For a number of reasons, granite remains the most popular countertop surface used in high-end homes. The beauty of granite’s complicated patterns and its long-lived durability are key drivers of that appeal; however, it is also a relatively expensive material. Proper care of granite, therefore, is essential for homeowners.
When well cared for, granite countertops will last more than a lifetime. Here are some main steps and maintenance habits you can take to make sure your granite countertop always looks its best.
Granite is natural stone, so it needs to be sealed, in order to create a nonporous finish that will protect it from stains. Professional installers will generally seal the countertop as part of the installation process, but it will still need re-sealing at least once per year. White granite, which is more likely to show stains than darker-colored granite, may require sealing more frequently.
A simple test to see if your granite countertop could use sealing is to drip some water on the surface. If the water beads up, the countertop is sealed. If the water is absorbed into the stone, it’s now time to re-seal the granite.
Luckily, applying sealer is a pretty simple project. To begin, make sure the counter is clean and dry. Heeding the instructions on the product, use a clean, dry cloth to apply the sealer. After it dries, apply a second coat. Wait at least 24 hours for the sealant to fully cure and become water repellent before doing any food preparation on the counter.
Once your granite countertop is sealed, daily cleaning and maintenance is fairly easy. Dust the surface with a soft cloth and use either plain water or a mild soap when wiping the counter down. For situations that require extra cleaning, a special stone cleaner with a neutral pH is best. Don’t ever use cleansers with abrasives or harsh chemicals on granite.
Even when you’ve done everything right to care for your granite countertop, sometimes situations occur that require special methods. For example, to remove oily stains that have leeched into the surface, apply a paste of baking soda and dish soap. Let the paste sit on the stain overnight, covered with plastic wrap, then rinse it clean the next day. In cases where your countertop has scratches, as well as stains that are tough to remove, enlist the help of a stone care expert.
A polished finish remains the most popular choice for granite countertops, however there are other finishes, too, like honed, leathered or matte, which offer added texture. Enhanced methods must be used for these finishes, which are usually more absorbent; a special penetrating sealer is recommended in these cases, to protect the granite from stains, bacteria and moisture.
Even when sealed, these custom finishes may still show blemishes and/or discoloration when wet, especially on black granite. This is usually harmless and will disappear when dry.
Like other materials, granite countertops require their own specific brand of care, but the effort is well worth it when one considers the value of a granite countertop, its beauty and the lifetime of use it gets. Granite may be more expensive than manufactured materials, but it’s worth every penny, and with proper care it will keep giving back to you, year after year.