How to Care For Your Granite Countertops

by | Feb 26, 2018 | Living With Stone

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.”

Water can cause a calcification on granite countertops. Jacqueline Tabbah, VP of International Stoneworks in Houston, TX, recommends using a neutral cleaner once a week to address the buildup.

“If you don’t take the time to wipe off water each day, you will see the water start to calcify, turning white around the faucet and fixtures,” she says. “If you let it go, you’ll need a stone restoration, but it’s cleanable using the right products.”

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.

“The kitchen is the heart of the home and is used every day, and the bathroom has constant daily water exposure,” says Tabbah. “Once a year, 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.

Spray on the product and let it soak in for 15 to 20 minutes, then use a microfiber or cotton cloth to wipe away whatever sealer didn’t soak in, testing after each application.

“Put a little hot water on an area, let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes, and then wipe it off,” says Kornet. “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.”

“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.”

Photo courtesy of Coldspring.

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.

If you see loss of shine, Tabbah says it’s time to call a stone restoration specialist who can rehone or repolish the countertop.

“Restoration techniques takes care of surface scratches as well as areas that have lost their shine, getting the countertop back to a nice consistent finish and shine,” she says. “It’s on an as-needed basis.”

“Granite is such a great countertop product,” says Kornet. “If you take care of it, it will last a long time.”

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