Which Countertops Have to Be Sealed?

Natural stone countertops are a classic addition to any kitchen or bathroom. But that beauty comes with regular maintenance, such as sealing, to protect from wear and tear.

Contemporary White Kitchen with Gray Tile Backsplash

Contemporary White Kitchen with Gray Tile Backsplash

A contemporary white kitchen with a gray subway tile backsplash is shown, as seen on HGTV's Fixer Upper.

From: Fixer Upper

Photo by: Rachel Whyte

Rachel Whyte

There are many details to consider when deciding on a countertop material for your kitchen or bathroom, from cost to durability to appearance. One factor you don’t want to overlook is what happens after installation? Will your countertop require consistent maintenance or do you want something that needs no attention? There are dozens of countertop materials to choose from, but a handful of them require more TLC to ensure a long life.

Why Do Stone Countertops Need Sealing?

Natural stone material such as granite and marble is porous, and if left unsealed, will allow liquids to seep in and cause damage. Keep in mind that the more porous the stone, the more susceptible it is to liquid damage and stains. Here’s what can happen to “naked” natural stone:

  • Unsealed stone will quickly absorb spilled food and liquids, leading to unsightly and sometimes irreversible stains.
  • Kitchen and bathroom countertops get wet, and water permeates into stone and causes stains and water damage.
  • Cleaning products are the enemy of natural stone. Citrus is a common ingredient in household cleaners and can easily damage or discolor a countertop finish.

Which Types of Stone Need Sealing?

Before you dive into a big countertop project, let’s look at some of the most popular countertop surfaces that need regular sealing, to help gauge what material fits best with your home and lifestyle.

Marble

Traditional White Kitchen Featuring Floor-to-Ceiling Cabinets

Traditional White Kitchen Featuring Floor-to-Ceiling Cabinets

Statuary marble counters top the cabinets in this elegant gourmet kitchen.

One of the most luxurious countertop materials available, marble will instantly elevate your kitchen or bathroom, but it requires some regular sealing to ensure its legacy.

  • Incredibly good looks
  • High maintenance cost
  • Not a good choice for heavy use areas
  • Susceptible to chips and stains

Quartzite

Stainless Steel Prep Sink With Zucchini

Stainless Steel Prep Sink With Zucchini

Prep work gets a very sophisticated upgrade with this stainless steel Kallista sink by Mick De Giulio and Palomino Quartzite countertop. A Dorenbracht faucet nicely complements the sink's scale.

Photo by: Jason Miller, Pixelate LTD

Jason Miller, Pixelate LTD

The natural inspiration for engineered quartz countertops, quartzite’s natural beauty and glassy luster is a hit in any room.

  • Toughness built into its DNA
  • Attention-grabbing appearance
  • Will last forever if regularly sealed
  • Resistant to scratching

Granite

White Open Plan Transitional Kitchen With Tulips

White Open Plan Transitional Kitchen With Tulips

In a white kitchen, it's helpful to incorporate texture as it visually breaks up the stretches of cabinetry and walls. Glass-front cabinet doors and granite countertops do the job nicely in this pretty kitchen.

Photo by: Marie Flanigan Interiors

Marie Flanigan Interiors

Granite is super tough and a very popular choice in kitchens and bathrooms alike. Like marble, some granite varieties need maintenance and sealing at regular intervals.

  • Sophisticated looks that dress up any room
  • Durable and very heat resistant
  • Thousands of available colors
  • Medium to high maintenance cost

Sealed and Delivered

Natural stone right out of the ground is indeed tough stuff, but “hard as a rock” doesn’t mean an impenetrable force. Even the mightiest are susceptible to wear and damage if not given adequate care. Your rock-solid countertop can still be roughed up and left with unattractive scars or stains.

But it’s not all gloom and doom because maintaining a stone countertop is easy. All it takes is a stone-specific sealer applied at regular intervals to ward off the bad stuff. Never sealed stone before? Here’s how:

First up, thoroughly clean the countertop with a stone-safe cleaner. Then grab the sealer and spray it onto the stone in two-to three-foot sections. Immediately wipe it into the counter with a clean, lint-free cloth, followed by buffing until dry. The end result is a mirror-smooth shine protected from the elements.

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