You spent hours agonizing over your choice of countertop. You had nightmares about the perfect slab you selected being destroyed. Now that the natural stone countertops you fell in love with are installed, and you finally have your dream kitchen, you’re afraid to touch them and ruin your perfect vision. Take a deep breath. Whether you have granite, marble, or quartzite, there is a way to protect your natural stone countertops, and keep them looking as wonderful as they did the day they were installed.
Why You Should Seal Your Natural Stone Countertops
Sealing your countertops helps keep make them resistant to staining. Many natural stones are porous, which allows, water, food and oil to seep into the stone and stain. Filling these pores makes it difficult for substances to penetrate. Some stones are more prone to staining than others, for example, granite is denser than marble, and therefore naturally more stain resistant. There’s a huge variety of sealants on the market, and numerous DIY recipes floating around the internet. It’s very important to determine which type of sealer is right for your countertop. Different ingredients may have negative effects on certain stones. Generally, granite countertops require an impregnating, or penetrating sealer. These sink into the channels in the stone, instead of sitting on the surface, and block stain causing liquids.
Sealing Your Countertops
Sealing your countertops is an easy project, but make certain you do the right prep-work. Make sure you know if your stone has a factory applied finish, as this can make a difference in the type of sealant you should use. Before proceeding make sure your countertop needs to be sealed. This is especially important if you have granite countertops. A few varieties of granite are so dense they do not require a sealant; however, most granites can benefit from a good quality sealer. To test if your granite needs to be sealed, or if your countertop requires a fresh coat is quite simple. Find an out of the way place on your counter and use an eye-dropper to drip a few droplets of water. Allow the water to sit and see if it is absorbed. If the water is absorbed and leaves a dark spot in 10 minutes or less, then your countertops need to be sealed.
Before sealing be sure to give your countertops a thorough cleaning. Be sure to use a cleaner designed especially for your countertop. Many recipes for DIY stone cleaners, contain dish soap, which can make your stone hazy over time, or stain your granite. They also recommend essential oils without specifying that many citrus based oils can not only stain, but also etch your countertop.
After your countertops are clean, you can proceed with sealing. As with cleaning, be cautious if using DIY products. Citrus, or linseed oil will cause discoloration in marble or granite. Be sure the sealant you have picked is labelled food safe. If sealing granite, be sure you use a sealer designed specifically for use on granite. Most experts recommend using a sealer with Fluorocarbon Aliphatic resins when sealing granite. They deeply penetrate the dense surface of granite, repel oil and water, and can go longer between applications.
The sealing process itself is easy as pie. Work in small sections to be sure you get the most effective coverage. Be certain your countertops are completely dry. Experts recommend allowing 12 hours for your countertops to dry after cleaning, before applying the sealer. Pour or spray the sealer on, if pouring spread with a thin microfiber cloth or paintbrush to evenly cover the surface.
A penetrating sealer needs time to work its way under the surface of your granite to offer maximum protection. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how long to allow it sit and work its magic. Some sealers may require more than one coat. After the sealer has soaked in for the required time, use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe off the excess. The sealer will need time to cure, so keep your countertops dry for 24 hours after sealing.
It’s as simple as that! Keep in mind that no amount of sealing will protect your stone if you use improper cleaning methods between sealing. Cleaning with vinegar, citrus based cleaners, and bleach, will eventually damage the finish, and possibly the surface of the stone itself. Be cautious when using abrasive cleaners, as they can also damage your stone over time. Properly cleaning your countertops is easy. There are countless gentle products on the market that will clean and disinfect your stone, without ruining your investment, or breaking the bank. Properly sealing and cleaning your natural stone countertops will protect them and keep your dream kitchen looking as beautiful as new.