Stone Countertops: Dos and Don’ts
Installing stone countertops in your home is a huge investment, and the last thing you want is for these surfaces to become scratched, cracked, or damaged over time due to poor care habits. Common natural stone surfaces made from marble, granite, travertine, soapstone, limestone, quartz, and others all require varying degrees of maintenance to maintain their durability and natural shine.
Fortunately, by following common care and cleaning protocols, you’ll be able to eliminate most potential problems no matter what type of stone surface is in your home. Avoiding any bad habits will ensure that your countertops retain their natural beauty, so follow these dos and don’ts so your costly investment isn’t wasted.
Do Use Appropriate Cleaners
Proper natural stone and granite care begins by using appropriate cleaners that are pH balanced and designed specifically for stone. Rock Doctor’s Granite & Quartz Cleaner is the perfect neutral cleaning solution specifically formulated for natural stone countertops.
This type of natural stone cleaner will keep your countertops in the best condition without damaging the stone’s natural shine while also protecting any sealant that’s on the stone. It also doesn’t leave any streaking or residue on the surface of your countertops. While using this type of cleaner, always opt for a clean, soft cloth or a clean paper towel.
Don’t Use Abrasive or Alkaline Cleaners
The number one mistake many homeowners make is using the wrong cleaner on their natural stone countertops. Many generic household cleaners, including bleach, ammonia, degreasers, vinegar, glass cleaners, or lemon will damage stone countertops over time. Even using soapy water to clean your countertops will cause build-up, dulling the stone’s shine.
Most common household cleaners contain alkalis, acids, and other chemicals that degrade and etch natural stone. They can also degrade any sealant that’s on the stone, leaving your countertops more vulnerable to staining. Bathroom, bathtub, and tile cleaners should also be avoided since they are abrasive and will dull or scratch countertop surfaces.
If you’re trying to save money by using these chemical cleaners, you’ll only spend more money in the long run on natural stone or granite care, or even a complete countertop replacement. It’s best to avoid this situation by only using cleaners specifically made for natural stone or ones recommended by the stone’s manufacturer.
Do Use Trivets, Coasters, and Cutting Boards
Although granite is known to be resistant to heat, it’s still possible for it to crack or burn due to contact with hot dishes or cookware. The same can be said for all types of natural stone countertops, so it’s important to always use trivets or hot pads underneath hot pans instead of setting them directly on the countertop’s surface.
It’s also important to use coasters whenever setting bottles or glasses on your stone countertop, especially those containing acidic beverages or alcohol. Cold glasses will leave condensation rings on the countertop, and acidic beverages may leak onto its surface. Both of these can potentially damage the stone’s sealant.
You should also avoid using or setting anything too sharp on your stone countertop’s surface to avoid excess scratching. Always use placemats under ceramic or silver objects and a cutting board while cooking. Not only will your countertop dull your knives’ edges, but its solid surface will also be vulnerable to heavy scratching or scraping.
Don’t Set Hot or Wet Items on Stone Surfaces
Placing hot cookware or dishes directly onto natural stone can lead to thermal shock, causing the stone to crack, break, or burn. There is also the possibility of grit, grease, and other food particles getting trapped between the countertop and the pot, leading to surface scratching.
Never store liquids or other wet toiletries directly on top of stone countertops. Products like cooking oils, perfumes, colognes, haircare and nail items, creams, and lotions may leak. If spills from these products sit on the natural stone’s surface for an extended period, the substance is likely to stain the countertop—even if the countertop is sealed. Instead, store these products on decorative trays or shelving to prevent them from infiltrating and staining your countertops.
Do Surface Clean Daily
Keeping your stone countertops clean daily will go a long way in preserving their good quality, durability, and shiny appearance. Countertops should be dusted, cleaned, and disinfected to ensure they remain healthy and functional in your home.
When cleaning your countertops daily, warm water with a soft cloth is usually sufficient to wipe away crumbs and other food particles. Tougher spills can also be removed with a neutral stone cleaner, which will disinfect and protect your countertops as well as provide a streak-free shine.
If you’re wondering how often you should polish granite countertops and other natural stones, we recommend using a Granite & Quartz Polish at least once a month. Applying this polish on your stone countertops will help to enhance the surface’s natural shine, eliminate fingertip spots, and provide extra protection.
Don’t Let Spills Sit
Many substances can potentially stain natural stone countertops, including acidic household cleaners, cooking oils, and liquids like coffee, fruit juices, wine, tomato sauce, salad dressing, and sodas. These substances will permanently stain natural stone if not cleaned right away.
Spills should be wiped from natural stone as swiftly as possible to minimize potential permanent damage to the countertop’s surface. Natural stones, like granite and marble, are porous and prone to absorbing liquids if spills sit too long on their surface. Wiping away spills immediately will lessen any chance of permanent staining.
Do Test the Countertop’s Seal
To better protect your natural stone countertops, they should be properly sealed with a Granite & Stone Sealer to reduce stain formation and slow down the rate at which spills absorb into the surface. Regularly sealing your countertops gives you more time to wipe up spills or messes before any permanent damage is done.
To find out if your stone countertops need to be sealed, test yearly using the water drop test. Place a small drop of water on the surface of your countertop. If the stone absorbs the water, it’s time to seal the stone. If the water drop remains on the countertop’s surface, the sealant is still in good condition.
Don’t Overseal the Stone
Natural stone and granite care requires countertops to be sealed every one to three years. However, the amount of time that passes between reapplying sealant will vary depending on the product type, quality, and color. It’s best to check with the stone’s manufacturer to see what the best protocol is for that specific stone.
The best way to know whether you need to reapply sealant to your stone countertops is to perform the water drop test. Otherwise, you may risk oversealing the stone. Additionally, some natural stones, like soapstone and quartz, are non-porous materials and do not need to be sealed at all.
Rock Doctor has a full line of natural stone countertop products to make caring for your home’s countertops easy and convenient. For more information, visit rockdoctor.com.