There’s no doubt that countertops are a crucial part of the overall aesthetics of your kitchen. Together with features such as cabinets, flooring, and even appliances, the countertops help create the overall vibe of the space. Along those same lines, choosing stone for your countertop material offers some of the best ROI of any product.
While the thought of a stone countertop might have you thinking that the feature is “indestructible”, the truth is that granite, marble, slate, onyx, etc. all still require regular maintenance. There are two main reasons you want to follow proper recommended care for your stone countertops:
- The kitchen is considered the most important room in the home and you want to maintain resale value for when the time comes to list your property.
- New countertops and kitchen remodels in general represent a pretty significant investment. You want to keep the products in the best shape possible for as long of a life span as you can.
Don’t worry, maintaining your countertops isn’t as thorough a project as say, pressure washing and restaining a deck. That being said, you still want to follow all the proper tips for cleaning, sealing, and general upkeep. If you don’t, you could actually be proactively causing harm to the countertops.
Cleaning Stone Countertops
Stone countertops providers will tell you that regular cleaning is a very important part of maintaining the integrity of these features. Depending on the type of stone, these countertops can be porous which means that red wine spills (and similar mishaps) can actually cause staining. In fact, anything high in acidity (vinegar, orange juice, salad dressing, for example) can cause visible damage to the countertop surface.
How to clean stone countertops depends largely on what type of actual rock it is made of. Here are some basics for the most popular types of materials used in kitchen countertops:
- Concrete – Like many stone countertops, concrete is sensitive to acidity. Therefore a mixture of 1 teaspoon dish detergent and 4 cups of water should be kept readily available in a spray bottle. You shouldn’t use vinegar or other abrasive chemicals to clean concrete. Also, get your water tested to see if you need water softener because mineral deposits in hard water can cause damage to concrete countertops over time.
- Granite – Traditionally one of the most popular materials for stone countertops that continues to be very appealing to future home buyers. One of the biggest appealing factors for granite is its shiny finish. To maintain this, use the same formula of dish detergent and water. You should use a microfiber cloth to wipe up and let the countertop air dry.
- Limestone – Homeowners are opting for limestone countertops because they give the look of marble, even though marble itself isn’t really a viable option for a kitchen because of the heavy use. Obviously the lighter color of limestone is going to require a lot of care. There is actually a special limestone cleaner that should be used if you’ve had this type of stone countertop installed. Another thing is that the lighter color of limestone allows scratches to show easier so avoid scrubbers, sponges, and similar abrasive cleaning utensils.
- Quartz – These type of countertops are actually engineered with a quartz/resin compound which gives them the durability of being A glass cleaner will actually work for daily cleaning of quartz countertops.
- Other Stone Countertops – You should always check the specific manufacturer’s cleaning instructions but for the most part dish detergent and water should be safe. Avoid abrasive scrubbers and harsh chemicals to maintain the look and style of your countertops for years to come.
If your stone countertops are non-porous, they will not need to be sealed. This includes quartz and soapstone and also engineered products that aren’t 100% stone. For types of stone that does need resealing, many stone countertops providers will recommend that you repeat the process bi-annually. One way to find out if your tops do need sealing is to splash a little bit of water on the surface. If the water beads up, it means the seal is intact for now. If the water spreads and seeps into the surface then it’s time to re-apply the sealer.
To seal your countertops, simply spray an approved sealant onto the surface and let it set for 15 minutes to absorb into the stone. Before the sealant dries completely, wipe it off with a paper towel or dry cloth. The process really is that easy.
Caring For and Maintaining Stone Countertops
In order to get the most life out of your countertops, proper care should be learned and executed. There’s the obvious trying to avoid spills of red wine and other acidic, staining liquids. If accidents do happen, wipe up these spills as soon as possible. Beyond that, never put hot pans directly onto the countertop surface and always use a cutting board to avoid knife scratches.
If your countertops do get stained, contact your local stone countertops providers for care. There are poultice formulas that can remove the stain depending on what the countertop material is and what the stain was caused by. Beyond that though, with regular cleaning, sealing, and maintenance you should be able to enjoy your countertops now – and also get some resale value down the line.