You finally bit the bullet and invested in some gorgeous natural stone countertops. They look fantastic, but you worry that with use they could become stained or cracked. Should you seal them? What else do you not know about taking care of these new countertops?
Natural stones are durable and have a timeless look, but they require some maintenance to keep looking their best. It is essential to seal your natural stone to prevent stains, liquid damage, and corrosive compounds from eating into your worktop.
Here are five things you should know before sealing your countertops.
1. Natural Stones are Porous
Porous stones, such as granite and marble can be damaged or stained by water, food grease, and cleaning products. The more porous the stone, the easier it can be damaged, so it is important to seal your natural stone. New countertops typically have a sealant applied before or during installation, so you may not need to seal them for some time.
2. Choose a Non-Toxic Sealant
Quality sealers don’t need to contain harsh chemicals to be effective. A non-toxic product won’t have strong odors or irritate your skin. Chemical odors from the sealing process can permeate your house and linger. Ideally, you shouldn’t have to wear a mask or gloves to apply your sealant of choice. Your sealer will degrade over time, and you don’t want to worry about dangerous ingredients leaching into your food either.
3. Clean Frequently Between Sealings
Depending on use and traffic, you shouldn’t have to seal your countertops more frequently than every six months. Less used spaces can go years without needing to be resealed. However, it is important to use proper cleaning techniques for natural stones to prevent damage.
Wipe spills up quickly with a washcloth and some water. You can use a gentle soap to remove food remnants. Once washed, use a clean towel to gently dry the stone. Avoid acidic or abrasive solutions that can dull or scratch your countertops. If you need to use bleach to disinfect your countertops, use it sparingly and thoroughly dilute it.
4. Check Your Sealant’s Condition
While undersealing can lead to unwanted damage, sealing your countertops too frequently can cause an unsightly haze or film over the finish. It is best to test the existing sealant on your countertop first before reapplying sealant.
- Find an inconspicuous area of your counter to prevent noticeable marks.
- Take approximately a quarter cup of water and pour it on your worktop.
If the water beads up on the surface, your sealant is intact. You won’t need to reseal yet. If the water starts to seep into the stone or a dark spot starts to appear, you should look to reseal soon.
5. Make Sure Your Sealant is Applied Correctly
You can always have a professional seal your countertops, but it is a relatively straightforward task if you prefer to do it yourself. Make sure your countertops are clean and dry before starting the sealing process. Have your manufacturer’s directions on hand to ensure proper application. Ensure the sealer is applied evenly and covers your whole surface, including the edges. Sometimes it’s easier to do this in three-foot sections to ensure you don’t accidentally miss a spot. Allow the sealant to absorb, and then wipe off the excess with a lint-free cloth. Buff the surface until dry to ensure a flawless finish. With this proper care, you can keep your countertops glossy and protected.
What Happens If You Don’t Seal Your Natural Stone?
If you don’t think your countertop needs a sealant or do not perform the water test on your sealant’s integrity from time to time, here are some unfortunate consequences.
● Food Stains: Unsealed natural stones can quickly absorb food juices and grease. Leaving a spill for a few minutes on an unsealed countertop can result in a lifelong stain. Pigments can also be an issue. An innocuous box of berries can leave a bright berry-colored stain on your otherwise perfect countertops.
● Water Stains: When you properly seal your natural stone, it will repel water and cause it to bead up on the surface. If you don’t seal it, your worktop will absorb liquids quickly. This is troublesome for countertops in the bathroom or kitchen, where water splashes and spills are more frequent. You may think water is harmless, but it will leave watermarks on your stone, making it look perpetually dirty.
● Damage from Cleaners: Acidic and harsh cleaners, like vinegar, can damage even your sealed natural stones. But, an unsealed countertop is even more susceptible to damage. Even gentle cleaners will harm unprotected stones, causing discoloration or damage to the finish.
With proper care and the right products, you can easily maintain your natural stone of choice without worrying about every splash and spill. In addition to sealing your countertops, keep them safe by avoiding setting hot items directly on your kitchen’s natural stone slabs, stepping on their surface, and cutting on them without a barrier. While your countertops are durable, taking care of them will ensure they are gorgeous and last for a lifetime.