We often get questions about how to go about cleaning and maintaining natural stone countertops, so we thought this blog would be a good opportunity to address some of the most frequently asked questions.

What’s the difference in care for granite and marble countertops?
Different countertop materials do need to be specifically treated. As two of the most popular countertop options in natural stone countertops, marble and granite do have varied maintenance requirements. Simply put, granite is harder and less porous while marble is softer and more easily damaged. Nevertheless, for what a natural stone countertop brings to your home, the differences are negligible.

Basically, natural stone falls into two different categories: calcareous stone and siliceous stone. The variances in composition call for variances in maintenance. Calcareous stone, like marble, limestone, onyx, and travertine, is composed of calcium carbonate, making it very sensitive to acidic cleaning products and acidic liquids. Common products like coffee, citrus juices, soda, tomato sauce, wine, and vinegar can not only stain a marble countertop, they can also leave etchings in the finish. Therefore, calcareous stone needs different cleaning procedures than siliceous stone. Siliceous stone, like granite, sandstone, and slate, is composed mainly of quartz and silica particles. This makes it very durable and remarkably easy to clean. However, it can still be stained by coffee, wine, and even cooking oil, so it’s still a good practice to wipe up spills immediately.

What sort of cleansers should I use for my countertop?
Obviously, you shouldn’t use vinegar because it can cause etching on marble and dull the luster of granite. You’ll also want to avoid any other generic cleaning products, including ammonia, bleach, de-greasers, glass cleaners, lemon juice, or anything else containing acids or alkalis. For one, they will etch the marble and degrade the granite sealer, making it more vulnerable to stains. Secondly, especially with granite, since it is so bacteria-resistant, harsh cleaners are unnecessary.

Because marble is a specialty item, specially-made, ph-neutral marble cleaners are the best recommendation. However, for granite and other siliceous stones, good old soap and water will do the trick. Nevertheless, long term use of dish soap will eventually cause build up and dull your countertop’s sheen, so an occasional wipe down with a 50/50 mix of water and isopropyl alcohol will help to cut down on the buildup.

Also, abrasive pads and other rough cleaning tools will cause tiny scratches in your stone, alleviating it of its luster. A simple washcloth or a soft microfiber cloth will keep your countertop clean and safe from scratches.

What are some ways to prevent cracks and chips in my countertops?
Although natural stone countertops are harder than most other countertops, they can still crack and chip. In other words, you don’t want to sit on the edge, and you’ll want to be careful with how you treat it. Natural stone is able to endure high heat, but taking a hot pot off of the stove and placing it on the countertop can still cause a thermal shock to the stone, weakening the surface and possibly causing it to crack. It’s best to minimize heat exposure by using hot pads or trivets for pots and pans.

It’s also a good practice to use coasters under all bottles, cans, and glasses. They help to prevent unintentional chips and serve to protect against stains from whatever drops may be on the bottom of the glass. If you do happen to get a crack in your countertop, have it professionally repaired right away, as the crack can spread, and if untended, could cause a portion of the countertop to break off completely.

Can I cut or prepare food directly on my natural stone countertop?
There are two very good reasons you should use cutting boards. Because a natural stone countertop is very hard, using it to cut foods will dull your knives’ edges. And although stone countertops are very hard, the can still be scratched. Even small scratches will dull the surface and allow places for bacteria to grow. Plus, if you are cutting citrus fruits or other acidic foods, it can wear down the luster of granite and etch marble.

How often do I have to seal my natural stone?
In order to prevent scratches, stains, and water damage, as a general rule, you’ll want to seal granite every 2-3 years, quartzite once a year, and marble is often sealed 2-3 times per year. Lighter colored stone may need to be sealed more regularly. A good test to determine whether or not you’re due for a seal is to place a few drops of water on the countertop for 10-15 minutes. If the stone doesn’t darken, your countertop is well sealed.

We hope this gives you some insight into the maintenance required to care for your natural stone countertop. Visit our showroom today to find your perfect natural stone countertop!