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Marble Today Blog

Sealing and Cleaning Granite Countertops

You may have spent a lot of time poring over samples, colors and patterns looking for that perfect slab of granite for your new countertops. They’re a solid investment that add value and beauty to your home – but they do require some routine maintenance to keep them looking and performing their best.

Two of the most important steps in caring for your granite are ensuring they maintain a hearty seal, to protect them from spills and stains, and keeping them clean on a daily basis. Here are a few sealing and cleaning tips for your countertops:

SEALING

Stone countertops are naturally porous. If they are not properly sealed, everyday spills and messes will easily penetrate the surface. Although the spill will eventually dry up, the liquid that soaked into your countertop will leave a stain that may never come out. The best way to prevent stains is to apply a sealant to your countertops. This will fill in the pores and form a protective barrier that repels liquids from soaking into the stone.

HOW TO TELL IF YOUR COUNTERTOPS NEED SEALING

It’s likely your countertops were sealed when they were first installed. But, it’s normal for the seal to eventually break down over time during normal use, so they need to be re-sealed periodically to ensure they remain fully protected at all times. Here are a couple tests you can perform at any time to determine if your counters are protected from water- or oil-based spills:

  • WATER TEST – How to tell if your counters will stand up to water-based spills:
  1. Soak a white cotton towel (or a paper towel with no color on it) in water
  2. Place the soaked towel in an inconspicuous place on the countertop
  3. Wait five to 10 minutes
  4. Remove the towel and note whether the area under the towel has turned dark

If there is no dark spot or color change, your seal is good for now. But, if it’s dark or discolored, that means the water soaked into your granite and it needs to be sealed. 

  • OIL TEST – How to tell if your counters will stand up to oil-based spills:
  1. Dab a small amount of paint thinner in an inconspicuous place on the countertop
  2. Wait five to 10 minutes
  3. Wipe the thinner off and note whether the area under the thinner has turned dark

If there is no dark spot or color change, your seal is good for now. But, if it’s dark or discolored, that means an oily substance, such as cooking oil, could soak into your granite, and it needs to be sealed.

IF YOUR COUNTERTOPS NEED TO BE SEALED

If, after conducting these simple tests, you’ve determined it’s time to seal your countertops, here’s a short Q&A to help you through the process:

Q. What kind of sealer should I use?

A. Look for a solvent-based “stone impregnator” sealer. This will penetrate the stone’s pores and cracks best, and help repel any potential stain-forming liquids.

Q. Is it difficult to seal granite countertops?

A. Sealing your granite countertops is relatively simple. In most cases, just spray and wipe the (solvent-based) product onto your granite countertops. Then let it dry to a light haze, which will signal that it has fully penetrated the stone. After about five or 10 minutes, simply wipe off the haze and you’re done. (With a water-based sealer, this process might take several hours and require multiple applications.) As with all products, you should carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions for best results.

Q. How often should I seal my countertops?

A. Depending upon your usage, plan to re-seal your countertops at least every two years. You should also perform the above tests every six months to determine if you need to re-seal more frequently. 

CLEANING

Once your countertops are properly sealed, you will only need to perform a few daily maintenance tasks to keep them fresh and clean and help them maintain their ability to repel spills and stains. Here’s a few FAQs to help you on your way:

Q. What’s the best way to keep my countertops in top shape on a daily basis?

A. Keep the surfaces clean; dust them frequently, wipe up spills immediately and clean them with a mild detergent and warm water after each use.

Q. What should I use to clean my granite?

A. Warm water and mild dishwashing soap is the best way to keep your granite countertops clean and beautiful each day. Just wash them with a soapy sponge or cloth, rinse off the soap and be sure to completely dry them with a clean cloth to avoid streaking and hazing.

Q. Are there any products I should NOT use to clean my granite with?

A. Yes – avoid products with ammonia, vinegar, lemon juice or any other cleaners containing acids. Also avoid scouring powders or creams, pumice, steel wool and any other abrasive product. Cleaners that contain acids or abrasives can scratch the surface and prematurely break down the seal, leaving your countertops susceptible to staining and other permanent damage.

Q. How do I disinfect and shine my granite countertops?

A. To periodically disinfect your granite countertops and restore their natural shine, mix together a 50:50 solution of water and 91 percent or greater isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. Spray the mix onto your granite and allow it to sit for four or five minutes. Then rinse the mixture off with warm water and thoroughly dry your countertops with a soft, clean cloth.

Your natural stone countertops were designed to bring warmth and beauty into your home. If you will keep up with these few simple maintenance steps, they will continue to hold their value and that new counter shine for a lifetime.

For more information about proper maintenance and care of your natural stone countertops, call Marble Today at 904/731-8325, or email us at info@marbletoday.com.

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