Stone Care

How to Take Care of Granite Countertops

Although granite is very durable when it’s installed properly, it’s not unbreakable. It can be chipped or cracked if it’s struck a sharp blow by a heavy object. It can also break if it’s dropped during installation. It is not flexible and will crack if it is forced to twist or bend. Therefore, granite should only be handled by professionals and must always be adequately supported by proper framing on cabinetry.
Granite is the least susceptible of all natural products to scratches. If not abused, it will hold its luster forever. However, harsh chemicals and abrasive cleaners will dull the surface over time.
Granite will not scorch or burn through ordinary use. It’s also resistance to stains. However, a few varieties may absorb some moisture with prolonged contact. Usually, no evidence remains when the liquid is removed and the granite dries, but this could be a problem with dark pigmented liquids or oils. A stone sealer should always be applied to its surface after installation, and once a year after.

Living With Granite

Granite is a natural stone product and has a certain degree of porosity. Therefore, after installation, it must be cleaned and sealed. Only impregnating sealers that are semi-permeable acceptable. Impregnators do not cover up the natural beauty of the stone and do not wear off like a surface coating.
Preparing the granite for sealing is an easy process. All that’s required is a thorough cleaning with mild detergent and water. Wipe off with a clean cloth and wait at least a couple of hours to let it dry completely. Examine the surface for water spots, these must be removed or sealing will make them permanent. Then simply spray on the sealer and wipe it off with a soft cloth. There is no scrubbing or buffing involved and a quart of sealant should last a lifetime.
While granite is ordinarily considered to be stain-resistant, foreign pigments or oils can be absorbed into the surface. This could cause discoloration. The sealer does not prevent this discoloration, but it slows it down to allow more time for clean up. If the top is sealed after staining, however, any foreign substance will be sealed in.
A few types of granite may show some moisture absorption if exposed for a period of time. For example, a puddle of water left on the counter for 30 minutes may show a dark spot when the water is wiped away. When allowed to dry, however, this spot will usually disappear.
Since granite was formed by extreme heat and pressure, it won’t be affected by heat from a cook-top or frying pan. An open flame placed under the granite has no melting effect and will not leave any burned or scarred marks.
Granite is most susceptible to cracks during shipping and installation. Once it has been properly installed, normal use will not harm it. Because of its crystalline structure, however, it can chip if subjected to blows by hard, sharp objects such as a meat cleaver. A trained professional can sometimes repair a chip with a granite dust and epoxy mixture, but no repair will be completely invisible.
Knives can be used to cut directly on the granite without harming it, but granite is harder than knife blades and will dull them very quickly. Always cut and chop on a wooden or plastic cutting board.

DAILY CARE
It’s the little things that count. Your daily habits could mean the difference between a dulled countertop and a bright shiny one years from now.

When it comes to cleaning here’s what you need to know.

Dos Don’ts
Do wipe counters off frequently to remove debris Don’t use harsh cleansers (bathroom cleaners or grout cleaners)
Do blot up spills as quickly as possible Don’t use abrasive substances to clean counters
Do wash with stone soap or a pH neutral cleaner Don’t use vinegar or lemon juice to clean
Do dry counters thoroughly after cleaning or spills

Get into the habit of

  • Using coasters under drinks—even water left on your countertop can seep into the porous stone and leave behind a stain
  • Using trivets or mats under anything that could potentially scratch the surface
  • Keeping alcohol away from counters—alcohol is not pH neutral and will mark your counter
  • Never placing hot items right on the stone surface
    • Select a heavy-duty stone cleaner that will degrease the counter and remove surface sealants (heavy-duty stone cleaners are specially formulated to deep clean stone without damaging it)
    • Mix the cleaner with water according to manufacturer directions and apply to the stone
    • Allow the cleaner to sit on the stone for the amount of time recommended by manufacturer
    • Agitate the cleaner on the countertop with a sponge or soft bristle brush
    • Mop up the soap and water then dry thoroughly
    • Polish or buff your countertops to a brilliant shine with a soft cloth

    Stain Removal
    Accidents happen. Try a regular and deep cleaning first. Then, if you find your countertops in need of some extra care, try this.

    • Select a stone poultice (fine, non-acidic clay powered agent)
    • Mix the poultice to the consistency of peanut butter
    • Wet the stained area with water
    • Put a ¼ to ½ inch layer of poultice on the stain
    • Cover with plastic and tape the edges to seal it to the countertop
    • Let the poultice dry for 24 hours then remove the plastic and let dry for another 24 hours
    • Gently remove the poultice, rinse with water and dry with a soft cloth
    • Always consult the manufacturer directions before use

    WARNING: Poultice may dull the surface of your granite. If this occurs, use a stone polishing agent to restore its shine.

ANNUAL CARE
Your granite countertop will resist stains and daily use better if you seal it regularly. There are three types of sealer you can use on your countertops:

Topical Sealer
This type of sealer is a coating that covers the surface of the stone. It doesn’t seep into the stone like other sealers do. You can opt for permanent topical sealers or strippable sealers. Permanent sealers are very difficult to remove once they are applied. Strippable sealers are meant to be removed and re-applied regularly.

Penetrating/Impregnating Sealer
This sealer lets the natural beauty of your polished or honed countertop shine through. It does not add any extra shine to your countertop. Some sealers are water-based and others are solvent-based. Either way, be sure to select a penetrating sealer that is rated to protect your countertop for several years. Though most high-quality sealers protect your counter for several years, natural stone experts recommend sealing every year or two.

Stone Enhancer Sealer
Stone enhancers do everything a penetrating sealer does but adds a cosmetic factor to the job. Enhancers darken the stone to bring out the natural colors and patterns in the stone, much the same way wetting a stone does. They brighten up older countertops and keep newer countertops as beautiful as the day they were installed. Select a sealer that is rated to protect countertops for several years. Most stone experts suggest resealing annually or every two years.

Applying Sealer
Always consult manufacturer directions for proper use of a specific product. Here are the general usage guidelines.

  • Give the countertop a deep cleaning
  • Dry it thoroughly
  • Apply sealer with a soft cloth
  • Work in small areas
  • Allow the sealer to dry on the counter for 24 hours (or as the manufacturer recommends)
  • Apply a second coat of sealer
  • Topical sealers may have additional instructions
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s directions

Your granite countertops will look great for generations if you carefully follow a maintenance schedule to keep them at their best.

WARNING

Granite is not recommended to customers who prefer surfaces that are perfectly uniform in color and pattern, or those that are totally free of blemishes. For those individuals, an engineered stone would be the preferred choice.
Due to their weight, an under-mounted cast iron sink cannot be anchored solely to the granite top but must have a support frame built into the cabinet by a carpenter.
Seams will always be visible in granite. Their visibility is affected by the granularity, color, and pattern of the stone. Seams on a small, uniform grain or dark color will not be as noticeable as they will on a larger variegated grain or lighter color. A dramatic pattern with swaths of color will similarly highlight seams more than a uniform pattern.