How to care for granite

Granite

Granite, unlike marble, is a hard, nonporous stone. It is extremely durable, and ranges in color from light pink to black. Most commonly used as countertops, granite is also seen in flooring and decorative art pieces. Though it is much easier to care for than its marble counterpart, it can still stain or otherwise be damaged. Proper care is essential.

Granite is made up mostly of quartz, feldspar, and potassium. Using adequate cleaners, polish, and sealant will keep your granite shiny and beautiful.

Protecting your granite

Granite is tough! You can cut your food directly on granite countertops without damaging them (though it might dull your knives quickly) and there’s no need to use pot holders because you can set hot pots and pans right on the stone. This is a big part of the reason that granite countertops are becoming increasingly popular.

However, there are some things that you should be cautious of. Cooking oil should not be stored on the counter, coasters should still be used under your cups, and always be sure to keep rusty metal items away.

Regular cleaning

Because granite is such a strong, hard stone, it is safe to use most chemical cleaners to clean it. But it is easier, cheaper, and just as effective to use mild dish soap and water, and it won’t negatively impact the sealant on your stone. Make sure to dry the granite well with a soft cloth to avoid streaks.

A cardinal rule of stone care is not to use any cleaner or cleaning technique unless you’re sure it is safe.

To get rid of tough stains, use a poultice – a paste-like substance made from a chemical and a thickening white powder. You can buy the white powder at your local hardware store and at businesses selling natural stone. Mix your poultice (see below for recommended chemicals), wet the stain and surrounding area, apply the paste, and tightly cover the poultice with plastic wrap and tape. The poultice should be left on the stain for up to 48 hours. Don’t get frustrated; it may take five applications before the stain is eliminated.

Recommended cleaners to use in your poultice, specific to different types of stains, are highlighted below:

  • Organic Stains (coffee, tea, cola): Use peroxide and a few drops of ammonia when mixing your poultice.
  • Oil Stains (butter, lotion, etc.): Use acetone or amyl acetate (found at drug stores). Make sure the room is well ventilated, and don’t leave the solution on the granite for too long.
  • Rust Stains (from metal items placed on the marble): Use a commercial rust stain remover.
  • Mineral Deposits: Use a vinegar-based poultice.

Polishing granite

Dull granite can be easily polished. You can buy polish made specifically for stone, or you can also use furniture polish. If you notice your granite is especially dull, use an electric polishing machine to buff the stone after a thorough cleaning.

Sealant

It is recommended that all stone—including granite—be sealed using special sealant, available from some hardware stores and most businesses that sell granite and marble. If you bought granite countertops, they were most likely sealed at installation. Sealant will need to be reapplied every one to four years, but you do not need to reseal the entire countertop. Just concentrate on the areas most in need.

Sealing the stone will protect it from staining and make regular cleaning much easier.

Scratches & chips

Granite is a very hard stone, and is very difficult to scratch or chip. It does happen, though, and diamond jewelry is often the culprit. Remove diamond rings and bracelets before working with your granite.

If you do chip your granite, and you’ve kept the chipped piece, you can fix the chip with super glue or special colored epoxy.

Professional help

Deep scratches and severely damaged granite can be professionally restored, easily. Check businesses that make and sell granite products (mainly countertops). Also check the phone book for professional stone refinishers in your area.