Crawford Mack discovers what makes granite so special and the ultimate choice for kitchen makeovers.

Published on: Jul 01 2013 by admin

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My geography lessons taught me that granite was the signature rock of the continents and indeed of the planet earth itself. So when invited to write this piece, I was intrigued to learn how this naturally forming rock gets transposed from a hole in the ground to a centrepiece of a designer kitchen.

 

Colin Gillan, a director of Universal Granite in Stockport, helped fill in the gaps of the amazing journey granite takes over many millions of years, when time and pressure combine with a great deal of heat, to form this highly sought-after rock.

 

He explained that it is mined by drilling and injecting pressure into the holes to split the granite off into huge blocks. Then depending on the colour and type of granite required, will depend on where in the world it will be sourced, as being a natural substance, all granite varies in both colour and shading. Once mined it is shipped to processors for cutting into slabs, polishing and finishing, the most skilled of which are acknowledged to be in Italy, which Colin cites as the ‘Rolls Royce’ of granite producers.

 

Once they received the polished granite from the processor, they produce the finished product in a custom built 15,000 sq.ft., manufacturing facility using the latest CNC machinery – also imported from Italy – following IS0 9000 quality guidelines.

 

What I also learned is that there are an amazing different number of finishes that you can have on you granite work surface from the traditional polished finish to a matt, flamed, satin and even a leather look. The polishing should make this porous material relatively impervious, but as part of their process, Universal Granite also seal their granite surfaces and can provide a 15-year warranty to that effect.

 

Never having had a granite surfaced kitchen, I was also keen to find out what it is about granite that makes it so special, which Colin helped me to put into perspective.

 

“First and foremost it is the most visually stunning material you can use – black and star galaxy being the current favourites – but there are also many other choices, red, brown green and gold.”

 

To demonstrate, he showed me a huge reddish brown slab that looked absolutely fabulous and a gorgeous brown slab speckled with dots of sparkling blue.

 

“With granite”, he added, “Your kitchen will be unique – no other kitchen in the world will have exactly the same look due to the subtle changes of colour and shading in the rock.

 

“Not only that, it is the most hygienic surface you can use, it can bring a tired kitchen back to life and it can actually increase the value of your house.” (Which reminded me of that estate agent mantra of how a kitchen can ‘sell’ a house).

 

Ok, I thought but surely granite is mega expensive? But to my surprise it was much less than I had imagined with Colin indicating that it could be as little as £1500 more than a laminated work surface.

 

He also kindly offered me some safe advice if deciding to choose a granite supplier. All of which shouts the adage of ‘buyer beware’.

 

• Enquire where the material is from in the world – if your supplier doesn’t know, then just how professional is their business?

• Ask about the plus and minus points for the type of granite you are considering. Will it have the appearance, strength and durability for your specific application?

• Check out the supplier’s premises – are they just a reseller or do they have their own manufacturing base? (Scan the QR logo here to visit the Universal Granite site.)

• Ask if they seal the product.

• Beware if they cut on customer premises. For the most professional job the majority of cutting should be done in the factory using sophisticated computer controlled machinery – hob cut outs, sink cut outs, drainer grooves, etc.

• Do they use scants or blanks? Thickness, appearance and shades all match in a scant – they don’t in a blank.

• Ask if they template or survey? Making a template before manufacturing ensures it’s a perfect fit in your kitchen.

• Ask for a sample of the product of your choice as the quality and appearance can change from company to company,

• Universal Granite also supply and fabricate other worktop surfaces such as quartz and Corian. These offer stunning effects different to granite and will be covered later.

 

So, if you are in the trade as an independent fitter or a kitchen company, or just a householder thinking about revitalising your kitchen, check out Universal Granite for your next kitchen make over. n

Or if your need is more pressing, see their online quotation facility or just email your work surface dimensions to: info@universalgranite.co.uk

 

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Filed under: Kitchen Worktops

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