Countertop questions?

Bridget19August 12, 2014

I've been looking at all the hubby loves granite, I like quartz, but then we both were thinking about concrete.

I like to put hot stuff down, so granite wins there.

I don't want to see fingerprints all over like I do know, but I have black galaxy granite in kitchen.

What are the pros/cons?

Our kitchen is going to be white cabinets with stainless steel.

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choose what you love -- the look of granite is so different from quartz

lots of websites out there on pros/cons of different materials and lots of discussion on this site if you do a search.

but they are both very durable and shouldn't stain (i think some have said that a lighter quartz will stain). quartz is harder to repair. quartz you don't have to seal. granite you do -- although i've never sealed mine and its fine. i don't think you are supposed to put hot pots on either -- but i put hot pots on my granite all the time (i guess it could crack though) -- but i wouldn't put it on quartz.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 11:51AM
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Yes, do a search on the pros and cons of the different materials then choose what you love with that info in mind.

Granite specs will tell you not to put hot things on it, even if people do it anyway.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 12:00PM
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Yes, I've only sealed my granite once in 9 years and it's fine...I guess that's b/c it's dark, maybe?!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 12:21PM
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I don't think black galaxy is ever supposed to be sealed.

Google: gardenweb granite vs quartz

You will get more info than you have time to read. No counter is perfect. Concrete has a host of its own issues such as staining.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 12:42PM
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You can't put hot stuff down on most any countertop, granite included. The Marble Institute of America, the 70-year-old trade association of the stone industry, specifies trivet use on stone.

For the skeptics, I've been called to repair heat damaged stone and have posted pictures of heat lamps damaging granite.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 9:13PM
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If you want to put hot items on your counter, you might look into Soapstone, which as far as I know, is the only stone counter material you can safely place hot items on without risk of damage.
Stainless steel or copper would be other choices that can take the heat.

Here is a link that might be useful: Soapstone

This post was edited by ctycdm on Wed, Aug 13, 14 at 10:48

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 11:10PM
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Its probably a good idea to know why granite needs to be sealed....
Granite is porous, therefore it harbors bacteria and radon. Bacteria grows from the inside out in granite.
Where/how does bacteria start to grow? chicken juice, eggs, blood, etc... anything that spills onto your top during food prep.
What color is bacteria/mold/ mildew? Dark.
If you have dark granite, how will you know?
That being said, a sealer is used to prevent bacteria from growing and to prevent radon from being emitted from your tops. (not all granite will have radon, it all depends on if there was radon in the ground where the granite came from)
Why no hot pots? #1 breaks the sealer down. Now you have an unprotected area..... #2 .. you can in some cases thermal shock your granite. Some granite is very flaky, while others are very dense. When you set a hot pot on any surface, you run the risk of damage.

Granite - porous, needs to be sealed, no hot pots, no cutting on surface, hard to repair.
Quartz - non porous, no sealer needed, no hot pots (manmade acrylic/quartz stone product) , no cutting on surface, hard to repair.
Solid Surface - non porous, no sealer needed, no hot pots, no cutting on surface, easily repaired.

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 6:19AM
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The whole "bacteria in granite" story that Sfoster1 wrote about is hooey. This is one of the stories promoted by the solid surface industry, along with the radon scares, to promote solid surface counters over granite. Look, bacteria is everywhere. If you have bacteria on granite from raw chicken, you will also have it on laminate, or solid surface or concrete. You need to clean your counters if you spill the chicken, eggs or blood that Sfoster1 cited, regardless of whatever counter you choose. Granite continues to be used and approved in food and medical applications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has no records of granite harboring bacteria, and has no reports of people becoming ill from bacteria in granite.

It is important to clean your counters regardless of the type of counter. I am linking a study that details the E. Coli count on various countertop surfaces after cleaning. Granite was the least retentive of E. Coli after cleaning.

Study of E. Coli Retention on Countertop Surfaces, with Granite found to be the least retentive

Regarding radon, according to the EPA, all stone, minerals, and sand contain trace radon. This includes all concrete products, clay bricks, most non-plastic plates and dishes, coal, natural gas, phosphate fertilizers used in your garden, and the vegetables grown using those fertilizers. You are hundreds of times more likely to be at risk for radon emanating from the soil beneath your home, well water, and the air, than from your granite counters. I will link a study, if you have time to read a scientific analysis of radon in countertops (or you can skip to the conclusions at the end of the study). If you are really worried, avoid granites that have red tones.

Study of Radon in Granite Countertops

As to sealing a granite countertop, that depends on which granite you have and its absorption rate. There are many granites that have very low absorption rates, and sealing them is therefore not necessary. Some granites are so dense, like Absolute Black for example, that sealing will mar the appearance of the counter, because the sealant can't be absorbed, and just sits like a film on top of the granite. When considering a granite, either google the name of it with the term "absorption rate", and see if you can find the rate, or if not, take a sample of the granite, drop some water on it, and see if it soaks in or sits like a bead on top of the granite. I have a granite counter that has a low absorption rate, and I have never sealed it, and it looks like the day it was installed.

The OP mentioned fingerprints - I think that depends on the granite appearance. Mine has a swirly multi-colored pattern and does not show fingerprints.

This post was edited by akchicago on Wed, Aug 13, 14 at 8:42

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 8:33AM
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About fingerprint concerns: You say you have black countertops now. Though I love the look, they're the worst to keep clean. We once stayed in a vacation condo with the most gorgeous black granite countertops -- but I couldn't help noticing that every drop of water not wiped up, every crumb left behind, every streak of the sponge . . . it all showed.

I think if you had the same surface in a different color, you wouldn't have this issue.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 9:23AM
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NO "hooey" Chicago......
Anyone can go out on to the Internet and copy and paste urls.
I am a certified fabricator of these surfaces. And I'm speaking from experience. I have seen bacteria grow in granite. I have replaced granite that has been covered with bacteria from the inside out. You may be lucky to not have any problems with your 1 top, but I've Fabricated and installed thousands. Granite, quartz, solid surface, laminate, wood, soapstone,etc...
Granite is not approved for FDA standards in commercial food application. Quartz is, but granite is not. The reason for this? It is Porous, simple as that.
I personally am not interested in having a product that has a possibility of harboring bacteria. I would much rather post to this forum from my computer rather then being sick in the bathroom.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 9:53AM
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I'm confused. I am not a granite expert by any means, but I've read that some granites are extremely *nonporous*. I've also been told that by many local certified fabricators. We chose a granite that is almost completely nonporous, and then it was sealed. When I drop water on it, nothing is absorbed. It just sits there. :-)

For people with porous types of granite, they seal it with a good sealer - which isn't a huge process - and that takes care of the porous issues.

Oh - I do gentle type cutting on our granite (cut a piece of bread but not a tough steak), put moderately hot things on it (something heated in the MW, but not the kitchen stove).

Maybe in my area - Western Washington - we have special granite that we don't need to worry about? :-) Or the fabricators/installers from our big name stone yard (Priceless Granite) are wildly misled?

I'm really confused.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 10:24AM
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i have granite and i just don't understand the bacteria thing as i cut on a cutting board regardless of the counter material. i wouldn't plunk down raw chicken on formica, quartz or any other surface. bacteria is everywhere, all the time, some level of bacteria is not harmful for most humans.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 3:29PM
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As far as fingerprints go we have a polished light colored quartzite for the island and a leathered dark granite for the perimeter and neither is a problem for fingerprints. I personally like the leathered dark counter the best, especially at night when there are special little gleamy bits that show up.

For hot things I don't do it. I put the hot broiling trays and such on the cutting board, or I just put a towel or trivet down. I searched so long and hard for the counters and they were so expensive, I just don't see why I'd want to take that risk.

So the bottom line is to get what you like. You will be looking at it for a long time!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 3:47PM
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From the National Sanitation Foundation:

What materials are approved for restaurant countertops in the kitchen area?

Generally, construction materials used for food prep surfaces in kitchens subject to public health inspections need to comply with FDA 21 CFR regulations. Options might include specific grades of stainless steel as well as one or more surface certified as âÂÂfood zoneâ applications under NSF/ANSI 35 or NSF/ANSI 51. Search for certified work and counter surfaces in the NSF online listings ( by selecting either NSF/ANSI 35 - High Pressure Decorative Laminates for Surfacing Food Service Equipment or NSF/ANSI 51 - Food Equipment Materials.

What sealant is safest for granite kitchen countertops?

NSF International has not certified any granite countertop sealers at this time. Generally, we recommend following the manufacturerâÂÂs recommendations for cleaning and protecting countertops. Use a barrier (i.e. cutting board, plate, etc.) between your food and countertop surface unless your countertop is certified for direct food contact under NSF/ANSI 51 or the fabricator has provided documentation that the countertop material meets FDA 21 CFR regulations for direct contact with food.

Corian and other solid surfaces, and DuPontâÂÂs Zodiaq (quartz) meet NSF/ANSI 51:

âÂÂDue to its porous nature, unavoidable seams, and sealing issues, granite has hygienic concerns and cannot be food contact certified.âÂÂ

Page 18:

In fairness, I have seen granites with an NSF designation.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 5:26PM
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But we are talking home use, here. Does anyone, anywhere, know of any time someone has gotten sick from bacteria in a granite countertop? The CDC hasn't.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 5:48PM
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Ohhhhhh....home use....that's different. You can't get sick for bacteria if it's residential I guess. . NOT
And do you seriously think that someone that has thrown up or sat on the can all night can attribute their sickness to bacteria in their countertop? Tough to say... All I know is that I personally would not want the threat of bacteria where my food is. Simple as that

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 5:56PM
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I have polished black pearl countertops and remember reading about fingerprints as if it were a huge problem and ultimate deal breaker. It's notâ¦. Fingers are not usually straight on the counters and most people aren't greasy or oily. We are normally using the countertop for something but not necessarily putting my hands all over them all the time. When I have contact with the counter it's usually with a plate, bowl, glass, tray, small appliance, cutting board but never do we just put our fingers all over the counter for any reason I can think of. I have not had a problem with fingerprints on my counters. At least at our house it is a non issue. We don't take any special precautions with our counters.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 7:56PM
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The most utilitarian counter I ever had was tile with grout. I set broiler pans directly on it. Poured bleach on it and let it sit to disinfect it after cooking parties. Spilled wine, vinegar, you name it with no problem cleaning. Only my teenaged daughter was a menace to it by banging pots down on it and causing chips. Didn't matter. The lady who bought that house ripped it right out. Tile is not in style.

I put quartzite and granite in the new house. I will use trivets.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 9:44PM
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"All I know is that I personally would not want the threat of bacteria where my food is. Simple as that"

Where there is food there is threat of bacteria. Shoot, where there are PEOPLE there is threat of bacteria. If we clean up after ourselves there is not a problem. The question still remains, has anyone, anywhere, heard of anyone getting sick from bacteria in granite?

I am not going to judge anyone who does the research and decides not to use granite for whatever reason. But there is no evidence to be found, anywhere, that granite cannot be safely used in residential homes.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 11:15PM
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"Where there is food there is threat of bacteria. Shoot, where there are PEOPLE there is threat of bacteria. If we clean up after ourselves there is not a problem. The question still remains, has anyone, anywhere, heard of anyone getting sick from bacteria in granite?"
Yes we should clean up after ourselves. ...The point is, when something is spilled on an unsealed granite top, it will immediately soak in. even the cleanest person in the world cannot clean the INSIDE of the granite.
#2, you asked if anyone has ever heard of anyone getting sick? .......
Yes! I stated before, that I am a fabricator. I have personally removed granite tops that have harbored bacteria and made people sick. Was that not clear enough before?
I'm simply giving an answer to the original question. . With facts. You , however are trying to prove these facts wrong with your own opinion.
I have never told anyone to not buy granite. I simply am providing insight about each products qualities.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 11:42PM
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Sfoster1 has just signed up to the Gardenweb on the day of his post. He bashes granite. Note that he is a person not previously "known" on this forum. Note the fear-mongering tone of his posts, the dramatic accusations. He provides only his own anecdotal experience, while at the same time he bashes the fact that I have linked two scientific studies. I have been on this forum for 10 years. I have not seen any posts reporting bacteria found in granite from the thousands of GW members who have posted over the years. Sfoster1 says "I have replaced granite that has been covered with bacteria from the inside out." That sounds terrible, very dramatic; so dramatic that it is astonishing that no one else has reported such an event on the Kitchens Forum.

Interesting also that SFoster claims to be a fabricator but is ignorant of the different porosities of different granites. There are many granites that do not need to be sealed because they are not porous. And, the reason for sealing is to prevent staining, not, as SFoster says, "a sealer is used to prevent bacteria from growing and to prevent radon from being emitted from your tops". This poster loses all credibility when he makes a statement as ignorant as that.

As to granite and the FDA, this is the same agency that promotes the use of Microban - a plastic product impregnated with a pesticide - in counters in food service areas, hospitals and child care facilities. I would not worry that they haven't promoted granite as a countertop in these locations.

SFoster1 says "I personally am not interested in having a product that has a possibility of harboring bacteria." As has been pointed out, bacteria is everywhere and on every surface, so there is no product you could have that would not harbor bacteria. In the study I linked above, granite was found to be the least retentive of E. Coli of the countertops tested. There are so many choices for countertops, and people do not choose granite for other reasons or personal taste, but the choice should not be based on SFoster1's ignorant and biased statements.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 8:09AM
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I guess I don't see the problem, SFoster. So if bacteria is a problem on unsealed granite, we (homeowners) just make sure that the counters are sealed. Sealing isn't a big deal, and many of the current sealants are warrantied for very long times.

On a practical level, I don't think that any owner of granite countertops would want unsealed granite. Aside from the bacteria issue, we'd have to deal with stains and all.

In my area of the country, granite countertops have been - and continue to be - expected in homes of a certain $$ value. Solid surface counters are *nice*, but realtors consider granite to be better. And frankly, I love ours. Maintenance and cleaning are easy, and it looks wonderful.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 8:13AM
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I am not trying to prove anything. I am just challenging what appears to be a very obscure opinion. And bacteria can not be seen with the naked eye, so your observation at the beginning is suspect to me from the start.

I don't feel bad about challenging any statement that seems suspect to me, if even for my education. Sometimes I learn something and change my mind. That has not happened in this case.

And if someone spills some bacteria-laden food on *unsealed* granite they are doing it wrong. ;) Nobody ever debated the wisdom of sealing granite an natural stone, except for the aforementiomed stones that are so dense sealers do not penetrate.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 8:20AM
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This has gone too far in another direction...thanks for the help though. I think we will just do granite.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 8:44AM
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re the radon thing , no way does "sealing" stop radon from being emitted. that is ridiculous! we have radon in our houses anyway. locations with very rocky ground will have more. i had a friend in nh that had to have a radon mitigation system in her house and this was way before granite counters.
the radon thing has been debunked again and again

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 8:48AM
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No counter top is perfect and its really an individual choice.

When doing research for our house, I found that Quartz manufactures & distributers were the ones to advertise that Granite has a "scary radon problem" and that granite requires "a time consuming sealing process". It's a sales tactic and it didn't work on me.

We picked white Granite for our Kitchen and Cambria Torquay for our bathrooms. Both are lovely... althought I prefer my granite. : )

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 9:48AM
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Bridget19, I apologize for my contribution to high=jacking your thread. I should have taken it to a new one.

Enjoy your new counters whichever you decide!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 10:08AM
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