Cleaning battle: impregnator vs sealer

The new design of your kitchen can leave a big hole in your budget. It can be tough to get the most out of every dollar you have available.

If your granite countertops on the kitchen are scratched, dull, or discolored, don’t worry. You can bring them back to life with an impregnator and sealer.

What is impregnator?

Impregnator is a clear, penetrating sealer that lets you protect your countertops. It works by leaving a thin, non-yellowing film to help protect the surface of your granite against acidic substances like wine and juice.

It also helps prevent staining by blocking stains from embedding in the stone.

Coverage:

If you have 1000 square feet of countertops, you would need one liter of impregnator.

Curing time:

It takes 24 hours for the impregnator to completely dry.

Durability:

It is recommended to apply an impregnator two times a year (two coats).

Impermeability:

It reinforces the impregnator sealer, providing protection that is even more resistant than the original.

Types of impregnators:

There are various products such as countertop impregnators, impregnator kits, and granite sealer kits. These kits vary in type of impregnator and number of items in the kit. A kit is a good value because you receive more products at a lower price than if you purchase all items individually.

Impregnation process:

Pour a generous amount of the solution onto the countertop and wipe around with a soft cloth. Then, let it dry for several hours or overnight before you apply another layer.  It might take three to four coats of the sealer before you achieve your desired results. When impregnation is complete, rinse off any spills and allow to dry for 48 hours before using your countertops.

Impregnation steps:

  1. Cleaning: clean up all surfaces so they are free from dirt, grime, oil, and other contaminants that may interfere with adhesion. Also, ensure there is no wax on the surface of the stone as this will prevent adhesion. Clean your countertops before applying any impregnating solution to remove dirt and oil that would prevent it from bonding with the stone surface. Use warm water and mild dish soap to clean it out; then, dry thoroughly with a lint-free cloth or paper towel. (For some designs) A light sanding can help roughen up the surface and help the impregnator bond to it.
  2. Sanding: use low grit sandpaper to lightly scuff the surface of the stone. This roughens up the surface allowing for a better grip of the sealer by the stone.
  3. Vacuuming: vacuum or sweep the floor to remove any dust and other contaminants from the work area being sure not to create any fine dust particles in its place which will prevent adhesion. Use a sander with a vacuum attached to it if possible so no dust is created or settles on surfaces while refinishing them or use a broom and dustpan instead.
  4. Mixing: pour an impregnator into another container being sure to label this new vessel appropriately so you can remember what type you have mixed.
  5. Application: use a soft cloth or rubber squeegee to spread the sealer evenly across your stone surfaces being sure not to leave any areas untouched as this will create spots that could become stains in the future due to exposure of liquids and oils from daily use. If you have a large area take advantage of an airless paint sprayer which makes quick work out of covering large areas with sealant quickly and evenly. If you do not have either available use a paintbrush, roller, or if it is for exterior application a garden sprayer can be used as well.
  6. Clean up: carefully follow the dry times listed on the label as drying times may range from 30 minutes to several hours depending on what products are used and what size of a surface is being covered. If you spill sealer on a wood or other areas that were not meant to be covered wipe it up immediately before it has a chance to dry as this will make removing it more difficult.
  7. Application of 2nd Coat-once the first coat is completely dry apply another coat of granite impregnator repeating steps four through six above.
  8. Clean up again: carefully follow the drying times listed on the label waiting for the impregnated stone to completely dry.
  9. Once everything has dried properly you can use your newly restored surfaces without having to worry about damage due to staining, liquids, oil, heat, or scratching.

What is sealer?

Sealers come in different types depending on what it needs to seal. For example, marble needs a water-based or solvent-based color enhancer, whereas natural stone may need an impregnator or stain blocker.

Coverage:

One gallon of sealer will cover approximately 400 square feet of granite countertop surface. This does not take into account any veining or cuts in the stone, so it would be best to use an extra sealer to fully protect your investment.

Curing time:

You must allow 1 to 2 hours for your sealer to dry before using the counters or placing them on top of them. You will need to allow 24 hours before any type of grout can be used to fill in the space between tiles.

Durability:

Like any sealer, this one has a limited warranty. This means that so long as you follow the proper installation and maintenance procedures, your counters should stay in good condition for five years or more.

Impermeability:

Sealers will prevent liquids from penetrating into the granite but they cannot stop liquid from being applied directly after the application has been completed. This is why you must not place hot pots on the countertop surfaces immediately after sealing them. You must allow enough time for these products to dry onto the surface before placing heavy objects upon them.

Marble sealers are of two types: water-based and solvent-based.

  • Water-based marble sealers need special care as they tend to spot if proper precautions are not taken.
  • Solvent based marble sealer can be used for honing and polishing the marble floor and it creates a more polished appearance than just using wax, but requires professional installation.

Sealing steps:

  1. Cleaning – clean the marble surface by using a non-sudsing detergent and water. Make sure that the entire floor is clean from dirt or other contaminants that may interfere with proper sealing. Rinsing – rinse it with plain water to remove any soap residue. Drying – use a lint-free cloth to dry up the excess moisture on the marble surface.
  2. Applying the sealer evenly in a thin layer over the entire area in gentle strokes, do not apply too much pressure in order to prevent staining/spots which could be caused by dripping of solution during application.  Let it dry for about 30 minutes, you can use a fan during this time to speed up the drying process.
  3. Apply a second coat if necessary but please note that it is not always necessary to apply the 2nd coat, the total amount of coats depends on your preference.
  4. Remove any excess solution using a lint-free cloth.
  5. Wait at least 4 hours before walking or standing on the marble floor so that it can get completely dry.

Which one is better for my kitchen?

As a general rule, surface sealers are used on the natural stone while impregnators are usually used for marble, granite, or travertine.

Natural stones need sealants that protect against stains. The impregnation seals pores and enhances the stone color.

For most kitchen floors you should use an impregnator as they work well at protecting your floor from water damage and grime build-up which can cause staining in the future.

Can I use both?

Yes, it is possible to use both but their main job is different so you must be very careful when applying them to avoid creating spots/stains on your floors. When do I need each one? Generally speaking, natural stones such as marble, granite, slate, travertine, or quartz counters need sealants while impregnating compounds are used on surfaces of terrazzo, brick, concrete pavers, etc.

One should not use an impregnation compound on marble flooring because it will damage the color of the marble and make the whole floor white in color which is not good for a kitchen. If you want to learn more about how to care for your stone floors visit StoneCareHQ.

Safety tips while using impregnator or sealer :

  • If your stone is porous , use impregnator after cleaning the stone thoroughly with a natural cleaner.
  • Always follow the label instructions before using an impregnator or sealer on your surface to prevent damage or staining of your floors.
  • Never use cleaners compatible with oil-based products with water-based product as it can lead to poor adhesion and discoloration of the stones.
  • Do not over apply or under apply either product as it will cause staining even if you are very careful during application process .
  • Test any new solutions on a small inconspicuous area first to ensure that no damage will be caused by improper application and also to check compatibility with sealers or impregnators.
  • Do not use an impregnating solution if the stone is extremely soiled as it will leave a residue on the floor which can lead to further staining and discoloration of stone .
  • Make sure you clean the stone thoroughly before applying any kind of products whether its water-based or solvent-based. It can be helpful to use a common household degreasing fluid, like Dawn dish detergent, to remove all greasy residues prior to sealing your floors .
  • Any cleaning product that contains ammonia should not be used as it may cause damage to natural stones such as marble , travertine, granite slate.
  • Make sure you purchase impregnator or sealer designed specifically for the type of stone that you have.
  • If you are using both, always start with an impregnator first then follow up with the impregnation sealer.
  • If your floor is made of natural stones such as marble , travertine, granite etc please use product meant for them not products suitable for engineered stones, quarry tiles or porcelain tiles .
  • Use only water-based silicone impregnation compound on terrazzo floors while solvent based should never be used on this kind of surfaces .
  • Avoid using cleaning agents meant for engineered stones /quarry tiles / vitrified porcelain/non-absorbent stones such as marble, travertine etc on engineered stone floors such as granite.

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