Granite countertops are popular for their natural beauty and durability. As a result, granite countertops are very common in homes built in the past ten years or so. However, as attractive as they can be, maintenance is required to keep them shiny and clean. Care for granite countertops is often thought of as being time-consuming and difficult, but that isn’t always the case if you are smart about things. If you want to keep your granite countertops looking glossy and brand new for decades, here's some tips to make things easier.
Granite Is Porous - Keep It Sealed
Unlike some manufactured rock surfaces, granite is natural stone. As a result, it is also naturally porous and this means that water and other liquids can seep into pores. This also means that food can get stuck there too and cause health concerns as well as smells that would attract critters. Most newly installed granite countertops will have already been sealed by the builder as well as at the factory. However, if you aren't the original owner you should check to make sure. Luckily, there is an easy way to test the granite ...
Water Drop Test
Puddle a small amount of water on the countertop and then watch to see how quickly the granite darkens. If it darkens quickly then you need to reseal it immediately. If it doesn't darken after 30 minutes then your granite countertop is sealed effectively.
How Long Will A Granite Countertop Seal Last?
Most granite countertops should maintain their seal for at least ten years. However, various factors can impact this lifespan. Some of these factors include:
Wear and Tear: How often you cook in the kitchen and the resulting wear and tear from pans, plates etc. can erode the seal
Cleaning Methods: How often you clean your granite countertops and the cleaner used will have an impact. For instance, chemical cleaners are more harsh than simple soap and water. Even better though would be a cleaning product specifically designed for use on granite.
Type of Granite Countertop: Granite is a natural product and there are different types from different locations all around the world. Each will have a slightly different nature and that will impact how absorbent it is and how long a granite sealant will be.
Keeping Granite Countertops Shiny
Not only are there different types of stone, but granite countertops in a variety of different finishes too. Generally there are three different styles of granite countertop finishes: Polished (shiny and reflective), Honed (smooth but with less glare and shine but also more porous), and Leather (textured and highlights the natural stone color but less porous like the polished finish). The polished glossy finish is the most common granite countertop finish, but the others are popular as well depending on the look you are going for. If you know that you want a mirror-like finish, talk to your contractor to make sure that they put the right finish on your countertops.
The polished finish highlights the features that the stone has naturally and is also easier to clean and maintain. Part of this is due to the fact that the polished finished seals the pores of the stone to moisture out of the stone, which protects it from discoloration and staining. The colors and textures of the stone will also be more vibrant than the alternatives.
Maintaining Granite Countertops
If you decide to get polished granite countertops, maintaining the shine on the surface is a lot easier than you might think. The first thing that you need to do is keep your granite countertops clean and protected. For daily cleaning, you should use a granite cleaning product. Using a granite-safe product will prevent wear and tear to the sealer and the polish that you use on your granite countertops. Granite countertops should be cleaned daily to prevent staining and damage from anything that happens to get dropped or spilled on the surface of the stone.
Polishing granite is vital to keeping the stone looking shiny and new. A quality granite polish is going to keep that shine on your countertops. Depending on how often you use your countertops, you can polish them once every week or two. The polish will not only leave your countertops with a nice sheen, but it will also provide an additional layer of protection from spills and stains. Polishing granite countertops is a breeze, but you should make sure that your countertops are clean before you begin to polish the surface. In most cases, polishing granite countertops takes less than 15 minutes of work, but there is some drying time you will need to allow for when planning your polishing.
Finally, making sure that your countertops are properly sealed at all times can help maintain that shiny appearance that you are going for. Sealer should be applied at least once a year, but possibly more often depending on how much use your countertops.
Remember, you can test to see if your sealer is still protecting your stone by dripping a few droplets of water onto the surface of the countertop. If the water beads up, the sealer is still protecting your countertop. However, if after a few seconds the water soaks into the stone, you should reseal the granite.