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Uses of Granite


Countertops, tile, curbing, dimension stone, curling stones, gemstones and more.


Article by: , Ph.D., RPG



Granite Curling Stones
curling stones

The United States won its first-ever Olympic Gold Medal in the sport of curling at the 2018 Winter Olympics. This brought a lot of attention to the sport of curling, and to granite - the rock used to manufacture the curling stones, also known as "rocks," used to play this sport.

Curling stones weigh between 38 and 44 pounds and are made from granites with special physical properties. The granite must be able to absorb repeated impacts without chipping and maintain a smooth running surface to glide smoothly across the ice. Curling stones made from the right granite can last through many years of regular use. Learn more about curling stones. Image copyright by iStockphoto / bukharova.

The Stone With a Diversity of Uses

People have used granite for thousands of years. It is used as a construction material, a dimension stone, an architectural stone, a decorative stone, and it has also been used to manufacture a wide variety of products.

Granite 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 and common uses of granite are shown in the photo collection 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."

Granite Countertops
Granite countertop

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 copyright iStockphoto / North Georgia Media.)

Granite Backsplash
Granite Backsplash

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 copyright iStockphoto / Wayne Howard.)



Colors of Granite
Black Granite
Black Granite
White Granite
White Granite
Green Granite
Green Granite
Blue Granite
Blue Granite
Grey Granite
Grey Granite
Red Granite
Red Granite
Pink Granite
Pink Granite
Brown Granite
Brown Granite

Colors of Granite: Rocks sold under the trade name "granite" are produced from many quarries located throughout the world. This yields a huge color palette for mixing and matching stone. Here are a few samples.

Granite Building Stone
Granite Building Stone

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 copyright iStockphoto / Jim Plumb.)

Granite Tile
Granite tile

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 copyright iStockphoto / Maciej Noskowski.)

Crushed Granite
Granite Building Stone

Crushed stone is the most basic use of granite. Crushed granite is used as a subbase and base material in road and highway construction. It is used as crushed stone media in sewage system drain fields and as a base material for foundations and construction slabs. Crushed granite in attractive colors is used as a landscape stone and in planters. It also makes great railroad ballast, and in larger sizes it makes good riprap. (Image copyright iStockphoto / mmmxx.)

Granite Facing Stone
Granite Facing Stone

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 copyright iStockphoto / Klaas Lingbeek-van Kranen.)

Granite Paving Stone
Granite Paving Stone

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 copyright iStockphoto / Arkady Mazor.)

Granite Curbing
Granite Curbing

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 copyright iStockphoto / Arkady Mazor.)

Granite Memorial
Granite Memorial

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 copyright iStockphoto / Annene Kaye.)

Granite Monument
Granite Monument

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 copyright iStockphoto / Jonathan Larsen.)

Granite Slabs
Granite Slabs

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 copyright iStockphoto / Luis Carlos Torres.)

Azurite Granite as a Gemstone
K2 Azurite Granite

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.



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