Taking Care of Granite Countertops: Essentials for Lasting Beauty
The secret to taking care of granite countertops is to understand the origins of this stone. Through the slow cooling and crystallization of molten rock, granite is formed beneath the surface of the Earth. It is an igneous type of stone, meaning ‘fire born,’ and consists of silicate minerals. Due to its origins and composition, granite has all the wonderful properties that make it such a favored choice for countertops – it is hard, durable, resilient, and exquisitely beautiful.
To preserve the beauty and function of your granite countertops, you need to take good care of your natural stone. This doesn’t involve heavy maintenance – only basic routine and preventative care, and an understanding of the uniqueness of your particular granite.
All natural stones have some degree of permeability, even granite. This means that while your lovely, natural countertops are relatively stain resistant, substances can still permeate the surface and cause damage. This is why sealants are generally recommended to form a protective barrier and to preserve the natural beauty of your surfaces.
Granite is generally sealed before installation and then you can perform routine sealing at home. How often should you seal your granite countertops? It depends on your particular stone. Generally lighter or highly veined stones require more sealing. Some manufacturers recommend sealing every few months or once a year. Darker granites, which tend to be denser as well, may need to be sealed less frequently. Some types of dark granite do not need to be sealed at home at all, in fact over-sealing can cause a cloudy appearance.
Make sure you talk to your manufacturer about what is right for your particular granite. You can also perform a simple test to find out if your countertops need to be sealed. If water dropped on the surface forms beads, then your granite is in wonderful shape. If the water sinks into the stone, forms a dark spot and then dries, then your countertops may need to be sealed.
Granite is a natural stone, so you want to be careful what you use to clean it with. You should use a mild, pH neutral soap for daily care. Wash with a mild dish soap or a specialized granite countertop cleaner and a soft cloth. Soft, non-abrasive sponges and microfiber or terry cloth towels work well. Never wash with bleach, ammonia, vinegar, lemon juice, or the all-purpose cleaners that are used for synthetic surfaces. These are too harsh for natural stone and they can wear away at your sealant and damage the stone.
Wipe up stains immediately. Even with a sealant, your countertops all still vulnerable to stains. Sealing simply gives you time to clean up spills or messes before a stain will set into the stone. With oil, coffee, wine, or other substances, blot the surface and then clean with your pH neutral soap.
To prevent build-up, periodically rinse the surface with hot, clean water and then buff dry with a microfiber cloth or other gentle material. You can remove build-up by gently scraping with a straight razor – never use harsh chemicals!
Cracks and Breakage
To avoid any cracks or chips don’t stand, kneel or sit on your countertops. While granite is relatively resistant to heat, you should still place a barrier between your stone and hot pans. Heat stress can cause cracking and in dark stone, discoloration.
Taking excellent care of your granite countertops will preserve the beauty and integrity of your investment. You should never have to replace your granite countertops. With gentle care and minimal routine maintenance, they will stand the test of time not just in functionality, but also in appearance.