What Are Granite Countertops?
Granite is a hard, durable stone that forms over time from volcanic magma. Granite has earned a reputation as a great building stone and is very popular in homes. It ranges in color and is known for its elegance and beauty, especially when used for kitchen countertops. Such countertops have become a highly coveted feature in homes, greatly sought after by prospective homebuyers. But caring for granite countertops is necessary to protect the investment.
Granite Countertop Pros
Granite countertops are a gorgeous addition to any home, with each piece being a unique work of art. Because granite is available in so many colors, homeowners have many options to choose from. Granite can be chosen to fit any decor or design scheme. Not only is it durable, it also resists heat. This makes it great for kneading dough, making roll-out cookies, and other tasks that need a cool countertop for best results.
Granite Countertop Cons
A common misconception about granite countertops is that they stay gorgeous effortlessly. In reality, granite requires regular maintenance to keep it looking beautiful. Besides cleaning, you’ll need to ensure the granite is sealed periodically as well. Stains can be extremely difficult to remove, but not impossible—dealing with them quickly will ensure the best results. Countertops may also be susceptible to cracking, although proper installation can alleviate these concerns.
To keep granite countertops clean, use a microfiber cloth to simply dust off the surface. Often this type of cleaning cloth, even a dry one, is all that’s needed for basic cleaning. For times when spills or other daily life happen to your granite, try to wipe it down immediately, as needed, using only water.
Once a week wipe your granite countertops with a damp cloth and a stone cleaner formulated with a neutral pH. Never use harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, even if you think the stain or mess calls for it. These types of cleaners can scratch, pit, and etch the surface of the stone permanently. For oily stains that have soaked into the granite, try a poultice mixture made with a cup of flour or baking soda and 5 tablespoons of dish soap. Add water to make it the consistency of sour cream. Place the solution directly on the stain and cover with plastic wrap overnight. The next morning, wash away the poultice mixture—just be sure to use plain water, no harsh cleaners. Rinse the countertops gently and then dry thoroughly.
Sealing is a regular maintenance task for granite that cannot be ignored. There is a simple test you can do to determine if your countertops need to be sealed again. Splash a little water on the surface of the countertop, then watch to see if the water beads or flows freely. If the water is no longer beading, resealing is required. Be sure to perform this test on areas that get the most use. It’s important to examine your granite thoroughly at least once a year.
Inspect areas to make sure there is no cracking or shifting at the seams. Inspect for stains and scratches, as well. If there are stains or damages of any kind, contact a stone-care professional. Delaying repair or treatment can lead to larger and more expensive repairs or even the need for a total replacement.
Many homeowners who don’t know about these seasonal maintenance tasks, or who forget to perform them, often end up with costly repairs to cover.