Sealing Granite Countertops: Marble Sealer
This marble granite sealer advanced formula creates a molecular bond within the substrate pores yielding unequaled repellence characteristics, while permitting essential vapor transmission. Provides weather-resistant finish that is a slip and scuff resistant and allows for maximum vapor transmission.
Sadly, there is no list of ingredients on the jug, which is really not very reassuring to me. The reason is that most people including many fabricators and installers do not understand how sealers work or when a granite countertop actually needs sealing. This is true even though a simple test for sealing granite will give you the answer. Many varieties (colors of granite) do not need sealing.Spill a puddle of water on the granite surface. Note how long it takes for the area under the water puddle to create a dark spot / stain. Basically, if it darkens in 10 minutes or less you need to apply a granite sealer. See the sealing test page for detailed info on performing this water test, specific time to absorption, and interpreting the results.
The basics are to clean the countertop, apply the sealer, allow to absorb, wipe complete clean and dry. But a couple key steps will determine whether or not you properly seal the granite and/or avoid any troublesome problems.
You should seal your granite or marble countertops once every year. Instructions for sealing granite counter top the right way are …
Test your granite to determine if it even needs sealing. Clean the granite countertop with acetone or a quality granite cleaner to remove any debris or residues on the surface. Pour sealer onto the granite using enough to cover a small manageable area (not the entire countertop). Create a thin, even film of sealer by spreading around with a paint brush or clean cloth. Allow sealer to dwell and absorb into the stone 2-5 minutes (time depends on the specific stone and sealer). Then with a clean, dry cloth wipe up all excess sealer and buff the surface completely dry (important) to avoid leaving a hard-to-remove haze on the surface. Thus, pouring on and spreading around is far more effective than wiping on or spraying on. Simply spraying a bit of sealer onto the surface and then immediately wiping it off (as is sometimes suggested online) is completely useless.
This method will not seal your countertops even if you do it daily. It’s a complete waste of time and money on the sealer product. You’ll certainly get a good forearm workout or a hand-cramp doing so and it will take longer to complete the job than pouring on and spreading. Same deal if soaking a cloth and wiping the cloth around. Just doesn’t get enough sealer onto the stone surface. Remember, a stone sealer must absorb to be effective. You want the stone to absorb as much as possible. Therefore, you need to put enough sealer onto the surface to saturate the granite. The hazy spots can be easily removed immediately after application. Perform the water test again 30 minutes after applying the first coat. Compare time-to-absorption to the initial test. It should take water longer to absorb after each coat. A permanent granite sealer that uses advanced technology to form unbreakable bonds with the stone is more expensive up front, but a better value (less expensive) over the life of the countertop. Plus, permanent sealers penetrate more deeply and evenly for better all-around stain protection. Most standard impregnating granite sealers currently available will protect against water and oil stains to some degree. However, standard sealers do not form permanent bonds with the stone, will degrade, and will need re-application every 1-3 years or sometimes 5 years depending on the porosity of the stone and the quality of the sealer.
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For permanent sealing you have fewer options.
But remember, it depends on your particular stone and sealant, so be sure to perform the water test first. Or you’ll simply start to notice that water is absorbing leaving dark spots in the stone. This simple sealer test sums it all up and tells you if you should apply a granite sealer or not either initially or for re-application. Your particular granite may not need it and maybe cannot even absorb the sealer. You won’t come across this fact very often, but it is absolutely true. As a general rule, a sealer should be applied to all natural stones.
Some varieties of granite are very dense and naturally stain-resistant. Or it takes so long to absorb (like 30 minutes or more) that stains are very rare. This is often true for polished marble, travertine tile, and other dense natural stones as well. It will tell you if a sealer is needed or not. Applying a sealer when not needed only creates a problem you definitely don’t want . Best to test and apply a sealer only when needed. Sealers do not absolutely block absorption or absolutely prevent staining. This is a big surprise to some that believe a sealer somehow encapsulates the granite in a protective shell or film. So, you must still practice good cleaning habits and wipe up spills soon after they happen. You don’t want to leave an oil or wine spill sitting for an hour. It’s important to understand that if say a leaky bottle of oil is left on the surface for days, it could still absorb enough to stain since sealers work by dramatically reducing absorption and not by forming impenetrable shells.
Also , the natural porosity or absorbency of your granite is a key factor influencing how much a sealer can improve or extend the time-to-absorption and staining.
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If your granite initially stains in 1 minute (which is very quick), a sealer may increase that time to 10 or 15 minutes.
On the other hand, if your granite takes 10 minutes to stain initially, then just one coat of sealer may extend that time to 30 minutes or more. So the porosity or absorbency of your granite is a key factor in determining how much a sealer can improve the stain-resistance of your countertop. The granite is sanded so smooth that it becomes reflective and shines.
Coatings are sometimes confused with sealers.
Certain products that are sometimes called “sealers” can change the look (color and shine) of stone, but in reality these are topical coatings and not the “impregnating” stone sealers we are talking about. Coatings are applied only in rare circumstances since coatings can make the surface look plastic and sometimes create more problems than they solve. Sealing has absolutely nothing to do with etching and will not prevent it at all. Expecting a stone sealer to provide this protection is like expecting a car wax to prevent a key scratching your car’s paint. Only using coasters, trivets, placemats and completely avoiding contact with the acidic and alkaline foods and products will prevent etching. It’s the primary reason marble is not recommended for kitchen countertops.A natural stone that etches (like marble or travertine) is not a great choice for a kitchen countertop as etching will be impossible to avoid. The spots that result from etching are the clear or lighter-colored, chalky, dull spots, “water spots” or “glass rings” that are commonly reported with such stones.
It is physical damage to the surface of the stone. This same etching effect can occur on doctored granite. This is primarily an issue with black granite countertops.
It is not a standard practice for the countertop fabricator / installer to automatically apply a sealer.
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Some will offer to do it for an additional (usually overpriced) fee and the sealer used often is not great. And believe it or not, often the installer doesn’t know how to properly apply a sealer or doesn’t want to take the time to do it correctly. Our website visitors contact us all the time with stories about how their installer applied the sealer over the entire surface all at once and then just left telling the customer to “let it dry”. Letting a sealer dry on the surface is absolutely what you should never do. That’s how you get the streaky haze left on the surface which is very difficult to remove. Or some installers may tell you the granite was “pre-sealed” at their shop. Some do apply a sealer prior to installation. You’ll do a better job, you can choose the best sealer, and save a bunch. Water will absorb and create a dark spot that looks like any other stain from oil or juice or coffee, etc. Water will evaporate and since water is clear the “stain” will not remain. A true “stain” is always a dark spot where something has absorbed into the granite below the surface. So, regular cleaning and scrubbing won’t remove it. You’ll come across many poultice recipes online.But none will work on all types of stains.
And they must be applied correctly to work. You can’t blame them for trying to effectively market their product and not having to seal quartz is a point in its favor. Despite what you may read quartz countertops can and do stain and discolor from a variety of foods and cleaners and hot pans.
Very often such damage is permanent on quartz but rarely on granite. All other qualities and characteristics of each product are the same. After all, engineered stone is 93% quartz which comes from granite. You should not let sealing granite be a factor when deciding whether to install granite or quartz countertops.
You will get excellent performance from either countertop material. Clean the granite well, apply a sufficient amount of sealer, allow it time to completely absorb, and wipe clean and dry to remove any surface residue. This type of product can be used weekly or for end of day cleaning to keep your countertops shiny and streak-free. Some say “all” granite needs sealing every year and others say only sometimes.
It took the men only a few minutes to wipe or “polish” the counter after installation. Are these granites that need to be sealed? They claim to have 15 year warranty on their product. My installer said not to seal it– is he correct? Ask three people whether you should seal granite countertops, and you’ll get three different answers.
As it turns out, there’s a good reason for this range of opinions.
Not all stone countertops need to be sealed.
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However, the vast majority of natural stone countertops do need to be sealed once in awhile. This is particularly true of counters with a honed finish. For these stones, sealant plays a vital role in keeping your countertop resistant to stains.
Sealant also makes it easier to keep your countertop clean and looking good. Porous stones have small channels or pores in the rock, which are usually filled with air. An extreme example of a porous rock is pumice stone, where air channels are clearly visible. The porosity of a stone is influenced by the number of channels, or micro-voids, in the stone itself. Granite has a reputation as a particularly non-porous stone. In countertops, these channels are much smaller. However, their presence means that food or water can seep into the stone, leaving stains.
By using a sealer or impregnator on the stone, you’ll prevent liquids from seeping into the counter. The next most common question we hear is how often you should seal your countertop. Many salespeople will recommend sealing granite every six months to one year. Others say it should never need sealing, and a number of people fall somewhere in between. Don’t worry if the mineral oil leaves a mark. Even if your counters need to be sealed, the dark spot from the mineral oil will evaporate in about 30 minutes.
Check to see whether the stone darkens and absorbs the water. If it absorbs the water in four minutes or less, the stone needs to be resealed. If the water is absorbed or leaves a dark mark the surface needs more sealing. Since it takes just a few minutes and no special materials, this is an easy test to do every few months.
We recommend that you decide whether to seal your countertops based on what your countertops need, rather than on an arbitrary calendar. Some counters don’t need any sealant, and this is normal. Quartz, which is a crushed rock combined with resin, never needs sealant. Some granite counters are so dense that they don’t need it, either. Using sealant on these counters will actually give the stone a hazy or stained appearance unless wiped off properly. It’s a good idea to remove any stains as part of this cleaning process because the sealant will also help to lock in stains — which, of course, is something you want to avoid.If you have a few problem stains you’d like to remove before sealing, start by identifying the source of the stain. After cleaning, dry the counter thoroughly. Sealers require very dry stone to perform at their highest. However, a bit of preparation beforehand will save you some trouble later. Since sealants are applied as sprays, it will splatter on nearby surfaces if you don’t take precautions.
Use plastic wrap on faucets, sinks or stovetops to protect them from the sealant. We also think it’s a good idea to protect backsplashes and walls while you’re sealing. Just grab a magazine (or any other thin material you don’t mind getting sealant on). With homemade granite sealers, shake the spray bottle before use to ensure the ingredients are well mixed. Once you’ve sprayed the counter, leave the sealant for approximately five minutes to allow it to soak into the stone. It’s best to apply sealer in small areas instead of over the whole surface at once. Since sealer doesn’t stay on the counter for long, this will let you wipe it off when needed.
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Some of the sealant will be absorbed by the stone itself. However, once a stone is sealed, there’s usually a bit of excess sealant on the surface. Using a soft cloth, wipe up any sealer left on the surface. They’ll soak up leftover sealer without leaving fiber on the counter. Do not let the sealant dry on the counter. In some cases, you won’t have any sealer to remove. This means that the sealer has been fully absorbed by the stone, and it’s possible the perfect amount of sealer has been applied. More likely, however, is that your natural stone counters could use another coating of sealer. In fact, in some cases it’s recommended to ensure an even coverage. The more porous the stone, the more likely you’ll need to apply additional coats of sealant. Luckily, more absorbent stone also means less waiting time between coats of sealant. In general, it’s a good idea to wait at least 15 minutes before applying a second coat of sealant. This will allow the first layer to be fully absorbed by the stone. If you’re using a solvent-based sealant, the stone should look dry before you apply the next layer of sealant. With water-based sealants, the stone may still have a wet look. Some sealants, particularly granite sealants, will recommend waiting at least 30 minutes between applying coats of sealant. Both citrus and linseed oil will discolor your granite. That’s why we suggest you use mineral oil instead of citrus oil to test whether your counters need sealing. Because granite is so dense, the solvents and resins used in granite sealer need to be very lightweight. The most effective granite sealants are usually called penetrating sealants or impregnators.These sealants contain a resin, a carrier and a solvent. They soak into the stone via channels in the surface. By contrast, a surface sealer creates a hard barrier on top of the stone. The resin used in granite sealer is critical to how well it works.
They’ll last longer than other resins, and they are more durable. Before sealing a marble countertop, test it with mineral oil or water to make sure it really does need to be sealed. Many people see etchings on marble, and they believe the stone needs to be sealed.Unfortunately, sealing marble won’t help to prevent etchings.
It’s actually a change in the chemical composition of the marble. This occurs when an acid comes into contact with calcium. Marble is a porous, calcium-based rock that reacts with acid. That’s why it’s particularly important to avoid sealers with acidic ingredients like citrus solvent. These will actually damage your counters.
How To Seal Granite and Marble Countertops
These will yellow over time, causing your once white marble to look old and dirty. Look for a penetrating sealer for marble. These are sometimes called marble and granite sealants.
If you’re sealing marble in the kitchen, we recommend that you look for a non-toxic marble sealer. These are sometimes labeled as “food safe” sealants.
And because marble is more porous than some other natural stones, this can make a big difference. What about water-based versus solvent-based sealants? Solvent-based sealants are better at repelling water. On the other hand, water-based sealants are better at repelling oil. Consider what types of activities you usually use the surface for, and choose the sealant accordingly. Quartz counters, tables and kitchen islands fall into this category. Although quartz is made from natural stone, it’s combined with a resin in the engineering process.
This resin means you won’t need to seal quartz. In fact, sealing quartz surfaces can actually leave them with a hazy film.
Some other types of natural stone don’t need to be sealed, either. Dense granites, for example, don’t always need sealing. In addition, sealing travertine, limestone as well as some marble is recommended more for cosmetic reasons than for protective ones.
Depending on the type of stone and its finish, sealants may need to be reapplied every year. There are a few professional-grade sealants for natural stone that don’t need to be reapplied. For soapstone, the sealing is at the discretion of the home owner. In many cases, professional-grade sealants have warranties that assure they’ll protect your countertop for the advertised length of time. For white marbles, sealing once a year is best as lighter stones stain more easily. It delivers the maximum protection for natural stones.
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