Taking care of your stone

Very few things can compare to the added value you can achieve for your home than having stone countertops or other surfaces installed.

countertops
Everyone wants a piece of the action. However, do you know how to take care of your stone? Here are some quick tips to protect your investment.

1. How to care for granite

Granite is known for its durability and distinctive visible crystal and vein patterns. They look and function very well as a work surface in any part of the home, particularly kitchen countertops. To keep it looking fantastic, learn how to care for granite the smart way.

Maintaining granite surfaces is not as difficult as some people make out. True, there are commercial granite cleaners available, but they are not necessary. If you have an intact seal on your granite for those that need it and you avoid placing hot and/or greasy pots and pans directly on the surface, then you only need a simple cleaning regimen to keep it pristine. For daily cleaning, warm water, mild dishwashing soap, and a soft cloth is all you need. If you want to disinfect it, purchase a bottle of 91% isopropyl alcohol and spray it, well diluted with water, on the granite. Wait a few minutes to let it doe its work, and then wipe it dry with a clean cloth. That’s it.

You do still have to exercise reasonable care to prevent damaging your granite surfaces. It is very durable and scratch resistant, but you can crack or chip it if you try hard enough. If you want to keep your granite countertop looking shiny and beautiful, make sure you have an intact seal, and don’t hit it with anything heavy with force, especially the edges and areas with no under-support. Here are some other tips to protect your granite from damage:

Wipe up spills immediately, especially if it is anything containing wine, vinegar, coffee, oil, or lemon

  • Use protective heat pads or trivets when putting down hot cookware
  • Avoid moisture accumulation from cold drinks by using coasters
  • A baking soda and water poultice can remove stains
  • Use hot water to remove soap scum
  • Do not ever use detergents that are abrasive and/or contains bleach or ammonia

2. How to care for marble

Marble sounds like a good idea because it is so beautiful and elegant. Marble is a rock, but it is a soft rock compared to other dimension stones (with the possible exception of limestone), and it is porous. The best way to use marble in the home is to choose where it is not likely to be used too often or too heavily.

Knowing the problematic side of wonderful marble and you still want it for your heavily used areas such as kitchen counters, you should choose a honed finish. Highly polished marble may look more striking, but it is also more likely to show the slightest scratch and stain, even fingerprints. You can avoid many problems with marble if you choose the right finish.

To clean your sealed marble countertops, use mild dishwashing soap, warm water, and a soft cloth to clean it up. Make sure you try it thoroughly after. If you want to disinfect it, you can dilute some bleach in water and use that to wipe down your marble surfaces.

When you have marble surfaces, make it a habit to wipe up any spills immediately, especially anything acidic or oily, because these will definitely etch and stain your marble anywhere the seal is not intact. These include coffee, tea, any type of citrus fruit juice, toothpaste, perfume, and cosmetics. Tap water also has minerals that can eventually stain marble,

Check out these other tips for preventing damage to your marble:

  • Do not use anything abrasive on marble, unless you’re sculpting something on it.Ammonia will discolor marble, so make sure it is not an ingredient in your cleaner
  • Annually resealing is a good idea
  • Use only a dry mop on marble floors
  • Avoid putting anything pointed, hot, or heavy on it without padding
  • Keep anything with metallic or sharp edges from coming in direct contact with the surface

3. How to care for quartz

Engineered quartz is truly a welcome innovation for any design-savvy homeowner. It is extremely durable, nonporous but looks like natural stone, and readily available in a wide variety of colors, designs, and sizes from numerous manufacturers.

The best thing about engineered quartz is that it requires little or no maintenance. You don’t have to jump through hoops to keep it in great shape. You only have to clean it on a daily basis by washing it in mild soap, rinsing it off with warm water, and wiping it dry to keep water spots from forming. Since it is durable and non-porous, you don’t need special cleaning products or tools. If you see any soap scum, hot water is the answer.

However, you should refrain from using anything too abrasive on the surface. It will not damage the stone itself, but it might dull the finish. If you have to scrape off dried on food or any type of muck, soak it in detergent and scrape it off with the flat edge of a hard plastic card such as a dead credit card, or use a non-abrasive pad.

It is also important to note that the color of your engineered quartz can change under certain circumstances. Quartz has no color, so manufacturers add pigments that unfortunately fades over time under constant exposure to direct sunlight. If you have a kitchen with big windows or have a bar outdoors, make sure you choose a light-colored stone for the surfaces, where fading will go unnoticed.

Engineered quartz is tough, but you can physically damage it if you really try. It is not proof against a heavy object striking it at an angle, for instance, or taking a blowtorch to it. Suddenly exposing it to extreme heat can cause it to crack from thermal shock, so be warned. You cannot repair engineered quartz as easily as natural stone.

Conclusion

The best way to prevent damaging your stone is to use reasonable care and common sense. Avoid the extra expense of replacing a damaged countertop by giving it a little respect.

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