The biggest caution to consider when selecting natural stone counters is that they must be properly sealed when installed and resealed as needed.
When you pay attention to these details, your stone countertops will look good for decades without stains or blemishes. They’ll also be easier to get thoroughly clean for kitchen safety, and the sealant will stop the penetration of damaging water into the stone.
This natural stone countertop maintenance guide will inform you about countertop sealing. You’ll get the best long-term results when you leave the job to a professional. But when you know what should be done, you’ll have the knowledge needed to hire a pro that will do it right.
Consider Buying Pre-Sealed Stone
There are several natural stone products on the market that feature sealing done in a factory setting. The sealant is a resin product added to the stone to seal and fill tiny cracks that can become repositories for moisture and dirt. The resin also gives each slab of granite a more “perfect” look. It removes some of the natural character of the granite, and for this reason, some consumers don’t prefer it.
Sealant on granite, slate or marble that is applied in this way can be more durable because it may penetrate the stone to a deeper level to offer more lasting protection.
Choose a Quality Sealant
If you’re doing it yourself or hiring a contractor who will do it on the job site, the sealant used should be an oil-based product that resists moisture. Most are designed to last 10 to 15 years when properly applied. These sealants are sometimes called impregnating stone sealer because they penetrate more deeply into the stone than surface sealers can.
You’ll pay more for quality sealer versus sealer designed to last three to five years, but it will give you greater durability with less hassle in the years ahead. Quality sealer will also do a better job protecting expensive natural stone counters against dirt and stains.
NOTE: Some impregnators have been shown to produce a cloudy finish on some resined stone. Therefore, know whether or not you have resin-sealed stone. If so, choose a resin based sealant designed for use with it. The other option, of course, is to leave the determination to a professional installer who will give you a warranty and guarantee to stand behind the workmanship and appearance of the completed countertops.
Clean and Dry the Countertops Thoroughly
It is vitally important that the surface be free of construction dust, dirt or moisture. You don’t want to seal those things into the countertops. Clean the counters according to the manufacturer’s recommendation and let them dry thoroughly.
Apply the Sealant as Directed
Choosing the right sealant and preparing the surface are the key steps. Applying the sealing fluid is often the easiest part of the job. If you have experience working with sealants, you shouldn’t have any trouble following the directions on the can. If you’re inexperienced, consider leaving the job to a pro rather than risking the appearance and performance of your natural stone countertops.