Your countertops have a starring role in the kitchen, and they’re one of the top selling points for new homes. They also see a lot of action with chopping, spills, and everyday family use. Granite, solid surface and laminate countertops each have their own unique guidelines for cleaning, repair, and helping to prevent damage. With regular attention and care, you can help extend the life of your countertops and maintain their beauty.
The majority of kitchen countertops in your new home are constructed from top-quality plastic laminate materials. These products consist of a sheet of very hard plastic laminated to a wooden base. With proper care, they will last for years.
Your bath vanity tops, and perhaps your bath sinks, are made of either a top-quality plastic laminate or a cultured marble product that will give you classic good looks and utilitarian service, with proper care.
Care and Maintenance
Follow these care and maintenance suggestions for your home’s countertops.
Laminated Plastic Countertops
Laminated plastic countertops, such as Wilsonart®* Laminate, are fairly easy to maintain. Here are a few ways to increase their life and prolong their beauty.
*Wilsonart® is a registered trademark of Wilsonart International.
Be careful not to disturb the bond between the wood and the plastic-on-plastic laminate products.
Use a hot pad for anything that is likely to exceed 250°F. Anything coming directly off a burner or from the oven will be too hot to place directly on the plastic surface.
Treat plastic laminate and cultured marble products carefully because they will scratch and burn if mistreated.
To clean countertops
Wipe off spots, glass rings, and other spills with a damp cloth and mild soap.
Be careful with the inks used in making grocery products, especially meat and produce, as well as newspaper ink; these inks are often indelible.
To prevent damage to countertops
Be especially careful with razor blades, manicure equipment, and bathroom appliances to avoid damaging the laminate.
Prevent damage from leaks by monitoring the condition of all caulking on countertops and vanity tops. Reapply the caulking if it separates or shrinks.
Don’t cut items directly on the countertop. Scratches and knife marks can be unsightly hiding places for dirt.
Don’t sit or stand on countertops. Excessive weight can cause warping and drawer malfunction and can even cause the top to pull away from the wall.
Cigarette burns are almost impossible to remove without professional assistance.
See also Interior Caulking.
Granite, Limestone, Travertine, and Marble Countertops
Granite, limestone, travertine, and marble countertops are made from natural rock. These countertops vary in color and veining. Stone countertops can be scratched. Grainy materials, such as sand and abrasive cleaners, wear down the finish. Improper maintenance also will compromise the look and longevity of your countertops. Stone countertops absorb stains in as little as one minute. A small rock can scratch the surface severely.
You can clean stone countertops with any high-quality, nonabrasive bathroom cleanser. To clean stone countertops:
- Remove hard water minerals with a mild ammonia solution of 1 tablespoon to 1 quart of water. Also, commercial cultured marble cleaning and protecting products are available.
- Dust or sweep the countertop regularly.
- Wipe up spills immediately.
- Clean the surface with a few drops of neutral cleaner or stone soap and warm water after each use.
Repair chips, scratches, burns, and stains using the manufacturer’s recommended techniques, or consult a professional.
It’s strongly recommended that you have your stone countertops sealed to prevent staining.
Don’t place hot pans or pots directly on the countertops. Use coasters and mats under objects that may scratch the surface.
Don’t use steel wool, vinegar, polish, or liquids containing acid on the surface.
Solid Surface Countertops
Solid surface countertops, such as Corian,®* are nonporous, homogeneous, and inherently hygienic surfaces. Following these basic guidelines will help to keep these surfaces fresh and looking new.
*Corian® is a registered trademark of the DuPont Company.
Clean solid-surface countertops with any household cleanser designed for daily use.
Remove typical stains with soapy water or ammonia-based cleansers.
Don’t place hot pans or heat-generating appliances directly on the countertop. Use a trivet or hot pad with rubber feet.
Run cold water into the sink if you’re going to be pouring boiling water into it.
Avoid prolonged exposure to strong chemicals, such as concentrated acids, and chlorinated solvents, such as chloroform. Also, avoid exposure to acetones, which are found in nail polish remover and paintbrush cleaner. If these chemicals contact the surface, flush the surface thoroughly with soapy water.
Use denatured alcohol to remove stains caused by cosmetics. Flush the surface with soapy water when the stains are gone.
Don’t use abrasive pads; they’ll scratch or dull the polished finish.
A licensed contractor can polish Corian® to remove some stains, burns, and scratches.