The Egyptians had it right!
The pharaohs were men who knew how to make a statement. They wanted to express power, wealth, prestige, and piety. So, they built the pyramids. As well, they weren't going to be temporary monuments that would fall into the desert in a few centuries. The pharaohs were building them to last. Therefore, they chose granite
. The third largest pyramid, The Red Pyramid, built in 26th century BC, still stands. Additionally, the Great Pyramid of Giza (a relative youngster in comparison, built around 2600 BC) also contains a massive granite sarcophagus.
The use of granite as a memorial stone has continued to today, and most cemeteries are veritable fields of the stone. It can withstand degradation by the elements and in particular, the corrosive effect of acid rain. That's because of that quality that attracted the pharaohs – its toughness.
However, granite is more than just a durable stone. It's beautiful, too. Its coloration can range from pink to grey and because it can contain elements of a variety of minerals, there is a diversity and subtlety to its shading. Furthermore, that beauty is bringing granite in from the cold (or, in the case of the pyramids, the heat).
Granite's growing attraction as a building material
At the start of the industrial revolution, the advent of steam-cutting machinery made granite a much more flexible stone to use in building construction. It became easier to cut, shape and dress. Since then, technological advances have continued to enhance the ability of artisans to carve and write on the rock.
With the improvement in cutting techniques, granite moved indoors. It became a common stone for flooring tiles in public buildings. In addition, its durability and the ability to polish it to a high sheen, coupled with its beauty of coloration, have made it an increasingly popular choice for countertops in kitchens and bathrooms. Granite even found its way into sport; a majority of the stones used in curling is made of it. Again, that durability is its calling card. Those curling rocks spend their careers smashing each other, but have you ever seen one shatter?
The "inside scoop” on granite
Granite tiles – almost impossible to differentiate from solid slabs – have become hugely popular as flooring, countertops, and backsplashes. Tiles come in granite's entire palette of colors and patterns, and they are easy to install. The toughness of granite means that they are resistant to scratching and burning, but because they are tiles, replacement is easy. As a kitchen counter
, they are ideal because of their resistance to bacteria and heat.
of granite is easy. The stone needs to be resealed periodically, but casual maintenance is mostly a matter of washing with a gentle soap that won't dull the stone's lustre. It's best to avoid cleaning products that contain lemon juice, vinegar and other acids, or ammonia-based cleaners. Sand and grit can also damage a granite floor's surface because they are abrasives. They can be controlled by simply placing a mat or area rug at entranceways.
Chances are you more likely want to use granite for your kitchen counter, than to build a splendid sarcophagus. However, think about the wisdom of the pharaohs; for a timeless stone of prestige and strength, you can't go wrong with granite.