Countertops are one of the most expensive parts of any kitchen renovation. To keep them looking as stunning as when they were installed, they should be treated with care.
Despite regular maintenance, though, kitchen countertops can suffer costly damage. And although quartz and granite ones are highly durable, they’re not indestructible.
Here are eight ways you may be putting your kitchen countertops at risk.
Are You Unknowingly Damaging Your Kitchen Countertop?
Kitchen countertops are an integral part of your home that are built to withstand regular cleaning, food preparation and daily use. But unintentional mistakes can potentially damage yours. They include:
1) Putting Hot Pots and Pans Directly on the Countertop
Although granite countertops have a high heat tolerance, repeated exposure to excessive heat can crack or discolour them over time, or even leave permanent scorch marks.
As far as quartz countertops are concerned, placing hot utensils and appliances directly on them is a big no-no. This is because the resin used to bind the quartz matrix will discolour if it comes in contact with a heated object.
The best way to protect your countertop is to use trivets, placemats, or hot pads when placing hot pots and pans on the countertop.
2) Using Chemical-Based Cleaning Products
Harsh scrubbing brushes and cleaning products containing ammonia or bleach can damage the beauty and shine of your kitchen countertop, especially if the stone has a protective coating. Make sure you look at the countertop manufacturer’s recommendation when buying cleaning supplies. For regular cleaning, spray a mixture of mild dishwashing soap and hot water and wipe it off with a soft cloth. Avoid chemical-based cleaners as these can lead to permanent discoloration and loss of lustre.
3) Applying Too Much Weight
Although stone kitchen countertops are extremely durable and hard, they can crack or chip if an excessive amount of weight is applied to them. Standing on the countertop or placing heavy appliances, like a microwave, on its joints or unsupported edges can lead to cracks, fractures, and ruptures. These are expensive and difficult to fix.
4) Cutting, Slicing or Chopping on the Surface
A stone countertop is no substitute for a cutting board. Even if you’ve installed a scratch-resistant granite countertop, sharp objects, especially knives, can lead to small scratches. These can potentially affect any waterproof sealant, leading to more damage. It’s advisable to protect your investment by using a cutting board.
5) Spilling Acidic Foods
Marble is made of calcium carbonate (chemically, a base) and is sensitive to anything acidic. A few drops of lemon juice, vinegar or tomato sauce are enough to damage your beautiful marble countertop and cause dull spots, also known as etch marks. If you accidentally spill anything acidic on marble, clean it with water as soon as possible. Then, rub it with baking soda to neutralize the stain.
6) Allowing Water to Build Up
Be sure to wipe up water left on the countertop to prevent stains. Also, if your countertop is neither professionally sealed nor has a protecting coating, moisture can seep in and ruin it by causing mould or mildew. This is especially true in the case of porous natural stones.
To prevent this issue entirely, choose a quartz countertop as they have a very low water absorption rate.
7) Repeating Motions
Preparing food on the same part of a countertop can, over time, lead to scratches, etches, and erosion. For example, if you bake cakes or loaves of bread often and knead the dough in the same spot, try using other parts. This will give your countertop a uniform look and make it last longer by preventing scratches and uneven wear and tear.
8) Exposing It to Direct Sunlight
Is your laminate countertop right next to a window? Does your outdoor kitchen feature a granite countertop? Natural light is better than artificial lighting in the kitchen but prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can fade laminate countertops as well as granite and wood countertop sealants.
To protect vulnerable countertops in indoor kitchens, keep window treatments closed during peak daylight hours. As for outdoor kitchen countertops, it’s best to install them under shade to minimize sun damage.
Tips for Upkeep of Your Kitchen Countertop
- Apply mineral oil on butcher block wood countertops and marine oil on non-butcher ones to keep the wood’s stain resistant to fading.
- To remove stains from quartz countertops, spot treat them with a paste of hydrogen peroxide and flour. Let the paste sit on the stain overnight and then gently scrape it off with a plastic edge.
- Use a sponge with a textured fibre on one side to remove grease and dried food splatters from laminate countertops.
- To find out whether your granite countertop is properly sealed, splash some water on it. If the water is still beaded up after 10 to 15 minutes, it’s sealed properly. If it’s been absorbed, contact your granite countertop contractor or installer immediately.
No matter what material you choose, a little upkeep is necessary to keep the surface of your kitchen countertop in good shape. It’s easy to not notice you’re accidentally ruining it by applying too much weight, cutting vegetables, putting hot pans directly on it, or committing the other mistakes outlined above. Countering these risky habits before it’s too late will reduce wear and tear on your kitchen countertop.