Granite as a Building Material
Granite is one of the most popular building materials. It has been used for thousands of years in both interior and exterior applications. Granite dimension stone is used in buildings, bridges, paving, monuments, and many other exterior projects. Indoors, polished granite slabs and tiles are used in countertops, tile floors, stair treads and many other design elements. Granite is a prestige material, used in projects to produce impressions of elegance and quality. Some interesting uses of granite are shown below.
What is "Granite"?
The definition of "granite" varies. A geologist might define granite as a coarse-grained,
quartz- and feldspar-bearing igneous rock that is made up entirely of crystals. However, in the dimension stone trade, the word "granite" is used for any feldspar-bearing rock with interlocking crystals that are large enough to be seen with the unaided eye. By this classification, rocks such as anorthosite, gneiss, granite, granodiorite, monzonite, syenite, gabbro and others are all sold under the trade name of "granite."
One of the most familiar uses of granite in the United States is in
kitchen countertops. The countertop pictured above was made from a solid slab
of granite that was cut to custom shape and edge-finished. Increased demand
for granite countertops has inspired a large number of kitchen contractors to
acquire the expertise and equipment to install them. As a result they can
usually be ordered from and installed by a local dealer instead of a company
located hundreds of miles away. For this product, increased demand has
actually reduced the installed price to a level that is within reach of
the average homeowner. Pictured above is
a pink granite kitchen countertop. (Image © iStockphoto / North Georgia Media.)
In addition to solid slab countertops, granite tiles can be used to
create a colorful and durable work station. The photo above shows how
granite tiles were used to create a sink, backsplash and elevated counter.
(Image © iStockphoto / Wayne Howard.)
Granite tiles are often used as flooring and wall panels to produce an elegant, high-luster space. The stone used for these tiles would be called "gabbro" by geologists, but the term "granite" is used in the decorative stone trade - see the second paragraph on this page for definitions of granite. (Image © iStockphoto / Maciej Noskowski.)
The building above was built with granite blocks. Granite blocks for construction can be rough on all sides or finished on one or more sides.
In this photo, a combination of rough and finished granite surfaces produce an elegant appearance. Note how most of the blocks used in this wall have both rough and finished sides. This yields tightly fitting joints but a rough surface texture. However, blocks used at window sill and roofline levels are finished on all sides. Rough-cut blocks are the least expensive and provide a rugged appearance. Finishing the blocks is expensive but yields a more refined appearance. (Image © iStockphoto / Jim Plumb.)
In large construction projects, granite can be used in two different ways:
1) as a structural element, and 2) as decorative facing or veneer. Both of these
are shown in the Arlington Memorial Bridge over the Potomac River at Washington,
D.C. above. Visible immediately above the water line in this photo are the
large rectangular granite blocks that were
used in the piers of the bridge. These blocks are a structural use of granite.
The visible surface of the bridge above
the piers is covered with a thin veneer of facing stone to provide an attractive
appearance. (Image © iStockphoto / Klaas Lingbeek-van Kranen.)
Granite paving stones or "pavers" can make a colorful and interesting way
of paving a driveway or patio. The beauty of natural stone combined with expert craftsmanship
and design can produce a unique and lasting result. In the past granite blocks were often used to pave city streets. However, concrete and asphalt have replaced most of this work because of the lower material and construction cost. (Image © iStockphoto / Arkady Mazor.)
Granite is often used as a street curbing. Curbs made from granite are more durable than
those made of concrete. They also provide a more decorative appearance. (Image © iStockphoto / Arkady Mazor.)
Granite is the stone most often used as a grave marker in the United States
and many other countries. It is a durable, attractive material, especially when polished. Granite is also the rock type most often associated with
"permanence." This psychological association increases the appeal of granite as a memorial stone.
(Image © iStockphoto / Annene Kaye.)
Granite does not need to be quarried to be used. Mount Rushmore, a
granite monument in the Black Hills of South Dakota, is a tribute to George
Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln that is carved
directly into the mountain. (Image © iStockphoto / Jonathan Larsen.)
Projects begin with an idea and a rough piece of rock. If you have read this far, you are definitely interested in granite. A trip to a local stone yard might inspire you to enrich your surroundings with some interesting granite features. (Image © iStockphoto / Luis Carlos Torres.)
|Azurite Granite as a Gemstone|
One of the most interesting types of granite ever found has been named "K2" after the second-tallest peak in the world. At the base of the mountain is found a limited exposure of granite with bright blue azurite orbs that are typically about 1 centimeter across. Most people can't believe that azurite actually occurs within granite. The material is being cut into gems and has made its way into the U.S. gem market. Learn more about K2 Azurite Granite.
Author: Hobart M. King, Ph.D.
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