Modern kitchen remodels are popularly making the use of granite as the material for kitchen countertops. Being a durable and beautiful stone that does not require heavy maintenance, granite is perfect for the many types of uses that kitchen countertops serve. Only a little care and maintenance would ensure that your granite countertops stay in good shape, which includes taking care of issues like stain removal, surface wipe-down, and sealing.
The Right Procedure for Granite Countertops Maintenance & Care
It is important to be correctly informed regarding proper maintenance procedures pertaining to granite countertops. Owing to the availability of many erroneous assumptions regarding care for granite, it is quite possible that you adapt a faulty technique. The reason behind such misconceptions related to caring for granite kitchen countertops includes over-generalization, scarcity of knowledge and understanding regarding granite and application of maintenance methods incorrectly. Therefore, it is quite natural to be confused and afraid regarding taking proper care of your granite countertops. However, this article aims to provide you with a dearth of information that would allow you to take care of your granite countertops effectively, without professional help and within affordable means. This article will guarantee that you avoid maintenance headaches, hassles and major damage to your stone countertops, by providing you with accurate information regarding granite care.
When you think of granite countertops, you must realize that many historic structures that have lasted the test of time are made from stones, similar to granite. Therefore, it is evident that they are very durable and would probably even outlast your lifetime or that of your house. The age beautifully and although damage to granite kitchen countertops is possible, it costs very little to remedy the damages. Read on to know more about the brilliant ways in which you can make your granite countertops last a lifetime.
Knowing When to Seal Granite Surfaces
It is a common misconception that all natural stones need to be sealed in order to make them stain resistant. However, this theory is untrue for many natural stones and even many varieties of granite. Performing a water absorption test will provide you with the requisite information to decide whether you need to seal your granite countertops. The water absorption test can also help you determine what kind of sealer you would require to use and if more than one application, would be required. The water absorption test simply requires you to create a small puddle of water on the kitchen countertop and record how long it takes for the water to be absorbed and leave a stain on the countertop. If the granite absorbs the water within 10 minutes, a sealer would be required. Otherwise, there might be a need for a mild sealer or no sealer at all.
The type of sealer used, the number of coatings applied, time from last application of sealer, the color of granite are some aspects that help determine whether a resealing of your granite kitchen countertop is required or not. Lighter colors of granite-like white, grey, etc. require the application of sealers and reapplication of the same more frequently, as opposed to darker colors of granite-like black, brown, blue and green. At times, some of these granite varieties do not require any application of sealer at all, owing to the pores present in them being too minuscule for water to get absorbed. It is also important to know when and if a reapplication of sealer is needed. Applying sealer when not required can cause alternative damages to your granite countertops, leaving behind a milky and flaky coating that looks ugly.
Do’s and Don’ts in Cleaning Granite Countertops
Most cleaning and maintenance techniques associated with granite countertops can be compared to the similar techniques that apply to the maintenance and cleaning of most stone countertops. Therefore, if you adhere to these good practices, it is quite simple and easy to take care of your granite kitchen countertops. The steps that you should follow include:
- Blotting up spills immediately- Although acidic substances like sauce or fruit juices do not have the same etching effect as they do on marble, they are potential causes of stains. The same goes for cooking oil. Therefore, it is important to wipe them up as soon as they stain the granite surface.
- Use a soft cloth or sponge to clean the surface- Using cleaners that have been specifically made for stone countertops and do not cause any damage to the granite surface and sealer integrity is the best choice while cleaning granite countertops. However, the use of hot water during quick clean ups is a quick and potent solution. The use of dish soap to clean your granite countertops will cause buildup over time and result in the loss of its shine. Therefore, it is not recommended to use this variety of cleaning agent for regular cleanups.
- Use coasters- Although, it is not entirely necessary to use coasters while dealing with granite, practicing so is beneficial as it avoids even the slightest chance of accidental etching on the surface.
- Do not keep hot pots or pans on granite surfaces- Although, granite is quite durable and rarely cracks when subjected to thermal shocks, placing a hot pan or pot on the countertop may rarely cause cracks, chips or scratches to the surface. Moreover, once you remove the pan or pot, the underlying surface will remain to be very hot and might cause accidents if not careful.
- Use cutting boards- Make use of cutting boards while chopping atop granite countertops. Scratches might take place on the granite surface, and you also risk dulling the blade of your knife by cutting over granite on a regular basis.
There are certain things that you should not do while caring for granite countertops. These things have been mentioned below:
- Avoid generic products for cleaning- If you wish to avoid spending extravagantly on granite countertop maintenance in the long run, refrain from spending a little extra while buying cleaning products for your granite countertop. Regular and generic products found in the market like glass cleaners, bleaches, and various degreasers will only result in damages, stains, and loss of sealer integrity when applied to granite countertops. The chemicals, acids, and alkalis present in these cleaning products are caustic to granite surfaces and should, therefore, be avoided at all costs.
- Make use of ammonia, vinegar, orange or lemon for cleaning- The use of such acidic and alkaline materials to clean granite surfaces is not recommended for the very reasons mentioned in the point above. Therefore, it is wise to avoid cleaners that have such substances or mix the same while cleaning with warm water. The use of warm water is more than enough for regular cleaning granite countertops and granite-safe cleaning products must be used during thorough cleaning sessions.
- Avoid grout cleaners, bathroom tub & tile cleaners- The powder and creamy cleaning agents of such nature contain small abrasives that have the power to dull or scratch granite surfaces.
- Avoid standing or sitting on granite countertops- Although, granite countertops are very durable and hard, they are usually not very flexible. Moreover, they lack a plywood backing and therefore, the application of excess weight on one concentrated spot might cause cracks.
- Avoid keeping toiletries and liquids directly on your countertop- Most bottles of liquids and toiletries such as cooking oil, perfumes, shampoo or nail products have a tendency to leak over time, which often goes unnoticed. This continuous leakage over time can cause stains to your kitchen countertop. Therefore, the use of shelves or stylish trays is best recommended when storing such liquids or toiletries on granite surfaces.
Do’s and Don’ts in Polishing Granite Countertops
The shine that you see on granite surfaces are the result of rigorous cutting and processing done on the slab of granite at the quarry. It is not the result of some chemically applied substance, cleaning technique or sealing. This shine is inherently provided to the piece of granite when it gets subjected to intense friction and grinding processes that ensure a smooth and shiny surface. Topical polishes available to make granite surfaces look shiny only help enhance the overall shine of granites and allow it to look as reflective as is inherently its potential.
It is very similar to waxing a car, which enhances its shine but cannot do anything to restore or repair damaged areas. Therefore, the application of such polishes would not restore a damaged or dull granite surface that has been caused by physical or chemical influence or because of a film or layer being created over the surface. The most common causes of such damage and dullness are the use of generic and harsh cleaning products, regular slippage of acidic and alkaline substances on the surface, rough use and use or dish soap. However, these items take several years to cause considerable damage to the granite surface and preventative care can be taken in time to avoid such disastrous results. Taking the help of a professional granite restorer is necessary if such damage and dullness have been caused to your kitchen countertops over time.
Knowing the Maintenance Routine of Granite Countertops
Using a sponge or dishrag to clean your granite countertops with hot water and spraying areas of significant use with granite friendly cleaners is more than enough maintenance you would require on a regular basis. It will provide adequate care, maintenance, cleaning, disinfection and protection to your kitchen countertops, maintaining its shine and beauty.
Make sure that you remove all items placed on top of the countertop. Use granite friendly cleaner, spray it thoroughly over the surface and even the edges, and wipe it clear in a similar thorough fashion. This would help you remove the grease and dirt that might have accumulated on the edges and around items, allowing you to maintain the splendid luster of your granite countertop.
A temporary topical conditioning polish for granite must be used on a periodic basis to enhance the shine and luster of the granite countertop. However, it is not this polish that is responsible for the inherent shine in granites and can only help enhance that which is naturally present. It also provides temporary protection over the granite but would wear off after repeated cleaning and use.
Checking whether your granite countertop requires resealing or not by carrying out the lemon or water absorption test is an important aspect of appropriate yearly granite care. Although many people hold assumptions that you must conduct resealing every 1-3 years, there is no hard and fast rule that this is true to all varieties of granite. Therefore, carrying out the aforementioned tests is the best way to determine whether resealing is required or not. An expert tip says that when you start noticing dark spots around the sink region, it is usually indicative of the fact that your granite is starting to absorb water and resealing would be necessary.
Granite Countertops Repair and Maintenance
Granite Countertops Crack Repair
It is never cheerful to notice a crack on your granite kitchen countertop. However, it is no reason to become anxious and the problem can be easily resolved if appropriate professional help is hired. While hairline cracks are usually undetectable and can be left as they are without any concern for recurring damages, separated cracks require more detailed attention. Attending separated cracks amateurishly will result in unsatisfactory results and therefore, hiring a professional specialist for granite repairing is the best way to go about this business. A skilled professional will be able to repair the crack in your granite so dexterously that the damage would not appear to have existed in the first place.
Deeply Cleaning of Granite Stains
Granite is susceptible to staining owing to its porous nature. Most stains on granite surfaces are caused due to water absorption or the absorption of any other liquid or substance. Sometimes, the installation glue used to set up the granite countertops can have a chemical reaction with the granite and cause a bluish-green stain to appear immediately after installation. While immediate measures like quick mopping up of spilled liquids and regular cleaning and wiping of the granite surface using a granite friendly cleaner are everyday fixes, sometimes using a more intense method is required to clean prominent stains. Using a cleaner to wipe the surface after the stain has been formed is a failed way to clean granite countertops, owing to the fact that the stain is not actually on the surface but underneath it, in the region where the liquid has been absorbed.
The first thing you need to do is determine the type of liquid that has created the stain and consecutively create a granite poultice that has been made using the appropriate chemical ingredients required to clean the stain-causing substance. Research deeply from a reliable source into which substances that are needed to create specific poultices for specific types of stains. While some granite surfaces are more susceptible to stains, like white granite, certain granite surfaces are invulnerable to staining, like black granite, owing to their highly dense compositions. Therefore, the color of your granite countertop needs to be chosen wisely if you wish to avoid too much staining.
Granite Chip Repair
Chips and pits on your granite countertop are usually the results of a heavy impact or because of the minerals becoming loose. Such damages are usually seen around the sink region. The variety of granite is also important when it comes to such damages, while certain types of damage easily others are invulnerable to such damages even after many years of use. The most common way of repairing granite chips and pits is by filling the resultant hole using similarly colored epoxy. However, this procedure is often easily detectable and therefore, looks cheap. A subtle and classy alternative is the use of clear acrylic to fill the resultant holes and this technique can be easily done by you, requiring no professional help, and is quite invisible upon inspection.
Disinfecting Granite Countertops
Unscrupulous manufacturers and vendors of granite countertops often coat lighter shades of black granite with a dark dye to make it look darker than it actually is. This is because highly dark granite has a high demand in the market and acquires a higher price owing to its dense nature. However, these counterfeit materials can often make their way into your house because they are so hard to detect. The only way to detect such doctored countertops is by exposing them to acidic substances and cleaners, which have a chemical reaction with the dye and create chalky spots on the granite surface. Since etching is very rare on normal granite unless it has been subjected to highly concentrated acids or acidic substances continuously on a regular basis, finding such reactions after only a few uses on your granite countertop usually indicates that it is doctored. Although solutions for doctored countertops are not very easy and sometimes impossible, the best way to deal with such a situation is to ask for a replacement if you happen to be within the guarantee or warranty period of the granite countertop you had bought.
Is Granite Capable of Harboring Bacteria?
A cleanability test was conducted on different materials used as kitchen countertops and granite was found to be one substance that had the highest reduction in the concentration of e-coli bacteria after reasonable and normal modes of cleaning. This reduction rate was found to be even higher than that of stainless steel. Simple washing techniques and consecutive rinsing help reduce bacteria concentration nine times better in granite as compared to stainless steel. It has been clearly stated by the Center for Disease Control, that no scientific evidence has been found to suggest that granite is a harbor for bacteria. This makes the material perfectly safe and hygienic to be used as the material for making kitchen countertops. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and the Hospitality Industry, have passed similar verdicts, in relation to the safety and hygienic properties of granite. Simple and regular cleaning of granite surfaces, adhering to the routines mentioned above are more than enough to keep your granite countertops clean and sanitized.
With the help of this guide, you would now be able to take care of your granite countertops in an efficient and proper fashion. It must be clear to you now that the best practice in keeping your granite kitchen countertops well maintained is to avoid damage. In the rare case that your kitchen countertop does suffer damages, easy fixes and remedies are available to assuage the situation. Make sure that you follow each do’s and don’ts, as well as the maintenance routines outlined above to ensure the best care and maintenance for your granite countertops.
Granite Countertops always remain popular option in kitchen countertops trends. For any specialized help and repair service, feel free to contact Westside Tile and Stoneor call us now at 818-704-9222 (Canoga Park) and 310-276-9222 (Beverly Hills) for a free consultation, your one stop solution for all granite countertops related problems.