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Romancing the Stone

Mike Rutkowski

When and how to seal your stone countertops 

One of the most frequently asked questions we hear in our stone fabricating business is “Should I seal my stone countertops?”.  Generally speaking, the  answer is YES.  A more specific answer depends upon the specific type of stone, its finish, its location and how it is maintained.  But let me assure you that sealing natural stone is easy and inexpensive for most household countertops. Read  more on ‘how to seal’ at the bottom of this article.

Granite is by far the most popular choice for kitchen countertops found in high end homes today.  Granite is hard, dense, heat resistant and comes in many colors and patterns, which makes it an excellent choice for kitchen countertops. There are however, many specific varieties of granite and some are more porous than others so sealing is generally recommended for stain protection. In most cases, sealing your polished granite countertops once per year with a quality brand topical sealer is ample protection against stains from oil, wine, butter and juice. One exception is black granite, which is so dense that it does not absorb most sealers and should not be sealed to avoid a streaky or hazy appearance.

While granite is popular in the kitchen, many designers and homeowners prefer a different look for their bathroom vanity tops. Marble, limestone and travertine are different types of natural stone each with their own unique look, feel and geological composition.  Marble is softer and more porous than granite, which also makes it a candidate for sealing.  A polished finish is less porous than a honed finish, which has a satin smooth look with little or no gloss.  The frequency of sealing depends upon each stones’ unique finish. At Bridgewater Marble and Granite Works, we recommended sealing most polished stone at least once per year and honed stone twice per year.
Before sealing, clean your countertops thoroughly with a solution of mild dish detergent and warm water, rinse with clean water and allow ample time to dry. Never use ammonia, bleach, powdered cleanser or common household cleaners on natural stone as they will remove the sealer and can alter the finish of the stone over time. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the container and allow for proper ventilation.  We recommend you apply the sealer at night just before you go to bed to allow time for it to dry while you sleep.  Pour the sealer liberally and spread evenly with a clean towel or washcloth, allowing it to sit wet for about 10 minutes.  Next, wipe off the excess sealer with the same cloth towel, leaving a light coating to be absorbed into the stone overnight. When you wake up, simply wipe off your countertops with another clean damp towel or sponge and you’re done. 

The cost of most sealers will range from $15 per pint to $60 per quart depending upon the type and brand of sealer purchased. Coverage also varies according to the type, finish and color of the natural stone to be sealed.  If this seems a bit confusing, a qualified stone professional can give you good advice on the type and quantity of sealer needed for your particular application and many offer professional sealing services for a modest fee. In conclusion, there is no need to pamper your stone countertops but don’t ignore them either.  Regular cleaning plus annual sealing will help to keep your natural stone looking beautiful for a lifetime while protecting your investment for many years of enjoyment.


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