Granite countertops and backsplashes have been popular kitchen design elements for decades, prized for their durability, elegance, and timeless appeal. However, some homeowners are now questioning if granite may be falling out of favor as tastes and trends evolve. Let’s examine the pros and cons of granite backsplashes and whether they can still look current and stylish in today’s kitchens.
The History and Popularity of Granite
Granite is a natural stone that has been used as a prestigious building material for millennia. Made from igneous rock formed deep within the earth’s crust, granite is an extremely hard, durable stone that resists scratching, staining, and heat.
Granite became a beloved material for countertops and backsplashes in kitchens and bathrooms during the 1980s and 1990s. Homeowners were enamored with the material’s longevity, its natural beauty, and the way the stone could be polished to a gleaming finish. By the early 2000s, granite countertops were almost ubiquitous in new home constructions and remodels. Granite backsplashes also emerged as a popular complement to granite counters.
So what caused the widespread appeal of granite? Here are some of the factors behind its popularity:
- Durability: Granite is arguably the most durable natural stone used for countertops. Its hardness makes it extremely scratch and stain resistant. Granite can withstand years of daily use without significant signs of wear.
- Elegant aesthetics: With its crystalline structure, granite exhibits beautiful veining, speckles, and swirls in colors like black, white, gray, pink, and brown. Polished to a glossy sheen, granite has an elegant, timeless look perfect for kitchens aspiring to have a refined appearance.
- Versatile styling: Granite’s aesthetic versatility appeals to both traditional and contemporary kitchens. Its profile can fit seamlessly into Old World inspired spaces just as well as sleek, modern designs.
- Abundant supply: Granite is found on every continent around the world, making it a widely available and affordable material compared to other natural stones.
- Good value: Although not the cheapest countertop material, granite provides excellent value given its durability and longevity. It adds beauty, luxury, and resale value to homes at a reasonable price point for a natural stone.
With so many positive attributes, it’s easy to see why granite became a quintessential material inside millions of American kitchens.
Signs of Granite Losing Favor
In recent years, some design experts have claimed that granite may be falling out of style in contemporary kitchens. What evidence is there to suggest granite backsplashes and counters are becoming outdated?
- Market saturation: Granite peaked in popularity in the early 2000s. After decades of ubiquity, some homeowners now view granite as overused and unoriginal rather than novel and luxurious.
- Trends shifting: As interior design tastes evolve, some homeowners now prefer countertop materials perceived as more modern, such as quartz, concrete, or stainless steel. The desire for a fresh, unique look has influenced countertop selections.
- Less mixing of materials: The eclectic mixing of countertop materials (e.g. granite island + quartz perimeter counters) is fading as designers shift toward monolithic surfaces using the same material throughout the kitchen. This makes granite-only kitchens seem more outdated.
- Color preferences: Whites, grays, and black kitchen palettes are currently on trend. Granite’s natural hues like beige, brown, and green may appear dated or unappealing to some contemporary homeowners seeking cooler, muted color schemes.
- Concerns over radioactivity: Trace levels of naturally occurring radiation in some granite have also contributed to shifting preferences among homeowners highly concerned about health and wellness.
While still loved by many homeowners, granite undeniably faces new competition from a wider variety of stylish countertop materials available today.
Weighing the Pros and Cons of Granite Backsplashes
If granite has lost some of its universal appeal, does that mean it should be avoided in up-to-date kitchen designs? Not necessarily. Granite still offers many positive benefits that may outweigh changing trends for certain homeowners.
Pros of Granite Backsplashes
- Timeless and classic: While the height of popularity may have passed, granite’s inherent elegance remains timelessly classic. Its natural beauty and style act as a warm, dignified backdrop that won’t ever appear gaudy.
- Matches granite counters: Homeowners who already have granite counters can seamlessly extend the look with coordinating granite backsplashes. Mixing materials risks looking disjointed.
- Diverse styles available: From exotic patterns to subtle earth tones, myriad granite options exist. With proper slab selection, granite can suit modern, transitional, or traditional kitchens.
- Extremely durable: Granite’s unequaled hardness makes it ideal for heavy-use areas prone to spills, splatters, and cleaver strikes when chopping. Glass, metal or tile backsplashes can’t match granite’s imperviousness.
- Easy maintenance: Beyond regular cleaning, granite requires little maintenance to keep looking pristine. Resealing every 1-2 years prevents staining. Easier to care for than marble or limestone.
- Resale value: The timeless appeal of granite countertops and backsplashes remains attractive to prospective homebuyers. Granite adds value at resale, whereas ultra-trendy materials may not recoup costs.
Cons of Granite Backsplashes
- Perceived as outdated: Since granite has been so widespread for so long, some buyers consider it outdated or builder-basic and want a more current, custom look.
- Limited matching options: If not replacing the counters, matching new granite backsplash slabs to existing counters may prove challenging after years of weathering.
- ** vul Granite requires resealing to prevent staining. Some homeowners find this regular maintenance inconvenient.
- Colored grout stains: The porous nature of grout makes it prone to trapping spills and moisture. Re-grouting granite backsplashes helps, but stains may return.
- Heat damage risk: Prolonged direct heat exposure in areas adjacent to cooktops can damage granite surfaces over time, creating cracks and discoloration.
- Cost:natural stone, installment costs for granite backsplashes remain higher than ceramic tile or painted drywall. Budget-conscious homeowners may prefer cheaper options.
Overall, granite backsplashes come with pluses and minuses. What works best depends on homeowners’ priorities and kitchen needs. Granite isn’t inherently dated, but it may read as unexciting or expected to buyers craving something new and novel. Weighing all factors helps determine if granite remains the optimal backsplash material choice.
Style Tips for Current Granite Backsplashes
While trends ebb and flow, design-savvy homeowners can keep granite looking stylish and current with the right complementary elements. Strategic design choices prevent granite backsplashes and countertops from appearing stale and dated. Consider these tips for fashioning granite into a modern, on-trend kitchen backdrop:
Paint Color Choices
- Whites, off-whites, and soft grays create a fresh, contemporary color palette that allows granite’s natural veining to stand out. Stark white paint prevents beige granite from feeling dingy.
- Deep hues like navy blue, charcoal, emerald, and black play up drama and elegance with white or gray granite counters.
- Avoid clash-producing reddish/yellowish paint tones that may over-accentuate warm granite colors.
- Mixing white or gray painted cabinets with granite countertops and backsplashes looks updated. Avoid matching heavy, ornate cabinetry.
- For contemporary style, pair granite with streamlined slab-front cabinet designs in a sleek material like lacquer.
- Contrast cool stainless steel or glass cabinets with warm brown, beige, or green granite colors.
Backsplash Tile Choices
- Modern white, gray, or glass subway tiles keep backsplashes looking clean and fresh. Stay away from elaborate ceramic tile mosaics.
- Small-scale geometric patterns in tile work well with granite’s visual busyness.
- If foregoing a full backsplash, limit tile to a small focal area behind cooktops. Keep other walls painted.
Hardware and Accessory Styling
- Matte black hardware, fixtures, and pendant lighting suit both light and dark granite colors. Avoid brass finishes.
- Pepper granite backsplashes with contemporary art, vases, or sculptural light pendants for visual interest.
- For open shelving, use spare white dinnerware and glassware to amplify light and space.
- Incorporate tech elements like touch faucets, under-cabinet lighting, or appliance garages to increase modern functionality.
- Install TV screens or tablets into cabinetry to blend edgy tech with classic granite surrounds.
Final Thoughts on Granite’s Staying Power
Granite backsplashes and countertops carry timeless appeal that may fluctuate but never disappear entirely. While some view granite as dated, it graces both newly constructed homes and meticulously renovated historic kitchens. Granite remains a luxurious, durable, and versatile natural stone suited to a wide range of home design aesthetics. With careful styling choices and custom material pairings, granite can look stunningly current. For homeowners who appreciate granite’s unique beauty and resilience, it endures as a relevant, compelling backsplash and countertop choice. With thoughtful design considerations, granite backsplashes can maintain a modern, fresh look that delights for decades to come.