Caring for Natural Stone Countertops: Soapstone, Marble & Travertine

Congratulations on choosing natural stone countertops for your home! Whether you are building from scratch or upgrading your kitchen space, the natural beauty of soapstone, marble, or travertine countertops will make a statement about your good taste.

With a huge warehouse and over 20 years of experience, AP Marble & Granite, Inc. is the premier countertop supplier in the Detroit, MI, metro area. They know all about stone and can help you pick just the right option for your countertops. With 40,000 square feet of stone slabs, you are sure to find the perfect one for your special project! You can find the website here.

If you're not familiar with natural stone, you should know that the care is a bit different than for regular laminate or tile countertops. It's not difficult, just different. Here are the important points for each of the three stones to keep your new countertops in tip-top shape.

Soapstone Countertops

If you want a durable countertop that does not require sealing, soapstone might be your first choice. The stone is dense and nonporous, so it is easy to care for. It only needs the occasional oil application to stay beautiful. You simply apply mineral oil to the surface, and after half an hour or so, gently wipe off the excess with a rag. The easy care makes it a natural choice for a country kitchen, and it comes in colors ranging from white to nearly black.

Part of the charm of soapstone is that it gradually gets darker with time, so take that into account when choosing the color. It will make your room look warm and inviting while staying cool to the touch.

It is a softer stone that can be cut with sharp knives and might be chipped or cracked if something heavy gets dropped on it. Otherwise, soapstone is pretty easy to care for.

Cleaning with dish soap and warm water is likely all you need. You will want to skip the acidic or harsh cleaners, though. Like any natural stone surface, it looks and performs best with minimal chemical applications.

Marble Countertops

Marble makes a kitchen look elegant. It comes in a huge variety of natural colors, depending on the mineral content of a specific stone. It's known for the artful veining seen throughout the stone.The veins can be quite colorful, with greens, blues, pinks, and golds often found. See some of the beautiful options at AP Marble & Granite here.

When people ask how to care for marble countertops, the most common question is, "Does marble stain?" The answer is that, yes, they can and do stain. Despite its weight and durability, marble is a relatively soft stone - that's why it's been prized for centuries for carving monuments and statues. It's also porous, so liquids can seep into the stone and stain it unless steps are taken to prevent that from happening.

When installed, clean marble should be sealed with the appropriate marble sealer, and this step should be repeated as needed.You will do that at least once a year. Choose a quality product made specifically for the job and follow directions carefully to protect your countertops. You can tell when it's time to reseal the surface when water no longer beads up on it.  

Avoid using all-purpose cleaners and even any "natural" cleaners that are acidic, like vinegar or lemon juice. Acids can etch the surface of the marble. Instead, a little gentle dish soap and warm water should be sufficient. And avoid abrasive cleaners, too. Marble is easily scratched, so be gentle when cleaning it. You can purchase a special stone cleaner if you desire, but it's not necessary.

Travertine Countertops

Travertine is another relatively soft stone that comes in lovely earth colors of tans, browns, and reds that look at home in a rustic setting. It is very porous and can even be pitted. Similar to marble, travertine countertops must be sealed periodically to protect the natural beauty of the stone. Always purchase an appropriate sealer and follow the instructions faithfully to obtain the best results.

Travertine also stains easily and is susceptible to damage from acidic foods and liquids. Like marble, you will need to be cautious when using those ingredients in cooking. Wipe up any spills immediately with a gentle dish soap and water or look for a special stone cleaner. Do not use an all-purpose cleaner on travertine as it etches easily. Be sure to thoroughly dry the surface so that water does not penetrate the stone and leave a mark!

Final Thoughts

Natural stone countertops are an investment, and you will want to remember these tips to keep them beautiful for many years.

●     Always use cutting boards to avoid leaving cut marks on the surface of your countertop.

●     Don't sit hot pots and pans directly on the countertop. Instead, use trivets or hot pads to protect it from the heat.

●     Use coasters underneath glasses to prevent condensation from getting into the porous surface.

●     Take care when handling acidic ingredients. Simple things like citrus juices, vinegar, ketchup, and alcohol can do damage quickly by etching the surface.

●     When spills do happen, they will blot up the mess immediately. Don't wipe it over a larger area. Clean with minimal amounts of dish soap and water, or a stone cleaner and dry the counter well.

●     Follow recommended procedures for sealing the surface of marble and travertine surfaces. Do it on a routine schedule. It's easy and doesn't take long to prevent trouble later.

The changes you will need to make to your cleaning routine are not hard and don't take a lot of time. Preventing stains and etching is key to keeping stone countertops looking great. Paying attention to what comes in contact with the stone and taking a little extra care to avoid knife cuts and dings from heavy objects makes it easy to maintain your kitchen countertops. This way, you can preserve the natural beauty of the stone without a lot of effort.

Finally, don't forget to enjoy your countertops every day. Your home is a reflection of you, and your good taste is apparent in the special touches you choose for your kitchen counters. Nothing beats the natural look of real stone for creating a space you will love to spend time in.

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