When Romancing a Stone Doesn’t Work

Wendy’s Blog

What Can’t Be Done With Granite and Natural Stone

Client, new to the house was unhappy with some areas of discoloration and texture of her granite countertops.

After trying everything under the sun to remove the areas of discoloration on her counters she threw in the towel and called us. New to the nicely appointed retirement home, the granite color would not have been her first choice. But overall the home was in a newer retirement development, and the previous owner kept it beautifully maintained, and the granite was as well.

Overall when she looked at the stone from an angle there were areas that appeared rougher than others. These areas lacked luster, and the color drove her bonkers. No matter what she tried it wouldn’t come off, and she couldn’t clean it to make it smooth.

When calling us she wanted was careful to vet us out, and asked had we done other granite work in her neighborhood.

I have to admire her sense of caution in vetting us out for the work she was looking to have done. Asking good questions, I got the sense that with each answer she gained confidence and trust enough to want to schedule an inspection and free estimate.

Turns out her husband had researched services for their clubhouse (being “on the board,” who was looking for carpet, upholstery and drapery cleaning last fall,) and found our company.  Through that process they settled on working with us, which was a successful endeavor for them. So, having familiarized himself with all our services, he suggested they call us.

So when she called us I did answer that we had done granite cleaning and polishing for maybe 1 or 2 other residents in the neighborhood, but that I couldn’t recall who they were at the top of my head. I could however, refer her to some pretty impressive projects that we did, and after discussing the details of those jobs, and who they were, well she was sold.

Curious as to what was on the granite countertops, and making only cautious promises we said the free estimate would identify the problems.

After introducing ourselves our prospective client welcomed us in to their (beautiful) home and led us to their kitchen. With nothing out of place throughout the home, the kitchen was no different- frankly a nice respite for retirement living.

The kitchen was nicely laid out with plenty of workspace, and the island defining the kitchen from the main hallway leading to the great room. Behind that was the stove area, with tiling and a backsplash that was the focal point in the room.

Our client directed her attention immediately to the island. She ran her finger over a certain area or areas of the stone. She also asked us to bend down and look sideways at the surface of the stone, so we could see areas that weren’t smooth, but were dissimilar both in color and in texture.

Quietly listening to her concerns we let her explain what she was not happy with.

Turns out she was not at all happy with the rust or orange areas in certain areas of the stone. Moreover, she can’t figure out what had spilled on the surface that gave it the rough texture as well. She further explained that she had tried just about everything to wipe it off to no avail. Admitting they hadn’t had professional treatment in the four years they had been there, they weren’t sure the previous owner, a single gal, had done so either. And so, there we were, there for a professional consultation!

Immediately arriving at the same conclusion, we let the homeowner “air out” what bothered her about the granite, and then explained the situation.

Carefully acknowledging her concerns we gently reviewed the reality- that the granite, being a natural element, had some properties that were (are) beyond altering. The stone, as with Mother Nature, held and holds

the key, and, no amount of romancing it would make any difference at all, whatsoever. 

What was bothering her is uncorrectable. The coloration problem were metal deposits within the stone itself. Perhaps those areas were iron deposits that are inherently part of the beauty (maybe not to her) of the stone itself. They can’t ever be altered, nor could it be cleaned or scrubbed off. And two, the rough areas of the stone were open fissures that even polishing in the production of it would not “fill” or smooth out.

Typically when slabs are extracted and purposed for countertops they are put through a manufacturing process that conditions them and polishes them far beyond what can be done in the field. Subjected to an intense grinding and polishing process, no human effort even with grinding tools in the field will ever be able to replicate what is achieved in a production environment.

Unfortunately, what we have is a homeowner who inherited a granite slab she would have not chosen herself having been given the opportunity.

Most likely, we offered the reality, that had she been working with the builder during the kitchen design, she would not have selected that particular slab, or ones similar with those properties. 

With kid gloves and a gentle hand we explained she had no recourse. The slab chosen has those characteristics, and no cleaning or scrubbing till kingdom come is going to alter it!

Commonly when we deal with stone issues we can apply a poultice, we can diamond grind, we can re-hone, or we can clean and seal. But none of those procedures will “fix” what she doesn’t like.

We did offer that they might try to place some décor or useful kitchen items over the areas that are she is discontent with. To elaborate, we suggested putting a bowl for fruit over the area on the island, or a decorative cutting board or tray if the items would make sense in the location. Or, as a last resort, to simply ignore the area knowing that no amount of wiping will correct what she sees.

While there are color enhancers that can “play” with and subtly alter and persuade the color…

out and out color change is not do-able, nor is applying sealer to an open deposit

There are color enhancers that can persuade a color change to some degree, but out and out changing the color is not something you can do with mineral deposits that are inherent in the stone. Also, any open deposits, where there is a roughness to it that the finish from manufacturing did not “fill in” is likely not altered after it is installed.

Accepting the explanation, she and her husband deviated to a clean, seal and polish request.

Now off our “soap box” about what we can and cannot do the clients concluded themselves that the stone likely had not be cleaned and sealed to their knowledge, as is commonly recommended with granite countertops. We did offer that we can do that for them. And, they quickly requested we set an appointment to do just that. An appointment was set, and we left saying we would see them next week.

Fast forward- our clients welcomed us the following Tuesday…

and when we finished they had nice, fresh, cleanly sealed and polished granite counters to serve them for years to come…

If you have questions about your stone surface don’t hesitate to call, And, or should you need cleaning, sealing, re-honing or polishing we give free estimates.  Call us at 609.953.0472 or CONTACT US on line.