People don't ask much from their kitchen countertops. They need to hold things up, not break, and not melt. Pretty simple list. Sadly, there's no such thing as an indestructible countertop (we've checked). The good news: most stone countertops are pretty sturdy. Quartz, granite, marble -- they'll all do the job and hold up well under most circumstances. But like anything else, countertops have limits. Quartz tends to burn sooner than granite will (technically it's the resin that holds the quartz together that burns, but that's splitting hairs). If you really want to see one burn, VI Granite & Repairs up in Canada were kind enough to take a blowtorch to a slab. Despite what you see in the video, you'll probably never have to worry about your quartz countertop catching fire or getting burned. Blow torches can get as hot as 3500 degree Fahrenheit, just a little bit toastier than the average stovetop. So unless you're planning on doing some welding on your kitchen counter, it's not something you really have to worry about.
If you're looking to upgrade your home with new countertops, you've probably already had more than a few people suggest getting granite ones. This is not bad advice. Granite has been pretty popular for the last several years, and it likely won't go out of style any time soon. But hopefully you're doing your homework (like reading this post) before you commit your money to anything. Just because granite is a popular material and stylish doesn't automatically make it the best choice for you. There are a few things you'll want to think about before writing a check:
- How long will you live there
- Where you live
- Your budget
If you've talked to some of your friends or family about getting a granite countertop, some of them may have told you that granite can be radioactive. And you know what? They're absolutely right. Granite naturally has some level of radiation. It's a rock literally cut straight out of the earth, which is the biggest source of radiation around. So when your crazy conspiracy-loving aunt starts going off about your granite countertop giving you cancer, don't hyperventilate. Concerns about granite and radiation crop every few years. What usually happens is someone with too much time on their hands tests a random batch of granite countertops and finds that one has a little more radiation than it ought to. Unfortunately, these people don't have enough time or money to do a comprehensive test to cover granite from all over the world. This tends to skew the data and lead to panic attacks that aren't really justified. WebMD did a great write up about it a few years back during the last scare. In it, they interviewed David J. Brenner, director of Columbia University's Center for Radiological Research, who said, "The biggest source of radiation within the home in indeed. But it is not radon from countertops, it's radon from the ground." The other reason radiation from granite shouldn't concern you: surface area. Most kitchens and bathrooms just don't have that much counter space. Even with some radiation being emitted from them, granite countertops just aren't large enough to do any harm. Bottom line: yes, granite does emit some radiation. Is it enough to be worth worrying about? Not at all.