Who doesn’t love the look and feel of a granite countertop? It would be hard to find someone who doesn’t. Of course, not everyone has countertops of this kind, but that’s (mostly) because they are a luxury expense. For those of you who have made the investment, it might seem as if that part of your home is squared away and requires no further attention. However, you have one more important decision to make: To seal or not to seal?
Why Seal A Granite Countertop?
There are a lot of arguments for the use of a good sealing product. Most of these reasons come down to the protection of the stone. Sure, granite is one of the hardest materials on the planet, but nothing is indestructible.
Granite can sometimes be very vulnerable to staining. When you’re talking about a food preparation surface, you’re talking about a surface that has to deal with many different substances. There is no need to list the many items in your kitchen that could stain your stone and negate your investment.
From this perspective, it makes a lot of sense to seal the stone. If you drink a lot of wine or if you use a lot of spices when cooking, you definitely want to seal your stone (just to be on the safe side). Thankfully, some types of granite are incredibly resistant to staining. Later on, we will show you how to tell which type you have.
Acidic substances are another danger that must be avoided. Chances are, you don’t keep any concentrated acids in your home. Still, many common drinks and cleaners are highly acidic. They may not be strong enough to burn your skin, but they are strong enough to etch your counters. Although some granite is more vulnerable to this problem than others, any type of stone can be etched with enough acid exposure. The question lies in how long it will take to cause a problem.
Scratching is another frequent issue. We should mention the importance of not cutting food directly on your granite countertop. After all, that’s why cutting boards are made. It is probably possible to find a granite cutting board to match the rest of your kitchen. Even if you do this, you should still be careful with sharp objects when using your countertop.
Accidents can happen easily, but the sealer does provide a little bit of extra protection. It should be noted that sealing will only give you a thin barrier against scratching, and some of the more absorbent sealers may not even do that. Still, every little bit of protection is good.
Why Not Seal A Granite Countertop
After reading the above, you might be thinking that the debate is settled. After all, who doesn’t want to protect a significant investment like this? We certainly won’t advise you to throw caution to the wind, but it’s possible that you may not need to seal your stone.
As you probably know, there are many different types of granite. Most people seem to believe that there is no difference between these different varieties other than their coloration. Unfortunately, they would be wrong. Granite is one of the most common types of stone on earth and is found nearly everywhere. As such, there is a lot of regional variation. Every region has a different type of granite with a slightly different composition.
When we talk about “composition,” we are talking about the base elements of which the stone is made. These different combinations of minerals are responsible for the endless variability of this stone. However, these minerals differ in more than just appearance.
Some types of granite (particularly the cheaper kinds) contain a mineral called calcite. As you might guess, calcite contains a lot of calcium. It is a form of calcium carbonate, the same mineral that makes up your fingernails, toenails, and teeth. Chalk and oyster shells are also mostly composed of this mineral. Like all of these substances, calcite can be eroded with acid quite easily.
How To Tell The Difference
There are three simple tests that you can perform in order to tell if your stone requires sealing. Basically, you have to determine if you have one of the softer varieties of granite. As a general rule, the harder types tend to be darker in color and less absorbent, but this is not an absolute rule. Thus, you should test the surface with water, oil, or lemon juice.
You will need a small piece of the granite to perform these tests, and the test could ruin that small piece, so bear that in mind. All you have to do is drip some of each substance onto the surface of the stone and wait.
For each of the three test substances, drip a puddle onto the stone. It should be about the same size as a dime. You will be able to look through the liquid and observe the surface of the stone beneath. If the surface has darkened, you definitely need to use a sealer. Wait about 5 minutes and check all three puddles again.
If the stone has absorbed the liquid, it will be a little bit darker in that spot. Grab a flashlight so that you can see the contrast more clearly. If you see no darkening, your stone is pretty absorbent, but you need to wait a little longer. If you still see little to no darkening after 30 minutes, you do not need to use a sealer.
If your stone contains calcite, you will notice some fizzing and bubbling when you add the lemon juice. Calcite is very sensitive to acids, making it easy to identify. You should watch the lemon juice more closely than the water or the oil, as it will likely work more quickly.
The question of whether or not to seal your granite countertop is not a simple one, but it is relatively easy. All you have to do is perform a simple experiment, and you will know everything that you need to know. We are glad that you have enjoyed this article, and we hope that you will fill out the contact form below so that we can continue to bring you such helpful content.