Care and Cleaning
Tips From The Trade: How To Seal And Clean Quartzite Countertops With Ease
For many homeowners, the word quartzite brings to mind quartz. However, the two countertop materials couldn’t be more different. Unlike quartz, which is manufactured from ground natural quartz and polymer resins, quartzite is a mined, natural stone that looks similar to marble. Quartzite is created underground when sandstone is exposed to heat and pressure. The grains recrystallize, forming interlocking crystals that are extremely hard and often compared in durability to granite.
Quartzite is rock hard, which prevents chipping and etching during kitchen activity. However, it is also porous and liable to suck up wine and tomato sauce spills. That’s why quartzite should be sealed at least annually, which will prevent stains and keep counters looking shiny and new for many years to come. Most topical stone sealers are made from polyurethanes, natural wax, or acrylics. They are easy to apply, but wear away quickly. On the other hand, penetrating seals are made from siliconates and other materials that repel liquids. They soak into the surface of the stone and last longer than topical sealers. Either spray or wipe on the sealer, and then let it dry. Follow the instructions on the product labels, and be sure to open windows and have good ventilation when applying and allowing product to dry. Fumes can be noxious.
After sealing, quartzite countertop maintenance couldn’t be easier. To keep floors and counters clean, give a daily swipe with a damp cloth or mop and a drop or two of mild detergent. Another option is to wet down a microcloth and simply dust off the stone. However, do not use abrasives or cleaners with vinegar or citrus bases. Although distilled white vinegar and a half lemon are great cleaners for many areas in your home, the acetic and citric acids in them slowly eat away at sealants, making the stone look dull and become more vulnerable to stains. If stains do happen, remove them with a commercial poultice or with a baking soda and water paste. Spread a thick layer of the paste over the stain, cover with plastic wrap, wait a day or two, and then wipe clean. Repeat as necessary.
How to Maintain a Quartz Countertop
Quartz countertops are composed of ground quartz stone, pigments and resin. These popular, granite-like countertops are naturally glossy and do not require polishing. Some care is needed to ensure they maintain their luster. However, they are harder to damage than other countertops, like laminate and Corian. In order to care for quartz countertops, use non-abrasive cleaners, and avoid hard pressure and quick changes in temperature.
- Wipe down with a soft rag and mild detergent. Clean the counter with soap and warm water daily, if possible. Wipe them down more frequently, as needed, for honed surfaces. Honed surfaces tend to make common signs of use, such as fingerprints, more visible.
- Scrape away dried gunk. Use a blunt, plastic scraper such as a putty knife. Scrape gently to remove hardened spills or buildup such as gum, grease, nail polish or paint. It’s a good idea to keep a plastic putty knife in a nearby drawer for quick access, so that you can use it when you notice dried spills.
- Wipe away grease with a degreasing cleaner. Spray the counter with a degreasing and disinfectant cleanser that doesn’t contain bleach. Alternately, use disinfectant bleach-free wipes. Rinse immediately afterwards with a sponge or wet rag. Look for cleaning products formulated for quartz counter tops. Check with the brand of your countertops online or by phone if you’re unsure whether a specific cleaning product is safe to use on your countertops.
- Avoid pressure or force on your countertop. Don’t drop heavy objects onto your counters. Transport your countertops carefully if you ever need to move them. Excessive force can chip and crack the countertop surface. Violating this warning may void your warranty.
Removing Tough Stains
- Rub tough stains with adhesive remover. Wet a cloth with a citrus cleaner like Goo Gone. Try pouring a bit of cleaner onto the stain and allow it to sit for five to ten minutes before wiping it up, if the stain is particularly tough. Follow up by cleaning the counter well with warm water. Try this for gooey stains like sticker adhesive or caramel.
- Use denatured/isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Wet a rag with rubbing alcohol. Rub the stain with the wet cloth. Follow up by cleaning the counter well with warm water. Try this for stubborn stains that weren’t removed by water or soap. For example, ink, dye or permanent marker.
Prevent Countertop Damage
- Wipe up spills as soon as possible. Quartz resists some stains for a short period of time. However, you should clean spills as soon as possible to avoid stains setting. Clean up spills immediately with water and mild detergent. Some spills that can permanently stain quartz are wine, coffee and tea.
- Protect your countertops from extreme temperatures. Use trivets or mats below hot pans, dishes, crock pots and electric skillets. Place coasters under drinks in cold glasses, particularly if the beverages contain citrus juice or alcohol. Although quartz can resist temperatures up to 300°F (150°C), it can be damaged by quick changes in temperature, known as "thermal shock."
- Avoid using knives directly on the quartz surface. Use a cutting board placed on top of the counter when you want to slice or dice. Quartz countertops are highly scratch resistant, but they are not scratch-proof and can be damaged be damaged by sharp objects. Using a cutting board will also help you to avoid dulling your sharp knives.
- Avoid harsh cleaners. Don’t clean your countertops with highly acidic or alkaline cleaners. If one of these comes in contact with your counter, clean the counter immediately with a mild detergent. Then rinse with water. For instance, don’t use nail polish remover, turpentine, oven cleaner, bleach, drain cleaners, dishwasher rinsing agents, trichloroethane or methylene chloride.
How to Take Care of Granite Countertops
Granite countertops are a popular style used by many homeowners for new building and kitchen remodels. The perks of the stone are that it’s durable, beautiful and does not require much maintenance. However, granite does require minimal care to ensure that it stays in great condition, including removing stains, and sealing and wiping down the surface.
- Determine if you want to use a sealant. Most granite countertops do not require a sealant, but they may benefit from a quality sealer product. The sealant will give your countertops extra protection against spills by making a moisture-resistant surface even more moisture resistant. Make sure your surface is not already sealed. If your countertops are a part of a newly built home, the builder probably already sealed them.
- Use a long-lasting, high quality, penetrating sealant. The sealer product should last ten to fifteen years and be oleophobic (resistant to water and oil or fat based stains). Find one that will penetrate the granite to seal any grooves or spaces in the stone, instead of sitting on the surface. Do not use lower-priced, lower-quality sealants that are less than ten dollars.
- Ventilate your work area. Make sure your work area is well ventilated before you seal the countertop. Open windows, doors, and turn a fan on.
- Clean the surface thoroughly. Wipe the granite down with a damp, soft cloth and a bit of dish soap, or multipurpose cleaner. Dry the surface with a dry, soft cloth and buff it as much as you can. If you don't know your countertop's history, like if it's used, consider using a commercial degreaser product first.
- Apply sealant to completely dry stone. Your countertops must be bone dry, before you apply a sealant. Let them sit for 24 hours after you wipe them down and clean them. Use a fan to cut down on the drying time. The colors in granite should look less deep after it’s completely dry.
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions. After you purchase a high-quality sealant, make sure you follow their directions. Every manufacturer will have slightly different instructions for sealing the surface of granite.
- Pour the sealer on the surface. Spread the sealer over the counter top with a paper towel, foam brush or rag. Allow the sealer to penetrate 5 to 10 minutes; if the sealer is completely absorbed in 5 minutes, add more. After 5 to 10 minutes, blot any remaining sealer.
- Buff the stone to a high shine. Use a clean, dry terry cloth to buff the sealer left on the surface off. Wipe the stone using small, circular motions. Use a cordless, orbital buffer if you have one and want to get the job done quicker.
Maintaining the Surface Daily
- Use a ph neutral cleanser and a soft cloth. Don’t use harsh cleansers or scrubbers. While granite is very durable, acidic cleansers and sponges that can scratch will wear down a sealant. Use ph neutral soap to clean your countertops and steer clear of windex or vinegar. Stone cleaner works as well as simple dish soap.
- Wipe the top down regularly. Keeping the surface free of dirt and grime will help preserve granite. Clean your countertop regularly with warm water and a few drops of dish or antibacterial detergent using a soft cloth. Rinse the surface thoroughly with clean water and dry with a soft cloth.
- Blot spills up immediately. If you spill something on the surface, blot with a paper towel or soft cloth right away. Do not wipe spilled liquids, like juice or milk, because this can spread them around your countertop.
- Dry any spilled liquids with a dishcloth. Granite countertops and properly sealed stone will repel most stains if the spills are cleaned promptly. Use a dry, dishcloth to dry your granite after any spills, so moisture does not seep into the pores of the stone.
- Use coasters under cups or liquid-filled pots. Protect your granite from moisture absorption by using coasters under anything filled with liquid. Be especially careful with dark colored liquids, like red wine or juice.