While you can cut directly on some stone countertops, it is not recommended.
Granite is one of the most durable countertop materials you can buy, and it can certainly withstand cuts from a knife blade. However, if your granite has a sealer on it, cutting can eventually wear down the sealant. Over time, this can lead to liquids and food absorbing into the stone, which can cause stains and other issues that require repair.
With unsealed granite, cutting may be be less of an issue, though again not suggested. Generally the stone is hard enough to be cut on without scratching, however it is also hard enough to dull your knife blades rather quickly.
Similarly, quartz is a very durable, scratch resistant countertop that in most cases can be cut on without damaging the stone. Quartz is not completely scratch proof though, so it is still possible to cause some damage.
Other natural stones are softer and are more likely to scratch if a knife is used on the surface. Marble, limestone and sandstone are among these. Many of these stones also require a sealer, which again can be damaged and lead to scratches and stains. Soapstone is a softer stone that scratches quite easily, however it can be restored with mineral oil or by sanding.
While it is possible to cut directly on natural stone, it's generally safer and easier in the long run to use a cutting board.
Quartz countertops are the easiest natural stone to take care of. They are engineered using ground stone and resin, so they don’t require regular sealing they way most granite and marble countertops do. This stone is non-porous, so it does not easily stain or etch. Other than cleaning regularly, quartz doesn't require any ongoing maintenance. It’s a great choice for a busy kitchen. This engineered stone is comparable in price to granite and synthetic solid surface countertops. See our quartz FAQs.
Soapstone is very dense, and naturally non-porous. Just like quartz, this countertop doesn’t have to be sealed or polished. Many people apply mineral oil to soapstone semi-regularly to help even out the natural darkening that occurs in the stone. Other than that, there is no additional maintenance. Soapstone doesn’t stain easily and it offers excellent heat resistance. While this the look of soapstone isn’t for everyone, many people enjoy the rustic style and natural patina of this low-maintenance material. See our soapstone FAQs.
While many granite countertops require annual sealing, overall the stone is generally easy to care for. Granite is very durable, so it’s very difficult to scratch. It has high heat resistance and doesn’t easily crack or chip. When properly sealed the stone doesn’t stain, so if you clean up spills quickly and ensure the sealer is strong, there’s really very little maintenance to worry about. See our granite FAQs.
While no counter is 100% maintenance free, most natural stones offer great durability and more pros than cons when it comes to long-term value. If you enjoy the look of natural stone and are looking for a durable material that can often last a lifetime, the amount of maintenance for most stones is minimal. If you have questions about which countertop might best suit your household and lifestyle, learn more in our countertop education center.
Most granite is very stain resistant and does not “require” sealing. However, sealing is an added precaution, and many fabricators and installers do recommend it. Quality Granite & Marble typically makes this determination, and applies sealer when needed.
A general rule used when manufacturing is, if water darkens the stone, it needs a sealer.
It’s important to know a little about the granite slab fabrication process before sealing. Resin coating applies an epoxy over the stone slabs. This resin fills the voids, veins, and fissures. This process was developed to make unstable stone sellable. The more the process was used, the more common it became. Many fabricators simply apply resin coating to all slabs to keep things simple. When you mix a sealer with an unknown resin, it may turn the resin cloudy. This is one reason you may not want to blindly apply a sealer. Check with your installer first.
For stones that do require, or would benefit from, sealing, there are a few variables to considers when determining how often new sealer is needed.
Many sealers applied at the factory last 10-15 years, while store bought (DIY) sealers may only be good for 6-12 months. So it’s important to know if you had a sealer before, and what type.
A simple water test will help you determine if sealer is needed. Pour about a quarter cup of water on a few areas of the counter. See how long it takes for the water to absorb. If the water absorbs into the stone in less than five minutes, the stone does need to be sealed. If the water is still standing after 30 minutes, no sealer is needed. Anywhere in between five and 30 minutes, the stone may benefit a sealer.
Sealing granite is a relatively simple process and can be done by a professional or by homeowners. Before sealing, it is important to know the makeup of your stone, so check with your fabricator and/or installation documentation to make sure you select the correct product and sealing process. If you have questions about how often you should seal your granite, call us at 316-946-0530.