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When we spend a lot of money on something, we want to make it last forever. Many of us can remember the feeling of buying a new car and stressing over keeping it scratch-free and removing any dirt from the car as soon as it hits the floor mats. When we invest a lot into something, we want to get our money’s worth.

Kitchen countertops are no different. New countertops can cost a good deal, particularly if you go for a higher-end material like marble or granite. Even within those material categories, there are a wide variety of price points depending on color, rarity and size. Modern mining and finishing processes have made countertops more durable than ever, but that doesn’t mean they’re invincible. Even the most expensive countertops can stain, scratch or crack. Damaged countertops mean a hit to the wallet and a lot of homeowner stress looking for someone capable enough to do the repair. 

It’s better to never get to that point. Some simple precautions and maintenance go a long way in keeping countertops in tip top form. The more that’s done up from will mean less pain down the road. Here are some easy hints to keep your countertop looking perfect. 

Stay on Top of Basic Cleaning

This is common sense, but so many people fail at it. The best thing that can be done to maintain a great kitchen countertop is regular cleaning with a wet rag and maybe a little soap or generic commercial cleaner. Most problems with countertops stem from neglect. That wine spill sits on the countertop for hours during a dinner party, or you forget to take that hot pan off the countertop while you chase down a kid. Whatever the case, a moment’s lapse can cause a big mistake. Some countertop materials are porous, so even water can seep in over time and erode the sheen or durability of a beautiful countertop. 

The best things owners can do is get in the habit of keeping a steady supply of rags in the kitchen in the event of a spill or to put down before the set a hot pot on the countertop. It doesn’t have to be fancy. The most important factor is timing. The faster you can soak something up, the less chance it will cause lasting damage. 

Take the Time to Learn About Your Countertop Material

Marble is different that soapstone, and quartz is different than granite. While basic cleaning is a huge help, owners can go the extra mile by learning the ins and outs of their specific countertop material, and more in-depth information can be found at Marble. Some countertop materials are more scratch-resistant, and some respond better to heat. Quartz, for instance, is not heat-resistant.  A hot pan left too long can melt the pigment inside the countertop and ruin the kitchen’s look. Too many people have learned that the hard way after essentially melting their countertop. Learning how to care for your specific countertop will make you even more aware of what will keep it looking fantastic. Specialty and even your neighborhood home improvement store will sell cleaning products designed specifically for your material. That will make cleaning even more effective. 

Get a Regular Sealing Done

There are regular cleaning and maintenance services that are essential to countertop health. Sealing granite countertops should be done at least once a year. It will keep them looking new and extend their lifespan. That means homeowners can enjoy them for longer and make them more cost-effective. It will be years and even decades before replacement countertops are necessary. There are several professional services which offer countertop material. In most cases, countertop sellers or installers can recommend a preferred partner who offers quality sealings at a good value. Don’t make the mistake of calling in the pros only after a problem comes up. Prevention is better than dealing with the results of a crack or broken slab. Sealings aren’t that expensive and can be done in a day. 

A good way to test to see if you’re due for a sealing is to preform a simple water test. Drop several drops of water onto a used section of countertop and watch how the water reacts. If it beads up well, then your sealing is still good. If it sits, or soaks into the countertop, then you should make an appointment to have sealing reapplied. 

Get Rid of Bad Habits

Just like parents with small kids tell them not to eat in a new car at first, eventually there’s a breakdown. Soon enough there are cracker crumbs everywhere. The same goes for countertops. New buyers are quick to clean up spills and wash them regularly, but soon they’re chopping carrots right on the granite. Then they wonder why their countertops are looking so worn down after a short time.

Avoiding bad habits is critical to keeping countertops in perfect condition. Don’t cut items directly on them, use a cutting board. Use hot pads when you need to set something down, and don’t think you can get to that spill sometime later. Just as important, educate any children in the house to do the same. Careless children who don’t know better often do things in the kitchen that are bad for the countertop material. A quick discussion on how to clean and why it’s important will keep everyone in the house on the same page. 

Owning nice countertops is a big investment of money and time. There’s a big payoff, though. Homeowners love the feeling of walking into a beautifully outfitted kitchen every day. The right granite, marble, or other stone material can make your home shine and even add value to the price if there’s ever a time to sell. Taking a few small steps to keep them in good condition will keep you enjoying your countertop for years, if not decades. Put in the time every day so your countertops can be a constant source of joy in your home.