Simple steps to care for granite, marble and other natural stone
Monday, September 24, 2012
Natural stone is one of the most sought-after upgrades in a home. Providing both versatility and timeless beauty, it’s no surprise that granite is the most popular natural stone option. Though very durable, the composition of stone can make it sensitive to damage through daily use. By understanding a few important do’s and don’ts, you can easily keep your home’s natural stone looking as good as the day it was installed.
Natural stone, such as granite, marble, travertine and slate, is commonly used for countertops and backsplashes in kitchens and bathrooms, two of the most-used rooms in a home. With the daily activity associated with these spaces, it’s important to keep in mind some important stone maintenance tips.
DON’T use all-purpose, ammonia or bleach cleaners.
Many homeowners are tempted to use all-purpose cleaners or bleach to keep stone surfaces clean, but these types of cleaners may actually damage your stone. Cleaning products that contain vinegar, lemon or other acidic ingredients can dull the surface, reducing the stone’s luster and eating away at the sealer. Ammonia-based cleaners should also be avoided as they can cause the stone’s surface layers to wear off over time.
DO use safe stone cleaners.
Smart homeowners only use specially formulated cleaners to remove dust and fingerprints while leaving a polish that acts as an extra barrier against moisture penetration. A good water-based option for dirty backsplashes or sink areas as well as high traffic floor areas can remove scuffs and heel marks.
DO clean up spills immediately.
Because natural stone is porous, spills can be absorbed, even if the stone has been sealed. That’s why it’s important to clean up food and liquid as quickly as possible. Acidic spills such as orange juice, tomato sauce and sodas are examples of kitchen spills that should be cleaned up immediately. In the bathroom, shaving cream, body soap and perfume spills are concerning. These types of spills have a higher potential for damage and cleaning them up quickly will help to prevent staining and etching.
DON’T use scouring pads for tough spills.
Always use a soft cloth or dishtowel to wipe surfaces. As tempting as it may be, avoid scouring pads or rough sponges, even if the spill has hardened. Rough materials are not safe for natural stone and can scratch or dull the surface, leaving it vulnerable. For tough spills or hardened food, spray a kitchen countertop cleaner first and let it soak for a few minutes. The cleaning agent will safely do the work for you and be much more effective than abrasive scrubbing.
DO seal your stone surfaces.
Granite and other types of stone can be professionally sealed during the installation process, providing an extra protective shield. But sealing is something that needs to happen regularly to sustain this barrier.
Protect your investment so it looks great for many years to come.
Following a few simple steps will help the stone in your home retain its durability while adding to the aesthetic appeal of your living spaces. Photo courtesy of Ocean/Corbis