Sealing the deal – should you seal your granite?

As I mentioned a couple of months ago, OPB came to us with a big old honkin’ oil stain on the granite counter tops, which we were able to remove with a fairly easy but stinky process. Like so.

Since then we’ve sealed the counters 4 times. Has it worked?

Well, yes and no.  Even the best sealers are only able to reduce the absorbency of a stone, not make it completely impervious.  Granite Guy said a sealer will buy you 20 minutes.  So now that I’ve lived with these counters for a few months, I think that sounds about right. Even after all the sealing, water that stands on the counters for a long period of time will leave a dark mark (which will mostly fade as it dries) but oil or, more recently, a blob of red sauce  that sits for a while (whoops!) leaves a permanent mark (though they are quite faint and small and the random pattern of the counter hides them well).

We’ll keep engaging in periodic re-sealing because I do think it helps, but it isn’t a total fix if you have a very absorbent type of granite.  I have a feeling that, eventually, we’ll be breaking out the baby powder and acetone.  Two scents I’d be just as happy to never, ever smell again. Joy.

So how do you know if you are doomed to a life of sealing and stain removal?  Should you seal your stone or not? If your are shopping for granite, what should you avoid?

During my internet research on this subject, one quick and easy way (that came up over and over again) to tell if you counter needed sealing was the lemon juice test. Note: please use a scrap of your counter to do this or do it in an inconspicuous place as it could etch your stone if it has calcite in it.  If you are still shopping for granite, use a sample of the same slab you’ll be buying.

The test is simple: drop a few drops of lemon juice on your counter.  If they are absorbed immediately and form dark spots, you have a really absorbent stone that need to be sealed RIGHT AWAY and probably repeatedly (note: if I were still looking for granite, I’d move on RUN AWAY).  If it takes a minute or so, you probably have a medium absorbency stone that needs to be sealed, but can be managed well with regular applications of the sealer.  If after five minutes, nothing happens to the lemon juice, well, WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER! you don’t need to seal your counters at all!

Out of lemons?  Want some science to go with the fruit?  Then check out this handy site (make sure to look at the tables linked towards the top of the page).  Aside from a lot of interesting info about what makes granite, well, granite, the tables list the 180 most common granites and their absorbency rates.  Why is this interesting? (I can feel y’all glazing over on me!)

Apparently, a good rule of thumb is that if you’re granite is less than .25%, sealing s not necessary, and in fact can be undesirable (it can create streaks and haze on the stone).  More than .25% and you should seal that sucker.  Maybe a few times.

In my mind, the real answer to the problem is not to use absorbent stones for kitchen counters, or at the very least, not the portions of kitchen counters that get heavy use.  You can be sure when I’m doing the picking of a new counter, I’ll be armed with lemon juice and a copy of those tables!

Public Service Announcement: Thanks so much to all five of you who made it through this (WHAT? NO PICTURES?) -I know it’s a bit dull, but I really hope that this info is helpful to someone out there – I don’t want anyone to be unwittingly trapped in the endless cycle of maintaining something they were lead to believe would be hassle-free. Especially after they spent thousands of dollars for the privilege.

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One Response to Sealing the deal – should you seal your granite?

  1. Dena says:

    You are too funny. Glad you are back to blogland!

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