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How to Care For Your Stone Countertops

By the Vevano Home Team
September 22, 2020

Stone countertops are an absolutely beautiful and durable addition to any kitchen. To avoid them losing their luster or becoming damaged over time, specific care guidelines come along with the different stone countertop types.

How to Care for Granite Countertops

Granite is a beautiful natural stone that comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns. Although not completely immune, it's incredibly hard, making it durable against chips and scratches. Granite is a porous stone, so it is necessary to seal it often. This will prevent long-term staining and wear. If the seal wears down, both stains and germs can get trapped within the pores leading to discoloration. Granite countertops do require regular maintenance, though their beauty can stay for decades with proper cleaning, sealing, and polishing.

 

How to Clean Granite Countertops

You only need the simplest of cleaners to clean your granite countertops. Isopropyl alcohol and water is a good option. Otherwise, warm soapy water with a soft cloth (like microfiber) for a daily wipe down can help to maintain its natural luster. Remember to dry the counter after cleaning with a wet cloth.

Granite-specific cleaners are also available to optimize the life and seal of your granite countertops. Avoid using any cleaners with abrasive chemicals, like bleach, glass cleaner, ammonia, lemon juice or baking soda and vinegar, that could leave your granite countertops vulnerable to stains and damage. Those types of products can wear down the seal.

 

How to Seal Granite Countertops

Some granite countertops will come professionally sealed and will likely not need sealing for up to several years. Depending on the sealant and it’s core ingredients, you may need to seal granite countertops every six months, every year or every five to ten years. However, light-colored granite should be sealed more often than dark-colored granite to prevent long-term staining and discoloration.

For a longer lasting seal, look for sealant products with fluorocarbon aliphatic resin as the main active ingredient as it repels both water and oil. Silicon or siloxane-based sealants won’t last as long, but they are also less expensive than the fluorocarbon aliphatic resin counterparts.

  • First, test a section with a couple drops of water and oil a few inches apart from each other and wait about 15 minutes before checking back. If the water/oil has absorbed, it’s time to seal your granite. If the moisture is still bubbled on the surface, your seal is still working.
  • Dust and clean the counter 24 hours before sealing to allow it to completely dry.
  • Locate a small section of the counter to test the sealant on. Follow the manufacturer’s label instructions to gently apply the sealant in a circular motion and allow it to set for the recommended amount of time (but not longer) before wiping it off. Be sure to wear protective gloves. If it becomes discolored, you may need a different sealant.
  • If the tested seal looks great, then proceed with sealing the rest of the counter. Seal section by section, in circular motions. Arms width is ideal for the most even distribution of the sealant. Wipe off excess after the label’s recommended amount of time with a clean rag, also in a circular motion.
  • Wait 48 hours before putting anything wet on the newly sealed countertop.

 

How to Polish Granite Countertops

There are two types of polishings when it comes to granite. There's professional polish that should only be necessary between every five to 15 years. Just know that after polishing your granite countertop, it will need to be sealed (see above) as it’s removed a layer of the stone and exposed it to the elements of your kitchen.

There are also granite polish sprays you can buy for more regular polishing that can be used on a weekly basis. Usually you can do this with a soft cloth and spray, buffing the stone to a nice gleam.

How to Care for Quartz Countertops

Quartz countertops are an amazing option for any home. Know that there is a difference between natural quartzite and engineered quartz countertops.

Since they are not natural stone, engineered quartz, composed of ground natural quartz and polymer resins,can be made into an incredible variety of colors and patterns. It also resists mold, mildew, and bacteria, especially those countertops topped with a germ-fighting coat. Another perk of an engineered quartz countertop is that it never needs to be sealed like granite or marble as they are non-porous, requiring far less maintenance than other natural stone countertops.

Quartzite countertops, on the other hand, are porous and require more maintenance, such as sealing at least twice a year, just like other natural stone countertops. However, quartzite is also very hard, which prevents chips and etches.

 

How to Clean Quartz Countertops

Quartz countertops can be cleaned by regularly wiping down countertops with warm water and a small amount of dishwashing soap. For sticky or stubborn messes, use a rubber spatula or putty knife to gently scrape off the residue. Avoid using abrasive or acidic agents, including cleaners and the green side of sponges, to maintain the seal and its natural shine.

Isopropyl rubbing alcohol on a wet rag can help remove some stains, so long as you wipe the counter down with a clean, warm wet rag after. Some glass cleaners may be acceptable to use on stains, but ask your quartz countertop provider to be sure what product is compatible with your specific countertop.

For regular maintenance, wipe up any spills as soon as possible. Though engineered quartz is stain resistant, if you leave a spill long enough (for example, let’s say red wine), it can stain. Citrus is also not quartz-friendly when spilled or left on the surface due to acidity.

Avoid putting hot pans, pots, etc., directly on the surface.l They can burn, crack, and damage the countertop. Finally, do not cut directly on a quartz countertop as a deep cut or sharp knife can leave a scratch despite quartz being scratch resistant. Always use a cutting board to be safe.

For a deeper clean, spray a non-abrasive surface cleaner on the surface and let it sit for 10 minutes before wiping it off with a soft sponge.

 

How to Seal Quartz Countertops

Natural quartzite counters require sealing at least once a year, if not twice a year to maintain their luster. Spraying or rubbing stone sealant onto quartzite countertops should easily do the trick, so long as you carefully follow the label instructions. Ideally, the seal should last for about 6 months.

Engineered quartz countertops don’t require sealing.

 

How to Polish Quartz Countertops

Like granite, natural quartzite has two types of polishes: sprays that are safe to use weekly and professional polishing done after years of use. Professional grade polishing requires diamond pads and power grinders. This removes a layer of the stone (so it would need a new sealant after), but it’s better done by a professional unless you have the know-how and the equipment.

As for engineered quartz counter slabs, they come polished out of the factory and don’t need further polishing unless they become etched or damaged. Getting and maintaining the shine comes down to thorough and frequent cleaning.

How to Care for Marble Countertops

The marble look is very trendy right now and we can all agree it looks amazing! However, caring for an actual marble countertop tends to require more frequent maintenance compared to quartz and granite. You can have honed or polished marble counters, the latter requiring less frequent sealing as it’s less porous. Honed marble isn’t meant to have a shiny sheen, so it’s less likely to scratch and is even used as flooring.

Like granite, marble is a beautiful natural stone to feature in your home. It’s not quite as hard as granite, but they are both porous and require regular maintenance and sealing. Issues you may run into are staining or etching, which is when the countertop develops patchy spots that are rougher and appear pitted.

Marble can also be expensive, not only with the upkeep but the price per slab. A great alternative to marble is finding an engineered quartz that is marbled. Engineered quartz is cheaper per slab and requires less maintenance.

 

How to Clean Marble Countertops

Mild cleaners, like non-abrasive dish soap diluted with warm water, are adequate for day-to-day cleaning and disinfecting.You can also use a commercial marble cleaner. Like other natural stone countertops, avoid using harsh or acidic chemicals (even vinegar), which can break down the seal as well as lead to staining and etching.

Due to the porous state of marble, avoid leaving anything that could leave a stain on the counter, such as coffee, tea, wine, or anything that is high in beta-carotene (carrots, peppers, squash, apricots etc.). Wipe up any spills immediately. Also, avoid placing hot pans on the surface so as to not scorch or damage the countertops.

To remove stains, a commercial marble stain remover, called a poultice, may be needed. A homemade recipe contains: 1 tablespoon ammonia, ½ cup hydrogen peroxide, and slowly adding baking powder until thick and creamy. The bleach in this mixture would discolor darker marble, so it’s only for white or light colored marble countertops.

 

How to Seal Marble Countertops

Marble countertops should be sealed often, approximately every 3-6 months. A sign to seal your countertops would be when beadlets of water don’t form on the surface anymore.

Both spray-on and pour-on sealants that stay in effect for 3-6 months are publicly available for purchase. Apply the sealant as directed on the label, usually spreading the sealant across the whole surface of the countertop with a clean dry cloth, waiting a set amount of time, and then buffing the sealant with circular motions into the stone with another clean cloth until the countertop is dry, smooth, and shiny.

 

How to Polish Marble Countertops

To polish etched spots, use marble polishing powder and buff with a damp cloth, or per the label instructions. The sealant is what will maintain the shiny exterior for your marble countertops, as opposed to polishing.

Ready-made polish kits are available if you’d like to DIY polish your marble countertop rather than hire a professional.

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Hopefully this guide helps you to understand the maintenance needs of your stone countertops, so you can optimize the life and shine in your kitchen.