Granite countertop maintenance guide

Posted on March 6, 2012 at 7:47 pm by kathy Comments Off on Granite countertop maintenance guide

Granite counter top maintenance is easy and once you learn the simple secrets presented below, you’ll keep all you countertops looking fabulous for decades.

However, many myths about the qualities of different counter top materials and lots of false or conflicting information about granite counter top maintenance and granite sealing is floating around out there often in an attempt to market quartz as “advantage.”

It’s easy to get confused, frustrated and starts to worry that you are going to accidentally ruin your countertops, that granite care is a big hassle or
that you need an army of professionals to do it. You don’t. Stone countertops are very durable, resilient and age beautifully. In fact, they will outlast you and your house! In particular cleaning marble requires a more delicate protocol than granite, which is why these stones are typically not installed in kitchens or other high-use areas. As a rule, a granite sealer should be applied to all natural stones. True, some black granite doesn’t need it unless you simply want to darken the color, but confusion abounds regarding this issue.

Do’s & Don’ts

The easiest way to keep your stone looking great is to avoid bad habits that may damage it.
Granite and marble are similar in many ways, but their differences require varying degrees
of maintenance. If you utilize the granite care and cleaning procedures that follow for
all your countertops, no matter what type of stone or surface you’ll eliminate most
potential problems without ever having to think too hard about it or worry that you may be
causing damage.

Do Blot up spills immediately.

Acidic substances like wine, coffee, fruit juices, tomato sauce and sodas can etch the polish
or stain the surface. Cooking oils may also leave a stain if not wiped up.

Do Clean surfaces using a sponge or soft cloth.

Preferably use a specially formulated stone cleaner, but warm water and a basic liquid dish soap will do for quick clean-ups. However, repeated or excessive use of soap will cause build-up and dull your countertop’s shine.

Do Use coasters under all glasses, bottles and cans.

Will a beer bottle set on your granite for five minutes leave a ring? Not if it was sealed properly, but it would on marble. Many common foods and drinks contain acids that may etch the polish or damage the surface. For easy natural stone counter top maintenance, always use coasters no matter what the surface. For glasses and dishes that pile up on the kitchen countertop and around the kitchen sink, just be sure to rinse out with water before letting them set for any length of time.

Do Use trivets and hot pads under pots, pans and dinnerware.

Yes, you can take a hot pot off the stove and put it right on granite or quartz without any problems. Grit that gets trapped between the pot and the countertop surface may scratch the surface–even granite. Granite is very hard and can take tons of abuse without any damage, but it does contain some softer minerals that could be chipped or scratched. The likelihood is pretty slim, but it is possible. And ALL other surfaces are softer that granite. Better safe than sorry. If it does happen, don’t fret too much. Most chips and scratches can be easily repaired, but it’s best to avoid them by following the granite counter top care tips.

Do Use cutting boards.

Again, avoid the possibility of scratching the surface and protect your knives. Cutting on stone will dull and damage your knives’ edges quickly. Don’t Use generic cleaning products such as bleach, glass cleaners or degreasers. These products that you buy at your local store contain acids, alkalis and other chemicals that can etch or damage the countertop surface or degrade the granite sealer leaving the stone more vulnerable to staining. Trying to save money by using these chemicals only ensures that you’ll spend a lot more time and money on you granite counter top maintenance in the long-run.

Don’t Use vinegar, ammonia, lemon or orange as cleaners.
Don’t Use bathroom, tub & tile or grout cleaners.

The powders and even the “soft” creams contain abrasives that will scratch and dull surfaces.

Don’t Sit or stand on your countertops.

Unlike laminate countertops, granite, marble and quartz countertops are very hard, but not flexible and they DO NOT have plywood backing so too much weight in one spot could cause a crack.

Don’t Place toiletry products directly on your countertop surface.

Hair products, perfumes, colognes, nail products, creams, lotions and potions may stain or damage the surface or etch the polish leaving a ring. Protect your countertop by placing these products on a decorative tray like they do in fancy hotels!

Bad Advice You May Have Heard

Unfortunately, if you search around the web you’ll find lots of conflicting and plain wrong information about the characteristics of countertop surfaces and the correct procedures for granite counter top care.

We’ve seen Windex recommended for cleaning granite. True, it will clean it and your countertop will look nice and shiny. But as noted above, when used consistently over time, Windex and all other generic cleaners may damage the surface or granite sealer. You won’t see it right away.

And don’t forget when cleaning your mirrors in the bathrooms to spray the glass cleaner away from the countertop and onto the paper towel or cloth FIRST then wipe the mirror. Don’t spray it onto the mirror because guess where the overspray goes?

Dish soap?

Dish soap is also commonly recommended for stone and granite counter top care as a daily cleaner because it will not damage your stone or sealant if it’s a mild, plain soap like Ivory. However, soap scum will build up over time, dulling the surface and requiring a thorough cleaning with special products to restore the original luster. So, while using a soapy sponge or cloth for quick clean-up while you’re cooking, etc. is certainly fine, cleaning your countertops with soap is not the best or easiest method for granite counter top care.

Good Advice

The one all-purpose cleaning product that doesn’t have damaging chemicals and has a relatively neutral pH is Simple Green. They’re even coming out with a product especially for granite counter top care (cleaning not sealing). We would recommend this as a general cleaner over soap, but ONLY on granite not on marble and it isn’t needed more than once a day. If using Simple Green, regular cleaning with a specially formulated stone cleaner/sealer should also be performed on weekly basis.

Best Advice

Daily: Hot water and a sponge are sufficient to wipe up spills and debris and keep your countertops clean and tidy throughout the day. At the end of the day, a quick spray and wipe of the most heavily used areas with a stone cleaner will adequately clean, disinfect and protect your countertops.

Weekly: Use the stone cleaner over the entire surface.

Quarterly: Polishes, revitalizers and color-enhancers can also be used periodically for the ultimate in natural stone and granite counter top maintenance.

Yearly: Annual re-sealing is a good idea although the frequency really depends on the type of stone (porous or dense) and the quality of the sealant. It’s a very easy job and unless you have a stone that really shouldn’t be sealed (i.e. some black granites), then re-sealing every year will only ensure that your countertops are well protected against staining. It’s a must for marble, travertine and limestone.

Many of our recommendations are things that you probably do already. In fact, if all you ever did was seal your stone and wipe with a sponge and hot water your countertops would likely still look great 10 years from now. But follow the simple steps for granite counter top care outlined
above and your countertops will always look spectacular!

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