slab, but in general you can expect to pay between $50 and $150 per square foot with installation. On average the number tends to come in around $93 per square foot, and an estimated total between $2,000 and $4,000 depending on the size of your kitchen and granite you choose. Alternatively, granite tile tends to be a little cheaper per square foot.
Granite levels explained:
As you start shopping around for your granite, you’ll likely see different companies refer to their granite on a grading scale of 1-5, though some companies go even higher than that. There is no hard and fast rule for what makes one granite a higher grade than the other, but the grading stays relatively consistent across the industry.
Level one granite:
Entry level granite tends to be very uniform in colors and pattern, and is often sold in thinner slabs of only about 3/8ths of an inch thick. This means a plywood backing is needed for extra support (not visible once installed). This is all done in the name of getting through the barrier of entry of having real granite in your kitchen by bringing prices down to a more affordable $40-$50 per square foot.
Level two granite:
Mid-grade granite tends to have a little more variation in the coloring and patterns you see in the stone. Also, at this level, slabs are typically around 3/4ths of an inch in thickness. You can expect to pay around $50-$60 per square foot at this level.
Level three granite and up:
High-grade granite tends to feature more unique colors and patterns than lower grades. These slabs might come from an exclusive source or feature mineral coloring that is rare to find. The slabs tend to be 3/4ths of an inch and up. Grading past level 3 gets more and more subjective as the levels climb with more and more exotic stone.
Other cost factors:
On top of the cost of the stone itself and installation, your choice of edging and how many seams are left showing will factor into your final cost. A square edge or simple round bevel to the edge of your granite won’t add too much in cost, but once you start getting into more complex and labor-intensive edging designs, the cost goes up.
Seams between two slabs can be pretty well hidden when done by an experienced installer. A lot of care and planning goes into matching the edges of two pieces of granite, and then using epoxy to fill the seam, leaving it nearly undetectable by touch or sight. Getting a slab large enough to avoid seems altogether can add to the total cost as well.
Another important cost factor to consider is the installer you choose for the project. Oftentimes the big box stores end up being more expensive for installation than if you went with a specialist. Your local hardware store might have a pretty limited selection to choose from as well.
What does granite maintenance look like?
While granite is a plenty tough material, there are a few maintenance items that are essential for keeping your granite looking its best for the life of your ownership.
Avoid common household cleaners:
Granite is susceptible to damage by chemical etching from acidic chemicals, which can mar the glossy smooth surface. For that reason, it’s important to use a cleaner that was formulated specifically for use on natural stone. Granite Gold Daily Cleaner® is pH balanced and completely safe for use on natural stone surfaces without leaving streaks like common dish soap will.
Wipe up spills quickly:
Just as with acidic cleaners, acidic foods and beverages can damage your stone as well. Vinegar, citrus, red wine and coffee are common culprits here. These high pH chemicals can also eat away at the protective seal that your granite was given when it was installed.
Seal your granite:
Being a porous material, granite needs to be sealed in order to prevent deep stains and to protect against acidic chemicals. It’s generally recommended to seal your countertops every 6-12 months, though it should be said that there is really no such thing as over sealing your granite.
The porosity of the stone does dictate how often it needs to be sealed as well as how it’s used. Areas that see heavier use will also need to be sealed more often. In order to test the seal of your granite, you can follow our guide on the water test here.
For more information on maintaining your granite and other natural stone, be sure to check out more guides like this one on our resources page. If you can’t find your answer there, feel free to reach out to our team of Stone Care Experts with more than 50 years of experience at 1-800-475-STONE. Be sure to check out our full line of stone care products to keep your investment looking great and protected!