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 North America 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.
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.
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.
Granite is the stone most often used as a grave marker in countries all over the world. 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.
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.
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.
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 box at right for definitions of granite.
Granite Facing Stone
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.
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.
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.
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