Is our love affair with granite cooling?
Design gurus have been predicting the decline of granite countertops for several years, but the surface remains popular. Will we still love it in 10 years?
I resisted the lure for years. My first kitchen redesign, back around 2001, most definitely did NOT include granite countertops. We choose a tasteful tile.
But by the next redesign (different house), in 2004, granite's falling price and rising popularity had lured me in — despite my fear that the popularity of granite wouldn't last nearly as long as the stone.
People have been predicting granite's demise for years, despite the enduring love for the material expressed by clueless couples on HGTV's "House Hunters." A new poll by Julia at Hooked on Houses on whether granite has had its day or is here to stay inspired me to do a little research.
Has granite had its day?
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Justin Fink, a senior editor at Fine Home Building, was predicting a fall in granite's popularity back in 2010, and he couldn't wait. He wrote:
I don't know about you guys, but if I'm spending $4,000 for kitchen countertops, I'd prefer not to have to buff the surface with a diaper and sing it lullabies before bed.
If you've never been to a granite warehouse, it's a fun excursion. The variety of stone is amazing, even if you can't afford most of it; I had a choice of about six colors in the cheapest range. Alex Nerland, an architect who works as a designer-builder in California, notes that you can get the same look for half the price with prefab granite.
If you don't want granite or laminate, which Fink said is still used in 75% of new kitchens, Paul Anater, a kitchen and bath designer writing at Houzz, offers 10 alternatives, with photos of each.
The readers at Hooked on Houses are split, with 52% hoping granite countertops have had their day while 47% hope they are here to stay. Julia's previous poll, in 2010, found 37% of readers declaring granite "so last decade" while another 37% deemed granite countertops "a classic design choice that will never look dated."
A reader named Sue wondered whether HGTV has too much influence:
"After a few shows, we think we simply MUST HAVE granite in our kitchens and simple panels on our windows so that our homes will be trendy, fashionable and ready to list at a moment’s notice. Anything that bespeaks of personality, such as a strong color or fanciful curtains, is whisked away to some other channel featuring pawn shops or hoarders, and we see home after tasteful home clothed in granite, stainless and bland, inoffensive colors."
A reader named Dina, who works with designers and architects in New York City, says she sees a decline in the popularity of granite. She writes:
"They claim the granite tops have become associated with the recent housing boom and bust and will mark the era like the avocado green of the '70s. Of course, now they say that avocado green is making a comeback. Stainless-steel appliances are also out. The latest trend in appliances seems more like bold colors – bright red or yellow ovens and fridges. I’m not sure what the new countertop trend is, but I see a lot of wood and bamboo being installed."
What do you think? Is granite on the way out? If money were no object, what surface would you choose for your kitchen countertops?
Plus the fact it has to be sealed made me realize there was other options and there were and I am glad I didn't jump on the bandwagon.
Form follows function. The quality of the food I produce in my kitchen is the important thing; everything is chosen with that in mind. The kitchen I currently have is a u-shaped with island. The "u" countertops are of commercial-grade stainless. The island is a baking kiosk with marble top; it is for bake prep. I'm wary of porous stones and of grout for reasons of cross contamination.
Having said that, I know most people don't cook like I do, so designing a kitchen for the next owner down the road seems futile to me. Get what you like!
How can ANY natural product NOT have a timeless beauty? The endless colors & patterns of
each piece of granite, marble, slate, wood, etc. cannot be replicated with faux versions. I replaced laminate with slab granite in my bathroom & kitchen & the result was stunningly gorgeous! No cleanup porblems.
We remodeled our kitchen this summer and we chose granite from Home Depot that was a brand called Stonemark. Guaranteed against staining and no need to seal for 15 years. Considering that my husband doesn't know how to wipe up a spill, be it water or red wine, I thought that was a major selling point.
We also got stainless steel appliances. I wasn't sure I'd like them, but I've decided I love them. I walked through countless stores looking at different appliance brands and I smeared my hand on all of them so I could see how bad they showed fingerprints. I'm sure the store personnel were ready to kill me, but I found appliances that show very few fingerprints, even from the grandkids, and are easy to keep looking nice. The stainless gives a nice glow to the kitchen and blends really well with the spice finished maple cabinets. Our granite is a brown/gold/grey/cream mixture, so it goes with any color scheme. Right now, I have red and it looks great.
We did our kitchen for ourselves. I like to bake and granite is a perfect surface for rolling out dough. I no longer have to dig out a marble rolling board. It's possible that granite may go out of style, but we don't care. We really enjoy the kitchen now and that's something we couldn't say before.
We just put in a granite-look laminate countertop for the laundry sink in our basement. I can't get over how good it looks (though I know HGTV would be aghast at faux granite!).
I had a light wood-look laminate on my counters in my first home purchased in 1979 before I'd ever heard of granite or learned that you shouldn't try to mimic a "real" product with a faux look. The only damage to that countertop in 19 years was when my dog jumped up and his claw put a little mark in it.
I currently have tile on my kitchen counters that is a smaller version of the tile on my floor. I've had it for 12 years now. It hasn't cracked, and we used a charcoal gray grout that is easy to keep clean. The pros -- putting hot pots and pans right out of the oven onto the countertops w/o needing hot plates, especially helpful when I'm baking tons of cookies for Christmas. The cons -- none I've really come across except that now I am thinking of replacing for a cleaner look, i.e., less lines. The mistake we made was not telling the installer that we wanted a very small grout line on the counters as opposed to the larger one on the floor.
I'm thinking of Silestone now as a replacement -- real quartz with resins to make a stain-free, scratch-free element that I can still put my pots and pans on right out of the oven.
Has anyone discovered any cons to Silestone?
We're having a hard time deciding on granite, quartz, recycled glass, or colored concrete. We want a combo of pretty, durable, and reasonably priced. We already got all black appliances, which we LOVE. I figured stainless would be dated very soon, so I convinced my hubby, and he loves them. We are between getting a more rustic hickory and a smoother maple of the same honey color with a darker glaze in the cracks. Our colors are all autumn inspired because we want a warm, inviting home.
What do you guys think are pluses or minuses to the different choices? Is concrete too uninviting or modern for us?Should we go for a more "natural" look? What in the world is soapstone that people are referring to--isn't soapstone soft? Do they mean Silestone? Which choice will last around 40 more years and be beautiful and inviting?
About Teresa Mears
Teresa Mears is a veteran journalist who has been interested in houses since her father took her to tax auctions to carry the cash at age 10. A former editor of The Miami Herald's Home & Design section, she lives in South Florida where, in addition to writing about real estate, she publishes Miami on the Cheap to help her neighbors adjust to the loss of 60% of their property value.