How to Polish Granite Countertops Yourself
As you might be finding out, that glassy shine on your granite, marble or other natural-stone countertops is not permanent. Contrary to what many may think that glossy surface isn't the result of any sort of gloss coating or treatment. That's the natural stone, just very finely honed and polished to a mirror-like finish. However, as time goes on with day-to-day use, your stone might start losing that shine and dull over time. Not to worry, this is usually easily fixable with a regular routine of cleaning, sealing and polishing that you can do yourself. As an added benefit, polishing your countertops also makes your life easier in cleaning and maintenance, as it helps to prevent water spots and fingerprints from building up and sticking. It also fortifies your stone's seal, which protects against stains, etches and soil builduip and damage from happening in the first place.
Here are a few tips for getting that done.
Polishing Granite or Marble Countertops
The key to polishing your countertops is in the cleanliness of the surface, as the stone should be immaculate before polishing. You can do yourself a favor here and keep this in mind for your daily routine. That means wiping up spills as soon as they happen and preventing grime and soil build-up from taking hold. One thing we say a lot around here is that sometimes the best defense is a good offense. This means being proactive about cleaning and sealing your stone, thereby saving yourself headaches in the future.
Make Sure Your Stone is Sealed
After cleaning, the second step is to ensure that your stone is properly sealed, as polishing an un-sealed surface can result in an uneven sheen. While granite is absolutely a tough material, acidic chemicals like vinegar, citrus, wine and coffee can chemically etch the surface, marring that sleek finish. This gives natural stone its first line of defense against these pitfalls to help set you up for a good polish. You can test the integrity of the seal with the water test: Pour water (about 3 inches in diameter) on the surface in several locations and let it sit for 30 minutes. If you see a dark mark or ring, the water is penetrating the stone and it’s time to reseal. The general recommendation is to seal your stone every 6-12 months, but that highly depends on the kind of use it sees. Polishing does help to reinforce your seal, so a regular routine can make that protective layer last. Always wait 24 hours to let the sealer cure before polishing.
Polish in SectionsDon't worry about polishing every bit of the countertop at once, divide it up into sections to focus on before moving on to the next. We recommend using a non-abrasive polishing compound that is made for use on stone. We also do not recommend using power tools to assist in the polishing unless you really know what you're doing, as it can be easy to unintentionally damage the surface of the stone this way. Once your granite polish is evenly spread over the section, it's time to buff it into the stone with a dry, lint-free cloth. We like microfiber towels for this, but a paper towel can work as well. Buff in a circular motion starting with wide circles, gradually decreasing to small circles as the polish dries. Don't be afraid to put your weight into it and buff with some pressure to get a bright sheen. Note: We do not recommend polishing stone flooring, as it can become quite slippery when polished. This should be done by a stone restoration specialist.
Tips for Maintaining Your Countertop's Finish:
One mistake we see all too often is homeowners using household cleaners on their granite or other natural stone. First, many common cleaning solutions rely on acidic or otherwise harsh chemicals to clean, which is not only damaging to the seal, but can result in etching on the surface and dulling the professional finish. Alkaline cleaners such as ammonia or bleach can be damaging to the seal as well, so they should be used with caution and surfaces should always be re-sealed after use. Other products such as dish soap can leave behind a residue that can cloud the surface and prevent your seal from taking hold.
Instead, we recommend using a pH-balanced cleaning solution formulated specifically for use on stone, like Granite Gold Daily Cleaner®. On top of avoiding acidic chemicals and common household cleaners, it’s also a good idea to stay away from abrasive cleaning implements such as steel wool and scouring pads. This stone is tough, but that mirror-like finish is susceptible to damage from using gritty or abrasive cleaning methods. It’s also not a bad idea to keep liquid containers off the counter where possible. Things like glasses, bottles of cooking oil and soap dispensers can leave rings of buildup beneath them. These chemicals and soap scum can be difficult to scrub away or can possibly stain or etch the surface depending on their ingredients. Even something as innocuous as cooking oil can leave a difficult to remove stain if it's allowed to sit.
Have more questions about polishing granite, marble, slate, and all other types of natural stone? Give our Stone Care Experts at Granite Gold® a call at 1-800-475-STONE (7866), and follow us on Instagram for regular updates on caring for natural stone and quartz.