Are Granite Worktops Heat Resistant?

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Granite countertops are popular in kitchens worldwide and prized for their natural beauty, durability, and unique, low-maintenance features. But one common question homeowners have is if these natural stone worktops can withstand hot pots and pans from the range or oven. Are granite countertops heat-resistant?

Let’s take a closer look.

Granite is an igneous rock formed from magma or lava as it slowly cools deep within the earth’s crust. It is composed mainly of quartz, feldspar, and a combination of various other minerals. This gives granite an exceptional hardness rating, ranking between 6 and 7 on the Mohs scale. For comparison, diamond ranks as a 10.

But granite’s mineral composition also makes the stone relatively heat resistant compared to other natural stones. The binding agents that makeup granite have high heat tolerance before reaching critical expansion or damage.

Granite worktops

How Hot Can Granite Get Before Being Damaged?

When exposed to heat, Granite won’t melt or burn like other countertop materials. Professional testing indicates that granite can withstand short-term exposure to temperatures up to around 500 degrees Fahrenheit before risking cracks or fissures from rapid expansion.

The threshold can vary based on stone grade, quality, and mineral composition. For example, darker-coloured black granite may absorb more heat than lighter-coloured granite. However, a briefly placed hot pot from the stove or oven won’t cause permanent damage. Prolonged exposure increases risks and isn’t recommended.

However, it’s vital to note that granite is rarely a uniform slab of pure, natural stone. Most granite countertops are made of granite slabs adhered to plywood or other materials. The adhesives and resins binding the layers may not share granite’s high heat tolerance and can begin to melt or degrade at much lower temperatures, around 200 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Additionally, while the granite resists heat damage, something extremely hot can still potentially mark, scorch, or crack the surface sealants applied to the granite to give a glossy finish and increase stain resistance.

So, in summary:

  • The granite can withstand brief exposure to high heat of roughly 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • However, adhesives, resins and sealants applied to the stone melt at temperatures over 200-250 degrees instead.
  • Extreme heat can damage the polished surface and finishes.

Should You Place Hot Items on Granite Countertops?

Given the above properties, granite worktops demonstrate good natural heat resistance compared to quartz, solid surface, laminate, wood or tile. But despite its high damage threshold, applying direct constant heat can still pose risks over time.

To keep granite countertops looking beautiful while getting the most out of their rugged durability, follow these best practices:

Best Practices:

  • Always use hot pads, trivets or mats when placing hot pans, dishes, kettles, pots, curling irons or other heat-generating items on granite surfaces. Choose trivets with rubberized feet or non-slip pads to prevent scratching the polished stone.
  • Don’t leave hot pans to simmer for extended periods. The prolonged heat exposure in one area can cause gradual damage to the surface and underlying materials.
  • Allow plenty of time for cookware to cool before placing it directly on granite counters.
  • Avoid subjecting granite counters near ovens or ranges to temperatures over 200 degrees F. Use range rear guards and ventilation hoods when cooking at high temperatures.
  • Check the manufacturer’s care guidelines for your specific granite to see if they advise further precautions for your surface.

Are Some Granite Grades More Heat Resistant Than Others?

Not all granite slabs share the same performance properties and characteristics. Granite formation depends heavily on local mineral deposits and extraction locations, affecting hardness, porosity, density, and more. The stone industry categorizes granite into three classes:

  • Commercial Grade – Commercial or low-end granite is made from more porous stone with more flaws. It absorbs more heat and stains and is more prone to cracking, chipping, or marking. Consider extra precautions like minimizing hot items or adding a protective surface treatment to improve heat resistance.
  • Standard Grade – Most granite countertops installed are Standard or Premium grade. They demonstrate good durability and temperature resistance. However, consider protective hot pads for extremely hot cookware or appliances. Darker natural granite colours may also absorb more heat than lighter colours.
  • Premium Grade – High-end, premium, or designer granites are made from denser stone with fewer imperfections. They are less prone to scratches or cracks and can withstand more heat exposure than lower grades. But even a Premium granite surface benefits from using hot pads and trivets since adhesives beneath remain vulnerable at lower temperatures.

What About Granite Sealer? Does it Improve Heat Tolerance?

While an optional sealer application helps safeguard the look of granite surfaces by preventing stains and etching from acidic liquids, sealants provide no added protection or improved heat tolerance. Sealers like speciality penetrating oils or waxes merely coat and fill the microscopic pores of granite surfaces.

They do not impact the stone’s underlying heat-resistant properties or physical performance. Subjecting a sealed granite countertop repeatedly to high temperatures may damage some sealants over time. Be sure to place hot pans or heat-generating appliances onto trivets rather than directly on the granite surface, sealed or unsealed.

Is Granite More or Less Heat Resistant Than Other Kitchen Countertops?

Compared to popular countertop alternatives, polished granite is notably more heat resistant across grades and varieties. Here’s how granite’s heat performance stacks up:

More Heat Resistant:

  • Soapstone – Soapstone is made of heat-safe talc and lacks binding adhesives, so it can technically withstand higher temperatures than granite before seeing any damage. But soapstone requires frequent sealing to prevent staining.

Similar Heat Resistance:

  • Quartz (Engineered Stone) – Most quartz grades offer reasonably good thermal dimension stability. However, prolonged heat exposure causes faster deterioration or discolouration on quartz than on granite surfaces.
  • Solid Surface – Solid surface materials like Corian are vulnerable to burns, marks and cracks after continued exposure over 175 degrees F.

Far Less Heat Resistant:

  • Laminate – Laminate melts at under 250 degrees F. Even short exposure to low heat damages laminate.
  • Concrete – Can mark and stain, and eventually crack and pit from heat damage.
  • Wood and butcher Block – Can scorch, split, bubble, and lose all protective finishes with heat over 350 degrees F.

Choosing Heat Resistant Kitchen Countertops

When choosing kitchen countertops, shortlist options that align with how your family cooks. Busy cooks using hot pans daily should rule out more vulnerable surfaces like wood, laminate or some tile. Opt for naturally strong and durable options like granite, quartz or soapstone paired with plenty of trivets. This lets you enjoy cooking convenience and beauty without damaging expensive countertops.

For most homeowners, granite presents an ideal balance of rugged heat resistance yet classic, timeless beauty. Keep hot pads handy and avoid leaving extremely hot cookware directly on the surface for extended periods to preserve safety and your investment. Treat granite with care as you would fine cookware. Then it will withstand years of cooking activity with its attractive polish intact.

Concluding Our Q&A on Granite Heat Resistance

Granite countertops offer exceptional durability, timeless beauty, and reliable performance, making them a staple in kitchens worldwide. While granite can withstand heat exposure exceeding typical cooking demands, simple precautions empower homeowners to get the most from this rugged natural stone.

Follow basic hot pad use, allow cookware to adequately cool before contact, and avoid leaving extremely hot pots simmering for extended periods directly on granite surfaces. Pair smart cooking practices with granite’s inherent heat resistance, and your investment will pay dividends for years to come with a rich, glossy surface able to handle the rigours of everyday life.

When thoughtfully cared for, natural granite surfaces look as stunning as the day they were installed. The natural material offers character unmatched by artificial alternatives, ensuring your kitchen stays elegant yet highly functional during countless meals for years.

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