The Tier Structure of Granite

Granite Slabs

Granite is a hugely popular surface material for kitchen countertops, bathroom countertops, and flooring. One of the most asked questions that we receive revolves around the tier structure of granite. Most people want to know which tier is the best for their project. In this blog, we are going to discuss the tier structure of granite, the price differences, and what is different from one tier to the next.

How many tiers of Granite are there?Question

There are five tiers of granite across three grades. They work as follows:

Grade 1 is the cheapest and often the blandest but there are some good options within grade 1. Within grade one, you find tier 1 and sometimes tier 2. These are often prefabricated and thin. Tier one is roughly 3/8 of an inch thick. The colors and patterns are standard and common though sometimes you can find something amazing at tier 1. Expect to pay $40-$50 per square foot for grade 1-tier 1 granite.

Tier 2 granite can be found in grade 1 or grade 2. The quality of tier 2 is slightly better than tier 1 and most slabs of tier 2 granite will have a thickness of ¾ of an inch. Tier 2 grade 2 will offer better quality and patterns. Tier 2 granite is generally $50-$60 per square foot.

Grade 2 is the middle-quality level of granite. It contains the upper end of tier 2 and most of tier 3. This is often the best choice of granite for most home or multi-family dwelling applications. Where tier 2 is in the ¾ of an inch thickness range, tier 3 is also about ¾ of an inch thick. The variety of color and pattern improve in tier 3 over tier 2, and you often have granite that has fewer dry seams or cracks. Both seams and cracks, which are naturally occurring, are flaws that add weakness to the slab. Expect to find increased natural weaknesses in lower grades and tiers of granite.

Tier 3 granite is the best place to start for home kitchen counters. The thinner slab weighs less and will generally fit onto existing counter-frames. The ideal thickness though for home counter use is one inch to one and a quarter inch. The added thickness, while heavier, means fewer natural flaws and increased endurance. Tier 3 granite is generally $55-$65 per square foot.

Grade 3 granite includes tier 4 and tier 5. It is here that you will find the best pieces of granite in terms of color, durability, and patterns. If you are looking for unique granite countertops, you will likely find them in tier 4 and tier 5. Tier 4 granite generally runs $65-$75 a square foot. Tier 5 granite generally runs $75-$100 or more per square foot. Tier 4 granite, which runs from 1 inch to 1 ¼ inch thick is one of the best choices for kitchen countertops and bathroom uses, such as countertops or flooring.

Tier 5 granite runs anywhere from one-two inches thick. It makes a gorgeous selection for high-traffic or high-use areas. The added thickness means there are fewer natural dry seams or weaknesses. Tier 5 granite is the most durable but using it requires that you take into consideration its added weight. For kitchen countertops, you would have to either build custom cabinet frames or reinforce the existing frames.

What is the difference between tiers of Granite?

There are three main differences. Those are:

  1. Thickness
  2. Quality
  3. Aesthetics

Granite Slab Thickness

Granite ThicknessTier 1 granite is generally thinnest at 3/8 of an inch – Good for backsplash and areas where there is not heavy usage.

Tier 2 granite is also thin at ¾ of an inch thick. Many large projects use Tier 2 granite in their projects such as apartment buildings and countertops or bathroom vanities.

Tier 3 granite ranges from ¾ of an inch to less than one inch thick. It is also a standard cut of granite that offers both value and variety.

Tier 4 granite is 1 ¼ inch thick. This is the ideal thickness for kitchen and bathroom usage.

Tier 5 granite is the thickest and ranges from one inch to two inches thick, sometimes even thicker. It is also the heaviest, which can be a drawback.

Quality and Aesthetics of Granite

Granite is beautiful but there are different qualities of granite. For general purposes, you can grade granite into three classes:

  • Grade 1
  • Grade 2
  • Grade 3

Grade one generally has the lowest quality, but it is usually still beautiful. These are the tinner slabs (though not always) and they have more natural flaws. Flaws include naturally occurring dry steams which are weaknesses in the stone. The thinner the slab and the more populated the dry seams, the weaker the slab and the more problems you may have with cracking.

Grade 2 granite slabs are in the middle of the road and offer medium thickness and fewer natural flaws but also have an increased option for color and patterns.

Grade 3 is the highest quality granite slab, and its thickness offers the ideal option for kitchen countertops. The thicker slabs mean more stability of the slab even in the presence of smaller natural flaws. In grade 3, you will have the most unique and rarer colors and spectacular patterns.

What Are the Approximate Differences in Price Between Tiers of Granite?

Generally, granite starts around $40 a square foot for grade one and can go above $100 a square foot in Grade three. Rarer colors and patterns will drive the price up as will the thickness of the slab.

  • Tier 1 ranges from $40-$50 a square foot, with a few exceptions.
  • Tier 2 ranges from $50-60 per square foot
  • Tier 3 ranges from $55-$60 per square foot
  • Tier 4 ranges from $65-$75 per square foot
  • Tier 5 ranges from $75 per square foot to over $100 per square foot.
  • Thickness, Aesthetics, and quality (tier or grade,) impact the price of granite.

Which Is the Best Tier for Home Living?

Generally, you want a slab that is 1 ¼ inch thick. It is light enough (usually) to sit on pre-hung kitchen cabinet frames and thick enough to stand up to heavy traffic or usage. At 1 ¼ inch thick, natural flaws are less of a risk and you gain a better assortment of colors and patterns.

Learn more about how granite can improve your quality of homelife and add value to your property by reaching out to our team.  We also welcome you to visit our Sauk City location to see all the granite slabs available as well as remnants that can be purchased at a fraction of the cost.

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