Having natural stone countertops in your kitchen or bath can be a beautiful way to add value and luxury to your home. But stone surfaces are also porous, which means that moisture can seep into the stone, eventually causing staining and discoloration over time from everyday use. If that happens, the problem typically has to be fixed by refinishing the surface. Applying a sealant periodically can prevent this issue and extend the life of your stone. Stone sealers add a barrier of protection so moisture can’t seep into the stone underneath, thereby preventing staining. The question is: how often should you seal your countertops?
The answer is different for everyone because a number of factors are involved. Granite and marble sealing, for example, should happen at a different rate than limestone or travertine. Let’s take a closer look at these factors so that you can determine when it’s time to reseal your granite, marble, or other stone and tile counters for optimal protection.
Factors to Consider When Sealing Your Countertops
Let’s start by looking at the individual factors that can increase or decrease the rate of wear-and-tear on various natural stone surfaces.
Type of stone. The type of stone you have affects the frequency with which you need to seal it. Harder stones like granite and slate are denser and less porous than softer stones such as limestone and marble. Therefore, granite surfaces generally require sealing less often than their softer counterparts.
Color/shade of the stone. As a rule of thumb, lighter-colored stone surfaces tend to be more porous and require resealing more often–even among countertops of the same type of stone. Plan on resealing a lighter-colored granite countertop more frequently than a dark granite slab, for example.
Amount of use. How often you use your countertops can also affect how quickly sealant wears off. High-use areas such as kitchen counters, bathroom vanities, and bar tops may require more frequent sealing than surfaces used only occasionally.
Type of sealant. Some sealants are designed to last longer than others; however, they can be more expensive. If you’re using a lower-grade sealant, you may need to reapply it more often.
Frequency of cleaning. If you tend to leave spills and water droplets standing on the countertop, this can wear down the sealant more quickly. You can make the sealer last longer by cleaning spills as they happen and by cleaning your granite, marble or travertine countertops regularly with gentle dish soap and water, then drying the excess water quickly so it doesn’t stand on the surface.
Environment. Outdoor kitchens with stone countertops must be resealed more often than countertops indoors, for example, due to the wear-and-tear of the elements, the freeze-thaw cycles of wintertime, etc.
How to Tell When It’s Time to Reseal Your Stone Countertops (The Water Test)
Many home and business owners assume “more is better” when it comes to resealing, but that’s not always the case. Over-sealing with multiple layers can actually leave your stone surfaces with an unattractive “hazed” look that is difficult to remove.
The best way to tell when your countertops need to be resealed is the “water test.” Here’s how it works: simply pour a tablespoon of water onto your stone countertop and wait about 30 minutes. If the water beads up on the surface, you’re good–the sealant is still there and doing its job. If, however, the water is absorbed into the stone and darkens it, then you know it’s time to seal your stone.
How Often Each Type of Stone Countertop Should be Sealed
Remember, there’s no hard and fast rule for how often you should re-seal your stone countertops. All different factors need to be considered, including how much use the countertops get, whether the countertops are indoors or outdoors, etc. That said, the following are some general recommended ranges for how often to have a sealant reapplied. Plan on more frequent resealing for high-use or outdoor surfaces, and less frequent for low-use, indoor surfaces, and so on.
Marble is one of the most popular stone surfaces, but it’s also higher maintenance due to its porosity and light color. For regular use, plan to schedule marble resealing every 3-6 months.
Granite is one of the densest and least porous of the natural stones used for countertops. You can plan to seal your granite countertops about once every 1-2 years.
Like granite, slate is a dense and fairly non-porous stone. For best results plan on resealing every 1-2 years depending on usage.
Limestone tends to be light, soft, and very porous, similar to marble. Plan on resealing at least once a year, or every six months with heavy use.
Travertine countertops tend to be dense, durable, and low-maintenance. Resealing every 1-2 years usually works for these countertops.
Are Your Countertops Ready to Be Sealed?
Many stone sealing products are available for do-it-yourselfers, but for the best finish and an even, long-lasting seal, it’s best to have the sealant applied by a trained stone care professional. At Statewide Stone Care, our technicians are highly trained in sealing all types of natural stone, including granite and marble sealing, slate, limestone, and others. We can also do a free evaluation of your stone countertops to give more specific advice on how often you should schedule re-sealing based on the type of stone and the amount of use. For a free estimate, contact us today.