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What to Do with Those Rough Spots on Your Granite Countertop

What to Do with Those Rough Spots on Your Granite Countertop
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Granite countertops are durable, affordable, and provide superior resistance to heat, stains, and moisture. Yet, you may also eventually find rough spots on the otherwise smooth surface.

Rough spots on a granite countertop are typically due to natural wear and tear or low-quality material. You can often fix rough spots by refinishing or polishing the affected area.

For severe rough spots, chips, and other imperfections, replacing a worn granite countertop may be the best option.

Here is what you need to know to fix rough spots on a granite countertop.

How to Fix Rough Spots on a Granite Countertop

Before buying products to polish or restore the counter, try cleaning the surface and adding a shine with a little cooking oil. If the surface is not significantly worn, you may simply need to clean the counter to make it look new.

Start by clearing everything off the counters. Remove all appliances and brush away debris with a dry sponge.

Most granite countertops include a sealant to protect and shine the surface. Avoid using abrasive cleaners, as you may accidentally remove portions of the sealant and leave the surface looking rougher.

Along with abrasive cleaners, you should avoid acidic cleaners, such as vinegar or bleach. Acids can eat away at the sealant and dull the surface.

Use sponges, dish soap, and warm water to clean the surface of the counter. Wipe the counter clean with a dry rag and look for stubborn stains or buildup.

Use a little more pressure to remove gunk. If buildup remains, you can attempt to scrape it away using a razor blade.

Lay the razor blade flat against the surface of the counter and carefully scrape off the buildup. After removing buildup with a razor blade, reclean the surface with dish soap and a sponge.

Disinfect the surface using a disinfectant spray or a 50/50 mixture of water and isopropyl alcohol. Isopropyl alcohol is a disinfectant and helps dissolve oil, gums, and natural resins.

Wait for the counter to dry before pouring a small amount of cooking oil on the surface. Use a soft cloth to buff the surface with the oil, giving it a glossy shine.

If cleaning the countertop does not eliminate the rough spots, try using one of the following methods to fix the problem:

  • Try polishing the surface to remove rough spots
  • Use a filler to refinish rough areas
  • Use a store-bought repair kit for granite countertops
  • Hire experts for professional granite refinishing

No matter which option you choose, you should seal the granite surface to help maintain its shine. Sealing granite countertops also protects from stains, bacteria, scratches, and cracks.

Polishing, using a filler, or buying a repair kit involves removing the upper layer of the counter, along with the existing sealant.

Granite sealers are typically sold in spray bottles and require reapplication every 6 to 12 months. You can also use the sealer on other surfaces, including grout, marble, and slate.

What Causes a Granite Countertop to Dull?

Granite countertops tend to dull due to natural wear and tear. Wiping the countertop clean each day gradually wears the sealer away, which leaves the granite surface exposed.

The exposed surface may appear rough, especially when using abrasive cleaners to clean countertops. After the sealer wears, granite countertops also become more prone to nicks and chips.

Polish a Granite Countertop to Restore its Shine

Most granite counters require polishing every 5 to 15 years.

Granite slabs are typically smooth. Manufacturers polish the stone to create a smooth, shiny surface.

Yet, the smooth surface may eventually dull due to frequent use.

Polishing is the recommended solution for restoring worn, dull granite surfaces that are free of cracks or scratches. Polishing will not help fix imperfections on the surface.

Polishing the countertop helps restore the shine by removing a small layer of granite from the surface. You can eliminate rough spots and minor scratches.

You can use granite polishing powder or cream to remove rough spots from stone countertops. Granite polishing powder can be used wet or dry.

Muslin wheels are typically used for wet polishing while buff polishing pads are used for dry polishing. The powder is applied across the surface of the counter and buffed using a powered polishing pad.

To polish a granite countertop, you will need the following supplies:

  • Latex gloves
  • Polishing powder or cream
  • Polishing pad or wheel
  • Microfiber cloths

You should first clean the surface using a sponge and mild dish soap. Wipe the surface dry before applying the polishing powder or cream.

After applying the polishing product, move the polishing pad across the surface in a circular motion. As you move the pad across the surface, the abrasive polishing powder or cream lightly removes minor scratches and stains.

Continue polishing until you see a smooth surface that is free of scratches. Wipe the polish away using a damp cloth and thoroughly clean the surface before applying a sealer.

Attempt to Polish a Granite Countertop with a DIY Polish

If the surface of the counter is dull and rough but not scratched or chipped, you can attempt to polish the granite using a DIY mixture. Combining baking soda and warm water creates a safe polishing paste.

The baking soda paste is not as abrasive compared to store-bought polishing products. Yet, baking soda can eliminate enough of the outer layer to leave the counter with a smoother finish.

Mix one-fourth cup of baking soda with three cups of warm water. Apply the mixture to the surface of the granite countertop using a fresh microfiber cloth.

Continue to scrub the surface with the cloth and mixture. After covering the entire surface, wipe away the baking soda mixture using a damp cloth.

You still use a sealer after polishing out the rough spots. The sealer gives the surface a shine that should last for at least four to six months, depending on the amount of use your counter receives.

Use a Filler to Refinish Rough Areas on a Granite Countertop

Polishing may not help remove major rough spots, chips, holes, and other imperfections. You may need to use a filler to fix severe problems and create a smooth, level surface.

The most common filler is epoxy resin. Most epoxy resins are self-leveling, which means that the filler settles to create a level surface.

Epoxy is clear when it hardens, allowing you to fill small gaps from chips and cracks in the granite. However, epoxy cannot fix major gaps.

While you can fill large gaps with epoxy, the gaps are likely to remain noticeable.

If you want to attempt to fill in cracks or chips with epoxy resin, gather the following supplies:

  • Epoxy resin
  • Latex gloves
  • Microfiber cloths
  • 300 to 400 grit sandpaper
  • A razorblade
  • Masking tape

Thoroughly clean the area that you want to patch. Allow the surface to completely dry before adding the epoxy resin.

Use masking tape to section off the area that you want to fix. The masking tape helps contain the epoxy so you can focus on the rough areas.

Follow the instructions that come with the epoxy resin to properly mix the ingredients. Epoxy resin typically comes in two containers.

One container includes the epoxy while the second includes a curing agent. You need to mix the two ingredients for the epoxy to harden.

After mixing the ingredients, pour the epoxy resin into the area that you need to fill. Pour slowly to avoid adding too much epoxy resin, as you may only need a small amount.

Allow the epoxy resin to dry for at least 24 hours. After the epoxy dries, you can remove the masking tape.

Use sandpaper or a razor blade to smooth out the epoxy resin and scrape away any extra filler. After using a filler to fix damage to the granite countertop, polish and reseal the surface.

Use a Store-Bought Repair Kit for Granite Countertops

Store-bought repair kits include everything needed to refinish your granite countertop. Most repair kits include a scrubbing compound, a crystallizer, and a sealer.

While a repair kit can refinish the surface of a granite countertop, it does not include material for fixing chips and cracks. Use the previous method to fill imperfections with epoxy before using a repair kit.

The scrubbing compound is used to clean, disinfect, and remove stains from the surface of the counter. You can use an abrasive scrubbing pad to work the compound into the granite countertop.

Steel wool pads, kitchen scrubbers, and other abrasive pads help eliminate dirt and the existing sealer. However, you will reseal the surface after polishing.

Work the compound into the counter and allow it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Wipe the scrubbing compound away using a microfiber cloth.

The crystallizer is used to polish the surface. It removes superficial scratches and the dull outer layer of the counters to reveal a smoother surface.

After scrubbing the counter, spray the crystallizer across the surface. Use a microfiber cloth or a buffing pad to polish the surface with the crystallizer.

Continue to work the crystallizer into the granite until a smooth, shiny surface appears. Rinse and clean the surface before applying the sealer.

The sealer is sprayed generously over the surface of the counter. Spread the sealer using a scrubbing pad instead of a cloth, as an abrasive pad helps the sealer penetrate the pores of the stone.

Allow the sealer to sit for about five minutes before wiping the countertop clean with a microfiber cloth.

Keep in mind that some store-bought repair kits may require slightly different steps. Always read the labels on the products to ensure proper application.

Hire Experts for Professional Granite Refinishing

If you are worried about causing further damage to your countertops, consider hiring professionals. Marble and granite restoration companies come to your house to restore the condition of your counters.

Professional granite refinishing typically involves the same steps as using a store-bought repair kit. However, professionals tend to use specialized equipment and have the experience needed to ensure satisfactory results.

Restoration specialists remove a small layer of the granite surface. The surface is then polished and sealed to achieve a smooth finish.

Should You Remove Stains Before Refinishing Rough Granite?

Depending on how deeply the stains penetrate the countertop, you may need to remove stains before refinishing. Polishing granite only removes minor stains and surface imperfections.

Oil stains can reach deeper into the surface. To attempt to lift dark stains, use a combination of baking soda and acetone.

Baking soda is effective for removing oil stains from natural stone, including granite. However, the alkalinity of the baking soda may damage the surface.

The baking soda needs to be diluted with acetone to create a paste. Mix equal parts of the two ingredients.

Spread the past-like mixture across the stained surface. Allow the mixture to sit for 24 hours, wiping the counter clean with a rag.

Rinse the treated area with warm water. If the stain remains, you can try reapplying the baking soda/acetone mixture.

Refinishing Versus Replacing Dull Granite Countertops

You can polish granite countertops every 5 to 15 years and reseal the surface every year. However, granite countertops do not last forever.

Polishing a granite countertop removes a small layer from the surface. You can only remove a certain amount of stone before the countertop starts to weaken.

After repeated polishing and refinishing, you may find that your granite countertop scratches and chips easily. Using a filler may not be enough to solve the problem.

You can assess the condition of the countertop after attempting to fill cracks or chips using epoxy. If epoxy no longer fills the gaps, it may be time to replace the countertop.

Final Thoughts

Granite countertops start with a shiny surface and gradually become dull and rough. Resealing the surface is recommended to help retain a glossy finish and protect against stains.

If you detect rough spots, try cleaning and buffing the surface with a small amount of cooking oil. If the rough spots remain, you can polish and reseal the surface or purchase a store-bought repair kit.

Yet, polishing and resealing will not remove nicks and chips on the surface. If the countertop is damaged, use epoxy to fill the damaged areas before polishing and resealing.