The question about sealing granite puts a crack in the countertop’s reputation for ease of use and durability. People worry that having to seal their granite counter will make them a pain to deal with or reduce their durability if they don’t do it often enough.
The truth is that most (but not all) granite countertops need to be sealed. There is a simple test to see if you need to seal the countertop you’re choosing and determine when your countertop needs to be resealed (typically every 5-7 years, depending on the sealant). However, if you try to seal a granite countertop that doesn’t need it or reseal a countertop too frequently, it will develop a buildup that makes it dull and scratchable.
Here’s how to know if your granite countertop needs to be sealed and, if so when it might need to be resealed.
It’s important to understand that not all granite is the same. Part of what makes granite countertops popular is that they come in an almost infinite variety of patterns and colors.
But along with the variety in patterns comes a variety of physical properties, including their permeability (the amount of water that can soak into them). More permeable granite needs to be sealed more often. In general, granite with a darker color is likely to be less permeable. It might not need to be sealed at all. A slab with a known defect might have been treated with resin to seal it.
It’s important not to rely too much on this rule of thumb. Not only is this general tendency not always true, but two individual slabs of the same type of granite might have slightly different properties. When you visit our gallery-style showrooms in Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Florida, and Utah, you can view the specific slab you choose for your project. You can talk to a knowledgeable stone specialist who can inform you about each slab you consider.
Once you understand the properties of your granite countertop, it’s still important to know how to test the stone. The good news is that this is simple to do.
When considering a stone slab, request a sample of the stone for testing. The sample should be large enough to accommodate two dime-size puddles (or you should get two samples). Make a puddle of lemon juice and a puddle of olive oil. Observe the puddles every five minutes.
If the surface under the puddles darkens right away, the stone may be too porous for a kitchen or bathroom application. Alternatively, if the surface darkens after approximately five minutes, the stone is a good choice for a kitchen or bathroom – if you seal it. A stone that takes 10 to 15 minutes to darken still needs to be sealed, but it doesn’t need much sealant, and you can likely go many years between applications. If the sample takes 30 minutes or more to darken, the granite countertop doesn’t need to be sealed.
Also, watch for bubbling and surface changes under the lemon juice. If lemon juice damages a stone, it’s not a good choice for a kitchen or bathroom application.
Once you know whether your countertop needs to be sealed, it’s time to understand how your sealant is applied and how long it is likely to remain in place.
Our Resource Library has technical information on many granite countertop sealants. Looking at them, you’ll see they can protect your granite countertop for five to ten years, or even longer!
You don’t want to apply sealant too often. If you do, sealant will pool on the surface instead of absorbing into the stone. This will create a dull surface coating that makes your countertop less attractive. The surface coating is easier to damage than the granite, so you might notice scratches and burns. A surface coating is hard to remove, so it’s best not to reapply sealant until necessary.
You can tell it’s necessary to reapply sealant by spilling a little clean water on the countertop and watching for discoloration and absorption. If the surface gets discolored in about 10 to 15 minutes, it’s time to reapply your sealant.
Are you looking for a beautiful, low-maintenance granite countertop for your project? At the Stone Collection, you can pick the perfect slab from our galleries in Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Florida, and Utah. Contact us today to learn more.
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