Sealing Natural Stone
As a general rule, an impregnating sealer should be applied to all natural stones.
Do’s & Don’ts
The easiest way to keep your stone looking great is to avoid bad habits that may damage it. Granite, marble, travertine, limestone, soapstone, quartz and solid surface are similar in many ways, but their differences require varying degrees of maintenance. However . . . If you utilize the granite care and cleaning procedures that follow for all your countertops, no matter what type of stone or surface, you’ll eliminate most potential problems without ever having to think too hard about it or worry that you may be causing damage.
Do: Blot up spills immediately.
Acidic substances like wine, coffee, fruit juices, tomato sauce and sodas will not etch granite like they do marble, but they could potentially stain the surface. Cooking oils may also leave a stain if not wiped up.
Do: Clean surfaces using a sponge or soft cloth.
Using a specially formulated stone cleaner like Stone PLUS is recommended to keep your tops in the best condition and protect the sealer, but hot water will do for quick clean-ups. Dish soap won’t hurt your granite, but repeated or excessive use of soap will cause build-up and dull your countertop’s shine.
Do: Use coasters under all glasses, bottles and cans.
Again, granite won’t etch and using coasters on dense and/or properly sealed granite is not an absolute necessity like with marble, but using coasters is just a good practice to protect all surfaces.
Do: Use trivets and hot pads under pots, pans and dinnerware.
Yes, you can take a hot pot off the stove and put it right on granite, quartz or soapstone without any problems. Not true for all other surfaces. But you must consider other issues as well.
Grit that gets trapped between the pot and the countertop surface may scratch the surface–even granite. Granite is very hard and can take tons of abuse without any damage, but it does contain some softer minerals that could be chipped or scratched. The likelihood is pretty slim, but it is possible. And ALL other surfaces are softer that granite. Better safe than sorry.
If it does happen, don’t fret too much. Most chips and scratches can be easily repaired, but it’s best to avoid them by following the granite counter top care tips.
Also, once you remove the hot pan from the countertop the surface will be very hot and may burn.
Do: Use cutting boards.
Again, avoid the possibility of scratching the surface and protect your knives. Cutting on stone will dull and damage your knives’ edges quickly.
Don’t: Use generic cleaning products such as bleach, glass cleaners or degreasers.
These products that you buy at your local store contain acids, alkalis and other chemicals that can etch marble and degrade the granite sealer leaving the stone more vulnerable to staining.
Don’t: Use vinegar, ammonia, lemon or orange as cleaners. Don’t: Use bathroom, tub & tile or grout cleaners.
The powders and even the “soft” creams contain abrasives that will scratch and dull surfaces.
Don’t: Sit or stand on your countertops.
Unlike laminate countertops, granite, marble and quartz countertops are very hard, but not flexible and they DO NOT have a plywood backing so too much weight in one spot could cause a crack.
Don’t: Place toiletry products directly on your countertop surface.
Hair products, perfumes, colognes, nail products, creams, lotions and potions may stain granite or etch the polish (on marble) leaving a ring. Protect your countertop by placing these products on a decorative tray like they do in fancy hotels!
Bad Advice You May Have Heard
Unfortunately, if you search around the web you’ll find lots of conflicting and plain wrong information about the characteristics of countertop surfaces and the correct procedures for granite counter top care.
I’ve seen Windex recommended for cleaning granite. True, it will clean it and your countertop will look nice and shiny. But as noted above, when used consistently over time, Windex and all other generic cleaners may damage the surface or granite sealer. You won’t see it right away.
Dish Soap? Dish soap is also commonly recommended for stone and granite counter top care as a daily cleaner because it will not damage your stone or sealant if it’s a mild, plain soap like Ivory.
However, soap scum will build up over time, dulling the surface and requiring a thorough cleaning with special products to restore the original luster. So, while using a soapy sponge or cloth for quick clean-up while you’re cooking, etc. is certainly fine, cleaning your countertops with soap is not the best or easiest method for granite counter top care.
Daily: Truthfully, hot water and a sponge is sufficient to wipe up spills and debris and keep your countertops clean and tidy throughout the day. At the end of the day, a quick spray and wipe of the most heavily used areas with a stone cleaner will adequately clean, disinfect and protect your countertops.
Weekly: Use the stone cleaner over the entire surface.
Quarterly: Polishes can also be used periodically to add just a bit of extra shine for the ultimate in natural stone and granite counter top care.
Yearly: Testing your granite every year is a good idea to determine when it needs to be re-sealed. You’ll hear that you should do it every year or in 3-5 years, but the frequency for proper sealing really depends on the type of stone (porous or dense) and the quality of the sealant.
When necessary I recommend Stone Care Pro or SenGuard Sealers.
It’s a very easy job and unless you have a stone that really shouldn’t be sealed (i.e. some black granites), then re-sealing when needed will ensure that your countertops are well protected against staining.
Think Roman Coliseum
A lot to say, but many of my recommendations are things that you probably do already. So really, granite counter top care is very easy. In fact, if all you ever did was seal your stone and wipe with a sponge and hot water your countertops would likely still look great 10 years from now. But follow the simple steps for granite counter top care outlined above and your countertops will always look spectacular!
Proper Laminate Countertop Care
Laminate countertops are very popular for placement in homes across the country because of the inexpensive nature of laminate countertops, but because laminate countertops are so inexpensive, many homeowners forget that these countertops need regular care to ensure that they remain looking clean and new. Although the care needed to protect a laminate countertop is much less than what is required for other types of countertops, there are still some things that should be done on a regular basis and actions that should be avoided at all cost to keep a laminate countertop looking its best.
Cleaning A Laminate Countertop
A laminate countertop is one of the easiest types of countertops to clean because of the material that it is made out of. It is non-porous and generally does not have seams so its can be easily cleaned with a soft cloth and a soap and water solution. Using strong chemical cleaners or abrasive scouring pads on the surface of a laminate countertop is not recommended because they can harm the finish of the countertop causing scratching and blemishes on the surface.
If something is spilled on the surface of the countertop, it should be wiped up immediately to prevent the substance from drying and adhering to the countertop surface. Allowing the substance to dry on the countertop can cause issues when you try to remove it as it could damage the finish of the countertop or may be difficult to remove without the use of a harsh chemical treatment. Once the finish of a laminate countertop is marred by scratches or holes in the finish, the only options for homeowners are to replace the entire countertop with a new one or refinish the existing countertop with new laminate material.
Caring For A Laminate Countertop
Many manufacturers will include basic care instructions for the laminate countertop in the package with their product to ensure that homeowners know what they should be doing to maintain their laminate countertop. Laminate countertops can be sealed using a number of different sealant materials and the material used on your specific countertop will determine what type of regular maintenance will need to be done. Most laminate countertops are low maintenance and only require regular cleaning to keep it looking its best.
To preserve the look and finish of your laminate countertop, hot objects should never be placed on the surface. Laminate material is not heat resistant and may melt. Your laminate countertop should never be used as a cutting surface. The laminate surface is not scratch resistant and can be gouged beyond repair by sharpened knives and other utensils.