Restore Chemical Damage Dull Granite Countertops

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 kinda right... used to be repolishing granite was done only by pros. But can often be accomplished by handy people.

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". The surface must be ground re-finished to restore the shine. It's like sanding wood smooth only much more aggressive.

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

So, hiring a stone restoration professional is usually the best advice.

It can't be done simply by using a granite cleaner and then an electric buffer/polisher to polish the granite.

It requires special abrasives and polishing pads.

Steel wool can be helpful for some granite countertop 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 at all.

Normally the shiny finish is created on large, precise machines. Doing it well by hand over a large area takes some definite skill. Small areas maybe a good handyman can polish well enough.

And your local fabricator / installer may not be great at re-polishing 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.)

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

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!

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