If you’ve finally got the stone countertops you’ve been wanting, or if you’re thinking about having some installed, you’ll need to take special steps to ensure they stay beautiful and functional for the lifetime of your kitchen. Continue reading for good stone preservation tips to keep in mind.

“Seal” the Deal

Many stone countertops, such as granite and marble, need to be treated with a solvent-based sealer before use. These sealers are often called “impregnators,” and multiple coats should be applied with a soft cloth every few years as a protectant. If you don’t want to do the sealing yourself, make sure you discuss future maintenance options with your countertop installer before the job starts. This is an important conversation, as many varieties of stone countertops must be sealed periodically. If you’ve already had countertops installed and need reapplication of the sealer, check with a professional countertop installer to see if periodic maintenance is available as a service.

Remember: Not All Stones Are Made the Same

Granite is one of the most commonly used stones for countertops, but others like soapstone, marble, and limestone are also popular; just remember that every stone is going to have different maintenance needs. For instance, marble, limestone, and soapstone are softer than granite and require gentler use and greater care. Stone surfaces also have different properties when dealing with everyday kitchen events, such as heat and water. Softer stones like soapstone, for example, are more susceptible to water damage, while harder stones like quartz are more resilient to moisture.

Day-to-Day Care of Your Countertops

One thing to remember about some stone types, such as granite, is that they can be heat sensitive, so never place hot pots or pans directly onto the surface. This makes its temperature rise and fall rapidly, which can lead to cracks, breaks, and discoloration in the stone. Other stone countertops, like slate and sandstone, will need periodic application of mineral oils to keep the surface protected and looking great. Don’t forget that while stone is tough, it’s not invincible: most surfaces will require you to wipe up spills quickly, and liquids should not sit for too long on the surface. Quartz countertops are the exception to this rule.

Cleaning Your Countertops

It’s important to find out what kinds of cleaners, if any, should be used on your stone countertops. With granite, don’t use anything made with acids, like vinegar, which will damage the surface. It may surprise you that many stone surfaces don’t require a specific cleaner at all. The only things you should need to clean your granite or quartz countertops are warm water and a sponge.

Don’t Let Stains Leave Their Mark

Stains in your stone countertops might seem impossible to remove, but depending on the type and severity of the stain, there can be hope. You might be able to get out some stains—like coffee and tea—with a gentle mix of hydrogen peroxide and water. Other stains, such as ones resulting from ink or oil-based liquids, can also be cleaned with hydrogen peroxide or bleach. Some intense cleanings may require the stone to be resealed. If you think you need the service of a professional cleaner, make sure he or she has experience with your particular stain and stone countertop material.

Welcome to the Stone Age

Long-lasting and attractive, stone is one of the most versatile and resilient materials to use for your countertops, and its myriad patterns and color combinations are a designer’s dream. Whichever stone surface you have or will choose, know what its needs are in order to maintain the material’s beauty and integrity. A well-cared-for stone countertop will give you years of beauty and use.

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Sources: DoItYourself.com; HGTV; Lewis Floor & Home; Marble Institute; This Old House.

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