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Granite is an intrusive igneous rock that is found throughout the earth abundantly. It is formed by cooling of magma at some depth and is rich in quartz and feldspar. Granite is the toughest natural stone and is rated at 6 on Mohs scale, and due to its strength it has widely been used as a building material both historically and nowadays as well.
Use of Granite in Buildings Historically
Granite has been used as a building material since ages. Historically we can notice predominant use of stones such as granite and marble in construction of buildings and statues. We can see its use primarily in ancient Egypt as well as in Roman architecture.
Use of Granite in Ancient Egypt Buildings
The mighty pyramids of Egypt that still stand magnificently to date were composed of limestone, granite, gypsum, baked mud bricks and gypsum. One of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Pyramid of Giza was built using limestone and granite blocks.
Other than that granite was famously used in construction of monuments such as statues, obelisks and temples due to durability and resilient nature.
The Statue of Khafre was made by carving a single block of dark coloured statue that is now present in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Moreover, the iconic statue of Ramses II was also carved from a single block of red granite.
The valley temple of Khafre, also known as the granite temple, is constructed from great monolithic blocks of red granite.
Figure 1: Granite Temple in Egypt
Use of Granite in Roman Construction
Romans greatly valued the use of granite in their architecture and road construction.
Romans used monolithic columns of red and grey granite in construction of Pantheon. Furthermore, the aggregate used in Roman roads was sometimes granite due to its durability.
Figure 2: Pantheon (sixteen columns of granite were used in its construction)
Use of Granite in Modern Buildings
Granite nowadays, is not usually used for construction of structures however, it is still widely used in other prospects such as:
Granite is exceedingly used in kitchen countertops due to its ability to resist heat and its resilient nature. Its integrity is not lost due to scratching or heat from the stoves and retains its shiny surface. And since it is sturdier than marble, it makes granite a more viable choice.
Granite can resist heat up to a temperature of 1200 degree Fahrenheit, which makes it a suitable choice for being used in fireplaces.
Figure 3: Granite fireplace
Wall cladding is done to protect the walls of a structure from the harmful effects of weather. It is the process of layering two different types of materials on a wall which act as a protective skin for a wall and may also provide pleasing aesthetics.
Granite is one of the most favoured materials for exterior wall cladding as it is aesthetically pleasing and provides durability.
Due to the water and moisture resistant nature of granite, it is widely used in flooring. Furthermore, it gives a spacious outlook and is easy to clean.
With the help of the latest technology, we are now able to cut granite into thinner tiles and make them look more sophisticated.
Benefits of Using Granite in Buildings
Granite is a remarkable natural stone that makes it a very good choice to be used in modern day buildings:
The hardness of granite is its major advantage due to which it has been used historically to make lifelong structures and statues, and due to this it is still favoured.
Granite is one of the strongest naturally occurring stones and performs remarkably well under huge amounts of strain.
Fire and Water Resistant Characteristics
Since granite is a naturally occurring stone formed from the cooling of magma, it can resist high temperatures and has very few pores which makes it water resistant as well.
No Need for Regular Maintenance
Other than sweeping it regularly to maintain its shiny outlook and to avoid the accumulation of grout, there is not much cost of maintenance for granite due to its resilient nature. Furthermore, the colour of granite does not fade and remains the same as the first day of installation for a long time.
Disadvantages of Using Granite as a Building Material
Along with the numerous advantages of using granite in building, it does also however have some drawbacks. Some of them are mentioned below:
Weight of Granite
The weight of granite is perhaps its major disadvantage due to which its use as a construction material has been limited to pavements mostly. The weight of granite building blocks significantly increases the self-weight of a structure due to which it is not preferred for construction.
Limited Colour Availability
Although there is a larger range of colours of granite available nowadays however, even with the available colours it is sometimes difficult to make it work with certain colour combinations.
Installation of Granite
Installation of granite requires skilled labour in order to effectively and securely use it. Granite tiles have very sharp edges which may cause injuries during installation and if not made blunt may be harmful to others as well.
Cost of Granite
If the quarrying mine is farther away from the place where it is required, the transportation cost of granite increases accordingly. Since granite is a heavy material, that also affects the transportation cost of granite.
Furthermore, if somehow granite breaks or gets scratched badly the repair cost is a lot.
Quality of Granite
Since granite is a naturally occurring material, therefore there cannot be many quality checks for it. The quality of granite depends on chance and low quality granite blocks or tiles may even chip.
General Guideline for Labour Laying Granite
As discussed earlier, skilled labour is a must for installation of granite. Generally, granite is laid in the following manner:
- Concrete base layer on which granite is to be installed should be levelled.
- 1:3 ratio of cement and coarse sand aggregate is laid as a 20mm thick layer for fixing the granite stone.
- Granite should be pressed onto the coating and fixed with a wooden hammer.
- 7 days of curing period should be provided.