Slate is a natural stone that countertop manufacturers cut to size and polish for the installation in a kitchen. Slate is available in a wide range of colors including greens, browns, grays, blues and shades of purple. The color choices allow homeowners and home decorators to incorporate slate countertops in their design style. Slate countertops look beautiful, but may not be the best choice for busy kitchens and active cooks because they do chip and scratch. Slate counters are great for those who look for beauty over function and do not cook often. Slate countertops can tolerate the heat from pots right off the stove and offer a sleek, sophisticated countertop material.
Apply a natural stone sealer to the slate countertops as soon as possible after the installation is complete. You can seal the countertops yourself or hire a professional. If you choose to seal the countertops yourself, buy a penetrating stone sealer and apply a thin layer with a lint-free, low-nap roller. Let the stone sealer dry overnight before using or touching the counter.
Keep the Slate Clean
Keep your slate countertops clean every day by wiping them down with a damp rag or sponge to pick up dust and surface dirt. Dust, food and kitchens don't mix.
Clean up spills immediately even if the countertops have been sealed. Place a thick layer of paper towels or rags on top of the spill. Blot the spills, never wipe. Wiping spreads the liquid and may cause a stain to spread. Sealers create a barrier that slows the absorption of spills. It does not protect them fully. Foods that are tomato based, have a citrus content or have a vinegar content are especially damaging to slate because the acid in these foods may etch the surface.
Treat Slate with Care
Do not slide cups, plates, pots, pans or other items across the surface of the slate because it will scratch.
Remove Slate Scratches
To remove scratches from the countertops, wet the countertop with water and rub the scratches with 320-grit sandpaper. Make small circles that equally straddle the scratch mark. Wipe the countertop with a damp rag. Add more water to the countertop and sand the surface with 600-grit sandpaper. Wipe the surface with a damp rag and dry it with a towel. Reapply penetrating stone sealer after sanding out scratches.
Slate Do's and Don'ts
Do not use steel wool or bronze wool to clean slate.
Do not use scouring powders.
Do not use citrus based cleansers.
Do not use vinegar to clean the slate.
Do keep slate sealed.
Do treat slate gently.
Do perform deeper cleaning with a cleaner made specifically for natural stone surfaces.
Remove stains that have seeped into the slate surface with a poultice.
How to Know When It's Time To Seal the Countertop Again
Check often to determine if your countertops need to be resealed. To check, drop six to eight drops of water on the surface. If the water beads up on the slate, the sealer is still effective. If the water drops spread or soak into the countertop, it needs to be resealed.
If the slate has a large crack that makes the countertop unstable, it cannot be fixed, it needs to be replaced.