As a granite countertop provider, we’ve seen first hand the granite countertop obsession. While we’re in no way complaining, it is interesting to know how this obsession came to be, and why. Home remodeling trends don’t often happen overnight, but they do feel like they pop out of nowhere. We can all attest to the fact that on HGTV, the only REAL resource for home renovation information (did you catch my sarcastic tone?), every one of their house hunters in any of their top TV shows, give or take a few, will ALWAYS beg for granite countertops in their new purchase.
Why is this? There are so many great materials for kitchen countertops, like quartz, marble, laminate, stainless steel, butcher block, concrete, and the once hugely popular tile. Granite isn’t the cheapest. It isn’t the easiest to maintain. It isn’t always the prettiest if you ask me. And it’s also not the most durable. So how did this American Granite Countertop Obsession happen, and why?

The Beginning of the Granite Countertop Obsession

Granite Countertops really made their debut in the mid 1980’s. The color options were very limited, it was still widely unknown, and it was extremely expensive. It was not considered a top of the line countertop material at the time. Yet here we are, 30+ years later, and the granite countertop obsession is still in full force. How did it grow so fast to be such a luxury standard in home renovation and construction?

Granite countertop obsession

New Kitchen

Granite Globalization

When granite first started to rear it’s head, it was a very local or regional business. You would need to find a local source, within a few states of you, to source this product. It was extremely heavy and there were only a few craftsman that had experience cutting it well for residential and commercial applications. Extracting granite from the earth was hard and risky work. Quarries could be terrible conditions to work in. But where there is demand for a product or service, there are people who want to make a living providing it.
Quarrying granite in the United States was difficult, time consuming, and not the best perfected craft at the time. However, there was a demand beginning to rise in the United States due to articles in the Los Angeles Times among other things. Wherever you have demand, you have other countries who want to get in on the action. And in this case, they could offer it for a much better price. They also had a larger labor force willing to dig out and refine the granite.
Granite is found all over the world. Italy started off as a big player, but eventually, Brazil and India and China became the leaders in the industry. There was, and still is, an excess of granite found in these countries, so they were trying to get rid of as much of it as they could for the best prices possible. New colors from different areas of the world began to emerge and the trend continued to develop.
Granite countertop obsession - Granite Mining

Shipping Advances Advance The Granite Countertop Obsession

Granite countertops jumped on the container shipping train. Container shipping was able to lower the cost greatly for builders and consumers, making it a much more attainable material for your regular home owner, instead of just for the upper echelon of society. Before it began being shipped in containers, the prices of transport were much higher because they were being shipped individually and the costs were more in line with local prices.
Granite countertop obsession - granite cutting

Skilled Cutters Come From Computers

In the past when a shop received a slab of granite, it needed to be cut by hand to the perfect dimensions and shaven perfectly to give the best finish and edge. In the wonderful world of technology, we have computers that cut your granite slabs precisely, and CAD programs that help the cutting equipment conquer even the most intricate designs. This helps out greatly when you’re talking about holes for your sink and faucet, that could take a lot of time by hand.  The increased efficiency in cutting has also lowered the costs of granite compared to when it was first interdicted into the market.
Computerized granite cutting

The Housing Boom Blows Up Granite Countertop Obsession

When the housing boom of the early 2000’s was taking place, granite was just along for the ride. New construction was at a high, and with the new developments in color, technology and the more affordable costs of granite, it became a material that every builder was putting into their new buildings. This made the public think that a “new” building needed granite, that this was the material of the future. While the public often looks to new construction trends as the best new trends in home renovation and building materials, those who were renovating older homes also thought that granite is what they should choose.
Granite is a great material for countertops, but few people understand the reasons that started the granite countertop obsession in the united states. Hopefully this has been enlightening for you! Do you love granite or do you prefer other materials in your home? Let us know in the comments below!

Builders Surplus is a full service renovation company with locations in Louisville, Kentucky, and Newport, Kentucky, which also serves Cincinnati, Ohio. We are the leading provider of granite countertops, quartz countertops and laminate countertops in Louisville, Newport, and Cincinnati. We specialize in interior design, kitchen design, bathroom remodel, building materials, and home improvement. Interior Design and measurements come as a free service to our clients. We sell building materials ranging in every price point, from unfinished kitchen cabinets to top of the line Wellborn cabinets. In addition to interior design, we also offer installation services. If you have any questions or would like to set up a free design consultation with one of our interior designers, we would encourage you to do so. We love sharing our knowledge with clients & potential home renovators. We write about interior design, home decor, decorating ideas, and home improvement. We hope you’ll check back in for our next article! Happy Renovation!

Written By: Allie Bloyd