Restore Chemical Damage Dull Granite Countertops

by Steven
(Salem, VA)

QUESTION:

We moved into a new home with medium brown/tan granite countertops.

My wife said that they were so hard it is nearly impossible to damage them. Thus, I used regular home cleaners for the granite counter top maintenance and now a few years later, the countertops are extremely dull.

I began researching how to restore the beautiful shine. Of course the local granite store advised me not to attempt to buff or clean the countertops on my own - said to hire one of their professionals to do the job or I'd end up damaging the granite and it would cost much more to 'fix'. LOL!

Several sites advised to use a granite cleaner then get an electric buffer/polisher for polishing granite, then re-seal. We only put sealer on the countertops once! :(

My wife and I are both very capable DIY people and want to fix our erroneous cleaning / and neglect.

Please advise specifically how I can do this. Does the buffer/polisher have to achieve specific RPMs or will a regular car buffer do?

Some sites advise using 000 Steel Wool to polish, but that sounds pretty risky to me. Thank you! Steven

ANSWER:

The local granite store is right... You don't stand a chance of re-polishing the granite yourself.

Your wife is right too that granite is very hard and difficult to damage, however, it's not impossible. And "hardness" relates more to scratches, etc., but has no bearing on how it reacts to constant chemical abuse.

In general, acids and typical household cleaners will not etch granite (eat away the finish making it dull) upon contact like they do with marble, but granite can still be etched upon contact with strong acids and/or repeated use of acidic products and harsh cleaners.

And FYI... most common generic and brand-name cleaners are too harsh for any use on marble and too harsh for regular granite countertop maintenance.

For the above reasons you should only use products safe for cleaning granite countertops.

So, it isn't simply a matter of "cleaning" or "buffing". You've physically damage the granite using the wrong type of cleaning products, which have corroded and destroy the surface layer of the granite.

There's nothing to clean or buff. The finish must be restored.

LOL if you like, but hiring a stone restoration professional is the correct advice.

Not only should you, but in reality hiring a stone restoration professional to re-polish your damaged granite countertops is your only viable option.

The stone store guys were wrong to imply that you - or even the very best handyman - could do it, which maybe gave you the impression that they were trying to "sell" you.

And just because they fabricate stone doesn't mean that they are skilled/experienced enough to re-finish and polish it. They may think this qualifies them, but no.

Still, you can't do it yourself.


And certainly not by using a "granite cleaner then get an electric buffer/polisher to polish the granite".

That will make the current dull surface finish look as good as it can, but it will still be damaged and dull and it won't even begin to restore the original shiny polish.

Steel wool can be helpful for some granite counter top maintenance situations (like hard water build-up) to remove gunk stuck on the surface and it can in some instances buff out light scratches. But it won't work at all to re-finish the surface.

Since granite is so hard it takes specialized diamond abrasives and tools to re-polish the surface.

Now you could acquire all the necessary tools and materials, but that is only 10% of the battle.

The rest requires the knowledge, skill and (most importantly) the experience working with stone to actually produce an even, level, mirror-like, shiny finish by hand.

Normally the shiny finish is created on large, precise machines. Doing it well by hand over a large area takes a true craftsman dedicated to stone... The world's best "handyman" will fail.

Lacking the proper skill acquired over years of experience you'd be more likely to get struck by lightning and win the lottery on the same day than successfully re-polish your granite countertop.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who do this for a living that aren't that hot at it and it's very easy to screw it up.

And your local fabricator / installer is usually not qualified since installation and stone restoration are two completely different professions here in the US. (Not necessarily so in Europe, which has a centuries-old stone culture.)

Re-finishing granite countertops or any stone is simply not a DIY project.

So, it is highly likely that you would make a mess of it and "end up damaging the granite and it would cost much more to 'fix'. LOL!"

I'd suggest you completely forget the notion that you may be able to perform this feat of granite counter top maintenance to re-polish the damaged and dull tops yourself.

Anything you read online that says you simply need to apply a "polish" is BS.

Windex doesn't make the mirror reflective. Applying wax to your car does not make the paint shiny. It's already shiny. The wax protects and improves the shine. Putting wax or polish on a brick won't make it shiny.

The shine or "polish" on granite or any stone doesn't come from "applying" anything. It doesn't come from a bottle or any product. It is physically created by high friction with specialized abrasives and techniques, which vary with every type of stone!

Locate granite countertop maintenance and restoration professionals.... as many as you can and start interviewing them. Get references, etc. If your entire countertop is damaged and needs re-finishing, you definitely want the best craftsman and not the best price.

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