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About Sandstone Countertops

If you have been looking at installing new countertops you may have come across a countertop surface material called sandstone. If this is your first exposure to sandstone countertops, you may have a lot of questions and be interested to learn more about this fascinating natural material. In this page, we will delve into some interesting aspects of sandstone countertops including what sandstone is, what to consider when fabricating sandstone, and how to care for natural sandstone countertops after the install.

What Is Sandstone?

Sandstone is a beautiful natural stone that brings with it some fascinating properties that make it desirable for some. It does require a bit of know how and understanding if you are picking the stone out yourself or installing it on your own. If you choose to go with sandstone or have it installed, it makes sense to take some time to learn a bit about this interesting and sometimes misunderstood material.

Sandstone is a sedimentary rock that forms naturally from deposits of... wait for it... ...you guessed it, sand! Well, often times it is sand. But the technical explanation allows for variations. Notice how Geology.com describes this natural stone in fine grain detail:

Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed of sand-size grains of mineral, rock, or organic material. It also contains a cementing material that binds the sand grains together and may contain a matrix of silt- or clay-size particles that occupy the spaces between the sand grains.

Note that it may be composed of more than one kind of material. The idea though is that the material is "sand-sized". These particles are bound together and form a solid mass of stone. But there are other natural stone materials resembling this appealing rock.

Cases of Mistaken Identity

At times, sandstone gets mixed up with other natural materials. In some cases it is easy to understand why this happens. For example, looking at information on quartzite countertops, you'll find that it is related to sandstone in a very interesting way. Natural quartzite is the result of a specific kind of sandstone (one made of pure quartz). As you can imagine, the metamorphosis does not happen overnight and is gradual. Thus, there are times when a stone slab may be in the process of transforming. There are criteria that must be met for a stone to be officially declared quartzite. So, sometimes a material that is actually sandstone, gets labeled as quartzite. If you are interested in the details regarding this topic, you will find A Deep Dive Into the Properties of Quartzite to be enlightening. Suffice it to say though, that sandstone gets mixed up with other materials.

Properties of Sandstone Countertops

One of the appealing traits of sandstone countertops is its unique and natural appearance. The visual texture of natural sandstone is desirable for those that appreciated the color variations and even the grainy look of some slabs.

Another trait of natural sandstone countertops is that they are porous. That means they will absorb liquids to one degree or another depending on the porosity of a given stone. This can be a good property if you are using the stone for a surface on which you do not want water to stand (think pool decks or similar). However, for countertops it means considering how to maintain and care for the material so it can stay looking its best and not stain easily. More about this later on.

Finally, the hardness of sandstone is also a characteristic that is good to consider. The hardness of a material makes a difference in the tools needed to work with, cut, drill, and shape the material. Like the porosity, hardness of a particular slab will vary somewhat. Yet it is, as a general rule, pretty hard as far as natural stone goes. After all, it is made up largely of the mineral quartz. Sandstone ranges from 6 to 7 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness.

Sandstone Countertop Care and Maintenance

Earlier when we were talking about the porosity of a sandstone countertop, we mentioned that porous material requires considering the care and maintenance of the material. How so? Well, as mentioned above, pores allow a material to absorb a liquid. The liquid, when it penetrates the pores, often times leaves a stain. Thus, knowing how to remove stains from natural sandstone countertops is important to those that choose this beautiful natural material for a surface in the home. There are stain removers for stone countertops designed to reverse the process that causes a stone to become discolored.

Maintaining Sandstone With Stone Sealer

Of course, being able to remove a stain is a great option. But wouldn't it be great to be able to prevent stains from happening altogether? Well, there is not a 100% fool proof way to avoid staining natural stone - or any stone surface for that matter. But, there is a method that is very effective. The method consists a couple of practices. They are:

  1. Periodically applying a natural stone sealer.
  2. Quickly responding to spills.
Applying Stone Sealer

It is virtually impossible to prevent spills form occurring. Even with the best of efforts, spills will happen. When they do, the key is to prevent the liquid from making its way into the stone. By applying a sealer for stone, the absorption rate of the stone is reduced. This means that it takes longer for a liquid to penetrate the pores. Applying the sealer periodically keeps the absorption rate as low as possible. How often you need to apply a stone sealer will depend on a number of factors. What liquids the stone is exposed to and what cleaner is used will make a difference.

Cleaning Up Spills Quickly

The other aspect of stone sealing and maintenance involves cleaning up spills that occur quickly. When a liquid sits on a stone that has been sealed, it takes longer for the stone to absorb the liquid. However, depending on the acidity of that liquid, it will breakdown the sealer. For this reason, it is also recommended that a stone cleaner that is formulated for natural stone be used to clean the surface. By using an appropriate natural stone cleaner, the sealer is preserved so it can be there to do its job when it is time. Namely, when a spill happens.

At the end of the day, sandstone like many other natural countertop materials has some very desirable qualities. Knowing about them and being aware of how to care for and maintain this natural material ensures that a countertop made from sandstone will not only be intriguing, but last well into the future as well.