Granite is one of the most durable, easy to clean and maintain, natural surface that is used for kitchen countertops. Most granite require sealing but how often you need to seal your granite countertop will depend its type, color and finish.
Most often the recommended time line for sealing granite is anywhere between 6-12 months to 3-5 years. Usually, the darker the higher the sheen the more time you have between sealing. One more factor is whether you have honed (more sealing is reqiered), polished or leathered granite (less sealing on your part) which reqeire different treatment altogether.
Let me explaine.
As I said, most times, the darker the higher the sheen the more time you have between sealing. If you need to at all. Lighter color granite may be more prone to stains then dark colored ones but this is a general rule.
Honed granites may need to be sealed more often then polished ones for the simple reason that once they go through the honing process the stone’s pores are more exposed.
Leathered granite does hide stains and imperfections better then both honed and polished granite and tend to need less sealing.
Leathered and honed granites are more matte and bring out the stones texture. They also hide fingerprints and marks better than polished granite. The color intensity however is more prominent in a polished finish. You can however bring out and intensity the color of these granites by using a sealer with an enhancer that will bring out and intensify the color.
But before we begin and dive deep into when and how to seal, lets take a moment to understand the stone we are working with here.
Granite. What is it ?
You can usually recognize granite by its “grainy” look. Most granite has numerous colors that look like a bunch of little spots clustered together. Granite: Pros:-It is extremely hard and durable
- Almost non-porous
- Stain resistant
- Easy to maintain
- Heat resistant
- You can cut directly in it (although you will dull your knives much faster that way)
- Many slabs are available in large sizes since it is not as fragile to handle as some other stones
- Can be polished, honed or leathered to achieve different looks and texture
- typically it is a less expensive option of the natural stones
What is a granite sealer ?
Technically speaking a sealer is a liquid of a either resin and water solution or a petroleum-based solvent. In a simple language it is a liquid that when applied to the stone’s surface fills up it’s pores creating a protective layer that helps prevent liquids from being absorbed into it thus making the granite more stain resistant.
Will a sealer offer my granite countertop a complete stain resistance ?
A sealer will not completely prevent stains from being absorbed into your granite but it sure will make it harder to do. Kinda like Botox for your face – the damn wrinkles will still show through eventually as the blissed poison wears off, but that just means it’s time to pay up and go for maintenance. Also, a sealer will not provide perfect protection from chemical damage (wine, juices and other acidic kitchen liquids) that may leave an etching mark. Although this is more likely to happen to a marble countertop being more porous then granite.
How to test your granite to see if it is time to seal ?
It is going to be on you to decide whether or not it is time to seal. How do you do that ?Test it.
- Choose a spot on your counter that gets cleaned often and wipe it dry
- Spill a few drops of water on it and wait for about 10 minutes
- If the water is absorbed into the stone it is time to seal
Can I seal my granite countertop too often ?
The answer is yes. If a sealer is applied when it is not needed then it will not be able to get absorbed into the stone leaving behind a hazy film that is very challenging to be removed. So don’t create a “sealing schedule”. Simply test your granite before reaching for the sealer.
Who can apply a sealer to the granite?
You can do it or choose to pay a professional to. It is a rather simple process that involves gloves, a cleaning solution, a few clean rags and a bottle of sealer.
How to seal granite?
I will give you a few basic steps but you should always follow the manufacture’s instructions on the bottle.
You will need:
- A few microfiber cloths
- A spray bottle
- Dishwasher detergent
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Cold water
- A sealer of your choice
- Rubber gloves
Step 1 Make the cleaning solution
- To a spray bottle add
- one teaspoon of dishwashing detergent
- two tablespoons of isopropyl alcohol
- fill the rest with cold water.
24 hours before you actually apply the sealer prep your granite.
Start off by wiping the countertops using a dry microfiber cloth to remove all dust. Then clean the countertop using the cleaning solution you made. Generously spray it then wipe it off in a circular motion using a microfiber cloth. Let your counter dry for 24 hours so that you ensure it completely dry and ready to absorb the sealer. If the granite isn’t completely dry when you apply the sealer it will leave a hazy film behind. Not at all what you want to happen. If there’s a window close the the counter I suggest closing it in case it rains and wets the counter.
Sealing day. Read the application instructions on the sealer. Instructions vary from one product to the next. Ventilate the kitchen but don’t open a window where rain can get through onto the counter. Put on your rubber gloves and grab your cloths. Choose an area on your counter to test the sealer (just in case it will not work the way it should or may discolor the granite). Maybe a corner or somewhere where you typically keep an appliance on.
Apply the sealer evenly on the test surface and wait for the recommended time of absorption and see if you are getting the desired results. Don’t let it sit longer then the recommended time or it may cause the granite to discolor. If the sealer looks good after the wait period continue on to the rest of the counter to step 4. If you feel that the product isn’t working properly wipe it off and take a photo of it so that you can show it to a sales person helping you with selecting a different product.
Applying the rest of the sealer.. Start beginning at one end working your way through the counter. Do it in sections and apply in a circular motion ensuring even coverage.
wait for the recommended drying time (wiping off the sealer too early will not give it enough time to absorb) then wipe off the access with a dry microfiber cloth in a circular motion. You may need to repeat step 4 and 5 again depending on the manufacture.
Let the sealer cure before using the kitchen again or applying a wet cloth to the counter. Curing time again depends on what the manufacturer suggest and it can be anywhere from 24-48 hours. Don’t be tempted to wet your granite before it completely cures.
Are there different types of sealers?
There are water based sealers that have lower VOC’s that are more environmentally friendly. Then there are solvent bases sealers.
Which is better ?
Both will do the job. A solvent based sealer does penetrate deeper into the granite but if you want to use a more environmentally friendly water based sealer and well protect your granite you can. The active ingredient that you want to be looking for in either is “fluorocarbon aliphatic resin “. A sealer containing this ingredient will be a bit more pricy then ones containing siloxane or silicone but it also offers better protection and more resistance to oil and water.
My personal confession
On a completely personal note, I have a confession to make. I lived with polished black Nero aseluto (absolute black ) granite countertops for 23 years. Why would I do that to myself you ask ? It was one of the only things my husband asked for in the house when we bought it and since he usually doesn’t ask for things I agreed.
Can I say “big mistake? Big. Huge!” I can not even count the number of times a day that I wiped off finger prints, splatters and anything else that showed up on (and believe me it did ) off those counters. I think I am still traumatized by this lifetime experience that every time someone is about to place their hands on my counters I instinctively stop to breath and reach for a cloth. I got pretty good at predicting the near future of any kitchen inhabitants. Especially the ones with the habit of resting hands on my shiny counters. Note that our new kitchen countertop is a matte white with slight specs in black, grey – a soft looking terrazzo look. I now have to actively look for spot and splatters (if I tilt my head at just the right angle I find them). Redemption and longer life expectancy for “counter hand resting kitchen visitors “.
Having said all of the above I have to give credit when it’s due, and it is due. I never ever ever had to seal our polished granite countertops. I mean never. It looked just as polished and shiny the day we removed it 23 years after we installed it. It looked brand new. Not a spot or scratch. I have to admit it was the only element in the kitchen that required no maintenance or replacement for 23 years. Kinda like my husband (although in his case maybe a little maintenance).
At the end of the day you need to decide whether or not to seal your granite countertops. Most likely when your new countertops are installed they would have already come sealed (if needed) and be ready to be used and enjoyed. Granite is one of the most durable stones you can choose for your kitchen counter. It will withstand pretty much anything a kitchen counter should- spills, splatter heat and the occasional pot hitting. Keeping your your granite looking new can be achieved with every day care and the occasional sealing. And remember- seal as or if needed. Test then decide.