December 13, 2017
Your countertops are installed and they look amazing! The next question on your mind is probably, “How can I keep them looking this good for a lifetime?”
Whether your marble or granite installation has been completed or you’re choosing a natural stone for your project and want to educate yourself about the maintenance you can expect from your countertop, here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding natural stone cleaning and maintenance.
First things first: A guide to different natural stones
Maintenance will vary depending on the different kinds of stone and the application of each stone. Some stones are more porous and prone to scratching, etching and staining than others. Here is a guide to some of the most popular natural stones, and how durable they are.
The go-to for beautiful, durable natural stone, granite can withstand water, mild abrasions, and heavy traffic with little wear and low maintenance, making it perfect for many applications. It’s ideal for kitchens, because it is less easily damaged by heat, knives, or water than some other natural stones. Flooring, shower surrounds, and fireplace surrounds are perfect applications for granite, as well, because its durability can stand up to regular heat, water, and weight.
Magma Gold - Granite "Antolini Wow! Collection" Full Slab
Marble exudes elegance and sophistication, but can be softer and more easily damaged that some other natural stones. Interior accents, such as tabletops, staircase handrails, and bathroom vanities, are all perfect for showcasing the luxury of marble without exposing it to excessive heat or traffic. Along walls and chair rails, marble can bring a beautiful accent to a space as well. In the kitchen, marble backsplashes bring classic grandeur to the room without being subject to the traffic that a countertop must withstand.
Calacatta Cielo - Marble "Antolini Wow! Collection" Full Slab
Quartzite is an increasingly popular countertop option for homeowners. It’s a naturally strong, heat-resistant stone that can appear similar to marble, but is sturdier and less prone to scratching and other damage. The durability of quartzite varies, however, and heavy use can cause etching, staining or scratching. Quartzite is ideal for countertops, bartops, fireplace surrounds, and nearly anywhere that granite could be used.
Explosion Blue - Quartzite "Antolini Wow! Collection" Full Slab
Soft quartzite has a similar appearance and characteristic to calcite-based marbles, but it is a harder material, making it more suitable for countertop use. The striking effect of the design’s movement makes it perfect for a kitchen island or tabletop, where the stone can be displayed in a large piece to showcase its veins and variations.
Elegant Brown - Soft Quartzite "Antolini Wow! Collection" Full Slab
Formed in hot springs and limestone caves, travertine’s textured and fibrous appearance wraps its surroundings in natural warmth and energy. Since travertine is easy to cut, it is ideal for backsplashes and flooring, especially when you have to fill a small or oddly-shaped space. Since it can be porous and is highly reactive to acidic substances, travertine is better used in areas where it won’t be exposed to water, vinegar, fruit juices, or liquids that are likely to stain (coffee, wine, soy sauce, etc.).
Travertine Navonna Full Slab
Onyx is becoming more trendy for those looking for a stunning, rare luxury for their homes and businesses. This translucent stone is perfect for any areas that will be illuminated with backlighting, because it filters the light in an extraordinary way. Since onyx can be easily scratched or marred by acids, harsh cleansers or knives, it’s best used to make a beautiful aesthetic statement in a space that doesn’t withstand heavy traffic. Bar tops and vanities are perfect opportunities to showcase the unique glow of onyx.
Cappucino Onyx Full Slab
Often considered the mother stone of marble, travertine and onyx, Limestone’s presence throughout history makes it the quintessential choice for modern day homes and businesses seeking old world charm. Since it’s often very dense and durable, limestone is perfect for flooring, countertops, and wall cladding for interior and exterior surfaces.
Jerusalem Gold Limestone Full Slab
Soapstone’s flat, warm beauty offers a softer and more rustic aesthetic than gleaming marble or granite. Since its finish is honed or leathered rather than polished, the surface of soapstone is more forgiving of scratches than polished stones. Because soapstone is acid resistant, it is a popular choice for kitchens or bar tops, where it’s likely to come into contact with fruit juice or vinegars (think cocktail garnishes).
Soapstone Honed Full Slab
How does the maintenance compare between marble and granite?
Marble and granite are two of the most popular countertop options. Overall, granite requires less diligent maintenance than marble does, since it is harder and less porous. Marble, in contrast, is softer and more easily damaged. Marble will require more diligent care, including some preventative measures like avoiding exposure to acidic liquids (like citrus juice) and dark liquids (like red wine and soy sauce). Granite, on the other hand, can handle occasional spills as long as the sealant is still in intact and the spill is wiped up quickly. Marble also needs to be sealed more often than granite to provide a protective layer over the porous surface, in order to provide additional protection against staining and etching.
Do I need a special cleaner for my countertop? Can I use vinegar?
Vinegar may be an excellent natural cleaner for many surfaces, but it is not recommended for marble and granite. Vinegar is very acidic, which can cause etching to your natural stone. Along those same lines, it’s a bad idea to use Windex, lemon juice, or anything with ammonia or bleach to clean your surfaces, as they can etch your natural stone and break down your sealant, which will lead to your stone becoming less resilient and water-resistant.
Because granite is very bacteria-resistant, there’s no need for the harsh cleaners; soapy water is an excellent option to keep it clean. Don’t use an abrasive pad or sponge to scrub the stone, as it will create tiny scratches in the stone’s surface. A nubby washcloth or soft microfiber cloth is perfect for daily wipe-downs.
Because marble is more temperamental and more porous, it’s a good idea to stick with specially-made marble cleaners to ensure that you don’t risk damage to your stone. These cleansers are ph-neutral so they won’t etch the stone’s surface.
What do I need to do every day to keep my natural stone looking great?
It is a good idea to wipe down the countertop every day, with a natural stone cleaner or warm soapy water. Keeping the surface free of debris helps avoid scratching on the surface from friction between the surface and abrasive substances, such as sugar and salt granules. Additionally, wiping up any spills will keep them from soaking into the stone and causing stains.
If you want to take another step to disinfect your countertop, mix together a solution of equal parts water and 90% isopropyl alcohol and use it to wipe off the counter. This mixture will kill bacteria, remove soap residue, and restore shine to your surface, without risking etching or damage.
How often do I have to seal my natural stone?
It’s important to regularly seal your natural stone to maintain a barrier against the elements and prevent stains, scratches, water damage, and more.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s recommended that you seal granite every two to three years, quartzite once a year, and both marble and soft quartzite two to three times per year. Lighter colored stone, whether granite or marble, will need to be sealed more regularly, since stains will show up more easily on the surface, whereas darker stones can go longer between sealing.
If you’re wondering if you should go ahead and reseal your countertops ahead of schedule, there’s a simple test to determine whether your stone has become porous: apply a few drops of water to the countertop surface, and note how they react. If the water is still in beads on the surface after about 10 minutes have passed, your countertop is still repelling moisture and does not yet need resealing; however, if you can see a darker spot where the moisture was absorbed into the stone’s surface, it is time to reseal.
How can I prevent cracks and chips to my countertops?
Cracks and chips can be prevented by avoiding heavy traffic on the edge of a countertop (i.e., you shouldn’t sit on the overhang of a breakfast bar) and minimizing heat exposure. Do not set a hot pot or pan directly on your stone’s surface; always use a trivet as a barrier. The shock of heat exposure can weaken your stone surface and cause cracking.
If a crack does appear in your countertop, have a professional repair it immediately. Without immediate attention, the crack can continue to spread and eventually lead to a portion of your countertop breaking off completely.
Can I slice or prep food directly on my natural stone countertop?
Because granite, marble and other stone countertops can scratch, it’s important to always use a cutting board when preparing food. Sharp knives can create tiny scratches that will dull your stone’s surface, harbor bacteria, and compromise the porosity of your stone’s surface. Cutting citrus fruits directly on the countertop, in particular, can cause the acids to pool on your surface and eat away at the stone, creating etches and divots in the surface.
View our full inventory of Natural Stone Products. Call your local MARVA Showroom to get in touch with your local MARVA representative, if you have any questions.
Other Sources for Inspiration
- Check out our Pinterest for style ideas.
- Follow us on Facebook to keep up with everything MARVA has to offer.
- Find design inspiration in our Houzz Ideabooks.
Like What You're Reading?
Get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.