What is "Granite"?

The definition of "granite" varies. A geologist might define granite as a coarse-grained, quartz- and feldspar-bearing igneous rockthat 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 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.


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 at right by Wayne Howard © iStockphoto.com.)


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 box at right for definitions of granite. (Image at right by Maciej Noskowski © iStockphoto.com.)



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 at right by Klaas Lingbeek-van Kranen © iStockphoto.com.)


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 at right by Jonathan Larsen © iStockphoto.com.)


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 at right by Annene Kaye © iStockphoto.com.)


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 at right by Jim Plumb © iStockphoto.com.)


zurite 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.