Last Update: Wednesday, August 27, 2014
|Caring for Your Stone Surfaces: Maintaining Luster and Shine on Granite Counters and Other Natural Stone Surfaces|
|Written by San Fernando Valley Sun|
|Wednesday, 11 June 2014 22:08|
Many homeowners install granite or marble counter tops and vanities for their durability and to add more value to the home. But in the end, nothing beats the most visible benefit - that rich shine and luster right after the workmen install the new natural stone.
It's that gorgeous shine homeowners desire to maintain. For some, their lustrous granite or marble surfaces are the envy of dinner guests. For others, it's a feeling of frustration and disappointment, most likely due to lack of knowledge and education on maintaining the life and beauty of natural stone. While literally solid as a rock, natural stone isn't impervious to wear and tear, and it requires correct and regular care and maintenance.
It's important to understand the shine on granite is not from applying a wax, but a natural shine that goes through a rigorous process.
Quarried from the earth's surface using a combination of diamond wire cables, drills and even dynamite, these stone blocks weigh in at around 40,000 pounds. The blocks are then taken to a factory for processing. A giant gang saw using diamond blades slices the blocks into a calibrated thickness similar to a giant bread slicer. The next step is over to a polishing line where they pass under diamond polishing heads that apply thousands of pounds of pressure per square inch. Here, finer and finer grits bring out the natural polish of the stone. From there the slabs are bundled and shipped to your local stone manufacturer and installer to be further cut to a homeowner's needs. It's this factory finish that enhances their inherent characteristics - veins, swirls, crystals - prior to installations in kitchens and baths.
There are two common routes to pursue to maintain natural stone's durability and to ensure that brilliant shine persists. One option is contracting with a stone restoration specialist. These professionals can clean, seal and polish your natural stone.
This does, however, come with a formidable price tag - north of $250 to $500 a visit. A more palatable option is the do-it-yourself route. There's a lower price tag, less than $50, with more of an investment in a homeowner's time and attention.
"But do your homework first," cautions Lenny Sciarrino, a third-generation stone care expert and cofounder of Granite Gold brand stone care products.
"Common household cleaning products can damage granite, marble and other natural stone, and that can lead to costly repair and replacement."
He also warns homeowners to be wary about misleading promises with some do-it-yourself granite cleaning products claiming they can remove stains and water marks or reduce dullness and scratching.
"Having grown up manufacturing, installing and restoring stone surfaces, I can assure you an off-the-shelf granite cleaner can't deliver on those promises," said Sciarrino. "In most circumstances, there are home remedies, and we're often teaching homeowners those tricks over the phone or through email."
To maintain that rich shine from when the stone was first installed, Sciarrino advises homeowners make sure the granite or marble is sealed upon installation. It's not uncommon for a new counter to be installed without a protective seal, leaving it immediately susceptible to stains and etches. After installation, he said, plan a regular routine of daily cleaning and frequent polishing.
"Although granite, marble and other natural-stone surfaces are highly durable, they do require proper care and maintenance," said Sciarrino, whose company recently introduced Granite Gold Clean & Shine, which fuses the cleaning and polishing strengths of the brand's two most popular products in one solution for those who are on the go. "The additional benefits of polishing these stone surfaces are that it helps resist fingerprints and water spots and it reinforces the protective seal."
Homeowners should often test the integrity of the protective seal, even scheduling it like they do when changing batteries twice yearly at daylight saving time. Here's an easy way to do that: Pour water (about 3 inches in diameter) on the surface in several locations and let it sit for 30 minutes. If you see a dark mark or ring, the water is penetrating the stone and it's time to reseal.