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January 26, 2015

The incredibly difficult job of sealing granite countertops

 

One of consumers main concerns regarding granite countertops is that they must be sealed. Competing solid surface products enjoy pointing this fact out, to instill fear into the prospective customer. Score one for the competitors because, yes, granite should be sealed.

But to discredit it out of fear?  I think they are insulting the intelligence of the very people they’re trying to win over. So, let’s dispel some of the misconceptions about sealing your granite countertop, shall we?

First of all, in order to understand why granite should be sealed, we must first understand “granite” itself.  It’s very possible that your “granite” isn’t granite at all.  WHAT?!?! (birds scatter, dogs bark, as a thousand granite countertop owners gasp in unison.)

Without having a geology lesson here, there are true granites available for countertops. But there are also other stones like Gneiss, Labradorite and Schist to name a few, which are just as likely to be sitting on your cabinets at this very moment.

In the natural stone industry, they share some similar qualities, hardness probably being the most common, and are all jumbled together into one commercial classification that we call “granite”.  Don’t stress over it.  

Understand that different stones can differ dramatically from one another, so a one answer fits all regarding sealing is not possible.

To demonstrate this, watch the short video clip below. Both are granites (commercially speaking), but as you can see and hear, they’re obviously not the same. Various stones have different densities and porosities, and as such, will require unique sealer regimens.

 http://youtu.be/nVSGgi1n6W0 (use back button to return to blog)

Lighter colored stones typically, but not necessarily, require more frequent sealing, where darker stones are typically more dense and need very little attention. Stones like “absolute black” are so dense that they will only accept a negligible amount of sealer.  The fairly modern practice of applying resins in the factory polishing process helps tremendously as well, but not all slabs receive this treatment. 

When we fabricate your countertops, they are sealed in our shop before installation. We use an ultra-premium grade sealer, Proseal, from the Italian chemical and abrasive company Tenax.  I have been fortunate enough to have visited their factory in Italy, and spent a productive day with their research scientists, getting a privileged education right from the horses mouth.  For the record, I’m not referring to the lovely Italian scientist below as a “horse”, just to be clear.

 SnaphealExportedImage_8.jpg

In addition, along with some national members of the Stone Fabricators Alliance, we even visited the nearby factory Novaresine, which produces the raw materials and solvents that form the base of their sealer and adhesive products.

Upon arriving at that facility, anything capable of producing a spark (electronics, cell phones, lighters) were confiscated prior to getting within a hundred yards of the facility, due to the massive vats of combustable resins being refined.  As our host so eloquently put it, “An explosion in the factory would blow the company off the map, and if the fire spread to the massive underground solvent tanks, it would blow Italy off the map”. Lovely. Vietato fumare, per favore!  I would have included a picture of the factory, but no electronics, remember, and I didn’t want to be the one who blew Italy off the map. I couldn’t imagine a world without gelato, parmigiano reggiano and proper tirimisu.

Back to the topic, some granite companies tout that they apply two coats of sealer on their projects as a sales tactic. It’s basically pointless, as what’s important when applying sealer is the “dwell time”. One good coat that’s allowed to thoroughly saturate deep into the stone is the key. A second coat, as one of the Italian researchers put it, would be “stupido”.

After installation, your fabricator can advise you on how often you should re-seal. On the most porous stones, once a year would be safe. Most stones however only need resealing once every 3-5 years, and the most dense probably every 10 years, if ever. It really depends on how vigorous your cleaning habits are, since over time, cleaning agents will begin to deteriorate the cured sealer.

So let’s get to the really difficult and arduous part that the competing products have warned you about:  Sealing the countertops yourself.  All right, are you ready?  Take a deep breath… Here we go…

Wipe on. Wait. Wipe off.  

If it helps, channel your inner Miyagi, Daniel-san. 

Seriously, that’s it. Wasn’t that easy?  And all those companies that were trying to frighten you, well, they’re just stupido.

 




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Posted by Susan Blakely on
I love that you make it seem doable...but where do we mere humans without contractor licenses purchase the sealer? Does Mario sell it? Thanks!
Posted by Joey Marcella on
Susan,
We have sealer for sale for homeowner use at our store, or you can pick up a decent quality sealer at any big box retailer, usually in the tile department. However, if you come to our store, we have the Tenax products and we can also walk you through some pointers on the process. It really is as easy as "wipe on wipe off." Just work on ten square feet of countertop at a time or so. If you try to do your whole kitchen at once, the sealer can dry out a bit which makes it difficult to remove. If that happens, simply apply a small amount of sealer to the area and wipe off immediately. Easy peasy.
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