How to Properly Take Care of Granite Countertops

Granite Kitchen Countertops5

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In this article, I teach you exactly how to care for granite countertops including why you need to seal them, how to seal them, and how to clean them so they retain their natural beauty for years to come.

Let’s dive right in!

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Importance of Sealing Granite Countertops

When it comes to sealing granite countertops, the first thing to know is that not all granite is created equal. Some granite is more porous and needs to be sealed more often than others. Sealing helps the stone resist damage from spills which can cause staining and dull the appearance. Juice, oil, grease, and wine can do a number on your granite countertops if they are not properly sealed.

To determine if your countertop needs to be sealed and how often, you need to conduct a simple water test as outlined by The Granite Guy.

The granite water test is very simple:

Step 1: Pour a small amount of water onto your countertop and make note of the time.Testing Granite Sealer

Step 2: Watch and wait.

If the water absorbs right away, apply a couple new layers of sealer every year.

If it takes 4 to 5 minutes for the water to absorb, apply a couple layers of sealer every 3 to 5 years but conduct the water test before applying. You might not need to re-seal after the first cycle.

If it absorbs at the 10-minute mark, apply one layer of sealer and you’ll be good for many years.

If the water absorbs at the 30-minute mark or not at all, congratulations, your granite is properly sealed and doesn’t need any further applications.

How to Seal Granite Countertops

Sealing your countertops is a simple process.

First, pick up a high-quality sealant. There are two types of sealers on the market, surface and impregnating.

Surface sealer – As the name suggests, surface sealers are applied to and protect the surface of the stone. They create a film on the exterior of the stone to protect it from spills. Surface sealers need a textured surface in order to bond to the material and, therefore, are not recommended for granite.

Impregnating sealer – This type of sealer penetrates into the stone’s pours creating a repellant for all types of liquids or oils. For granite, I highly suggest you use an impregnating stone sealer such as this product from Black Diamond (link to buy on Amazon).

Once you’ve found the right sealer, there are easy-to-follow instructions on the bottle.

Each sealer is a slightly different but, in general, you simply clean your countertops and allow them to dry completely. Once dry, apply the sealer with a cloth and allow the first coat of sealer to dry before applying the second coat. The sealant usually takes a full 24 hours before it takes full effect, so try to hold off on using the counters for a day after sealing.

How to Clean and Disinfect Granite Countertops

One of the great aspects of granite is that it is low maintenance. This means that caring (making sure it is properly sealed) and cleaning is very easy. There are just a few things to keep in mind when cleaning.

If your countertop is sealed properly, it becomes bacteria resistant. You won’t need to worry about bacteria seeping into the pores and putting your health at risk. If, for instance, you dropped raw meat on your counter and want to ensure the area is disinfected, mix together a 50/50 solution of water and isopropyl alcohol in a spray bottle, spray the area and let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe it away with water and a cloth.

For everyday cleaning, warm water and gentle soap will do the trick. Avoid harsh chemical cleaners such as vinegar, Windex, Lysol, or anything with bleach. Over time those cleaners will wear down the seal and damage and dull the stone.

There are several granite specific cleaning solutions on the market that have proper a proper pH balance, are non-toxic and won’t leave streaks. I recommend this one by Granite Gold (link to buy on Amazon) or this one by Weiman (link to buy on Amazon).

There are several other options in stores like Home Depot or on Amazon so I encourage you to check prices and read reviews, or you can just use soap and water, that works fine too.

In terms of technique, there is no special secret to cleaning granite countertops. Simply mix soap and water in your sink, damped your cloth and wipe away. Make sure to dry thoroughly afterward to avoid the potential of streaks. That’s it!

Why Granite Countertops Are Popular

Over the past few decades, granite has become an extremely popular stone to use within homes, especially as kitchen countertops.

There are several advantages of granite that are contributing to its wide and growing popularity including:

Natural beauty – Granite is a natural stone so each cut of it is unique and beautiful in its own way. There are countless colors, styles, and patterns with varying levels of speckles and veining. As you can see in the photos below, you can find granite to match any style of home or kitchen. The uniqueness of each stone makes it special and stand out in your home.

Resistant to damage – If properly sealed (more on that to come) granite is resistant to damage from stains, spills, heat, and chemicals. Unlike some other materials, it won’t scratch if a sharp object is dragged across it by mistake.

Low maintenance – Since granite is so durable and resistant to damage, it is a low maintenance material. Maintaining its structure and beauty for decades is simple and easy if you follow the basic instructions that we outline in this article.

Affordable – With granite, you get a luxury look at an affordable price. Of course, laminate and ceramic tile are cheaper materials, but granite is still relatively affordable and, based on the popularity, it will add significant resale value to your home.

Including installation, the average price per square foot ranges from $50-$250. The price will all depend on the particular stone you choose, the size of the slab you need, the thickness of the slab, and the cost of labor in your area.

Cons of Granite

First, like all natural stone, granite is porous and needs to be properly sealed and maintained every so often depending on your particular stone.

Second, it can chip or crack if hit with a very heavy object. Basically, don’t pound it with a hammer and you should be fine.

Alternative Countertop Materials 

Although our favorite is granite, there are a handful of other popular countertop materials worth checking out.

Quartz

Quartz Countertops

A material that has been on the rise lately. It is man-made out of ground quartz crystals combined with polyester resins and sometimes recycled glass or metallic flecks which add to the design.

Like granite, quartz is resistant to damage from scratches or spills. It differs in the fact that it is non-porous so you never have to seal it.

Many quartz designs mimic the look of granite and other natural stones but other designs are solid colors with no veining. These type of designs are becoming very popular and make for a very clean and modern look.

The downsides of quartz are that it is man-made and, even though technology has come a long way, the designs will never look as natural as real stone (in my opinion). Secondly, it can’t handle extreme heat. Most manufacturers warn that you shouldn’t put anything on it over 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lastly, in general, it is more expensive than granite.

For more information on quartz, check out this great article on thisoldhouse.com.

Marblemarble countertop

A very elegant material that has been used in homes for a very long time. Marble is a natural stone and with that comes natural beauty.

Marble is often white or a very light color which is next to impossible to find with granite. It makes for a really classy and timeless look in your home.

The downsides of marble are that it is soft and porous and will scratch and stain much easier than granite. It also does not react well when exposed to acidic liquids. With marble, you’ll need to be very careful while cooking with acidic foods and you’ll need to choose a marble-friendly cleaner. If you are ok with a slightly worn patina look over time, marble might be a good choice for you. I prefer more durable materials like granite or quartz.

Other options: Concrete, hardwood, and stainless steelWood countertops

Concrete, hardwood, and stainless steel are other materials that are gaining popularity. They are all strong materials with desirable designs, but are still less popular than granite, quartz, and marble and may not go well with many classic home styles. To me, concrete and stainless steel feel very cold and industrial, so if that is not what you are going for, you might want to pass on those materials.

Also, since they are much less popular, you could end up deterring buyers in the future. Who really knows what the styles will be in several years from now anyway. 

Let Us Know What You Think!

I hope this article was helpful in your quest to maintain beautiful granite countertops for many years to come. If you know of any other tips or tricks that we didn’t mention, please let us know by contacting us directly or leaving a comment below.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. I love your counter-top tips. My counter-tops are granite and are completely filthy. I’ll have to consider getting some cleaners to properly maintain it.

  2. It’s great to know more about granite countertops. I like how you said that just cleaning with warm water and soap is good enough. That’s good to know. What if we have a scratch in the granite? Should we hire a pro?

    • For small scratches, clean them out first. Then buff them with fine grade steel wool in a circular motion. Then reseal the surface.

      For major scratches, absolutely call a professional.

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