Granite countertops have been a popular choice for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects for decades.
While granite is renowned for its impressive durability, it can be subject to darkening, which may, in some instances, require professional intervention.
In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why granite countertops darken, plus fix and steps you can take to restore your countertop and prevent future darkening.
Reasons Why Granite Countertops Darken
1. Natural Aging Process
Granite is a natural material that can age, especially when exposed to sunlight or heat. Over time, the surface of the stone will begin to dull and appear darker as it ages.
This is a natural process that occurs in many natural stone surfaces.
Not only does this give your granite countertop an aged or antique look, but it can sometimes affect its durability and resistance to staining.
The fact of the matter is that natural aging can be an issue with granite countertops, but there are more common causes of darkening.
2. Exposure to Sunlight
Exposure to direct sunlight can cause your granite countertop to darken over time. UV rays from the sun can penetrate the stone, resulting in discoloration or fading of its original color.
You may even see brown or yellow spots developing on the surface if it’s been in direct sunlight for extended periods of time. This is very common on granite countertops that are close to windows and outdoor spaces.
While this is a common cause, it can take up to several years for noticeable discoloration to happen.
3. Oils and Other Substances Penetrating the Surface
Granite countertops are porous, which means that oils, liquids, and other substances can penetrate the surface of the stone.
This can result in dark spots and stains on the surface, which can be difficult to remove.
If you allow your granite countertops to accumulate oils, dirt, and debris over time, this can lead to discoloration.
This is common on granite countertops that have not been properly sealed. Also, granite countertops that are not properly cleaned and maintained will also suffer from this issue.
4. Use of Inappropriate Cleaning Products
Using the wrong cleaning products on your granite countertop can lead to darkening and discoloration over time.
This includes using chemicals that are too harsh or abrasive, as they can damage the surface of the stone.
It’s important to use mild cleaning solutions that are specifically formulated for granite countertops.
Not only do the wrong cleaning products damage the surface of the stone, but they can lead to discoloration as well.
5. Poor Maintenance
As I may have hinted earlier, neglecting to properly maintain your granite countertop can lead to darkening and discoloration.
This includes not sealing the surface or using a sealant that is too thin and doesn’t provide enough protection.
It’s also important to regularly clean the countertop and remove food, liquids, and other substances that can penetrate the surface.
If you don’t keep up with maintenance or use the wrong cleaning products, your granite countertop will suffer from discoloration over time.
There are two ways to look at this. If the granite countertops have not been properly sealed, the granite countertop will always appear darker when wet. This is common around the sink, where water is constantly in contact with the countertop.
Also, the granite countertop can suffer serious water damage if it is left exposed to standing water for too long.
This can result in dark spots that are difficult to remove, and the affected area may need to be replaced completely.
7. Poor Quality Granite
It’s possible that the granite countertop was of poor quality when you purchased it.
The darkening may have occurred due to a defect in the stone or because of imperfection during the fabrication or installation process.
If this is the case, you may need to contact the company where you purchased your granite countertop and ask for a replacement.
8. Improper Sealing
The final cause of darkening that we’ll discuss is improper sealing. This happens when the sealant used on the granite countertop was not applied correctly, or it wasn’t designed for this type of surface.
It’s important to use a sealant that is specifically designed for natural stone surfaces, as some sealants can react with the surface and lead to discoloration.
Also, make sure that the sealant is applied correctly, as this will help ensure that your granite countertop maintains its original color for many years.
Effects of Darkening on Granite Countertops
Here are some of the common effects of darkening on granite countertops:
- Discoloration and Staining
As mentioned earlier, darkening can lead to discoloration of the granite countertop. This is because the pigments in the stone become less visible as it absorbs oils, liquids, and other contaminants.
The discoloration can be difficult to remove, and it may require professional help to restore the original color of the stone.
- Loss of Shine
Another effect of darkening is the loss of shine on the countertop. This can occur due to discoloration and staining, as well as from etching and scratches that can accumulate over time.
Fortunately, it’s possible to restore the shine by using a professional-grade polishing compound or polish.
- Weakening of the Surface
A lot of the things that cause the granite countertop to darken can also lead to the weakening of the surface.
This is especially true when harsh or abrasive chemicals are used to clean the countertop, as this can strip away the protective sealant and make it more susceptible to damage.
It’s important to use mild cleaning solutions specifically designed for natural stone surfaces, as this will help ensure that your granite countertops remain strong and durable for years to come.
How to Fix a Darkening Granite Countertop
1. Clean the surface thoroughly
The first step in fixing a darkening granite countertop is to clean the surface thoroughly and remove any dirt, debris, and contaminants that can cause further discoloration.
Make sure to use a mild cleaning solution specifically designed for natural stone surfaces, as this will help protect the sealant from being stripped away.
2. Use a poultice to remove stains
If you notice any staining on the countertop, it’s best to use a poultice to remove them. A poultice is a paste-like substance that can be used to draw out the stain from within the stone.
Your local hardware store should have products specifically designed for this purpose, or you can make your own poultice with a mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.
3. Use a professional-grade sealant
Next, use a professional-grade sealant to protect the countertop from further discoloration.
Make sure to choose one that is specifically designed for natural stone surfaces and apply it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
4. Polish the surface
Use an appropriate polishing compound or polish to restore the shine on the granite countertop. This will help make the surface look new again.
Preventative Measures To Avoid Darkening on Granite
1. Use appropriate cleaning products
It’s important to use cleaning products specifically designed for natural stone surfaces when cleaning your granite countertop.
Using harsh and abrasive chemicals can strip away the protective sealant, leaving your countertop vulnerable to darkening.
2. Avoid using acidic substances
Acidic substances such as lemon juice and vinegar, when used inappropriately, can cause etching and discoloration on granite countertops.
It’s important to avoid using these substances regularly on the countertop and instead use them sparingly as needed.
3. Wipe up spills immediately
Spills should be wiped up immediately to prevent them from being absorbed into the granite.
If they are left for too long, they can cause discoloration and staining, which can lead to darkening on the countertop.
4. Seal the surface regularly
It’s important to reseal your granite countertops regularly to protect them from discoloration and staining.
This will help keep your countertops looking new for longer and prevent any darkening that might occur over time.
5. Avoid exposure to direct sunlight
Exposure to direct sunlight can cause the granite countertop to darken over time.
It’s best to keep it out of direct sunlight as much as possible and avoid placing hot items directly on the surface.
6. Use cutting boards and trivets
Using cutting boards and trivets when preparing food or placing hot items on the countertop will help protect it from staining and discoloration.