Granite Kitchen Backsplash Tiles – Choosing and Caring for Them
Granite tile makes a beautiful kitchen backsplash. You can get granite in many different colors, and the tiles are available in a variety of sizes. But how do you choose the best quality of granite for your backsplash or countertop, and once it’s installed, how do you keep it looking its very best?
You will have to ask your supplier some questions to choose quality granite tiles for your kitchen backsplash.
How was the granite quarried? Because it is such a hard material, quarrying granite can be an expensive and time-consuming process. Using explosives makes the work easier, but the force of the explosion can create tiny fault lines throughout the granite. These are often too small to be seen with the naked eye, but they can widen and create problems over time.
What solvents were used in cutting the stone? Kerosene and other petroleum-based byproducts are sometimes added to the coolant used when the stone is cut and shaped to make the work go a little faster and reduce processing costs. Afterward, the stone is washed to remove the chemical smell. It looks just the same as stone cut using only water as a coolant when it is viewed in the showroom, but it doesn’t wear as well. When the petroleum product comes in contact with the ferric content of the stone, rust begins to form. The marks will be visible sooner or later, often within a year.
How much variation is there in the dimensions of each tile? They should meet ASTM standards. All the tiles should have a uniform thickness, and the maker should calibrate them carefully. Each tile should should have precisely square corners. The sides should be slightly smoothed. If the tiles are shaped to standard, they will be easier to install, and the kitchen backsplash will be satisfactory.
Were the tiles sealed? Granite tiles are typically shipped unsealed, so that the homeowner can use their sealant of choice. If your tiles were sealed in advance, you need to know what kind of sealer was used.
Who is responsible for replacing tiles if any are broken during shipping? Although granite is a very hard stone, granite tiles are somewhat brittle. Tiles are usually shipped in styrofoam boxes placed inside a wooden crate, with 5 to 10 tiles in each box. Some companies place a thin foam sheet between each tile, which is always a good idea.
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you choose the highest quality for your backsplash. You’ll find that granite kitchen backsplash tiles are easy to care for. On a daily basis, the best method is just to wipe down the surfaces with a soft cloth that has been wetted with soapy water. You may wish to brighten the tile by polishing it occasionally or using a cleaning-and-rejuvenating product designed for granite surfaces.
Because granite is a porous material, it will stain. It’s important to clean up all spills promptly. A paper towel will blot up a spill quickly. Avoid wiping; that will just spread the spill! After the spill has been blotted up, use a soft cloth to dry the area completely.
Organic stains, caused by coffee, tea, or food, are the most common type. Red wine is the worst! Biological stains like mold or mildew are also common.
If your granite tile is stained, proceed cautiously. Ask your supplier about recommended cleaners when you buy the tile. Liquid cleaners are usually not very effective. Poultice powders are designed to re-absorb a stain from a stone surface, and they are often the best choice. Be sure to follow directions carefully. Never use lime and scale remover on granite. They are strong acid-based cleaners and they will etch the stone.
Granite tiles are usually sealed to reduce stains. Sealers can be water or solvent based, but most professionals think the solvent-based sealers do a better job. The sealer works by penetrating the stone surface and creating an invisible barrier. Sealer is easy to apply and usually dries in about an hour. Stone surfaces should be resealed periodically. Generally, kitchen countertop and backsplashes need resealing every 6 to 12 months, depending on how much use they get.
Ask the right questions before you install your granite kitchen backsplash tiles, and you’ll live easily and happily-ever-after with your new backsplash!