Your granite countertop is often the backdrop for daily family meal gatherings and get-togethers with friends. If your countertop isn’t taken care of, its surface will suffer from neglect. Here’s a list of handy granite dos and don’ts ideal for first-time owners of granite countertops to keep them looking new years into the future.
What Type of Stone do I Have?
First of all, know that granite belongs to the family of siliceous stones, which included granite, slate, sandstone, quartzite, brownstone and bluestone. These stones tend to be very durable and aren’t subject to damage by very mild acids. The calcareous stones, or those mostly comprised of calcium carbonate, are very sensitive to acids and should never be cleaned with acid based cleaners. These stones include marble, travertine, limestone, and onyx. These stones contain calcium carbonate, a chemical compound that will react and “dissolve” when treated with acid.
Get in the Habit of Cleaning Your Countertops Every Day
Cleaning your countertops daily will help create a ritual that will make it easier to spot stains faster and it will also help keep your granite in top shape. When you clean your countertops, don’t use ammonia or bleach products directly on their surfaces. If a cleaner isn’t meant to be applied to natural stone, then an appropriate stone cleaner should be found. Unsuitable cleaners will attack your sealant and make it deteriorate more quickly. Some cleaners will also create an unattractive film that will start accumulating on your countertop, making your countertop lose its shine.
Be Careful of How You Use Your Countertop
Use coasters for any drink glasses you place on your countertop. Not even a sealant will protect your countertops from being etched by citrus drinks and other acid-containing liquids. You’ll also want to use a cutting board when chopping food. Even though a marble or granite surface is hard and unlikely to scratch, it can still happen. It’s also not a good idea to cut foods directly on your countertop. Cutting directly on granite or marble will cause your knives to dull. Furthermore, it is recommended that trivets be used with hot pots and pans and never place these directly on the stone. Hot surfaces can damage the sealant.
Prevent Spills and Drinks From Discoloring Your Countertop
Wipe up any spills instead of just letting them sit for later cleanup. You don’t want those liquids getting into the stone. You also want to blot any spills on your countertop instead of wiping them up. By not wiping spills, you will help prevent them from spreading any further over the countertop surface. If any stain develops, in most cases they can be cleaned with a stain remover. And don’t ever rest your harsh drain and sink cleaners on the countertop. The chemicals in these products can discolor the stone.
Maintain Your Countertop to Make It Last Well Into the Future
Natural stone countertops can easily last for decades, and with proper care, they will. The ideal way to properly protect your countertop is to make sure it gets sealed. Fortunately, this doesn’t take too many supplies and can be easily done by the homeowner. To seal your granite, all you need is a quality sealer, a sealer applicator brush and a disposable microfiber cloth. With everything off the counter, simply pour the sealer on the counter and spread it with the paintbrush. You want your sealer to stay wet and never to dry on the surface. As you apply the sealer, you’ll notice that the granite is turning a darker color. What that means is that your countertop is absorbing the sealer, so don’t be alarmed. You also want to seal your edges as you don’t want to be surprised if anything drips down the side of your countertop and stains it. Brush the sealer over the entire surface and let it sit for 15 minutes. After that, come back and buff the sealer off. You can wipe everything off with paper towels to get all the excess off. Use the microfiber cloth to do the final buffing. The buffing step is important to give the granite a complete shine with absolutely no streaking. After 24 hours, the surface should be safe enough to prepare food on it.
With proper care, your countertop will provide decades of elegance and durability. And with proper care, your countertop should look as good in ten years as it did when first installed.
Care and Maintenance
- Mild Soap and Water for daily cleaning
- A Commercially Available Cleaner for tougher jobs. Method brand of cleaners has a non-toxic, plant based cleaner that will help keep your tops clean.
- You can polish your stone with a stone product like Simple green Stone Polish
- Sealing your stone is pretty simple. Most granite comes presealed from the fabricator, but after five to ten years, a re-seal might be in order.
- Use a trivet or hot pad.
- Do not drag ceramics or metals across your stone. Although rare, it can scratch!
For further reading on care, cleaning, sealing and stain removal, see, “A Guide to the Care and Cleaning of Natural Stone,” Marble Institute of America.