cleaning counterops

How To Maintain Granite Countertop

cleaning counteropsGranite countertops are one of the nicest showpieces that any home can have. By using one of nature’s most abundant and beautiful materials, granite counters offer something that is both unique and natural.

Of course, none of that will do you any good if you don’t learn how to do some basic maintenance on your granite countertops. In this article, I will address the most important points on the subject of how to maintain granite countertops.

How To Maintain A Granite Countertop

The first thing to understand is that granite countertop maintenance isn’t all that complicated. It just takes a little diligence, and you can have something that will look nice for years to come.

Tip #1: Cleanliness Equals Longevity

It might sound odd, but a clean countertop will normally last a lot longer. Yes, it is basically a polished rock, but that doesn’t make it unbreakable. More importantly, granite can be stained by a number of different liquids. Basically, anything acidic is bound to leave a mark if it sits for more than a few minutes. This might include orange juice, tea, coffee, soda, or a number of other things. Strong bases like ammonia or lye could also cause a problem.

Apart from keeping the surface dry, you should also wipe it down with a microfiber cloth from time to time. This won’t really affect the longevity of the stone, but it will keep it looking nice and smooth. It’s important that you avoid the use of harsh chemical cleaners. They might clean the dirt, but they can also stain the stone if they are too acidic or too basic.

Tip #2: To Seal Or Not To Seal?

clean countertopMany granite countertop owners will choose to seal their stone with one of the various products that are sold for this purpose. These are basically plastics that soak into the stone before hardening. The result is a tight seal that keeps all liquids away from the stone itself.

However, a sealer might have two downsides. First, it will definitely alter the texture of the stone. That may not be a big deal to you, but some people like the feel of natural stone against their hands. The rough texture also provides a more natural and rough-cut look. Second, a sealer will make the stone look a little bit more artificial since you are basically coating it with plastic.

On the other hand, you may need the extra protection that a sealer offers. If you have small children or cats that tend to knock over cups, you may have no choice in the matter. If you are prone to spilling things yourself, and you drink a lot of acidic beverages, that would be a combination that calls for immediate sealing.

Tip #3: Do The Water Test Before Sealing Or Re-Sealing

Here’s an important point to remember: Not all types of granite require a sealer. There are many different types of granite. In fact, just about every region of the world has its unique variation of this stone. Not only do they look different, but some are a lot more porous than others. Non-porous granite will not absorb liquids, and that means they will have very little chance of being stained.

To figure out if your granite requires sealing, you need only perform the water test. All you have to do is drip a little bit of water on the surface of the uncoated stone. One easy method is to dip your fingers in a small bowl of water before sprinkling it across the granite. Now, you will need to leave it in place for a while.

When the stone has absorbed the water, it will darken. Once you see this darkening effect, you should immediately wipe away all the water. It is not necessary to let the liquid soak deeply into the stone, which might darken it permanently. Instead, keep an eye on things with a timer.

  • If the stone immediately darkens: You have a very absorbent stone, and you need to apply 2-4 layers of sealer. You will need to re-apply once per year.
  • If the stone darkens after 4-5 minutes: You have a somewhat absorbent stone. It will need 2-4 layers of sealer, but will only need to be re-applied every 3-5 years.
  • If the stone darkens after 10-12 minutes: You have a slightly absorbent stone. You can make do with 1-2 layers of sealer, and you won’t need to re-apply for at least 5-6 years.
  • If the stone hasn’t darkened after 30 minutes: Your stone is non-absorbent. No sealer is necessary.

One last point to remember on this subject: The water test should be used anytime you think your stone might need to be re-sealed.

Tip #4: Be Careful About Impact And Heavy Objects

kitchen countertopLike most types of stone, granite is very resistant to damage. However, its extreme hardness makes it a little more brittle than most types of stone. When granite is in its natural form (i.e., a chunk on the ground), it is generally much thicker than your granite countertop. Once the stone is rendered into a slab, it becomes much easier to break.

It might surprise you to know that the softer types of granite will usually do a better job of resisting impact. This is because they have a little bit more “give” when they are struck. What I mean is, the softer surface can absorb a little more impact because it can flex a little bit more before it breaks.

Even if you don’t slam things down on your counter, you could still break it with a heavy object. Thus, anything large and heavy you set on your granite countertop should be set down softly. Once the slab is cracked, there is virtually no way to make it whole again.

Tip #5: How To Remove Stubborn Stains

removing stainIn spite of all your precautions, you still might find yourself with a stained countertop. If you find yourself in this situation, there are a few steps that you can take to remove the stain. I already mentioned that you need to avoid harsh chemical cleaners, particularly the abrasive ones. So, let’s discuss the things that you can use.

There are many granite-specific cleaning solutions on the market, and these are obviously the ideal choice. However, they are kind of expensive, so it isn’t practical to use them all the time. Instead, use a mild solution of water and soap. This makes a great wipe-down formula and can be stored in a spray bottle for easy application.

If your soap and water solution doesn’t do the trick, you need to move to the next level. Make a mixture of water and laundry detergent (about equal parts), and apply it to the surface of the stone. Now, scrub it with a soft-bristled brush before rinsing and wipe-drying.

If your stain persists, make a mixture of water and baking soda (again, about equal parts of each ingredient). Apply that to the surface and scrub with a soft brush as before. Of course, you must rinse and dry like before as well.

If the stain remains after all of this, use a little bit of fine-grade steel wool to wear away the stained material. Use it in combination with the water/baking soda mixture, but be careful not to scratch the surface of the stone any more than necessary.

Conclusion

As you can see, it really isn’t all that hard to keep your granite countertops in good shape. By following the simple steps provided above, you can make sure that you protect what is likely a large investment. So, let’s recap the main points that you need to remember:

  • Keep your stone nice and clean
  • Determine if your stone needs to be sealed
  • Understand and use the water test
  • Always be aware of the danger of breakage
  • Know how to clean your stone properly

By keeping all these things in mind, you should be able to take care of your granite countertop for a long time to come. I hope that you have enjoyed this article and that you will come back to read more of my work.

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