Home Flooring Pros is the number 1 online flooring resource and during the last few years our visitors have been emailing us with all kinds of questions and often the same questions over and over. So we thought it would be a good idea to address some of these more common questions in a regular series of posts called Ask the Home Flooring Pros. This week we answer the question…Where does Granite come from?!
Granite flooring, like other forms of natural stone flooring, is a benchmark of quality and luxury, but where does granite come from before is crafted into a beautiful building material?
What is Granite?
Let’s start here. Granite is a type of rock, as you know, and a very hard one at that. It is an igneous rock with large crystal grains visible with the eye. The base material is quartz with inclusions of feldspar, mica, amphiboles and other minerals that produce the color variations found in granite slabs. Granite flooring experts use about 20 different color categories to classify the color variations found in granite. More than 75 color names are used to describe the vast array of granite for marketing purposes .
Where is Granite Found?
This is what most people mean when they ask, “where does granite come from?”
Many people are surprised to learn that granite is found in most regions of the world. It is the most common igneous rock in the earth’s surface. Some of the most famous rock exposures in the US are made of granite, including Mount Rushmore, Stone Mountain in Georgia, the walls of Yosemite Valley and the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
There are two reasons why the use of granite hasn’t been more prevalent in the past and why it is still quite expensive relative to some materials. Firstly it is hard to get out of the ground and secondly it is also hard to fabricate granite into flooring slabs and tiles, countertops, fireplace mantels and much more.
Major Producers of Granite
In terms of countries, where does granite come from? Where do we get the granite that is turned into lovely materials for the home?
Brazil: By some estimates, 90% of granite used in the United States is mined in Brazil. Some believe this estimate to be somewhat high, though it is close.
India: This country has been a consistent supplier of granite flooring, especially very dark materials and the famous “absolute black” granite that should be chosen with care because some of it is artificially darkened.
Italy: Better known as a supplier of the finest marble in the world, Italy also produces and exports granite.
China: China’s granite industry is growing rapidly. If any country is going to challenge Brazil for the top spot in granite production, it will likely be China.
The US, Canada, Spain, Turkey, Finland and a few African nations produce more limited amounts of granite building materials. One country that is new to granite production, and is going at it with gusto, is Saudi Arabia.
How Much Granite Does the US Import?
We’ve asked and answered, “Where does granite come from?”. It’s also worth asking, “How much of it ends up here?”
The United States is a net importer of granite by a wide margin. According to the US International Trade Commission and reported by Stone Update, US imports of granite in 2014 were valued at $1.32 billion. Compare that to about $400 million for marble and $60 million for slate. In terms of weight, 2014 imports of granite were 2,053,847 metric tons!