How to Seal Granite Countertops: What to Know
How to Seal Granite Countertops: What You Need to Know
Sealing granite countertops is considered a necessary task that helps resist stains by lowering the rate of absorption. However, there are some misconceptions about why granite should be sealed, and what you should expect a sealer to do. In this article, we'll give answers to frequently asked questions so you can make informed decisions about caring for your granite counters.
There is a lot to know about sealing, so we will address the following:
- Why sealing granite countertops is important
- How often do granite countertops need to be sealed
- What are the different types of sealers
- What sealing will and won't do
- What to expect (cost/process)
- How to seal your granite
- How to prevent having to re-seal in the future
1. Why Do I Need to Seal Granite Countertops?
Granite is a porous and siliceous surface, making it susceptible to permanent damage from staining and etching. Sealers work to solve this issue by reducing your surface's absorption for a prolonged period of time. This helps resist stains.
Modern-day sealers can be compared to Scotchgard™, and how it was once used to protect fabric. Similarly, sealers work their way into the surface as a long-lasting layer of defense. By seeping their way in and blocking pores, sealers prevent stains from penetrating into the surface. In the same way you would want to block off any holes in the bottom of a boat, it is recommended to block off the pores of your granite with a sealer.
Many installers and blogs recommend using a sealer every "x" amount of weeks. The truth is, however, this differs for every countertop. How often granite countertops should be sealed depends on characteristics such as color and porosity. As a general rule of thumb, darker stones are denser and require less sealing, and lighter stones are less dense (requiring more frequent sealing). In both of these cases, ioSeal treatments would reduce the need for resealing.
2. The Different Types of Sealers
When you go shopping, you may realize there are multiple types of sealers, each existing for a different need. The most commonly used sealer is a "penetrating" sealer, but you may come across "topical" and "enhancing" sealers as well. Not all sealers are safe for granite, so you will need to read and choose carefully.
Penetrating sealers are by far the most common type of sealer for granite. Also known as "impregnating sealers," these products work into the surface, blocking pores. When a home-owner first gets their granite countertop, they should make sure to use a penetrating sealer.
Topical sealers cover the top of your surface, and are often labeled as either "strippable" or "permanent." These sealers do not dig into the pores like a penetrating sealer would, and are not always safe for natural stone. In many cases, products such as a wax can be considered as a topical sealer, but are not long-lasting.
Enhancing sealers penetrate into the surface, and are designed to alter or "enhance" the appearance. This typically makes surfaces appear darker, as if the surface was wet. These types of sealers are mostly popular with tumbled or honed stone surfaces.
When doing your purchasing (for first-time sealing), look for a penetrating or impregnating sealer. Many other sealers may be appealing, but will not accomplish to necessary task.
3. What Sealing Will and Won't Do
A sealer's primary function is to reduce absorption and protect against stains. With that being said, a sealer will not do the following:
- Make your granite shine
- Make your granite stain-proof
- Prevent etching
- Solve etching
- Fix stains
Sealing should be used as a means to protect your counter, but will not make your surface entirely stain-proof or remove chemical/physical damage.
4. What to Expect When SealingWhat's the Cost?
Sealing is able to be done at home/without professional assistance, and is a relatively inexpensive task.
Granite sealers vary in price, but you should pay close attention to the sealer you are buying. Many penetrating sealers try to sell an unnecessarily large amount. For penetrating sealers, a pint of product will be more than enough to accomplish the task, and will cost between $15 and $35.
Many "sealers" offer wax-based formulas, and these may be cheaper than other products. These sealers are not to be confused with penetrating sealers, and should typically be avoided as the initial sealer.
Is Sealing Unpleasant?
Granite sealers typically contain a high amount of VOCs (volatile organic compounds), causing them to emit harsh odors. As a result, make sure to keep your room as ventilated as possible, and wear gloves. Make sure to open windows and use fans. This will help to remove the odor as quickly as possible.
5. How to Seal Granite Countertops
Initial Application: Penetrating Sealers
Before moving forward, note that sealing over top of pre-existing messes or stains can cause them to be permanent. Be sure to clean granite before sealing, getting rid of any unwanted blemishes or messes.
Penetrating sealers come with specific instructions, so follow your particular products' instructions carefully. The process generally goes as follows:
After most applications, penetrating sealers generally recommend leaving the product to dry for a specified period of time and re-applying the sealer afterward. It's important to re-apply the sealer for multiple coatings.
Ultimately, using penetrating sealers can be an unpleasant process, so it's best to reduce your exposure. Next, we'll dive into how you can prevent re-sealing in the future.
6. Prevent Having to Re-Seal
As we stated, many installers and manufacturers recommend re-sealing your surface every one to five years. This is understandable but not entirely necessary. Certain modern-day treatments contain ioSeal™, which can remove the need for re-sealing in the future.
ioSeal comes incorporated into cleaning solutions called "treatments," this allows you to protect your surface in a safe and simple way without having to set aside additional time for sealing. Although this does not replace the initial application of penetrating sealers,
Additionally, ioSeal™ protectants give the following benefits:
- Reduces absorption, shielding against staining
- Defends against UV-Fading
- Makes future messes easier to clean
- Self-levels, no wax or residue
- Leaves a smoother, more reflective finish
- Prevents the need for future re-sealing
- No foul-smelling or toxic chemicals
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