You took your time in choosing the perfect granite for your kitchen, and you’ve promised yourself that you’ll be so very careful in taking care of it, but life happens. Kitchens get messy, drinks get spilled, things get dropped.
Your kitchen work surface won’t stay perfect forever, but fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to restore damage. Here’s a DIY guide to tackling some common granite countertop repair jobs so you can keep them looking fabulous for years to come.
Stain Removal Steps
Stains are the most common enemy you’ll battle. Many stains can be avoided altogether by making sure you seal your granite regularly, but sometimes you just aren’t quick enough to get to a spill to keep it from affecting your stone.
Read our easy to implement granite care guide that will walk you through properly sealing your counter.
Most natural stone is extremely porous. It wants to absorb everything you throw on it, so if your sealant fails or was never applied, you could have an unsightly stain staring back at you. Luckily, you can whip up a DIY stain remover using household ingredients.
Depending on what caused the stain, you’ll vary the active ingredients, but the process itself is simple. You simply need to create a poultice using plain flour and a wicking agent that will help draw the stain out of the stone.
Combine flour and peroxide in a paste that is about the consistency of peanut butter.
Use flour and dishwashing soap, which cuts through the oils to help remove the stain. DuPont StoneTech also come highly recommended for this application. Watch this video starting from the 40 second mark to see how easy it is to use.
Biological (mold, mildew, fungus)
Regular household bleach combined with flour creates a paste that won’t bleach your stone, but it will bleach out the stain. Bleach can actually be used on its own, too–just pour a little over the stain and cover the area with plastic wrap. You should start to see results within a few hours if it’s going to work.
These can usually be removed with a gentle dish soap and a soft brush.
Applying The Poultice
Clean up spills as quickly as you can, blotting rather than scrubbing them, which could etch the granite. Using your blend of choice, spread on a layer of poultice (about a quarter of an inch thick like in the picture to the right from ThisOldHouse.com) over the entire stain. Extend out a little past the edge of the stain–you don’t have to be precise, but you do have to cover the actual stain.
Using plastic wrap and painter’s tape, cover the paste to slow the drying process. Pierce the plastic wrap in a few spots to allow for ventilation, then leave your paste to work its magic. It will appear dry within ten to fifteen hours, but leave it for twenty-four hours for the best results. As a rule, the newer the stain, the less time it takes for the paste to wick away the material that’s creating the stain.
A note about taping up the stain: make sure you use the blue painter’s tape that’s designed to be removed easily. Regular tape can leave a sticky residue that can cause another stain or worse–it could peel off your sealant and leave the countertop even more vulnerable to stains.
You may need to repeat the process a few times over a few days with darker, older stains, but many stains can be removed with just one application.
Once the poultice is dry, it’s finished its job, even if the stain isn’t all gone. You’ll need to clear away the old, crusty poultice before you reapply another round, that is, if you need another round. Use a putty knife and gently scrape the dried mixture off your countertop, then wipe the counter with a clean, dry cloth.
You may find a ring remains around the edge of the spot where the stain was–this is typically moisture that will evaporate in time. If it doesn’t, try the poultice again on the ring until nothing remains.
Some stains, like coffee and wine, are acidic and can actually etch the surface. If this happens and the surface is rough or uneven after the stain has lifted, polish it using a polishing pad and then reseal to protect it from future spills.
This DIY method works on most stains, but if you try it and you still have stains, contact your local stone yard and see if they can offer any suggestions. They usually have someone “in house” that will be able to come out and fix it for you.
Although stone is a pretty hard substance, chips can happen. All it takes is a dropped pan or other heavy object and your perfectly smooth granite can become chipped and rough. Aside from the fact that it looks unsightly, chips can leave it more vulnerable to stains since the sealant is missing where the chip occurs.
Before you call in a professional to repair the chips, you can try to fill them yourself using an epoxy resin. You can find this at your local hardware store or the place that fabricated your counter will likely sell it too.
Although it’s messy work, repairing a chip in granite is easy enough. Mark a space around the chip using painter’s tape so you can see where to apply the resin at a glance. Mix the epoxy resin and the accompanying hardener per the manufacturer’s instructions, then spread it onto the chipped area using a putty knife. Smooth it down and scrape off the excess with a flat blade, then wait for it to harden.
Once the resin has dried completely, reseal the counter with sealant to prevent moisture from getting in.
This is a pretty simple repair if the damage is on the flat surface of the counter, but it’s much more difficult on corners. And getting the colors to blend can also be troublesome. You only get one chance to get it right so we do recommend you bring in a professional.
Cracks in your granite can be a little more serious, depending on how big they are and where they’re located. Don’t confuse cracks with fissures–naturally occurring fractures that appear in stone. They may sound similar, but cracks always need to be restored while fissures may be minor enough to be left alone.
How can you tell the difference between a crack and a fissure?
Cracks are typically straight and deep, so if you were to run your finger or a key across it, it would feel rough and catch at your key or fingertip. Fissures, on the other hand, usually aren’t pronounced enough to ‘catch.’ They also can occur in several spots along a plane. Cracks tend to occur wherever there is stress on the stone, such as where your sink fits in. Fissures can occur anywhere on the stone.
Cracks, fissures, and breaks in your granite can all be repaired using epoxy. However, for repairing cracks, especially deep ones, you want to choose an epoxy with a low viscosity. These ‘thinner’ epoxies can penetrate deep down into the crack and bind the two sections together, possibly preventing further cracking.
If your granite breaks, you may be able to repair it by using epoxy resin to bind the two pieces together, then fill any remaining cracks using more resin. You may want to try a colored resin to try and match the stone, although many people have had great success using a complimentary color as well. After you’ve filled your cracks, remember to apply a new layer of sealant to protect it.
Most of the items you need to fix your countertops can be bought separately, but if you’d rather, you can buy a granite repair kit. You can get restoration kits at retailers like Amazon and you can find them in most large hardware stores. Your stone yard may also carry repair kits and products as well as be able to address any concerns you may have.
Some kits use light to activate the epoxy resin. One such kit is the CeramiCure Acrylic DIY Surface Repair Kit. It uses a small handheld light to cure the epoxy in minutes and is useful for small chips and cracks.
ProCaliber offers a similar kit that uses a small light and a syringe to help ensure you get your epoxy into every nook and cranny.
Whatever kit you buy, make sure it’s safe for granite and be sure to follow all the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. One missed step, and you could end up making the problem worse.
Epoxies are pretty useful, but you really do need to follow the instructions that come with each one. Some set under light or UV light, others set with no assistance. Some may take minutes while others can take a few hours to set properly. Some has a higher viscosity than others, which may be good for filling vertical chips, but not so great for filling deep cracks.
Some granite epoxies react with heat to produce dangerous fumes that shouldn’t be breathed in. For this reason, avoid using your kitchen for cooking while you’re waiting for your epoxy to be set and sealed.
You may need to mix your epoxy with coloring pigment to match it to your stone. A few granite epoxy kits come with coloring paste you can add in to make it more closely resemble your granite’s finish and coloring. You can also buy clear epoxy and separate coloring paste to get the job done.
There are a great number of repairs you can tackle on your own, from chips and scratches to cracks and even some small breaks. However, if you doubt your skills, or if the job is complicated (not a clean break, deep gouges, a large surface area that’s damaged), call in a professional. Your granite countertops cost too much to risk leaving them looking worse with a bad DIY job. If the job looks or feels too big to tackle alone, it probably is, so give your local stone yard a call instead.
This list of budget friendly granite sealers will help keep stains out of your countertops. Sealing is the best way to keep stains out and to prevent expensive repair bills.