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Granite Countertops Don’t Rock

Granite Countertops Don’t Rock

Recently I had a Realtor into my house to talk about what kinds of changes we’d need to make if we wanted to sell it. Our house was built in the ’50s and it has all original just about everything: Wood floors, plumbing, electrical, and kitchen and bathroom tile. My husband and I happen to love the slightly funky green tiles in the shower and yellow tile countertops with red accents in our kitchen. But I braced myself for the dreaded and expected suggestion to redo the kitchen and put in granite countertops.

I am sorry, but what is the deal with granite countertops? Why is everyone so ga-ga over them? Personally, I don’t think they are particularly attractive. I can understand the allure of countertops without grout, which is hard to keep clean. But is no one but me concerned about the fact that granite is a completely NON-renewable resource? Do you know what that means? It means we take it from the Earth and when it’s gone, it’s gone. No more.

The way I figure it, mining of granite so that your kitchen counters can look just like everyone else’s is a blight on the environment. Most of it is quarried from an open-pit mine, which then just becomes an open pit that is often used as a landfill. Nice, right? Plus there’s the issue of how far the granite has to travel; some of the mines are in desert areas of the United States, but others are in Egypt and India. That’s a long way to travel, and that’s so not green.

I like to watch HGTV, and invariably in every episode of “House Hunters” you’ll see someone running their hands over the kitchen counters and saying “ooh! granite.” On “My House is Worth What?” there is always a shot of granite countertops and a huge red arrow, indicating that this means their house is worth more money! I recently saw an episode of “Spice Up My Kitchen” that featured a couple who wanted a greener kitchen, and while thankfully they did not use granite countertops, they tore down all the cabinets and replaced them! Hello? What’s green about that? Haven’t they ever heard of a coat of paint and some new hardware? It did wonders for our kitchen.

Anyway, don’t get me started about people demolishing perfectly good kitchens and bathrooms, and dumping the results in our landfills.

The point is, maybe granite countertops aren’t the scourge on our planet I am making them out to be. But if you need new countertops, or just want them, and are going for the “natural” look, there are tons of eco-alternatives to granite that are very attractive (some even look similar to granite) and grout-free. I found this nice article on Sunset.com with five green solutions for kitchen updates, from recycled glass, aluminum, and paper to end-grain bamboo.

I find the bamboo and recycled glass options particularly pretty. I will have to keep them in mind if we ever decide to trade in our ’50s tile. (Our realtor actually suggested we keep it, which was good news for us.) As far as I am concerned, these options all rock. Granite? Not so much.

Read more: Blogs, Home, Materials & Architecture, Shades of Green, ,

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Jana Ballinger

Jana Ballinger has more than 15 years of experience as a writer and copy editor for daily newspapers. She lives in a vintage house in Northern California with her husband and an orange cat.

52 comments

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6:26AM PST on Feb 9, 2012

While I disagree with the writer's "reasons" for her opposition to granite counter tops, I agree that they're NOT what they're cracked up to be. The fact that granite is porous means that if not sealed on a regular basis, it can harbor bacteria. I'm in favor of solid surface materials like Corian, which is easy to keep clean where you handle food.

9:35AM PST on Feb 8, 2012

Thanks-- from a woman who has been painting her cupboards for over 30 years. The "new" ones I have were bought at a yard sale. Perfectly good, perfectly useable. They went up right with the painted ones. I was surprised to find out that that was a trendy thing to do do-- to mix painted with not. gee, did I feel special :)

5:08PM PST on Feb 7, 2012

Excellent article and yes there are other alternatives to granite available that actually look remarkbly similar to granite and are a fraction of the cost. The finished products that I have seen are quite attractive.

7:15AM PST on Nov 10, 2011

Thanks!~

8:03AM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

Thank you

5:42AM PDT on Oct 9, 2011

Do you have paper countertops? LOL!

12:43AM PDT on Aug 23, 2011

Thanks Jana.

12:12PM PDT on Aug 25, 2010

Granite is still the most popular countertop on the market and I install a lot of it.Simply because of it's durability, ease of maintenance and beauty. But when researching take a look at engineered quartz or some the new polished stones on the market. They are fast becoming very popular with todays homeowners. You can also really jazz up your kitchen with a new inexpensive "full height" back splash. In many cases it's a DIY project.

http://www.dimensionbuildlv.com

8:13AM PDT on Aug 18, 2010

Great article. Loved it!

4:54PM PDT on Jul 6, 2010

very good....

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