A granite countertop is one of the best investments you can make in your kitchen or bathroom. Discover how to keep your natural stone looking beautiful for years to come.
The natural look of granite is striking; the material is low-maintenance and it can last a lifetime. Installing a granite countertop in your home will also improve the value of the property.
However, although granite countertops are low maintenance, they are not maintenance-free. At the very least, you must do some work to make sure the countertop stays beautiful. Also, though granite is tough, you still need to protect it from damage, warns Betty Oursler of Granite Foundation Repair.
Taking care of a granite countertop is easy; you just need to know the things that can potentially damage the countertop and avoid them. You should also create a simple routine for looking after the countertop and follow it.
Here are the important steps for maintaining a granite countertop.
The basic rules: Caring for granite countertops
Rule #1: Clean spills immediately
Granite countertops won’t get stained if you spill coffee, soda, wine, oil, or juice on it. But it is a good idea not to leave spills sitting on the surface.
Rule #2: Avoid chipping
To avoid damaging the surface, do not use the countertop as a cutting board. Be careful with heavy pots around the granite profiles to avoid chipping the edge of your countertop.
Rule #3: Use coasters when placing drinks on the countertop
Use coasters under bottles, glasses, and cans if you place them on the countertop. Drinks won’t harm the granite but this precaution makes it more certain.
Rule #4: Use trivets and pads under hot pots and pans
Avoid transferring a pot directly from the stove to the countertop. The heat won’t damage the surface but the thermal shock can weaken the material over time.
Rule #5: Do not sit, stand, or kneel on the countertop
People mostly do this when trying to reach for something. The weight of your body could strain the countertop to the point of cracking it.
Rule #6: Do not store liquids directly on the countertop
Stuff like creams, soaps, colognes, and lotions, if left standing on the granite surface for a long time, can penetrate the sealing and stain the countertop.
Granite countertop cleaning routine
Taken note of the following when cleaning your granite countertop:
Avoid generic cleaning products
Common household cleaning products – degreasers, glass cleaners, and bleach – will degrade the seal on the countertop surface and make it prone to staining.
Do not use bathroom, tub/tile, or grout cleaners
These cleaners are abrasive, which is alright for cleaning some surfaces but not for granite countertops.
Avoid ammonia-based cleaners and some organic cleaning agents
Organic cleaners like vinegar, ammonia, lemon, and orange contain acids. Acids will corrode the surface of the countertop.
Do not use dish soap
Dishwashing soap will not damage the surface of your countertop, but continuous use of dish soap will leave a film on the surface of the granite and eventually dulling it.
Use natural stone and granite cleaners
There are many natural stone and granite cleaning sprays on the market. You can even make your own.
Daily cleaning routine
You do not need to use soap every day you clean the countertop. Simply wash it with hot water and a soft sponge or cloth. A daily hot water routine is more than enough to get rid of most stains on a granite countertop. If you need to disinfect the surface, use a marble spray cleaner.
Weekly cleaning routine
Once a week, clean the countertop thoroughly. Remove all items on the counter and apply granite cleaner all over the surface and around the edges. Clean around the edges and in areas normally hidden by appliances or containers.
Sealing and polishing your granite countertop
First, you should know that the shiny surface on the countertop is not the result of any finish that was applied to it. The shiny surface is created when the stone is subjected to intense grinding and friction until its surface becomes smooth and reflective like glass.
After it has been polished, a seal is applied to the stone’s surface to make it waterproof and protect it from damage. Sometimes this seal becomes weak allowing liquids to infiltrate the surface of the countertop. Resealing the countertop will restore its waterproof coating.
To know if your countertop needs sealing, pour a little water on the surface and wait ten minutes. If the water beads up on the surface, the seal is intact. If it sinks, the countertop needs resealing. Also, if you find that when water spills on your countertop, it gets darker around its edges, the countertop needs re-sealing.
Sealing versus polishing a granite countertop
Note that polishing a countertop is not the same as resealing it. Polishing adds a temporary sheen that enhances the appearance of the counter. But this wears off and needs to be done every week. To seal the granite, you need a granite sealer. The frequency for sealing granite countertops varies from one to three years.