A granite countertop is durable, aesthetically pleasing, and easy to clean. Since this material is porous and tends to absorb water, it’s prone to etching after wear and tear. To prevent permanent damage to the stone surfaces in your kitchen or bathroom, you may need to seal them.
If you seal your granite surfaces when you don’t need to, the protective layer can give them a glazed appearance. This guide can help you figure out if you need to seal your stone countertop to keep it in excellent condition.
Do All Granite Countertops Need to Be Sealed?
No, not all granite countertops need a sealant. Sometimes, granite comes sealed from the manufacturer. For instance, here at Atlantic Granite & Marble, we use a 15-year lifetime sealer. Granite is an igneous rock that contains various natural stone materials that can be prone to stains and scratches. You seal these surfaces to protect them from permanent damage and ensure the lasting look everyone wants.
Since water is clear, it usually doesn’t stain your granite countertops, but other liquids, such as grape juice or red wine, may leave spots on the stone surfaces. You might also want to be careful when placing greasy pizza boxes or oily foods on your kitchen counters. These dark substances could create unwanted stains on the granite if they are not properly sealed.
To find out whether you need to seal your granite surfaces, keep the following tips in mind.
1. Confirm That You Have Granite Countertops
If you recently moved into a new house, you might not know if you have granite in your kitchen or bathroom. This stone surface can look like natural marble or quartzite, but they all have particular characteristics.
You’d need to seal marble at least once a year to prevent damage from acidic liquids and heat, but you might not have to treat your granite countertops. Consider reaching out to the selling real estate agent or calling your local home improvement store to determine what type of stone you have throughout your property. If your Granite counter was installed by us then it includes a 15-year lifetime sealer.
2. Look at the Type of Granite Countertops You Have
You should know what kind of granite is in your kitchen or bathroom if you recently renovated your home. However, you’re unsure about the specific material, you may have to inspect it to discover its unique qualities. The following factors can determine whether you need to seal your granite surfaces:
- Porosity: Granite tends to absorb air and liquid because of the small gaps in its surface. As a result of taking in water, it may develop stains and other permanent damage. Since various stones make up this material to give it a diverse appearance, your granite countertops are unique. You can test your granite’s porosity by pouring a few drops of water on the surface.
- Color: Your countertops’ color might indicate whether you need to seal them. Darker granite tends to be more resistant to liquid staining, so you might not have to treat it. However, you might want to protect your lighter stone from deep red wine or acidic materials.
3. Consult the Manufacturer About Special Treatments
Granite comes sealed when you first have it installed. Manufacturers sometimes put a lifetime seal on your granite countertops during the production process to enhance their durability. If your countertops have a lifetime seal on them, you won’t need to reapply a sealant over time. Instead, your counters will most likely resist etching and staining for as long as you have them. You may want to reach out to the company that made your stone surfaces to discover how to care for them. All of our granite counters include a 15-year lifetime sealer.
Using the Water Test to Find Out If Your Granite Needs to Be Sealed
Besides asking the manufacturer, one of the most effective ways to discover when to seal granite countertops is to perform the water test. If you have stone counters, follow these steps to find out their resistance to water before applying a sealant:
- Fill about a quarter cup of clean tap water.
- Use a timer on your phone or a stopwatch to keep time.
- Pour a little bit of water onto your granite countertop, enough to make a pool the size of your hand. You might want to pour it in a few different areas across the counter to test the whole surface’s porosity.
- Once you pour the water, start the timer on your smartphone or stopwatch.
- Wait about a half-hour or until the countertop has absorbed all the water.
- If the granite surface immediately takes in most of the water and develops a dark mark or ring, you need to seal it once every few months.
- If it takes a few minutes for your stone countertop to soak up all the water, you only need to seal it once every year or two.
- You probably don’t need to reseal your granite countertops if they don’t absorb the water in a half-hour.
- Test your stone surfaces about once a year to make sure the seal maintains its integrity.
When testing your countertops’ porosity, you must use water instead of other liquids. Some types of granite are sensitive to acidic materials like lemon juice. Instead of using lemons on your stone surfaces to discover their resistance to acidic materials, it’s best to reach out to the manufacturer for more information.
How to Seal Granite Countertops
If the water test shows you that you need to seal your granite countertops, follow these steps to enhance their durability and lifespan.
1. Gather Your Materials
Have these materials on hand to help you seal your countertops:
- Microfiber cloths: You’ll need several clean sheets to apply the sealant to your stone surfaces.
- Liquid dishwashing detergent: Any mild soap can help you clean your countertops before sealing them.
- Isopropyl alcohol: To give your granite surfaces a deep clean, use isopropyl alcohol with a mild detergent.
- Spray bottle: Mix the cleaning solution in a spray bottle for easy application.
- Rubber gloves: Use rubber gloves when working with the granite sealer to protect your hands.
- Granite sealer: Choose a suitable sealant for treating granite.
- Soft rags: Instead of using microfiber cloths, you can use clean rags to apply the sealing substance.
2. Clean Your Granite Countertops
You should probably clean your granite countertops the day before you seal them. Since this surface is porous and vulnerable to acids, you may want to avoid using any commercial cleaners with lemon juice, harsh chemicals, baking soda or bleach. Instead, follow these tips:
- Remove all food items and small appliances from your granite countertops.
- Wipe the surface with a clean microfiber cloth to get rid of dust.
- In a spray bottle, mix a small amount of dishwashing detergent with isopropyl alcohol. Fill the remainder of the bottle with cold water.
- Spray the countertop with your homemade cleaning solution.
- Wipe the surface in a circular motion with another microfiber cloth.
- Wait at least one full day before sealing your countertops to make sure that the liquid has evaporated.
3. Read the Label on the Sealant
Each product has specific instructions for how much to use and how long it takes to dry and cure. Before using the sealant on your granite countertops, review the manufacturer’s instructions and follow them strictly. If you don’t apply the sealing substance properly, you could risk damaging your stone surfaces and cutting its lifespan short. When working with the sealant, make sure the room has proper ventilation by opening up a few windows. If it’s raining, you can open the windows in a nearby area.
4. Test the Area
Put on your rubber gloves and collect your soft rags. Apply a small amount of sealant in an inconspicuous area, according to the directions on the label. You can either use the spray nozzle on the bottle or pour the liquid into a cloth and rub it over the area. Wait the allotted time that the manufacturer recommends, usually a little less than a half-hour. If you let it sit for longer than the suggested time, you might accidentally discolor your countertops.
If your granite countertops take the sealant without developing any faded areas or marks, you can continue to the next step. Otherwise, wipe up the remaining liquid with a clean rag. Take a picture of the blemish and bring it to your local home improvement store. A representative there should be able to recommend a different sealant that can accommodate your stone surfaces. After cleaning your counter again, test the new product in another hidden area.
5. Seal Granite Countertops
Once you find a sealant that works with your granite material, you can apply it over the whole stone. Follow the manufacturer’s directions to put it on your stone surfaces properly. You should probably start at one end and work your way to the other side. Polish the surface with a soft microfiber cloth in a circular motion to ensure the whole counter gets equal coverage. Wait to proceed to the next step until the recommended time has passed so your countertop adequately absorbs the sealant.
6. Wait for the Sealant to Cure
When your countertops have absorbed the sealant according to the manufacturer’s instructions, use a clean, soft rag to wipe off any excess liquid. Check the bottle to make sure you don’t need to apply a second coat. After adding the appropriate number of coats, let your countertop cure according to the label’s directions. This process can take a few hours or a few days. As it sets, avoid wiping your countertops with anything wet.
7. Maintain Your Countertops
After you’ve sealed your countertops and waited for the proper curing time, you can put your small appliances and food items back on your counters. Keep the spray bottle of the cleaner you created in a safe place so you can thoroughly clean your countertops about once or twice a month. For daily cleaning, you can use dish detergent and a wet rag to clean your stone surfaces. To maintain your counters, make sure you wipe up spills immediately as you notice them, drying them to prevent liquids from settling into the surface.
What Sealants to Use
If you’re unsure of which sealant to use on your granite countertop, you may want to reach out to the manufacturer for suggestions. They might recommend a specific product for your particular type of granite. You might notice granite sealers on sale at your local home improvement or department store. Look for impregnating stone sealers suitable for granite to make your counters resistant to staining or etching.
Make sure you test your sealant on an inconspicuous area before you apply it to the whole counter. Some products have chemicals or acids in them that can hurt your granite countertops. If your sealant causes your countertops to lose its color when you test it, you should get a new one that maintains your countertops’ integrity. High-quality, long-lasting materials tend to be more expensive, but you won’t need to use them as often.
How Often Should You Reseal Granite?
You most likely need to reseal your granite countertops at least once a year. However, these factors could affect how often you need to apply a new protective layer to your stone surfaces:
- Type of granite: Your one-of-a-kind granite countertops have unique maintenance requirements based on their porosity. The water test should tell you the likeliness of your stone surfaces to absorb liquids and develop stains, so you’ll know how often you need to reseal them. Besides their porosity, their finishes can also determine their resistance to liquids and staining. A glossy slab is more likely to repel liquids than smooth. Your countertop manufacturer can help you figure out how often to reseal your specific product.
- Maintenance: If you diligently take care of your sealed countertop, you probably won’t have to treat them as often. Try to avoid using acidic foods or harsh chemicals on your surfaces so the sealant remains in excellent condition. You may also want to wipe up spills immediately and clean the surfaces every day. To ensure the seal hasn’t worn out, conduct the water test on your counters about once every six months.
- Wear and tear: You may want to reseal your granite countertops more often if you frequently entertain guests and cook large meals in the kitchen. The liquids, heat and acids involved in preparing food could wear out the sealer.
- Sealant: The specific product you use should have instructions about how often to reapply it. Even though long-lasting granite sealants tend to cost more money, they’re well worth the investment if you don’t have to reseal your countertops as frequently.
- Application: If you seal your granite countertops improperly, it could cut its lifespan short. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s exact instructions as labeled on the bottle. You can also consult a professional on the correct method.
Contact Us to Learn More About Sealing and Maintenance Options
At Atlantic Custom Granite, we provide a 15-year lifetime seal on all our granite countertops. If you invest in brand-new stone materials from us, we’ll make sure they can withstand moisture and etching to protect your kitchen and bathroom investments for many years. For more information about our products and how we can help you seal the granite surfaces in your home, reach out to us online or call 717-244-3494.