Like most people, you probably spend a lot of time cooking and cleaning your kitchen countertops. With the right upkeep, the stone countertops in your home can last for many years to come. Unfortunately, however, many people can form bad habits while using their countertops that aren’t healthy for the stone.
Stone countertops made from granite, marble, quartz, or others can be damaged over time if they aren’t cared for properly. Although you may not realize it, there could be many ways you are accidentally ruining countertops in your home. To avoid this, it’s best to be aware of the bad habits that can lead to damaged countertops and correct them to prevent any costly mistakes.
1. Adding Too Much Weight
Some people may be tempted to sit or stand on their stone countertop to reach that high shelf, but we strongly recommend against this. Stone countertops are extremely heavy and must be fully supported underneath with a strong cabinet base. Any added weight from heavy objects or people can put intense pressure on the countertop surface, leading to cracks or other breaks.
Fractures in the stone are especially common near unsupported joints or edges where the countertop is more susceptible to damage from too much weight, like a heavy microwave or a person sitting on the surface. These fractures can be very hard to repair, meaning any attempt to fix the stone could be more expensive than you’d like to pay.
While adding too much weight on your stone countertops once or twice may not show any visible harm, over time, this practice will lead to more damage and therefore should be avoided altogether.
2. Putting Hot Items Directly on the Surface
One of the most common benefits to some stone countertops, like granite, marble, and quartz, is that they are heat resistant. However, this characteristic should be taken with a grain of salt since these stone countertops can still be susceptible to damage from really hot items like pots and pans.
Extreme heat from hot items can lead to discoloration of the stone’s surface and weaken any granite sealer that may be on the stone. It may also leave burn marks or cause cracking due to temperature changes from heat-generating appliances.
To avoid any damage related to intense heat, it’s important to always use a protective barrier between the hot object and your countertop. Trivets, placemats, cutting boards, towels, and potholders are all great options to keep your countertop protected from hot crockpots, toaster ovens, pans, and other cooking pots.
3. Using the Wrong Cleaners
Certain household cleaners, especially those containing bleach, vinegar, and ammonia, are not safe for use on natural stone countertops. These cleaners will erode and dull the countertop surface and cause the stone to lose its luster and polished appearance. Similarly, anti-bacterial wipes can be harsh on the the stone, especially if it sits for long periods of time on the surface.
For daily cleanups, we recommend Rock Doctor’s Granite & Quartz Cleaner. This cleaning formula is non-abrasive, non-acidic, and leaves your countertops streak-free. We recommend cleaning your countertops as soon as you’re done using them to keep them sanitized and looking fresh.
In addition to using the right cleaner for granite or other stone surfaces, you’ll want to avoid using sponges, scourers, or brushes with abrasive bristles when wiping. These types of scrubbing tools will only scratch the surface of your countertop. Instead, opt for a soft microfiber cloth or a clean paper towel.
4. Getting Acidic Food or Liquids on the Stone
Some stone countertops, especially marble and granite, have a chemical base of calcium carbonate, meaning they are very sensitive to anything acidic. Acidic foods and liquids, like vinegar, lemon juice, wine, and tomato sauce, can damage stone countertops if they aren’t cleaned up right away. These substances can cause discoloration and dull spots, also known as etching.
Even if your stone countertops are stain-resistant, it’s better to be cautious whenever dealing with anything acidic. If you spill something acidic, clean it up as soon as possible with water or the granite cleaner.
5. Letting Water Sit on the Surface
Another way you may be accidentally ruining your countertops is by letting water sit for too long on the surface. While you may not think that this can cause damage to your counters, sitting water can be very harmful if not wiped up as soon as possible.
Pools of water, especially mineral-rich and hard tap water, can cause white crusty buildup and staining if left for long periods. Even less-porous countertops, like granite and quartz, can still be susceptible to staining from spilled water or water rings from a wet glass.
To avoid this, do not let the water sit and evaporate. Instead, wipe up the spilled water right away and immediately dry the area with a soft towel. This will help to prevent future damage to the stone.
6. Cutting and Chopping Directly on Your Counters
Many natural stone surfaces, like quartz, are advertised as being scratch-resistant. However, we always recommend using a cutting board while chopping with a knife instead of cutting directly on the countertop surface. Cutting directly on the surface leaves your counters at risk for scratching, and it can dull your kitchen knives.
Scratches in natural stone, even if they are extremely fine, can disrupt the countertop’s waterproof sealant. This makes your counters more vulnerable to damage over time. Along with regularly chopping on cutting boards, it’s best to avoid using any stoneware containing silica sand. Ceramic, pizza stones, china, and marble cutting boards can also scratch your countertop’s surface, so they should be used with caution.
7. Always Using the Same Spots
People create habits when cooking in the kitchen. This may mean working at the same spot each time, exposing your counters to wear and tear more easily. You may start to notice scratching, etching, or other signs of damage from habitually using that place on the counter.
To avoid this, try migrating around to different parts of your kitchen to avoid uneven damage to your stone countertops. Additionally, whenever possible, always use something protective between the countertop surface and the objects you place on it.
Countertops are meant to be used, which is why many homeowners opt for natural stone because of its longevity and durability. If you aren’t careful, there may be ways you are accidentally ruining your countertops, and these practices should be avoided as much as possible. To learn more about proper natural stone care, visit rockdoctor.com for a full list of stone countertop cleaning products.