Granite is essentially rock formed hundreds of millions of years ago during volcanic eruptions. The hot magma cooled to produce dense usually strong fine grained rock with a million and one different uses. Many mountains we see today are granite, making it one of the most common products on the planet. As the hot magma heats different surrounding rocks, it absorbs their chemical elements, which means once cooled, many different colours and structures occur. This results in millions of different types of granite, in almost every colour combination.
In short, granite is a rock formed from volcanic magma, the hot magma is infused with minerals from the surrounding rock on contact. This results in a myriad of different colours and textures being available.
The immense colours and structures of granite mean it is used for many different purposes. The hard, dense, heavy nature of the material make it ideal for use in the construction industry on projects such as blocks for houses, cladding for buildings, slabs for driveways, granite worktops for kitchens, granite vanity units for bathrooms, basically anywhere you see stone, granite can usually be used.
As well as its high strength and durability under difficult climatic conditions, granite can be polished in a variety of different ways, changing the look of the product from dull, to highly polished or shiny. This beautiful glossy or polished material is usually used as worktops or floor tiles in the kitchen and bathroom industry, it's recognised as being the crème de la crème of surfaces across the world.
Home owners and chefs across the world realise there is no better surface for rolling pastry on due to the constant temperature the stone adopts.
Many of the world's finest sculptures and buildings were and are constructed from granite. Within some of the pyramids in Egypt granite was used, and also in many of the Indian Hindu temples. In modern times, many important buildings throughout the world are constructed from granite or use granite throughout their interior. Even the world of sport uses granite; the Scottish invented curling over 100 years ago and use Ailsa Craig granite as their stones. Marker tees on golf courses are usually created from granite, as their heavy weight make them almost immoveable.
Although every country in the world has granite deposits, the major granite producers are India, China, Africa, Brazil and Scandinavia. These countries have good deposits of very popular materials and account for the majority of granite exported around the world. India, China and Brazil account for the majority of extraction of the rough block material and cutting & polishing to produce a workable piece or scant.
The granite mines can be very small (2 acres) for certain colours, or can be much larger (several miles) for other colours. Each mine can have colour variations within each level or area of the mine, making colour matching a very important part of granite production.
All of the above countries containerise the granite and send it to port where it is shipped to destination countries all over the world.
Once a mine or site has been surveyed, the production and initial processing can begin. This can be clearing the site until the granite surface is exposed with excavating equipment. When this has been done, drilling and cutting large chunks (rough block) will begin. This usually results in a block roughly the same size as a multi-purpose vehicle being extracted. This may be hoisted to the surface of the mine and assessed ready for sale to final processors.
The block at this point can look perfect but may contain imperfections within. Until the block is cut and polished no guarantees apply, this is usually reflected in the comparably lower prices asked.
Final processors allow special men (block markers) to deal direct with the mine, their keen eye usually establishes the quality of the material they are looking for. The granite block is then shipped by truck to the processing factories. At this point the slab is cut into sheet form using very specialised, diamond bladed sawing equipment and formed into large sheets usually 20mm or 30mm thick. The sheets are placed on special polishing machines, which use diamond abrasives to perfectly polish the surface to a high gloss finish. From here they are packaged and shipped out to granite companies throughout the world.
Granite companies throughout the world survey kitchens and other projects, then use special sawing, cutting and polishing equipment to produce beautiful granite worktops that delight customers across the world.
Granite worktop installation in the UK can be done several ways, Template or Survey.
A member of the installation team would bring to site cardboard or hardboard and take templates of the kitchen copying the shape of the kitchen. The templates are taken back to the factory and used to mark out cutting lines on the stone. The stone mirrors the shape of the templates. The worktops are not ready for installation, once installed a final minor cutting and polishing is carried out to ensure a perfect fit. This method is usually a more expensive method as it involves production in both factory and home.
This involves taking semi accurate measurements on a site survey and using mobile cutting and polishing equipment to effect final trimming to length onsite. This is usually the least expensive method.
If done correctly, both of the above methods give fantastic results.
Learn about the journey of granite from quarry to kitchen.