Granite countertops are popular for today’s home owners thanks to their richness, depth and incredible performance. Granite is nearly impervious to abrasions and stains and its hardness is only second to the diamond.

But for all its durability, granite does not stand temperature stress such as fireplaces. Granite expands and contracts with temperature over short periods of time, but the seams will prevent any cracking.

Granite is mold, mildew and stain resistant with the proper care and maintenance.

Caring for your new granite counter top is easy. Mild dishwashing liquid, warm water and a clean cloth are typically all that is needed to maintain your countertop.


How to Clean Granite Countertops

  1. The easiest way is to use warm water and mild, phosphate-free, biodegradable liquid dish soap, preferably light-colored and containing no aromatics. This is a gentle way to clean the grease and grime from granite without damaging it. Plain soap and water can lead to soap build-up and over time will dull the glossy finish of your polished granite. After cleaning, rinse the countertops thoroughly and dry with a cotton cloth.
  2. Never use powdered cleaners to clean your stone as they contain pumice, which is an abrasive.
  3. Never use acidic cleaners that may include ammonia, and NEVER mix ammonia and bleach – that combination creates a lethal gas.
  4. You can also buy special mild granite cleaners.
  5. In the bathroom or other wet areas, use a neutral stone cleaner to remove soap scum or hard water deposits. Also, using a squeegee after each use of the area can minimize soap scum and hard water build-up.

Food, Drink and Other Spills (more on dealing with stains in Damage Control Section)

  1. Scoop up the food with a plastic spoon. Blot with dry, white cloth. Spray the area with a neutral stone cleaner and wipe off excess with a clean cloth.
  2. For a liquid spill, blot the excess with a clean, dry, white cloth while turning the cloth frequently. Spray with a neutral stone cleaner and wipe off the excess with a clean cloth.
  3. For a mud stain, let the mud dry completely, then remove with a soft plastic or nylon brush. Spray with neutral cleaner and wipe off the excess with a clean cloth. If the stain remains, contact a professional cleaner.
  4. If the stain has an oil base (from foods like salad, cooking oils, butter or some cosmetics) you may be able to remove the stain using a poultice. A poultice will pick up the stain from deep within the stone.
  5. Marker stains can often be wiped away using acetone or lacquer thinner, especially on dark granite colors. If you have a lighter color, try hydrogen peroxide instead.
  6. Make a poultice for stubborn stains: Mix dishwashing: liquid and water with enough flour to make a paste. Dab the paste onto the stain and cover with plastic to keep it from drying out too quickly. Leave overnight and scrape away with a wooden utensil to avoid scratches. If it is an oil stain, substitute hydrogen peroxide for dishwashing liquid.
  7. For stubborn oil stains, place a hot, wet terry cloth towel on the stain, then place an iron on full steam on top of the towel. After that, use a poultice to pull it up.
  8. A quick and easy thing to try is to sprinkle cornstarch on the stain and let it sit for 18 to 24 hours. Afterwards, vacuum up the cornstarch and repeat as needed.
  9. Acidic or abrasive cleaners can cause discoloration or scratches.

Basic Care

  1. Do not stand, kneel or sit on your countertops as they could crack or break.
  2. Do not place hot pans or other objects directly on granite countertops. This may cause discoloration (mainly in dark granites) and/or cracking. Always use a protective barrier between any hot object and granite such as a trivet or mat.
  3. Natural stone is very porous. The best way to prevent stains is to treat the surface with a protective sealer. The sealer fills the pores and repels spills on the surface, allowing you more time to get the spill wiped away.

While scratching and staining are uncommon, it is always better to take preventative measures,

  • Use cutting boards when working with knives or other sharp kitchenware.
  • Immediately wipe up any spills from your counter top.
  • Do not let any liquid sit on the counter top for an extended amount of time, as it can result in a permanent stain.
  • Blot oil and acidic spills as soon as they happen and then clean with warm water and mild soap.

Different types of granite have different density and porosity depending on its origins. Lighter colors can show watermarks if wet. This is normal and will disappear over time as the water inside evaporates.

Avoiding Chips

Granite is very hardy, but chipping could occur, often banging something into the edge of the counter top. Take care when handling heavy pots and pans. If a chip occurs and you can find the piece that chipped out, hold onto it. Most of the time it can be epoxied back into its place.

Etch Marks

Coffee, orange juice, vinegar, wine, tomato products, mustard and many soft drinks are highly acidic substances and will etch your granite countertop. The sealant gives you time to wipe up the spill but cannot stop the chemical reaction. General cleaners are not recommended for cleaning your countertops because they can etch away the polish, discolor the stone, degrade the sealant or scratch the surface.

Use only cleaners made specifically for natural stone. Should your countertop become scratched or etched you can have them professionally refinished. (More on this in the Damage Control section.)

Damage Control

Moisture Damage
Water penetrating exterior wall cavities through defective flashing or unsealed joints can cause efflorescence, a mineral salt residue left on the surface of masonry when water evaporates. In addition, condensation in wall cavities prevented from reaching the exterior surface because of blocked weep holes can dislodge masonry in a freeze-thaw climate. Look for a darkening effect of the stone. Should this happen, contact your stone professional for a remedy.

Oil-based Stains
Grease, tar, cooking oils and cosmetics will darken the stone and normally must be chemically dissolved so the stains source can be rinsed away. Clean gently with a soft liquid cleanser, household detergent, ammonia, mineral spirits or acetone.

Organic Stains
Coffee, tea, fruit, tobacco, paper, food, urine, leaves, bark, and bird droppings may cause a pinkish-brown stain and can disappear after the source of the stain has been removed. Outdoors, with the sources removed, normal sun and rain will generally bleach out the stains. Indoors, clean with 12% hydrogen peroxide and a few drops of ammonia.
Biological Stains
Clean stains due to algae, mildew, lichens, moss, and fungi with diluted (1/2 cup to one gallon of water) ammonia, bleach or hydrogen peroxide. Note: Never m ix bleach and ammonia, as this combination creates a toxic gas.

Ink Stains
Magic marker, pen, and ink stains on light-colored stone can be cleaned with bleach or hydrogen peroxide. Use lacquer thinner or acetone for dark-colored stones

Paint Stains
Small amounts of dried paint can be removed with lacquer thinner or scraped off carefully with a razor blade. Remove heavy paint with a commercial liquid paint stripper. Note: Do not use acid or flame tools to strip paint from stone. .

Inorganic Metal Stains

  • Iron or rust stains are orange to brown and leave the shape of the staining object, such as nails bolts, screws, cans, flowerpots, or metal furniture.
  • Copper and bronze stains appear as green or muddy brown and result from the action of moisture on nearby or embedded bronze, copper or brass items.

Metal stains must be removed with a poultice. Deep-seated, rusty stains are extremely difficult to remove and the stone may be permanently stained.

Poultice: Use kaolin, fuller’s earth, whiting, diatomaceous earth, powdered chalk, white molding plaster, or talc. Approximately one pound of prepared poultice will cover one square foot. Do not use whiting or iron-type clays such as fuller’s earth with acid chemicals; the reactions will cancel the effect of the poultice. Premixed poultices from stone maintenance supply companies require only adding water.

  • Prepare the poultice – If using powder, mix the cleaning agent or chemical to a thick paste. (Peanut butter consistency)
  • Wet the stained area with distilled water.
  • Apply the poultice to the stained area about a 1/4” to 1/2” thick and extend the poultice beyond the stained area by about 1 inch. Use a wood or plastic spatula to spread poultice evenly.
  • Cover the poultice with plastic and tape the edges to seal it. Allow poultice to dry thoroughly, about 24-48 hrs. The drying process is what pulls the stain from the stone. After 24 hours, remove the plastic and allow the poultice to dry.
  • Remove the poultice from the stain, rinse with distilled water, and buff dry with a soft cloth. Repeat if stain is not removed. It may take five or more applications for difficult stains, and some stains may never be completely removed. Consult a stone professional for additional steps.

Water Spots and Rings
This is surface accumulation of hard water. Buff dry with 0000 Steel Wool.

Fire and Smoke Damage
Older stones and smoke or fire-stained fireplaces may require a thorough cleaning to restore their original appearance. Commercially available smoke removal products may save time and effort.

Etch Marks
Some acids (typically from milk, fruit juices and alcohol) left on the surface of the stone may etch the finish but not leave a stain; others with both etch and stain. Once the stain has been removed, wet the surface with clear water and sprinkle with marble polishing powder. Rub the powder into the stone with a damp cloth or by using a buffing pad with a low-speed power drill or polisher. Continue buffing until the etch marks disappear and the surface shines. Honing may be required for deep etching. This process may require the services of a stone professional.

Efflorescence
A white powder on the surface of the stone is caused by water carrying mineral salts from below the surface of the stone to the surface and evaporating. When the water evaporates, it leaves the powdery salt residue. If the installation is new, dust or vacuum the powder away. Repeat as necessary as the stone dries out. Do not use water to remove the powder. If the problem persists, contact the stone contractor to identify and remove the cause of the moisture.

Sealers
Things to consider before determining if the stone should be sealed:

  1. What is the hardness, density and durability of the stone?
  2. How porous is the stone and how fast will it absorb a liquid (also referred to as the absorption coefficient)?
  3. Is the stone expected to be in frequent contact with a staining agent?
  4. What type of finish was applied to the surface?  (For example, a polished surface is more resistant to staining than a honed surface.)
  5. Will the sealant affect the color or aesthetics of the stone?
  6. If a resin was applied to the stone, how will the sealant react with the resin?
  7. Where is the stone located?  (countertop, floor, wall, foyer, bathroom, etc.)
  8. Residential or commercial?
  9. What type of maintenance program has the stone been subjected to?

Before sealing, always:

  1. Read the manufacturer’s warranty and instructions.
  2. Contact the manufacturer prior to application if you are unsure or need clarification. The woodworking analogy of “measure twice, cut once” applies.
  3. Consider the life span of the application (1 year, 2 year, 5 years, etc.) and keep a log of each application.
  4. Don’t switch from one product to another without fully understanding any potential issues. Not all products are alike – again, consult with the manufacturer.
  5. Consult with your stone professional as necessary
  6. Ask yourself: Does the stone need to be treated in the first place?

Types of Sealers

  1. Topical Sealers are coatings (film formers) designed to protect the surface of the stone against water, oil, and other contaminants. They are formulated from natural wax, acrylic and other plastic compounds. When a topical sealer is applies, the maintenance program often shifts from a program focused on stone care to a program focused on the maintenance of the sealer (for example: stripping and reapplication).
  2. Impregnators are water- or solvent-based solutions that penetrate below the surface and become repellents. They are generally hydrophobic (water-repelling) but are also olio-phobic (oil repelling). Impregnators keep contaminants out but do not stop the interior moisture from escaping. These products are considered breathable, meaning they have vapor transmission.

    An impregnator might need to be applied to vanity tops and food preparation areas. Check with your installer for recommendations. Check the packaging to make sure that the impregnator you choose is safe to use on food-preparation surfaces.

Check with the production manager once a year or as necessary. A soft cloth is usually all you need to apply the granite sealant; just wipe it on. The granite soaks the sealant into microscopic pores so the surface is safe for food handling. Sealants are excellent preventatives and they work to preserve your granite countertop. Some types of granite can be quite porous; sealants fill those pores so that other liquids can’t penetrate the stone and cause stains.

We recommend reapplying sealant annually to maintain the luminosity and avoid stains. Dense granites usually do not require sealing; however, if you notice that water fails to bead up when splashed onto the surface, or if you notice water darkening spots it is a good indication that your countertop needs to be resealed. The good news is that if etching, scratches or dull spots occur, you can have them refinished to return them to the original pristine finish they had when they were first installed.

 

Showroom & Slab Yard
Can't find what you are looking for online?  Stop by our showroom and HMKS Slab Yard located at 601 East 1st Street, Casper, Wyoming. We add daily to our inventory and have many cabinet lines to choose from.

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Call 307-259-9471 for an appointment to meet with a sales representative to choose your options.

Complete the form below to begin your project with new cabinets and/or stone countertops.

HMKS Slab Yard has a large inventory of remnants and slabs available for viewing such as granite, marble, quartz, and soapstone for your countertops.  Samples are available for your natural stone countertops and/or cabinet lines, mosaics, flooring, cabinet hardware, appliance pulls.

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