Caring for Granite Countertops
Tips for maintaining your natural stone surfaces.
Selecting new countertops for your renovation or new build typically involves lots of research and is a very personal choice for any homeowner. After selecting stone, templating, and anxiously awaiting install day, you finally have your dream kitchen or bath - but have you thought about the care and maintenance with your new investment?
With all of our granite installs, we provide our customers with a detailed packet of information highlighting proper care for their natural stone. This covers topics such as how to best clean your new surfaces, what cleaners and things to avoid on granite, and recommendations on best practices for sealing of countertops.
While granite countertops are very tolerant to heat and scratch resistant, they aren’t entirely impervious. Everyday cooking and food prep in the kitchen are likely to expose your surfaces acidic (low pH) substances - lemon and other fruit juice, coffee, tomatoes, and vinegar can damage the surface of your granite if not cleaned up after contact. On the other side of the pH scale, you probably also use alkaline products day to day - bleach, antacids, toothpaste, or even baking soda can pose a threat to your countertops if not cleaned away shortly after exposure.
Many of your typical household cleaners are not formulated, meaning they aren’t pH balanced, to suffice as a suitable cleaning agent for your countertops. One of the easiest means of cleaning is using a mild solution of dish soap and water, applied with a soft cloth or sponge. Be sure to avoid abrasive scouring pads, hard-sided sponges, or steel wool scrubbers which can scratch or compromise the surface of your countertops.
If you are looking beyond mild soap and water as a cleaning option, there are a selection of recommended stone surface cleaners available to consumers. One of our preferred choices is 409 Stone & Steel which works exceptionally well on granite. Beyond a regular cleaning regiment and addressing food messes on the counters, your next step in safeguarding your natural surfaces is properly sealing them.
So, let’s get down to the core of your granite countertop care. Granite countertops should be sealed at least once a year, but some stone may be more porous and need to be sealed every 6 months. A good indicator of whether or not a countertop needs to be sealed is if the water soaks into the stone without beading up.
Invest in a sealer specifically designed for natural stone. Your local hardware store typically carries a sealer option that can be used, and one of the more readily available options on the market is Granite Sealer from Granite Gold. A note regarding sealers, there are two types of sealers available, so make sure you pay attention to which option you'll need for your particular stone:
A penetrating sealer which seals your natural stone surface without changing the color of the stone
An enhancing sealer which will seal natural stone and darken the color (these are typically used on very dark or black stones to deepen their color)
If you are uncertain as to which sealer to use, we are always happy to assist in making that decision.
Remove any items that you may keep on your countertops and set aside. You want to have nothing impeding your sealing efforts. This means any microwaves, coffee makers, etc need to be cleared out.
Using a soft clean rag, remove any residual crumbs, dust etc from the countertop surface, ensuring all small debris has been removed before beginning the sealing process.
Clean the countertop with a stone cleaner. Mist the area and let the cleaner sit for about 30 seconds before scrubbing with a sponge (sponge, not any type of abrasive dish pad, etc). Wipe over the surface with a clean, dry towel until dry. Once finished with the cleaning process, wait a minimum of 30 minutes to ensure the surface is dry.
Use a clean cloth or paintbrush to apply the sealer to the entirety of the granite countertop. Allow the applied sealer to dry for three or four minutes.
Dry and buff all portions of the countertop with a clean, dry cloth.
Additional Care and Considerations
Beyond the maintenance for your granite countertops, there are few other areas that will need your attention over time. If you look closely where your countertops meet a wall (especially if you have a stone backsplash instead of tile), the stone will have a small bead of silicone where it meets a wall surface. The areas where the backsplash contact the countertop surface as well as the wall behind the backsplash are also typically sealed with a thin bead of silicone (barring the back wall has no major curvatures associated with it). Silicone is also used to seal in place under-mount style sinks to prevent leaks into the cabinet space below.
If silicone is frequently exposed to water, food particles, spills, etc, i.e around the sink area or backsplashes where food is frequently prepped, cleaning this is a must to avoid the growth of mold. Using a q-tip and a 1% bleach solution every 1 to 2 months to clean over just the silicone areas will help fight against any discoloration and mold growth.
We hope that you will find this information useful in the care and maintenance of your granite countertops. We’ll be publishing follow up content regarding quartz countertops, comparisons between natural and engineered surface options, and much more in the coming weeks. Have questions, feedback, or tips that you use for your countertops? Drop us an email!