Maintaining And Caring For Your Stone
Stone is a great choice for your countertops because it is really easy to clean and hard to damage. Below you will learn about the basic risks, dos and don'ts to ensure your stone countertop, tile or vanity top looks as great as it did the first day.
Some stones react to acidic substances (vinegar, ketchup, wine, coffee, ammonia, liquid cleaners like Windex...) which corrode the stone's surface and generate dull spots even changing the texture in more severe cases. A typical example are the glass rings left on a table top by wine sitting around the glass' base.
Most etch marks can be repaired with etch removers. To remove severe etch marks you'll need to contact a professional.
Some hard stones like Granite or Quartzite are not scratched by iron or steel and you can cut on them (your knives will get dull very soon though) and perform any normal kitchen task without having to worry about scratches.
Other softer stones like Marble or Limestone can be easily scratched by knives and even dragging metal objects on them. Use them in low traffic areas or make sure you don't do anything you wouldn't do on a wood countertop.
Chips and Cracks
It is very hard to crack or chip granite and other hard stones. Only hammer blasts or other unusal and serious abuse could make those kinds of damages.
Softer stones like marble could be chipped by cutting on them or with impacts from harder materials. These stones however, are still very resistant to breakage if they are used properly.
In any case, chips and small cracks can be repaired by the right professional. Make sure you keep the chipped pieces; the fabricator will use them to fix your countertop.
Stains and Sealing
Natural stones are porous to some degree, which means that they can absorb liquids and be stained by them. This risk can be avoided in less porous materials like granite and mitigated in more porous ones like marble by sealing the countertop. Most fabricators will seal your countertop during the installation process.
Most quartzites and some dense granites don't need to be sealed. Others need only by sealed once. The rest will need to be resealed periodically. You can easily know under which category your countertop fits by performing a couple of tests.
The best rule to keep in mind is not to use anything you wouldn't use to clean your hands. Avoid powdered cleansers, abrasive pads or anything acidic (ammonia, Windex...). Warm water and dish soap will do the job just fine but some stone specific products will make your stone glow and may also contain sealer, which will help protect your countertop from stains.