Natural stone is becoming more and more popular among homeowners because it just looks so darn good, and there are heat-resistant besides. However, you do need to take some reasonable precautions to protect and preserve the natural beauty of your natural stone countertops. Here are a few basic suggestions.
1. Make cleaning a regular habit.
Like with most things that you want to preserve, you should make it a habit to clean it every day. Your natural stone countertop will only look nice if it is clean. In addition, it is important for your family’s health to keep kitchen countertops of any material free of dirt and spills, which are potential breeding grounds for bacteria, molds, and mildew. Make sure to rinse and dry thoroughly.
2. Avoid acids.
Acids are the worst enemy of natural stone, especially softer ones such as limestone and marble, so you should avoid acid- or bleach-based cleaning chemicals when cleaning your natural stone countertops. Granite is not so vulnerable, but it still a good idea to remove all traces of acidic foods such as wine, vinegar, and citric juices immediately if you don’t want it staining your beautiful counters.
3. Remove oils.
Granite is generally stain-resistant, but it does stain more easily with oily substances, especially if it is combined with heat such as a hot pan with traces of oil on the bottom. Clean up any kind of oil from the surface as soon as possible with soap and warm water, and follow up with a soft, dry cloth.
4. Remove stains.
If you notice oil stains on your granite countertop, you can remove it by using baking soda. Make a paste of ordinary baking soda and water. Apply a thick layer of the paste on the oil stain and cover with plastic. The baking soda will absorb the oil. Leave it for 48 hours, and then remove the dried mass with a spatula. Clean the area with water and leave it to dry. If the stain is stubborn, repeat the process a second time.
5. Use special cleaners.
You can use any mild organic soap free of phosphate , warm water and a soft cloth to clean natural stone. However, if you want the best results, spring for a cleaning product specially formulated for natural stone. These are readily available in most supermarkets and house ware stores.
6. Use a soft cloth.
Properly sealed natural stone will not absorb liquids, so a soft cloth should be enough to remove any on the surface. Do not use a scouring bad or steel wool as this may scratch or discolor the stone.
7. Use heat mats or trivets.
While granite countertops will not melt, break, or crack under extreme temperatures, some dark-colored granite may discolor when you put a hot pot directly on it. Prolonged exposure to heat during cold weather may also compromise the integrity of the stone. To be on the safe side, use a protective barrier such as a trivet or heat mat.
8. Treat it to a hot bath.
Granite can develop a thin film of soap scum over a period of time. You can prevent a build-up by treating it to a hot water rinse once a week, and drying it off with a paper towel.
9. Remove dried spills and lime build up.
If you missed a spot, or your water is hard, you may end up with hard gunk that a soft cloth cannot handle. Gently use a straight-edged razor blade to scrape off the offending material. If it really will not come off, you can use a no-scratch scouring pad or dry grade 00 steel wool. Do not use ammonia or lime remover; it will dissolve the seal of your countertop.
10. Treat it with respect.
Your countertop may be tough, but if you handle it too roughly, you could chip or crack it. The most likely scenario is banging a heavy metal pot against the sharp edge of the countertop, which is the most vulnerable to chipping. Look where you’re going, and avoid banging down heavy pots on the surface, especially near the edge. If you do manage to break off a piece, don’t throw it away. It may be possible to put it back on with epoxy.
11. Seal the deal.
Our products are pre-sealed in the factory prior to installation. It seals in fissures and indentations, making the natural stone more resistant to oil and water stains as well as other kinds of dirt. Granite, in particular, is naturally resistant even without a seal, but its potential to last a lifetime is enhanced by the use of the right sealer.
You can do your part by applying a sealant to your countertop after installation. There are commercially available sealants that do a nice job with a little effort. Some experts recommend an annual re-application, but it really depends on your use, the color of your countertop, and your preference. Dark colored granite will not usually need resealing. You can test if you need to apply another coat if liquid on the countertop does not bead.
12. Polish it up.
If you want your countertop to gleam, a monthly application of a polisher expressly designed for your type of natural stone will work nicely. It is not necessary, but it can’t hurt.
13. Watch out for that vase.
Surprisingly, while you can do your cutting on your granite countertop or place a piping hot pan without fear of doing damage, some ceramic objects are not so harmless. This is because granite is made of quartz, so ceramic vases, pizza stones, or anything that has silica sand or quartz can scratch your granite. It is a given that anything with a diamond will also leave marks on your countertop, so keep your diamond jewelry on your person where it can’t do any harm. If you want to put your charming ceramic cookie jar on display on your granite countertop, or use your marble cutting board,put a protective mat under it.