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The basics: Granite is a natural stone, composed of at least 20 percent quartz as well as mica and feldspar. Colors choices span the rainbow, from a monochromatic slab to bold patterns. Countertop finish options include:
Advantages: Granite is tough to beat when it comes to durability, due to its heat- and scratch-resistant qualities; it can bear up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Granite can also be stain and water resistant when it's properly sealed. Those seeking an unusual slab or a unique pattern will not be disappointed with the seemingly limitless choices.
Disadvantages: Installation can get tricky due to granite's hefty nature. And if you choose some of the more exotic slabs, costs can quickly escalate.
Maintenance: Limit routine care to a soft cloth and warm water or cleansers made specifically for granite. You'll want to seal your slab every year or two with an impregnating water-based sealer made for granite.
Special considerations: You might have heard questions about radon content in granite. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that there is little or no health threat from granite counters, due to their relatively low radon content. You can read more here.
More: 10 Great Alternatives to Granite Kitchen Counters