Many people want granite countertops in their kitchen and bathrooms. Granite is a luxurious material that looks amazing and adds a touch of class to the home. However, what most people don’t realize is that granite can stain. If you’ve decided this material is the right option for your kitchen, you need to understand how stains occur and what you can do to prevent them or clean the counters.

Granite Countertop Stains

Why are granite countertop stains a concern? Unlike some materials, granite is fairly porous. This means that it absorbs liquids. Fortunately, even though porous materials absorb liquid, that liquid may also evaporate over time without the need to use any cleaning products. This means you don’t need to worry as much about water or any other clear liquids causing issues with your counters. However, if you spill something like red wine on granite, it can be a problem. This is why you need to seal your counters to protect them.

Before you decide you want to use a non-porous material like quartz, do keep in mind that all materials have their strengths and weaknesses. For example, while liquids may not stain quartz as easily, a permanent marker can ruin these counters. Marker comes out of granite fairly easy, though. 

Substances that Easily Stain Granite

Unfortunately, there are a lot of common household items that can stain your counters. Red wine, as mentioned above, is certainly one of these items. Even if you don’t drink wine, there are still items you likely do eat or drink that could stain granite countertops. Some dark berries, for example, can stain the material. Blueberries, raspberries, and even cherries may cause stains if you don’t clean up any juices quickly. If you have cartons of any type of berry, it’s always a good idea to put a towel under them just in case they do leak.

variety of fruit trays on granite countertop

In addition to the berries, juices can also stain your counters. Grape juice, tomato juice, and even citrus juices such as oranges can cause damage to them. Just as it is responsible for staining your teeth, coffee can also stain granite. Other things to watch for include cooking oils, mustard, and any product that contains chemicals. If you have granite in your bathroom, do your best not to get toothpaste on it because it can cause stains. 

Also, remember that the shade of your stone will play a part in how easily it stains. If you have lighter counters, they are more likely to noticeably stain than darker ones. You’ll want to quickly clean up any spill or other mess on a lighter granite. 

Why Sealing Granite Is Important

When you seal the countertop, you are applying a layer of protection between the stone and any liquids that get on it. This is why sealing granite countertops need to be done as soon as they are installed and before they are used. By creating a barrier over the counter, you won’t have to worry as much about staining. 

If you had your counters installed by a professional, they will most likely seal them for you. If they don’t mention sealing the surface, ask. You want to make certain that your counters are protected before you start using them. 

However, over time, the seal on your countertops will begin to weaken. You will need to reseal the area regularly in order to make certain it remains protected. Fortunately, this is fairly easy and inexpensive. You can even do it yourself. There is some debate on how often you need to apply a new layer of sealant to granite. Some recommend applying sealant every year, while others may state that you can go several years between applications. 

Two factors play a part in how often you need to reseal your counters. First is the color. Lighter granites should be resealed more often because they do need more protection. The second factor is the use. If you use your kitchen counters often, the seal will wear down more quickly and need to be replaced more often. 

When Should You Reseal Your Counters?

You may be tempted simply to make a schedule for resealing your countertops. For example, you may decide to add it to your spring cleaning schedule and apply a new layer of sealant every March or April. While this does make it easier to know when you need to do this task, there is a downside to applying new sealant when it’s not necessary. If there is still a good layer of sealer on the counters, the new layer you put down won’t be absorbed correctly. This can make the stone look hazy, and it can be difficult to restore its natural beauty once this happens. 

sealed granite countertop in a bathroom

To determine when you need to reseal your counters, you can do what’s known as a simple water droplet test. Simply sprinkle a few drops of water on your counter. If you can see the stone absorb the drops and turn a darker color within a few minutes, it means you need to apply a new coat of sealant. You should do this test every few months, especially right after you have your granite counters installed so you can get a good idea of how often they will need to be sealed. Also, do the water drop test after the new coat of sealant dries to make certain that it was effective. If it’s not, you may need to apply a second or even a third coat.

Heat Resistance

Many people wonder if granite countertops are heat resistant. The good news is that yes, it is, though other counter options are more heat resistant. It’s a better choice than wood, linoleum, and other options, though concrete, stainless steel, and some other stones are more heat resistant. You should still refrain from pulling a baking sheet or dish out of the oven and placing it right on your granite, though, because extremely high heat can cause the stone to crack. However, if you’ve allowed the dish to cool, have a trivet on the counter, or have been baking at a lower temperature, you won’t damage it. 

What’s more likely is that the heat from your dish or pan will damage the sealant. High heat can cause the sealant to discolor and weaken. This means it won’t protect your counters from stains as well as it should. You may need to carefully apply a new layer of sealant just in this one area if you notice any damage. Again, do the droplet test first to make certain that the sealant has been weakened.

Tips for Taking Care of Your Granite Counters

Caring for granite countertops isn’t difficult, nor is it too much different from caring for any type of material. As already mentioned, the most important thing to do is to clean up any spills as quickly as you can. The less time a spill remains on the counter, the less chance there is of it being absorbed into the granite. In addition to cleaning up any spills quickly, be sure to wipe down your counters after each use. There could be small droplets of juice or other substances that you don’t see right away still there, and they can damage the counter.

What should you clean the counters with? A damp cloth and some mild soap will typically be enough. There are some products designed for cleaning granite, but you don’t necessarily need to invest in them. Just make certain you’re not using anything acidic and that you use a soft cloth to clean the counter. Granite can be scratched by abrasive sponges and other items.

woman cleaning granite countertop with a non-abrasive cloth

If you see any water spots or stains on the counter, you can make a mixture of water and a gentle detergent to get them out. A soft-bristled toothbrush works well if you need to scrub at the stain. Just be sure you do so lightly. If the stain still won’t come out, a paste made of water and baking soda may help. You may need to do this several times to get rid of the most stubborn stains. 

Remember to protect your counters from high heat by using trivets or putting down a potholder. You can place some warm pans, dishes, and other items directly on the surface, but always be careful with anything taken directly out of an oven on high heat or right off the stove. 

Finally, perform the water droplet test every few months or if you see discoloration in the protective layer of sealant. You will need to reapply sealant whenever your counters fail the droplet test, and in some cases, you may need to add several layers of sealant. It is worth it, though, because granite countertops are stunning. If you take good care of them, they will remain looking as beautiful and elegant as they were the day they were installed. 

If you are looking for granite countertops in the Denver area, be sure to call us for a free quote or to schedule time a to see our showroom. We want to help you realize your dreams of a beautiful countertop in your home.