Even granite counters suffer kitchen wear and tear. But you can make them shine with a little time and know-how. After you fix them, don’t forget to reseal them.
Cracks, chips, scratches: Fill nicks in granite by building up layers of epoxy resin colored to match the stone. Clean the area first with acetone, which breaks down grease. Be sure to open a window for ventilation.
Stains: The type of stain—wine or ink, oil or bleach—determines the type of poultice you’ll need to suck it out. A paste of flour and hydrogen peroxide pulls out grease, oil, bleach, and ink stains; a mix of flour and bleach cleans wine stains. If you want to go commercial, check out Alpha, Aqua Mix, and StoneTech stone cleaners. Cost: $6 to $20.
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Solid-surface countertops, such as Corian, are man-made from resin, acrylic, and other materials. They’re tough but not impervious to scratches and stains. To repair minor scratches, rub a white polishing compound on the area with a wool pad, then apply a countertop wax.
For deeper scratches or cuts, call a professional. Figure labor costs at about $15 to $35 an hour. If you need to replace portions of the counter, figure at least $35 to $65 per square foot.
Fixing gouges or covering burns in laminate is tough for mortals, though repairing minor problems is doable.
- Fix small chips with laminate repair paste that matches the color of the countertop.
- Cover scratches with countertop polish or car wax.
- Fix peeling laminate with contact cement applied to both surfaces and pressed back into place.
- Remove coffee and tea stains with vinegar or a paste of baking soda and household cleaner.
Bigger problems will require replacing the damaged stretch. Laminate comes in a billion colors, but finding an exact match for an old counter could be difficult.
To get the look you want, replace the counter. Labor will cost $15 to $35 per hour; countertops range from $3/linear ft. for Plain Jane straight-edged laminates to $100/linear ft. for laminates with a beveled edge that look like granite.
If you’ve planned ahead and stockpiled old tiles, then grab a few and replace cracked or scratched areas. If you don’t have extra tile, then attempt the following first aid:
- Wipe away scratches with a dab of toothpaste on a clean cloth.
- Work epoxy glue into cracks with a toothpick, then color with matching oil-based artist paint.
- Remove old grout with a utility knife, then replace with a rubber trowel.
Stainless steel countertops become scratched, stained, and dull over time. Although you’ll never completely remove scratches, you can buff them into a warm patina by massaging with vegetable oil.
Remove stains with a paste of baking soda and dish soap. A sprinkle of Barkeeper’s Friend will remove stains without scratching.