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What Is The Best Way To Care For Granite Countertops?

If you recently installed granite countertops, you are aware that the countertops don’t come cheap, so as a responsible homeowner, you would want your countertops to last for as long as possible. And to do this, you need to take care of the countertops.

Are you wondering what is the best way to care for granite countertops? There are many of them, with the common ones being:

Have the countertops professionally installed

Everything begins here, as no amount of care will keep your improperly installed countertops in good shape.

Countertop installation begins from the countertop store. When you are in the store, take care when buying the granite slabs. As a rule of thumb, carefully inspect every slab and ensure it doesn’t have glaring flaws such as large fissures and cracks.

When hiring an installation contractor, ensure that the contractor is experienced and has handled similar before.

Seal the countertops

After the countertops have been professionally installed, the next move should be to seal the countertops. Most countertop installers will seal the countertops immediately after installation, which is vital as it prevents the liquids from getting into the deeper countertop layers and staining them.

To get the most from the sealer, ensure its high quality and specially designed for granite surfaces.

Protect the surfaces from heat

As much as granite is a tough stone, regularly exposing it to a lot of heat puts it at the risk of getting damaged, and you don’t want this, do you?

So, you should keep the hot cooking pots and pans off your countertop surfaces. After cooking, let the pots and pans stay on the stove. If you want to use the stove, hang the pots and pans on the shelves.

If you are eating or drinking on the countertops, make a habit of using coasters to protect the surfaces from the heat. Coasters also prevent juice and tea stains from getting on the countertops and staining them.

Clean the countertops regularly

Cleaning the countertops regularly is vital as it prevents dirt and debris from adhering to the countertop surfaces and staining them. Cleaning the surfaces also keeps your countertops looking great, which comes in handy at improving the countertops’ aesthetic appeal.

Due to the high-end nature of granite, many people feel they need to use special products to clean their countertops. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. All you need is a simple piece of cloth and water.

As a rule of thumb, don’t use any materials that can damage the countertops. For example, don’t use bleach, glass cleaners, and other degreasers that might be containing alkalis, acids, and other chemicals as they will degrade the granite sealer exposing your countertops to harmful liquids that can stain them.

Protect your countertops from scratches

As long as you are using the countertops in your day-to-day activities, they will develop scratches here and there, but they shouldn’t be too big that they deface your countertops.

The best way to avoid having large scratches is to protect the countertops from any items that can damage them. As a rule of thumb, protect the countertops from knives and other materials that can scratch them.

When you are cutting anything on the countertops, ensure that you do it on a cutting board. Never cut directly on the countertop as the stone will dull and damage the knives’ edges.

You also should avoid placing cooking pots and pans with dirty bottoms on the countertops as they will scratch the surfaces, and you don’t want this.

Protect the countertops from excessive pressure

Make no mistake about it. Granite is tough, and it can withstand a lot of abuse, but when you go overboard, you are bound to cause excessive damage to the countertops. As a rule of thumb, don’t put a lot of pressure on the countertops.

This calls for you to avoid placing heavy pots on the countertops. You also should avoid sitting or standing on the kitchen countertops Durham.

Some homeowners with large kitchens and sinks use them for bathing their kids. Don’t do it, as it’s a matter of time before the countertops get damaged.

If you have to reach the top shelf or change the kitchen bulb, don’t stand on the countertops. Instead, step on a ladder.

Does Painting Kitchen Countertops Work?

If your countertops are old or washed out and you don’t have the money to replace them, one way to improve their look is by painting them.

Most homeowners don’t paint their countertops so you will hear them asking, does painting kitchen countertops work?

The good news is that it works but you have to consider several tips to get ideal results. These tips include:

Prepare the surfaces properly

The paint won’t adhere properly to the surface so you need to ensure that you properly prepare it. How do you go about it?

After removing all the items from your countertop, get out the sanding block and sand your countertop surfaces. Avoid using the electric sander as it creates so much dust that you have a problem clearing it and getting the smooth finish you are looking for.

Although the hand sander takes a longer time to give you the results you are looking for, you are able to get the smooth finish you are looking for.

Remember that if you don’t properly sand your countertops, it’s a matter of time before the paint begins to peel.

Use the right painting tools

There is no way you are going to achieve ideal results if you use the wrong tools. As a rule of thumb, ensure that you use paint designed for countertops. This calls for you to avoid wall paints, as they aren’t made to withstand a lot of abuse, heat and spills.

When you are in the stores making the purchase, let the sellers know that you want countertop paint.

When it comes to painting, use a paint roller instead of a brush. The reason for this is because the brush will leave brush strokes on your counters regardless of how good of a painter you are. And you don’t want brush strokes on your surfaces, do you?

To avoid a bumpy counter., use smooth-textured rollers. You should only use a brush when you are applying paint on the edges or other delicate areas. When applying the paint, use the same brush to ensure that the brush strokes don’t show.

If your kitchen is large, you have a large countertop space and you will be too tired painting it with a roller. To save time, hire or buy a paint sprayer.

The cool thing is that besides the sprayer making it possible to complete your work fast, it also gives you a seamless finish and you can paint even the corners and edges even better than with a brush.

Take your time

Like any other project, there is no way you will achieve ideal results if you are in a hurry to get things done. When you are in a hurry painting the countertops, you won’t sand the surfaces properly so the paint will start peeling after a few weeks.

When you are in a hurry, you won’t give the paint enough time to dry which increases its chances of peeling off later on.

To avoid this, have enough time to dedicate as much time to the painting project as much as possible.

As mentioned above, you need to thoroughly sand the surfaces for the paint to properly adhere to the surfaces so you need to have enough time to do it in no hurry.

Each coat of paint requires at least 24-48 hours to dry before you apply another and for the best outcome,  apply at least three coats. You need to have this time to see your project to fruition.

To ensure that you aren’t in a hurry, ensure that you have at least a week for painting and a week or two for the sealant to cure. This calls for you to do the project during your holidays or on your job leave.

To ensure that the paint doesn’t take too long to dry and the sealant to cure, do the project in the summer.

Seal the countertops

Once you are done with the painting, apply a sealant to prevent the paint from chipping. Granite countertop installers NC advise that the sealer can make or damage your countertops so splurge on the best sealer in the market.

As a rule of thumb, avoid a cheap sealer, as it will ruin your project.

What To Put On Kitchen Counters To Decorate?

Whether you have installed granite kitchen countertops or any other countertop material, you will agree that the countertops don’t reflect your personality, and they can be boring to look at.

Luckily, you can place several items on the countertops to give them your personal touch, express your taste, and improve their look.

Wondering what to put on kitchen counters to decorate? Here are some of the best ones:

Fresh fruits

Since fruits don’t need refrigeration and you can leave them at room temperature, you can definitely use them to decorate your counters. All you need to do is place the fruits in a beautiful bowl and place them strategically on your countertops.

To get the most from the fruits, go for fruits with bright colors such as bright yellow, green, or orange. Some of the excellent fruits to use for decoration include: lemon, lime, orange, and apples.

Fruits dry out with time so remember to replace them with fresh ones every few days.

Cookbooks

Cookbooks are an excellent way to polish your cooking skills and improve the look of the countertops. To decorate your counters, stack a couple of hardboard cookbooks on your counters. You can also lay them flat, vertically, or horizontally, depending on the look you want to achieve and the style of your countertops.

To amp up your presentation, display books with a bit of color and keep them color-coordinated with the rest of the kitchen theme.

You can use any cookbooks, but it’s best you use books of your favorite cuisines. For example, if you love Asian Cuisine, use books with an oriental touch.

Plants

Plants are easy to carry, and they give life to your kitchen. You can use a single plant if you have a small kitchen or several plants if your kitchen is large.

The beauty is there are many types of plants you can choose from, and you can display them in different ways. For example, you can display them in a stylish pot or planter.

As you choose the plants, choose low-maintenance plants, as they will survive even if you aren’t in the house for days or don’t expose them to sunlight.

If you aren’t sure about the right plants to go for, get the input of a professional.

Cutting boards

Many homeowners use cutting boards as places to chop their vegetables and meat, but did you know that you can also use them as decoration surfaces?

To decorate your countertops using the boards, you should collect a few boards of different shapes and types and stack them together on your counter. If you don’t like the look, lean them against your kitchen’s backsplash to transform the look of your kitchen.

To make the boards even more exciting, mix boards are made from different materials such as marble and wood as they will create a significant visual contrast with the rest of the kitchen surface.

The boards also come in handy at improving the kitchen texture and adding a warm touch to the countertops.

You should be cautious about the type of boards you go for as some might make your kitchen look tacky, and you don’t want this, do you? So, if you aren’t sure about the boards you should go for, get the input of a professional.

Fresh flowers

A colorful bouquet of fresh flowers can transform boring basic countertops into beautiful surfaces you can’t get your eyes from. The beauty of fresh flowers is they are soft and give your surfaces a subtle touch.

To decorate your surfaces, put the flowers in a vase and place them in strategic areas of the kitchen counters.

To make your counters even more interesting, place several flower bouquets in different areas of the kitchen, then switch them up every week to give your counters a brand new look. If you have the budget, granite contractors NC recommend that you get different vases and switch them regularly.

You should note that flowers tend to wither with time, so to prevent your kitchen from looking dead, get fresh flowers at least once every two to three days.

What Should You Avoid With Granite Countertops?

If you recently installed granite counters, you know the price they come at—they are not cheap, and you wouldn’t want to reinstall them after a few days or months, would you?

To ensure that the countertops last for as long as possible, avoid doing things that can harm them. Are you wondering what should you avoid with granite countertops? Well, there are plenty of things you should avoid, with the common ones being:

Sitting on the countertops.

The countertops appear tough and solid that when you are in the kitchen preparing the meals or having a friend over, you sit on the countertops. Others step on the countertops when reaching the top shelf or replacing the bulb. This is wrong.

While the countertops look strong, they have small fissures that can crack when you place a lot of weight on them, so you should avoid sitting or stepping on your countertops. You also should avoid placing heavy items such as large water bottles on the countertops as these too can lead to the countertops cracking.

To avoid sitting on the countertops, always have a chair in the kitchen to sit on. You also should have a stool or small ladder to step on when you are looking to replace the bulb or reach the top shelf.

Leaving spills on the surfaces

Since you regularly seal granite counters, you don’t have to worry about spills as the water can’t get into the deeper granite layers, right? Wrong!

Even with sealing, the water and other liquid spills can penetrate deeper granite layers when you allow them to sit on the countertops for too long.

So regardless of how often or the quality of sealer you use, ensure that you remove the spills as soon as they happen. Never leave them on the surface for too long.

Cutting materials directly on the surfaces

The same way people stand or sit on the countertops as they appear strong and tough, they cut materials directly on the surfaces, which, as you can tell, is wrong. Although, they are made from stone, chopping your meat or vegetables directly on the surfaces puts the surfaces at the risk of cuts, chips, and scratches that can dull them.

There is also the risk of dulling the knives, which increases the risk of lacerations.

To keep your countertops in top shape for a long time, avoid chopping directly on them.

Whether chopping meat or vegetables, ensure that you use a cutting board.

Remember that knives can cause damage even when you leave them laying on the surfaces, so don’t simply leave them on the countertop surface—keep them inside a protective knife block.

Cleaning the countertops using acidic cleaners

When you have stains, it’s only logical to clean them using vinegar and other tough solutions, right? Wrong.

While you might be having clean intentions, your execution is wrong, and it can lead to countertop damage.

Regardless of the stains on your surfaces, steer clear of acidic materials such as vinegar, citrus fruits, ammonia, and others.

The best way to clean the surfaces is to use basic dish soap. If the stains don’t come off, get in touch with an expert to clean the surfaces professionally. The professionals often use cleaners that are tough on the stains but kind on the countertops, so they don’t cause any damage to the countertops.

If the countertop experts attempt to eliminate the stains, but they won’t come off, consider removing the countertops and replacing them with new, stain-free counters.

Storing liquids and toiletries on the counters

In the kitchen, it’s common for homeowners to place cooking oils and other kitchen liquids on the granite kitchen countertops NC. You will find homeowners placing perfumes, lotions, creams, and other products on the bathroom surfaces in the bathroom.

While this might seem harmless, the creams, oils, and lotions can leak from their bottles and spill on the countertops. These products often contain ammonia, mercury, and other materials that can harm your surfaces, so they end up damaging the countertops when they spill.

The situation is even worse if you don’t use the spilling bottle and the harmful chemical stays on the countertops for weeks.

To protect your bathroom and kitchen countertops, don’t place the liquids and toiletries on the countertops. Instead, place them on shelves or decorative trays.

4 Excellent Kitchen Countertop Options

Kitchen countertops set the tone for the kitchen, so you need to be cautious and ensure that you buy the right material that reflects your style and stays in line with how you use your kitchen.

Thankfully, there are plenty of kitchen countertop materials in the market you can choose from, with the most popular ones being:

Granite countertops

Granite countertops are one of the most popular countertop materials in the market. The material is quarried into blocks and then sliced into slabs. Granite is obtained from different countries, including Italy, China, and South America.

Good quality granite doesn’t come cheap, so you should have a large budget to install the countertops of your dreams. You should have an even deeper pocket if looking to install countertops of unique colors such as red.

While anyone can install these countertops in their kitchen, they are best suited for those that love countertops with unmatched natural beauty and at the same time don’t mind occasional maintenance to keep the countertops in top shape.

You should note that while the countertops are tough, they are highly porous which makes them highly risky to own as the kitchen liquids can easily seep into the deeper layers in the event of a spill.

To protect your investment, ensure that you seal the countertops at the time of installation. You also should seal them at least once a year to maintain the sealant.

Quartz countertops

Quartz is one of the hardest materials on earth, mined and formed with binders and pigments. Quartz quality varies depending on the source so take your time when purchasing and ensure that you buy quartz with a National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) rating. For a durable surface resistant to marking and staining, go for a countertop with 93% natural quartz and 7% binders/pigments.

You should highly consider quartz countertops if you are looking to give your countertops a high-class look without having to do a lot of maintenance.

Quartz also makes a great countertop material if you have a high traffic kitchen with plenty of young children, therefore, looking for a surface that is less susceptible to staining and marking.

Although quartz requires little maintenance, you still need to keep an eye on it especially if you have installed lighter colored surfaces.

Marble countertops

The first thing that comes to most people’s minds when they hear the term marble is the luxurious pillars and breathtaking sculptures. In short, elegance comes into the minds of most people.

If you want to give your low traffic kitchen a classic luxury look, marble is the way to go.

Marble comes in various textures and colors such as black, creamy white, slate gray, beige and many others. Your color of choice should be influenced by your likes and the color of the cabinets. For example, if you have white cabinets and a white backsplash, go with gray toned marble to create a unique premium look.

Like granite, the cost of marble varies depending on the marble species. If you don’t have a large budget but still want the high-end marble look, go for Carrara marble. Although the material has a high end look, it’s not as pricey as the other marble countertops in the market.

Carrara marble has also been shown to be highly effective at disguising unsightly chips and stains, so your countertops retain the spectacular look for a long time.

Before installing marble countertops, you should note that they are porous, so you will need to seal them at least once a year. You also should regularly clean the countertops to prevent dirt and other forms of debris from penetrating the deeper layers.

Solid surface countertops

Do you prefer your kitchen countertop surface warm to the touch, with a modern matte look that gives you seamless molding options for the sink and other technology integrations? Solid surface countertops are your answer.

Popularly known as Corian, solid surface countertops are made from a synthetic product formed from mineral derivatives and binders.

Unlike marble countertops NC, the countertops are nonporous, so you don’t need to seal them. While this is the case, the countertops aren’t resistant to stains and can scratch so you need to handle them with care and keep a keen eye on what you place on them.

4 Disadvantages of Granite Countertops

Granite counters are undoubtedly the most popular countertop materials, and every new homeowner dreams of installing them in their home. Unfortunately, it’s not all hunky dory as the countertops have their flaws. Is this your first time you are thinking about installing the countertops? Here are 4 disadvantages of granite countertops you should know about:

They are highly inconsistent.

The countertops are natural, so you can’t expect them to be the same but granite takes the inconsistency to a whole new level.

First, what is referred to as granite in the stone yard and what you purchase for your kitchen isn’t always granite. Many stones are referred to as commercial granite. Meaning a group of stones quarried for use on countertops and share similar characteristics such as high levels of mica, quartz, silica, and feldspar.

True granite is made through volcanic activity where the molten rock cools beneath the earth’s surface. In some cases, the stones labeled and sold as granite aren’t actually igneous rock. Some are dolomites, breccias, and conglomerate stones. All of which are metamorphic or sedimentary rocks.

The granite’s significant inconsistencies mean that there is no standard hardness value, grading, durability, or maintenance. The inconsistency also means that you sometimes have stones that are porous, weak, soft, and others that are so dense such that even thinking about sealing them is wrong.

When you are in the stores making the purchase, all commercial granite is sold and treated equally, so it’s hard to tell what you are buying. Due to this, it becomes an issue of luck. You can buy a soft, weak stone or a tough one that will last your entire lifetime.

To increase your chances of buying a high-quality stone, involve experts. As you are doing your shopping, hire a granite contractor to accompany you to the stores. The contractor will help you determine how strong the countertop is and when it comes to the granite installation, you won’t waste time finding another installer.

Granite counters have plenty of fissures and pits

Since it’s natural, granite tends to have plenty of natural fissures or pits on its surface. Some of the fissures are harmless, cosmetic cracks or small indentations in the stone, but others are lethal and could actually weaken the countertops’ structure and integrity.

If you are wondering what fissures and pits are, fissures are natural cracks that occur on the stone, and they often occur where two minerals meet. On the other hand, Pits are small holes or indentations in the stone, which often come about when a weaker particle breaks free.

In most cases, it’s hard to tell the nature of a fissure until it opens up or forms a wider crack. Even professionals can’t tell whether the fissure or pit will worsen with time.

Thankfully, most companies apply a resin that makes the countertops stronger and hides the fissures. This means that when you polish the countertop, you cause the light to bounce off the countertop, which comes in handy at hiding the fissures, pits, and other imperfections.

The countertops come with too many color variations

Although the color variations might be a plus for some people as it means more countertop options to choose from, it can be a negative if one section of the stone is significantly different from the rest. Or you have a countertop that has a significant shift in color or pattern from one end of the stone to the next.

Due to the color variations, you should be ultra-cautious when purchasing as the color might look great at the store but be awful when you bring it home.

Before you commit to buying large countertop slabs, first carry a small sample to your home and see how the slab looks in the house. Only proceed with the purchase if you like how the countertop looks.

The countertops don’t have the same durability.

Make no mistake about it. Some granite counters are incredibly durable and will even last several generations, but others, such as those shipped from China, are weak and won’t last long enough. In fact, these stones will sag over time if you don’t support them.

To extend the life of the kitchen countertops Durham, support them on the kitchen islands, overhangs, desk, and other areas.

Do Granite Countertops Stain?

granite kitchen countertops

Granite is one of the toughest countertop materials in the market, but it’s not impervious to damage. So if you are asking, do granite countertops stain? Yes, they do stain. While the countertop is tough, it’s porous, and liquids can penetrate the surfaces and cause stains.

Types of stains

The countertops can be affected by different types of stains that include:

Water stains: Water stains are temporary and when they happen, they darken or lighten the countertop material. The good thing is when water evaporates, the color of the stone returns to normal.

Organic stains: These are brought about by organic materials such as mustard, soda, tea, and others.

Inorganic stains: They result from dyes, dirt, ink, and others.

Oil stains: Butter, cooking oil, and mineral oils will damage the countertops when they land on them.

Biological stains: Popular biological stains include: mold and mildew.

Metal stains: Metal stains include rust, copper and many others.

What should you do when your countertops stain?

To retain the elegant look of the countertops, you should remove the stains as soon as they happen. How you remove the stains depends on the nature of the stain. To remove the stains, follow these steps:

Begin with creating a thick paste of hydrogen peroxide and talc powder. For ideal results, ensure the paste has a consistency of putty.

You should then apply the mix to the stained area while taking care not to apply it on the unstained areas. Experts recommend you keep the layer of paste one-fourth of an inch thick and should overlap the stain by about half an inch.

After applying the paste, cover the area with a plastic wrap and tape the edges. Let the paste sit for 24 hours after which you should remove it only leaving the poultice in place. Let the poultice stay on the stain until it completely dries up.

You should then use a plastic scraper and scrape away all the paste. If any paste remains, wipe it with a clean cloth. Follow up with cleaning the countertops normally and dry it with a clean cloth.

In most cases, this will remove the stain, but if it doesn’t, repeat the process and the stain will go away.

Can you prevent stains from coming about?

Yes, you can do it by taking good care of the countertops.  When you are in the kitchen, take care not to spill products on the countertops. Even when spills happen, hurry and clean them up.

To prevent water spills, seal the countertops. For ideal results, follow the right sealing procedure:

Begin with cleaning the counters with water and allow them to dry out completely.

You should then shake the sealer and apply it liberally to every part of the countertop using paper towels, paint roller, or paintbrush. When applying the sealer, ensure you have a thin film on the entire surface of the stone.

After applying the sealer, let it soak into the counters for at least 15 minutes after which you should wipe it off with a clean cloth.

If your countertops are white or have another color susceptible to staining, apply a second sealer coat. Upon applying the first coat, wait for at least 48 hours then apply the second coat.

Once done, wipe the counters with clean towels and paper towels, making sure you wipe away excess sealer. Before you start using the countertops, leave them for at least 24 hours.

Other ways to protect granite

Other than sealing the countertops, there are plenty of different ways you can protect them from stains and other forms of damage. Some of these ways include:

Protect them from UV rays: Most granites are combined with resins susceptible to UV-ray damage that leads to fading and dulling of color. In addition to keeping curtains closed when it’s sunny, talk to your granite contractors Durham and understand the best product to provide maximum protection.

Use pH-neutral cleaners: Granite is sensitive to acidic and alkaline-based cleaners so only use pH-neutral cleaners.  Using the wrong products not only stains the surfaces, but it also etches them, so you have to replace them, which is expensive.