How to Care For Your Granite Countertops

by | Feb 26, 2018 | Educate

Granite has long been a favorite choice for countertops due to its beauty and ease of maintenance. Granite is a durable material, but like all surfaces, it does require regular maintenance. We sat down with several stone care experts to learn how best to care for granite countertops.

Why Choose Granite?

Black Forest granite. Photo courtesy of M S International.

“Granite is one of the easiest to care for stones you can use in your home,” says Galen Roth, owner of Roth Restoration in Charleston, SC. “Most of the granite restoration calls we receive are for countertops that are 10 to 15 year old, when they become dull around sink and work areas. Otherwise, granite countertops need very little upkeep.”

“Granite is a good choice for kitchen countertops because it’s not sensitive to most common household acids,” adds Brian Kornet, owner and president of Fabra-Clean in Plainview, New York. “If you have polished granite, it’s very difficult for it to lose its shine.”

Daily Maintenance

Roth recommends getting into a routine of wiping granite counters daily with a neutral cleaner. “That’s all that’s needed,” he says. “You don’t need to use a harsh soap because nothing sticks to granite; it’s a smooth surface.”

It’s important to read labels—most major brands of cleaners make a version that is safe for stone surfaces. A natural stone cleaner made for daily use should not leave residue on stone, which Kornet says is important. He notes that people often use dish detergent to clean their granite countertops, which he does not recommend. “Soap has a fatty acid that leaves a greasy film, which can dull or leave streaks on stone surfaces. You won’t get that with the right daily cleaner.”

Silver Pearl granite. Photo courtesy of Stoneshop.

Simple preventative measures can go a long way in protecting granite countertops. Make sure to use cutting boards, trivets, and cooling racks. Kornet also recommends cleaning up spills and moisture as soon as possible. “If you have bottles of cleaning fluids, such as dish detergent, keep them in a dish,” he says. “Dry underneath dishes regularly, and use coasters with glasses.”

“If you don’t take the time to wipe off water around the faucet and fixtures each day, you will see the water start to calcify, turning white,” says Jacqueline Tabbah, VP of International Stoneworks in Houston, TX. “If you let it go, you’ll need a stone restoration, but it’s cleanable using a neutral cleaner once a week to address the buildup.

Annual Maintenance

Red Dragon granite. Photo courtesy of Kenneth Volpe for Flemington Granite & Architectural Supply.

Our experts recommend sealing most granites, but the timeline can vary depending on use and which sealer was applied.

“The kitchen is the heart of the home and is used every day, and the bathroom has constant daily water exposure,” says Tabbah. “Reseal these countertops using a penetrating sealer. It provides good water, oil, and grease resistance.” Penetrating (or impregnating) sealers work just below the stone surface to provide additional safeguard against stains.

Check the manufacturers recommendations for how the product should be applied. It is typically as easy as spraying the product on and then wiping off the excess.

Kornet offers these tips for identifying when it is time to reseal, “Put a little hot water on an area, let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes, and then wipe it off. If the stone darkens, it’s still absorbing moisture. If it doesn’t, it’s sealed. The reason hot water is used is because it has smaller molecules.”

Photo courtesy of Coldspring.

“Not every stone is the same,” he says. “You have some that are more porous than others.” Some granites, such as Absolute Black, may not require sealing, or will only need one application of sealer. Other granites, like Juparana Columbo, may require four to six applications to be sealed properly.”

A good sealer can last up to 10 years if using the right products to clean daily. “What will break down the sealer besides oxidation from sunlight and from the air is using improper cleaners,” says Kornet. “Granite is such a great countertop product. If you take care of it, it will last a long time.”

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