All About Granite Countertops
by Bob and RodMan, of The Bob and RodMan Home Show on 920 AM-WGKA During a recent home review it was clear that the plain white laminate kitchen countertops, while in excellent condition, were destined for the scrap heap. The new owners were looking for something with more character; something warmer and richer in appearance and more durable as well. Options included stainless steel, cementitious conglomerates, synthetic composites, natural stone-epoxy resin combinations, marble, travertine and granite.
Granite seemed to be the preferred choice. Granite is readily available, provides an array of colors and patterns, has a standardized installation process and is accepted by the marketplace. Besides, it’s impervious, impenetrable, indestructible… well, not quite. Granite, like any natural material, varies in its characteristics from one slab (in this case) to another. The swirl of minerals in the molten metamorphic mass (sorry) produces a grain not unlike that of beautifully complex burl wood. Similarly there are areas of greater and lesser density and planes of fracture. That is all part of the trade-off that comes with choosing something that is unique.
Granite may be divided into convenient types or species, but your particular slab is not identical to any other. How do we protect, clean and preserve this bit of nature’s incomparable creativity? First, recognize that granite is not indestructible. If you bang it with a frying pan, will it not chip; if you overstress an unsupported ledge, will it not snap? You can use it as a cutting board, but I don’t know why you would. It might not scratch the first time, but why take the chance? Your supplier can provide you with a lovely cutting board of the same material, if you like. Neither is it impenetrable.
Spills, especially acidic spills – lemon juice, tomato, wine – can stain the surface and require labor-intensive processes for restoration. Likewise, granite is not impervious to abrasion. Use a trivet to protect the surface from grit and grime on the bottom of cook-pots and coasters to shield it from the scratches of unglazed coffee cup bottoms. While the granite itself is impervious to heat, epoxy resin surfacing, frequently used in the industry, is not. It will soften under the assault of a still bubbling saucepan.
The cleaning principle is pretty straightforward. Use a ph-neutral cleaner. Ask your installer to recommend one. Don’t use abrasive and avoid glass cleaners (potentially acidic). Blot up spills quickly, and keep the surface grime- and grit-free with a clean, soft cloth. Preservation will probably come in the same kit with the cleaner your granite professional suggests. Typically, the granite care package includes cleaner and sealer. With gentle use you will not need to restore the sealer more frequently than every couple of years, perhaps even less frequently, depending on the characteristics of your individual stone. Pick the brain of your supplier for customized treatment of the material at hand. If you have an existing installation, try and identify the particular granite variety as a basis for best cleaner/sealer choice. Please, do not wax, neither paste, nor spray. Several million years were required for the production of your countertop. With a little protection, cleaning and preservation, it should certainly last a few decades more. Check out Bob & RodMan's take on duct cleaning and why it's important.