granite and other stone flooring advantages and disadvantages
Granite, a quartz-based stone, is often considered the queen of the stones for flooring purposes. Salt, pepper and veined patterns, very similar to marble, are very common.
Granite is particularly hard, ensuring durability and water- and staining resistance. Though largely moisture-resistant, it should be sealed in moisture-prone rooms.
Granite - like other stones - varies in its quality, appearance and porosity... Strictly speaking there aren't two granite stones alike, even when they come from the same quarry and belong to the same grade. There is always differences, even within the same grade.
Granite Tile Flooring Grade systems: assessing prices and also possible advantages and disadvantages
There aren't any standards to rate granite (or any other stone), but it is common to consider five grades (or levels, or groups, if you want). Common granites (and there are dozens mainly coming from India, and Brazil) are identified by letters or numbers (A or I or 1, B or II or 2, C or III or 3, D or IV or 4 and E or V or 5).
Granite stones go by different names (Absolute Black, Amadeus, American Mahogany and so on) but it is critical to determine where the granite flooring falls in terms of grade and price - and that's the goal of the letter or number associated to the name of the granite stone.
But pay attention: a"A" or "1" or "I" means a least expensive and, many times, a lower quality product; the top of the scale are "E" or "5" or "V" granite stone.
Granite Tile Flooring quality Grade
Unfortunately, the grading system mentioned above is not useful in identifying the quality of granite flooring; it mostly ranks the relative rarity of the stone. A better system groups granite stone (and other stones) in three grades, according to its quality: Premium or First grade, Standard or Second grade, and Commercial or Third grade.
A Premium grade stone is perfectly cut, and has uniform thickness and very little filler. Standard grade stones have a bit more filler or some kind of fault. Commercial grade stones can be defective in cut, or non-uniform in its quality, or with an atypical pattern, or with high levels of filler or some other fault.
Take this grading system into account. They are a way of assessing the quality of granite flooring, and its possible advantages and disadvantages. A real good deal involves a cost/benefit analyses of the pros and cons of alternative granite stones - something that goes far beyond price.The advantages and disadvantages of granite tile flooring
Pros: granite flooring is widely valued, durable and easy to clean. Granite is also a natural product, and its manufacturing doesn't involve unhealthy chemicals.
Cons: granite hasn't the warmth of the wood - and other flooring materials - and is expensive to buy and to install; softer granite stone is more damageable than porcelain and other well chosen tile flooring, and should be properly sealed to become water and stain-resistant.
Granite flooring Pros and cons vs. Slate, Marble and other common stones
Granite can be particularly hard, and more durable and water- and stain-resistant than other stones. But there is no rules. There are soft granites. There is a big difference between a a premium grade granite and a commercial grade stone. And even if moisture-resistant, granite should be sealed in moisture-prone rooms.
Other popular flooring stones:
Slate is a dense and tough stone, available in many colors, mostly blacks, grays and greens. Veined patterns are also common. Slate has different degrees of porosity, that should be sealed.
Marble involves a large set of colors and veined patterns, and varies a lot in its hardness; it should be honed and sealed, namely in kitchens and bathrooms.
Limestone and travertine belong to the marble family, but are less dense than the average marble. Limestone comes mostly in earth tones: off-white, beige, gray...
Some limestone contains dolomite, which makes the stone harder. Is granite flooring an environmentally friendly option?
Stone is a natural product. But that doesn't make granite flooring an environmentally-friendly option. Granite like other stones isn't renewable, and quarrying is an energy intensive activity, with serious environmental impacts. Salvaged stone/granite is the most environmentally-friendly option, and an excellent alternative to new quarried stone, but the offer is very limited.
Travertine is particularly porous and comes in beige, brown and intermediate colors.
Travertine and limestone requires more maintenance than other popular types of stone, and are very susceptible to damage.
For details on the several types of stone, see this Marble Institute page.
Advantages of sealed granite Flooring
Unsealed stones - and that applies to granite - may look more natural, but their natural porosity make sealing highly advisible. Factory-sealed granite flooring is currently standard; most stones are now being sold pre-sealed.
Just pay attention to the type of sealing. They are of two tyes: topical and penetrating sealers.
Topical sealers are just topical… They may protect the surface of the stone for some time, but in the end they will not prevent the water (or other liquids) from entering the stone. Granite flooring vs. porcelain: pros and cons
Porcelain tile flooring can be a great alternative to granite in rooms prone to water damages and staining issues. Porcelain can be extremely hard and water- and stain-resistant, and largely maintenance-free...
Only penetrating sealers provide an efficient barrier; they are the most advantageous; only they will prevent water or other liquid from occupying the empty spaces of the stone for a long time (10 years...).
Granite flooring benefits vs. Hardwood and porcelain tile flooring
Does granite flooring adds resale value to the house? Like hardwood, granite flooring is highly valued by home buyers and, naturally, adds value to buildings.
Durability: properly sealed, high-grade granite is a long lasting choice; porcelain can last for as long a good quality granite.
Use in kitchens, bathrooms: granite (properly sealed) has excellent water resistance, contrary to hardwood and engineered hardwood flooring. Porcelain (or water resistant ceramic tile) can also be an excellent and much cheaper choice for kitchens and bathrooms.
Damage from pets and children: good quality granite is not prone to scratches or scuffs.
Granite flooring manufacturers and brands: the biggest flooring manufacturers aren't selling granite; they have vinyl and other flooring products mimicking granite patterns, but not true granite flooring. Large home improvement stores - Home Depot, Lowe's - are including granite tile in their offer.
Low priced Granite Flooring disadvantages
Granite is an expensive flooring choice, and installation costs can make it even more expensive . Home Depot or Lowe's are selling granite at low prices (below $10, sq. foot), but it's not premium grade granite and the price advantages can be rather illusory. Expect prices above $10 sq. foot for a good granite flooring (marble and stale prices are on average less expensive).
Be aware of potential pitfalls, and be cautious of very low-priced granite, and its possible faults, high filler or high porosity…
See also: Ceramic Tile Glazed vs. Unglazed and Porcelain Flooring vs. Ceramic: What's Best.
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