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06.01.11 / DIY Granite Sealing

We saved up the cash to have granite countertops installed around our kitchen perimeter last June. {We outfitted the island with butcher block to save money and add warmth.}  We’ve been living with the granite for a year now and absolutely love it.  So easy to clean daily, love the simple look and profile of it, and the durability is amazing.  I have set hot pans on it and cut directly on it without leaving any stains or scratches. When we had the granite installed, I asked a lot of questions about maintenance.  The installer, who also happened to be the company’s owner, told me the countertops would only need to be sealed once a year to protect against stains and moisture penetration.  He said to just ask for ‘granite sealer’ at Home Depot or Lowe’s and use it to seal the granite annually.  When I was at Home Depot a few weeks ago, I remembered we were coming up on our one year granite anniversary, so I picked up some Stone Care International Sealer which was recommended to me by the countertop salesperson.  It cost me $10.  I finally got around to sealing the granite myself this morning and it was surprisingly easy.

Following the directions on the label, I cleaned the granite last night with my regular Mrs. Meyer’s/water cleaning solution and let it dry thoroughly overnight.  The sealer instructions said to allow for at least 6-12 hours of drying time.  Obviously, you don’t want to seal water into the granite. This morning I cleared the countertops, emptied the sink and wrapped the kitchen faucet and stovetop with plastic wrap to avoid getting the sealer on anything that I didn’t really want/need to be sealed.

I used the cover of one my kids’ coloring books as a splash guard of sorts to keep stray sprays from getting on the surrounding backsplash, appliances and cabinets.

The instructions are to shake the sealer bottle well, spray the granite thoroughly and evenly, wait 3-5 minutes for the first coat to penetrate then spray again and wait another 30 minutes.

Thirty minutes after the second coat had been sprayed, you are to wipe away any excess sealer.

I did all this and discovered that my granite seemed to have been sealed pretty well the first time {by the installer} because the sealer I was using wasn’t soaking in too much.  While there was definitely less wet sealer on the surface after waiting 30 minutes, there was still excess which I wiped away with a microfiber cloth.  Still, I did notice an improved luster in the granite.  It’s one of those things that I probably wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t sealed it and seen the difference.

If you are thinking of having granite countertops installed or already have them in your kitchen and want to DIY the sealing of it, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Ask your installer how often they recommend sealing the granite.
  • Seal granite countertops in the morning after they’ve had adequate time to dry after a routine cleaning.
  • Granite sealer has a distinct odor.  It’s not strong but opening windows and running a fan {I used my oven hood vent} help to air things out.
  • Use plastic wrap, thick paper or other barriers to protect non-granite surfaces from getting spritzed with sealer solution.  I found the spray bottle I used to have a concentrated spray stream, meaning it didn’t mist out all over the place which was nice.  The sealer can be used on other stone surfaces as well, including ceramic which is what our backsplash is made of. However, I really like the color of our backsplash the way it is, so I didn’t want to get any sealer on it and risk changing the look of it.  You can always test a small area before committing to sealing the entire surface.
  • Let the granite cure for 24-48 hours after sealing.  There are no particulars about what to do during this curing time on the label, but I plan to avoid getting liquids and cleaners on the granite for at least 24 hours.

So, there you have it – Granite Sealing 101.  I have to admit that the idea of having to seal granite once a year seemed mid-maintenance {not high or low maintenance but somewhere in between} and a tad inconvenient to me at first.  But after sealing my granite countertops today, I’ll say it’s really not that bad at all.  It took me less than an hour start to finish, including wait time, and I’ll just be extra careful of spills and cleaners for the next 24 hours.  Oh, and I don’t think I used even 1/10th of the bottle of sealer, so that $10 is going far.

Do you have stone countertops that require special sealing maintenance?  Or has the thought of sealing granite annually turned you off from taking the granite plunge?  Do you prefer other surfaces for kitchen countertops that require less maintenance?

images:  Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

32 Comments

01.June.2011

Is there anything that you have to do for the butcher block? Does it require a special sealeror something?

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01.June.2011

Hi Dana-

I have been reading through all your blog posts (starting from the beginning) and had not yet made it far enough to read about your final kitchen reveal. I was up to you figuring out what counters to get and liking them honed. Reading today’s post though gave me a peak. I love it! Love the backsplash, faucet, your curtains (which did you buy or make?), the butcher block island and so much more. Love, love, love! You did a great job transforming what you had. I also like your counters sealed. It makes it look nice and clean and a great contrast with your white cabinets.

Great job!

Jen @ Bungalov

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replied on June 1st, 2011

Jen – I made the curtains here…

http://www.housetweaking.com/2011/03/03/a-dash-of-fun/

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01.June.2011

This is a great reminder that I need to do this to our granite. We have lived in our house for about a year and a half. It is constantly on my mind for things I need to do. Thanks and LOVE your decorating style.

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i LOVE the combos of the dark granite and the light gray wall. that backsplash is super fun, too…you’re putting ideas in my head, and i was set on subway tile! what’s a girl to do? not that we’re actually working on the kitchen, mind you, but in my head i am always tweaking!

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01.June.2011

Never thought about granite countertop maintenance before. After reading your process it seems that the beauty of granite countertops far outweighs the inconvenience of sealing them once a year or so. I can’t wait to have them in my own house someday! And I am loving the butcher block island! Excellent taste!

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01.June.2011

I wasn’t aware that you had to reseal granite every year! Good to know for future choices.

x

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01.June.2011

I’ve noticed that my granite is starting to “drag” in the area around my sink and I’m wondering if this is why. I wasn’t sure how often it needed to be sealed. Anyone else experience this?

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replied on August 18th, 2012

I know this question is a year old, but maybe my experience will help someone.

That effect around the sink is likely a mineral residue. The obvious culprit is water. The not so obvious culprit is soap.

Soap reacts with magnesium in water, to create a really tough scum or residue. This is one of the reasons it’s a bad idea to use diluted dish soap to clean your stone. High quality stone cleaners are really detergents – not soaps.

The solution? I can’t make a definitive diagnosis even, without seeing your stone, but in general, if this is mineral from water only, and this is granite, norite, gabbro, or syenite, you should be able to get it off with a single-edge razor blade (sharp one, will be easier and more complete), and/or #0000 steel wool without scratching or abrading the stone.

If this is mineral residue from soap reaction, and the stone is as above, you might still make good headway with the razor blade and #0000 steel wool, but will likely need to also use a heavy duty stone degreaser. If this is the case, you might actually be able to use plain acetone. If you go this route, use latex (NOT nitrile) gloves, and don’t have any open flames around. You can use the steel wool to agitate the residue in the acetone, and paper towels to wipe off the surface before it dries.

This method works for me, I use it often in my service. The acetone destroys paint, varnish, poly finishes, so you must be careful. As to harmful effects, Clinique clarifying solution is mostly acetone. If it’s good for cleaning your face, I’d say there isn’t any harm in using it occasionally to spot clean a granite top.

If you have a stone that requires sealing, you’ll want to seal the area you agitated with acetone.

Applying sealer over problems normally just causes more problems. Best to get down to the cause first.

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01.June.2011

Dana, how do you like your butcher block? did you get it in a varnished finish? I’m contemplating doing my whole kitchen with butcher block and would love to hear your opinion. Thanks a ton!

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01.June.2011

How do you like the butcher block? I suppose you must like it and that’s why it’s still there :), but how is the care and maintence? Anything special other than making sure to wipe it down? Is it sealed? I do love the idea of the granite and butcher block island, it does warm things up and add interest, though I’m sure there are other good reasons to have butcher block as well.

Oh, and we are moving to the Dayton area in a few months. I suppose your town isn’t too far from Wright-Patterson AFB (where we are going for school, my husband is in the Air Force) and if we were going to be there longer than 18 months I’d sure love to look into your home. It stinks we’ll only be around for a brief time because that area would be a great place to buy our first home – not just a great time for us.

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replied on June 1st, 2011

Katy – Our current and ‘new’ old home are in great areas near Wright-Patt. In fact, we have neighbors that work there! Too bad you won’t be looking for a long-term home :(

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replied on June 1st, 2011

Katy, Nat & Deanna – Looks like I’ll have to write up a post on the care/maintenance of our butcher block countertop soon! Hint, hint. I do love it!

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01.June.2011

I am so glad to hear that the process is fairly painless. We just had new ones installed yesterday and I was dreading it!

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01.June.2011

We went with Caesarstone instead of granite so we wouldn’t have to seal it every year. Yeah, I’m that lazy!

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01.June.2011

After reading through this I wonder if my family friend who got new granite counters this winter needs to have hers sealed too. They look really funny on top. Do all installers seal? I am going to have to send her the link to this.

I would love granite counter tops but we have other DIY projects that rank higher at the moment. Your kitchen is beautiful!

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01.June.2011

I know this was not the topic of your post, but where is your awesome kitchen rug from? Love it!

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01.June.2011

Never mind, I found your post about the rug: ballard design Farrah rug

but looks like the stopped making it:(

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I totally wish the previous owners of our house followed these simple instructions! I wonder if doing it now would bring back some of the luster? :) I might try it!

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02.June.2011

First of all, your house is so gorgeous! I love it and hope you’re able to sell quickly. Thank you for this granite post. We have granite and haven’t taken very good care of it. We’re heading to Home Depot this weekend to get the sealer and get busy this weekend!

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What a great post! Thank you so much. We have not done this yet. :( But we do have an issue with our granite and it needs to be sanded lightly and then resealed. We are hoping to hire someone to do this and fix it for us, then we can seal it the right way. Thanks for the step by step. Love your kitchen and I love that granite!!!

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12.June.2011

This story is the exact same scenario I’m dealing with… I’m in the curing phase of 24-48 hrs. Feels dry and looks streaky. Did you do anything to polish it up or did yours dry streak free?

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replied on June 13th, 2011

Jason – There were a few streaks left after curing. My guess is it was just excess sealer that I didn’t get wiped off completely. Once cured, I just went about my normal ways, wiping down the granite every night with a mix of Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day All Purpose Cleaner/water. The streaks are gone! I’ve never used the polish.

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Oooh, thanks for this! I have granite counter tops too, and I know I need to reseal them. It’s been {cough}4 years{cough} since we got them and I’ve done zero maintenance. I need to hit the store! Thanks!

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17.June.2011

My first time visiting your blog and I LOVE this kitchen. I’ve been planning a kitchen DIY redo, and I already planned white cabinets and butcher block island with dark granite, so cool to see this one and confirms that it’s def. the way I want to go. I’ll have to go back and read all about your redo. I was worried about tile and granite and stainless all together would look too cold, but this looks great!

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15.August.2012

Hey I was just researching granite countertops and came across your blog. We moved in to our new home about 3 months ago and it has beautiful black granite. But I am hating it. It is scratching easily and stressing me out and there is a water ring from a glass now on it. So I’m now wondering about sealing it (which I didn’t know you had to do this regularily). Just wondering if you have any experience on scratches and whether or not sealing will aid in the disappearance of the scratches and or how do I get rid of the scratches.
Thanks for your time

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replied on August 18th, 2012

Some “granite” should never be sealed, such as absolute black, and black galaxy. These stones are basically not porous, and the sealer doesn’t penetrate, as it’s designed to do.

That’s why Dana thought the stone had been well sealed by the fabricator, and commented on how little sealer seemed to be absorbed by the stone. Sealing black absolute is a waste of money and time.

It gets worse. Dana was lucky that she was so diligent about wiping the sealer off before much of it dried. With nowhere to penetrate, it’s not easy to buff off all the sealer before it dries. Penetrating/impregnating sealer can harden on the surface, causing dullness, streaks, haze. Even if there isn’t an obvious haze, there’s almost always a very thin, invisible layer of sealer left on the surface. This sealer layer isn’t supposed to be there. It’s supposed to be in the pores.

This fine layer of sealer hardens into a topical coating – which it isn’t designed to be. It’s this sealer layer that causes your black absolute stone to show rings, “water marks”, and apparent etches. The solution is to strip stone of the sealer.

This phenomenon can also show up if you use stone cleaners that have either polish or sealer in them. In my opinion, folks should NEVER expose themselves or their families to sealer chemicals, just to clean their stone. Also, folks should never wax or oil their stone in the name of cleaning it, because stone polish basically causes an all-over oil stain in time, and closes any pores in the stone – which need to remain open (stone in general, not absolute black or black galaxy).

As to scratches in black “granite” – Some black absolute is monument quality, very hard, doesn’t react to strong alkali, nor to almost any strong acid. Some black absolute isn’t of this quality, and has a softer, more chemically sensitive composition.Sometimes, it’s been dyed black, to deepen the color, if it’s not consistently black enough. This, of course, is fraud.

There is no such thing as black absolute Granite, btw. Black “granite” is either Norite, or Gabbro. These are the actual petrographic classifications. What this means on a practical level is that they are slightly softer than true granite, and being black, are slightly more easily scratched, and those scratches will tend to show, since scratches are lighter than the polished stone.

If you have porcelain cookware, mugs, utensils, these can scratch your stone. If you clean with a heavy duty scrubbing sponge, that can also scratch the stone – because heavy duty scrub pads have silicon carbide abrasive in them.

You may simply have a black stone that’s been sealed, hence the water rings, and the scratches may be something you can avoid without much problem.

Regards.

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20.January.2013

I have streaks in my sealer what do I need to do for fix it? I have tried to remove the sealer with vinegar, lemon juice, and have made a poultice of peroxide, flour and water. streaks still there.

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08.August.2013

Some granites don’t need sealing…. test your granite first. Take a plain white paper towel and soak it with water and place it on your granite for 5 minutes. If there is a dark spot when you remove it, it means the granite is soaking up water and needs to be sealed… if not, it doesn’t need to be sealed. We have had our granite for 2 years now and it doesn’t need sealed yet.

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12.October.2013

Our granite has been installed about 8 years now at our beach and I have constantly complained each time I have arrived here because of the grit, thinking it was sand blowing in from the beach. I finally decided it was not sealed properly by the installer, if at all, so last time sprayed gold bond sealer, left it 5 minutes and polished. Two weeks later I am back and have the same problem still. Any suggestions?

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replied on October 14th, 2013

Frustrating!! I would say that the issue is most likely a build up of some sort of substance. It might be soap residue. Try cleaning it with a vinegar/water solution and that will remove any soap scum. If that doesn’t work, the problem might be a build up of sealer. If you seal granite countertops on top of a different kind of sealer, it can cause big problems. If that is the case, you’ll want to remove the sealer completely (acetone or mineral spirits) but be careful. You probably want to call a professional for this. Then once they are clean, you can seal it again. http://greatlakesgm.com/how-to-seal-granite-countertops.html

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14.October.2013

Thanks for this article, Dana! I work at a granite fabrication company in Redford, MI so I can attest that there is a lot of misinformation about sealing granite countertops. The bottom line in my opinion, is that sealing give you extra protection, so why not? Also, if you use a high quality sealer, it will last much longer than 1 year. The stuff that we use in the shop lasts 7-10 years, but usually far longer than that. If you’re interested in seeing a video about how we seal the countertops in the shop, check it out here: http://greatlakesgm.com/how-to-seal-granite-countertops.html.
Thanks again!!
-Barbara

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