Honed Absolute Black Granite Etching

by Dana
(Rhode Island)

QUESTION:

Does honed absolute black need sealing?? Or any other type of granite counter top maintenance?


We had it installed recently in our kitchen and I have noticed streaks and light gray areas around the sink. There was also a lighter ring mark.

I am also noticing a great deal of variation in the stone and more variation than I expected with AB.

I was really looking for a more uniform matte black. We plan to strip the sealer and apply an enhancer/sealer product. Any suggestions??

ANSWER:

Absolute black granite countertops used to be bullet-proof. That's because every slab came from South Africa... the original quarry.

Didn't need to apply a granite sealer and did not etch. Didn't require any granite counter top maintenance beside cleaning.

Of course, Absolute Black became very popular. Well, in recent years slabs called "Absolute Black" started coming from India and China, but these were not the same quality as the true South African variety.

Many of these China/India slabs are still dense, but they often contain calcite and will etch upon contact with acids like marble leaving dull, gray spots on the surface.

Also, a lot of the so-called 'Absolute Black' from India wasn't really black, but more gray. Well, gray granite is in far less demand and therefore much cheaper than black.

So, in India they started to "doctor" the slabs by applying a colored dye to make the slabs more black and they could charge more for these.

But this dye will react with acids and etch leaving dull and discolored spots.... a real maintenance nightmare.

The result is that what was once one of the very best granite colors and best surfaces you could possibly install for a kitchen countertop has been corrupted.

Absolute Black can still be a great choice with minimal granite counter top maintenance, but you MUST test the exact slab you wish to purchase for absorbency and acid sensitivity by performing the Lemon Juice Test before you buy it.

And I'd even test it upon delivery to your install location before it is actually set in place.

Any black granite that absorbs water or lemon juice and/or etches from the lemon juice should be ruled out of course.

Really, the lemon juice test should be done on any stone you wish to purchase to determine suitability for its intended use and location.

You don't want a stone that will too easily absorb liquids and certainly not one that etches for kitchen countertops especially. That is a granite counter top maintenance nightmare.

Which is the reason many opt for Absolute Black... but now you have to make sure you are getting the real deal.

Absorption/staining can be controlled with sealing of course, but still you don't want a stone that is too absorbent.

Etching cannot be prevented, so that is an automatic deal breaker for a kitchen countertop or a wet bar top. Bathrooms, floors, etc. are fine though... not very much exposure to acids.

So, in your case:

1. Could be a bad stone
2. A doctored stone
3. Sealer applied when it should not have been. Dried on the surface leaving an uneven appearance and etching.

No cure for a "phony" Black Absolute granite countertop that etches except to tear out and start over.

For a doctored stone or dried sealer on the surface you're in for a crummy granite counter top maintenance project. You'll need to strip off whatever is on there using methylene chloride (a strong solvent often found in paint strippers).

There is a FORENSICS Granite Test Kit that will help you determine what exactly is happening with your granite countertops.

Regarding the color enhancer:

Once you have all the above sorted out... yes many people choose to apply a color-enhancer to honed black granite countertops in order to darken the color and better hide the fingerprint marks that can be annoying to see and constantly clean off of dark honed stones.

There are many color-enhancing sealers around, but we like the Color-Enhancing Sealer best.

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