Granite Countertop Care

maintenance1

Hey… Granite countertop care is no big deal… Really!

I know it may seem confusing, but cleaning granite countertops is a breeze… once you learn how and that’s easy!

Below all do’s & don'ts are fully explained.

You’ll have it down in no time, and your counters will always look tops,

I swear… Let’s go!


First… let's have a quick word about that confusing conundrum of…

Sealing Natural Stone

As a general rule, an impregnating sealer should be applied to all natural stone.

Now, many people misinterpret "general rule" to mean every stone absolutely MUST be sealed and often… not true…

Many types of granite and other stones never need sealing, but confusion abounds regarding this key granite countertop care issue. 

Common questions include:

  • Does my granite need sealing?
  • How often do I apply a granite sealer?
  • What type of sealer is best?
  • How frequently do I re-seal?

So, for a more thorough discussion… go to the Granite Sealer Guide.


Do's & Don'ts

maintenance2

The easiest way to keep your stone looking great is to avoid bad habits that may damage it. Granite, marble, travertine, limestone, soapstone, quartz and solid surface are similar in many ways, but their differences require varying degrees of maintenance. However…

If you utilize the granite countertop care and cleaning procedures that follow for all your countertops… no matter what type of stone or surface… you'll eliminate most potential problems without ever having to think too hard about it or worry that you may be causing damage.



Do: Blot up spills immediately.

Acidic substances like wine, coffee, fruit juices, tomato sauce and sodas will not etch granite like they do marble, but they could potentially stain the surface. Cooking oils may also leave a stain if not wiped up.

maintenance3

Do: Clean surfaces using a sponge or soft cloth.

Using a specially formulated stone cleaner is recommended to keep your tops in the best condition and protect the sealer, but hot water will do for quick clean-ups.

Dish soap won't permanently damage your granite, but repeated use of soap will cause build-up (yes, even if you rinse) and dull your countertop' s shine. So, using dish soap for regular granite counter top care is not recommended.

Do: Use coasters under all glasses, bottles and cans.

Again, granite won't etch and using coasters on dense and/or properly sealed granite is not an absolute necessity like with marble, but using coasters is just a good practice to protect all surfaces.

Do: Use trivets and hot pads under pots & pans.

Yes, you can take a hot pot off the stove and put it right on granite countertops without any problems. It is possible for granite to suffer "thermal shock" and crack, but rare.

But you must consider other issues as well…

Grit that gets trapped between the pot and the countertop surface may scratch the surface--even granite countertops. Granite is very hard and can take tons of abuse without any significant damage but…

If it does happen, don't fret too much. Most chips and scratches can be repaired, but it's best to avoid them by following the granite countertop care tips.

Also, once you remove the hot pan from the countertop the surface will be very hot and may burn.

Do: Use cutting boards.

Again, avoid the possibility of scratching the surface and protect your knives. Cutting on stone will dull and damage your knives' edges quickly.

Do: Dust, mop your natural stone floors regularly.

Use a clean, dry, non-treated dust-mop. Some people choose to use a vacuum cleaner. But be real careful. Worn parts or grit jammed by the wheels may scratch the surface.

Do: Use door mats inside and out along with runners and area rugs.

Grit, dirt and sand carried in by our shoes are abrasive and will wear and scratch the surface. Clean the rugs regularly.

Don't: use generic cleaning products such as bleach, glass cleaners, de-greasers or other common household cleaners.

These products that you buy at your local store contain acids, alkalis and other chemicals that will degrade the granite sealer (and will etch marble) leaving the stone more vulnerable to staining.

Trying to save money by using these chemicals only ensures that you'll spend a lot more time and money on you granite countertop care in the long-run.

maintenance4

Don't: use vinegar, ammonia, lemon or orange as cleaners.

Again, most common and name-brand household products are not good for cleaning granite countertops (and definitely cannot be used for marble, travertine or most other stones)

Don't: use bathroom, tub & tile or grout cleaners.

The powders and even the "soft" creams contain abrasives that will scratch and dull surfaces.

Don't: sit or stand on your countertops.

Unlike laminate countertops, granite, marble and quartz countertops are very hard, but not flexible and they DO NOT have plywood backing so too much weight in one spot could cause a crack.


Granite Sealer Guide.

Sealing Granite Countertops, Marble & Travertine

As a general rule, granite sealer should be applied to all natural stones. However, this does not mean that "every granite and stone must be sealed"… not true… but when necessary…

Many dark-colored denser granites (browns, blues, blacks) do not require sealing… often travertine, limestone and many marbles don't need sealing especially when polished and neither does soapstone (although sealing and/or oiling is recommended mainly for cosmetic reasons).

Again, this is not a hard and fast rule. It depends on several factors (more below). That's why you need to test to determine when applying a granite countertop sealer is appropriate.

And Not Do…

You should not apply a granite sealer to a stone that does not need it "just to be safe".

It doesn't work that way.

Testing will also help you avoid applying a sealer to a stone that cannot absorb it.

Applying a granite sealer to dense granites or polished travertine or marble when testing shows you should not only create a problem you definitely don't want.

If applied to such stones, the sealer does not absorb, just sits on the surface, dries and creates a hazy, streaky mess. It can be stripped off, but what it's a pain. Best to test!

How Often To Re-Seal

Frequency of granite sealer re-application really depends on four variables:

  • The absorption rate of your stone (porous or dense)
  • The type and quality of granite sealer used
  • How well the initial sealer was applied
  • Products used for cleaning granite countertops (common household cleaners are too harsh and will degrade the sealer)

Light colored granites and un-polished (honed, tumbled) softer stones such as marble, some travertine and limestone and onyx may need sealing every 1-3 years.

Dark colored granites as noted in the greens, browns, blues and blacks can be sealed less frequently: every 3-5+ years or… not at all. But remember, it depends on your particular stone and sealant, so be sure test a sample.

All sealers are not equal and a few are able to protect your countertops for 10 to 15 years when properly maintained.

Again, it also depends on the porosity of the stone and how well the sealant is applied. Impregnating sealers do break down and degrade over time.

But you don't have to guess, worry or consider any of the above factors. Again, all you have to do is water test the surface. This simple sealer test sums it all up and tells you if you should apply a granite sealer or not either initially or for re-application.

Sealing Is Simple

In reality, sealing your stone countertops is a simple wipe on, wipe off procedure. It's not complicated and no special knowledge is required except the ability to follow some simple instructions. So relax. You have nothing to worry about.

The key is to completely remove any sealer residue from the surface after it has absorbed into the pores below the surface saturating the stone, but before it dries.

Quartz vs. Granite

First of all, the makers of quartz countertops have made a much bigger issue out of applying granite sealer than it really is.

Quartz countertops are excellent (we highly recommend them as essentially equal to granite) and you can't blame them for trying to effectively market their product, but the issue of sealing and granite countertop care is really a minor advantage of quartz when compared with the advantages granite has in natural beauty, uniqueness, the quality and quantity of colors and patterns available and the ability to make repairs if needed, which is not possible with quartz.

All other qualities and characteristics of each product are the same. After all, engineered stone is 93% quartz which comes from granite.

Even though Silestone, Zodiac, Cambria and other makers of quartz countertops try to convince you that applying granite sealer is a complicated hassle…!!! It just isn't true. It's only a marketing story. True it's one less task and expense, however…

Applying granite sealer is a simple procedure and you should not let it be a factor when deciding whether to install granite or quartz countertops. And truth be told… it is possible to stain quartz and the resin in quartz is more susceptible to heat damage than granite.

Bottom line is: that the differences between granite and quartz are so insignificant that you should simply install the color and pattern you like best whether granite or quartz…!