The Benefits of Sealing Your Marble and Granite Countertops


There is a lot of speculation about the need to seal marble and granite countertops. Until about 20 years ago there were hardly any cases of staining and only a few penetrating sealants that could do a good job. Granite countertops typically do not require sealing due to their natural properties and there have been no reported issues of radon or food poisoning related to using an unsealed countertop.

Recommendations are that cleaning after each meal will prevent stains and other issues from appearing on marble and granite countertops and protect them from damage. However, according to the Marble Institute of America there are some additional benefits of sealing granite countertops such as further decreasing the chance of moisture penetration into an already moisture-immune surface.

If you do decide to seal your granite or marble countertop, it’s important to use a quality sealer that has a guarantee of 10 to 15 years. It needs to be of the type that is impervious to stains caused by water and oil. Once the appropriate sealer has been applied, the surface should be more resistant to dirt and spills that may occur on an everyday basis.

Generally, after the cutting and polishing process and during the production and finishing process at the factory, many types of granite receive a treatment with resin. Typically, the treatment is meant to fill in extremely small cracks or indentations that may be present in the natural stone. Some consumers see even minor indentations as being imperfections in the stone but the industry classifies them as birth marks, a result of the natural formation of the stone.

Educating the consumer on the properties of marble and granite may help them understand that those marks on the slab are what make it unique, the same properties that made them choose granite for their home in the first place. But some manufacturers and finishers - in order to fulfill the public's desire for perfection - will apply resin or other materials in an attempt to reduce the appearance of these marks.

Some experts point out that what makes granite so unique in appearance is the quarry from which it is mined. That difference can also affect the need to seal some granite slabs if the country of origin is known for producing granite that is more susceptible to moisture. For example, black granite that is mined in Brazil is known to be impervious to moisture while similar slabs from Asia may absorb moisture more readily and will benefit from sealing.

One test that is sometimes used to determine if sealing is necessary is to apply a small amount of water to an obscure area on the granite. After 10 or 15 minutes wipe the water up and if the area does not stay dark, then sealing is not needed to protect it from water-based spills. It is not advised to try this test with oil-based spills unless an area can be found that will not cause any grief in the event the stain remains.

In most instances, sealing granite is not needed as the natural properties of the stone prevent stains. However, homeowners need to be careful because despite the tough and hard nature of granite, it can be damaged and scratched if the surface is abused; therefore, sealing an already resin-treated granite countertop may prove to be worthwhile as it will further increase its resistance.

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