Should I Seal Stone Countertops?
A common question when it comes to countertops made from natural stone is, “Do I need to seal my kitchen countertop?” The short answer is, it depends. What does it depend on? Well, a few factors will contribute to the decision of whether to seal your countertop or to simply leave it be and take great care of it. Stone countertop sealers can keep your stone looking its best. What kind of factors affect the decision of whether to seal countertop? The type of stone that the countertop is made of, the finish, the quality of the stone, and when the last time it was sealed are a few. Let’s take a look at some of these factors now.
Stones That Need Sealed
Not every stone countertop needs sealed. For example, go to any engineered quartz website and you will find a statement indicating that quartz does not need sealed. The same thing goes for sintered stone, porcelain, and pyrolithic stone countertops surfaces. These surfaces are all non-porous and thus do not absorb liquids. However, the group of stone that we will look at here do need to be sealed.
Some professionals in the stone industry have made the statement that all natural stone needs to be sealed. On the other hand, the Natural Stone Institute is on record as saying, “In many cases it makes sense to seal marble and granite countertops with a quality sealer.” Why the apparent discrepancy? Well, each type of stone has varying degrees of porosity. Additionally, each type of stone will have various grades. Each grade will be more or less porous; depending on the quality. So what are some stones that need to be sealed? Many of the following:
In other words, natural stone will always need to be sealed. Whether you are the one that needs to seal it is another story. It may have been sealed by the manufacturer or the fabrication shop. Stone countertops can even be sealed at the time of installation. Let’s look at another factor regarding stone sealing; the finish.
Stone Finish Affects Sealing Requirements
Another major contributor to a stone’s need for sealing is the type of finish. Some stone finishes are porous and others are not. The porosity of the stone will determine how easily a liquid stain-causing substance can get into the stone.
Honed Surfaces Need Regular Sealing
Stone countertop sealers are one of the primary care products needed for natural stone surfaces with a honed finish. How can you tell if a stone’s surface is honed? Honed stone has a matte appearance. It lacks shine and is not glossy. These types of finishes translate into the stone being very porous and requiring a sealer to help the countertop repel liquids. Sealing honed natural stone regularly as needed is recommended to help the surface stay looking its best.
Do Polished Countertops Need Sealed?
Polished surfaces are the counterparts of the honed stone surfaces. These are the ones that are shiny, glossy, and really reflect the light. These surfaces are less porous than the honed ones. Yet that does not mean that they do not need to be sealed. They also need periodic sealing. However, since they are less porous than the honed materials, they may not require sealing as often.
So the finish plays a big role in the sealing requirements a stone countertop needs. However, it is not the only factor that has a bearing on whether your countertop needs sealed. Let’s look at another factor; The stone’s quality.
Countertop Quality & Stone Countertop Sealers
The porosity of the stone is related to the quality of the stone. Just as the finish affects the porosity, so the grade of the stone will impact the stone’s absorbancy. And as we have discussed, liquids penetrate porous stone and can stain them. The lower the grade of stone, the more often you may need to seal it. Additionally, the stone may “drink” more sealer each time it is sealed if it is a lower quality material. There is one other factor that will affect whether you need to seal your stone countertop. Let’s look at it now.
Periodic Sealing Is Recommended
The last influencing factor in determining if you need to seal your countertop is the time that has elapsed since it was last sealed. Stone countertop sealers wear away and need to be reapplied periodically. Additionally, the cleaning methods used on a daily basis can extend or shorten the time between sealing. Some cleaners breakdown the sealer because of their pH levels. This shortens the life of the sealer; making sealing more frequent. On the other hand, using a fortified stone polish once or twice a week, restores the seal and delays or even eliminates the need for future sealer applications.
What Kind of Sealer Should I Use?
A variety of sealers exist. There are sealers for very porous stone materials like concrete pavers and there are others designed for penetrating materials that are less porous. Selecting the right sealer for your particular material is one key to getting the best results. Additionally, there are other kinds of sealers. For example, you can get stone sealers that also enhance the color of the stone.
How To Tell If Your Countertop Is “Thirsty”
The easiest way to see if it is time for another sealer application is to test the absorbancy. How is this done? Simply pour some water on the surface and monitor how long it takes the stone to begin “drinking” the water. If it begins absorbing it immediately, it is time to seal it again. When you seal the surface, apply the sealer until the stone stops absorbing the sealer. Then, when it’s “thirst” is quenched, wipe off the excess sealer so that there is no sticky residue.
As we have seen in this post, a variety of factors influence the degree and frequency to which your surfaces will need to be sealed. By being aware of the quality, the finish type and the thirst of your natural stone surface, you will be in the best position to determine if your countertop needs to be sealed. Once you learn to recognize when it is needed and what sealer to use, there is not much to using stone countertop sealers.