Why Are My Granite Countertops Dull?

Date: April 28, 2020
Author: Jon Smith
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Are your granite countertops looking dull and lifeless, despite spending so much time, money, and effort maintaining it?

Have you tried all the latest cleaning products and have practically lost hope in regaining its lost luster?

If yes, it's most probably because you have been doing something wrong! Or perhaps there's nothing you can do about it.


Well, it's because there are so many reasons for granite countertops to dull and so much you can do to prevent it too!

Read on to learn more about it.


Why Are My Granite Countertops Dull

The most likely reason your countertops are dull is due to soap residue being left on your countertops. This happens with any type of material used for countertops especially, granite, marble, and quartz. To avoid the residue being left behind you will want to wipe your countertops dry with a different microfiber cloth than used to clean them. It is best to replace the microfiber towel with a clean dry towel as you wipe your wet countertops.


Possible Causes for Dull Granite

There are many reasons your countertops can be dull or lack the shine they had when you first had them installed. Below we will cover some of the most likely causes of dull countertops.

Honed Finish

When most people think of countertops the think about the shiny countertop in their kitchen and never consider other options such as a honed finish. Some stones come with a honed finish and are meant to look dull.

If you are purchasing a home that already has a dull granite then rub your hands across the top. Do you feel a slight texture? This is a honed countertop finish.

If this is the case, there's nothing much you can do about it. It's better to hire a pro to re-polish its surface or have the countertops replaced. It is highly unlikely to find anyone that will come polish your countertops. If you do then the expenses will cause you to explore the option of just replacing them. You might as well find something you like in this case.

However, if you had installed a new shiny counter, then there are a few other reasons for its dulling. Keep reading for more information on dull countertops.

Soap or Cleaner Coating

Sometimes the soap or cleaner you use leaves a film on the surface, and it ends up dulling the stone. If this is the case, regular acetone from the hardware store can help clean and reveal its shine once again! You will need to put a little elbow grease in while scrubbing.

Abrasive Cleaning Products

Do not use acidic or abrasive cleaning products to clean ANY natural-stone countertop.

It only eats away at the stone to leave discolored spots or a cloudy appearance. In short, the wrong cleaning product only ends up destroying the stone's polish layer and damaging the surface. If you are using harsh cleaning products try this instead.

Spilled Food o Drinks

Even spilled acidic food and drinks will end up damaging, and dulling the top of the counter with time. The effects are more profound if you drop something organic like coffee, tea, fruit, or something oil-based like grease, milk, and cooking oil. The acids of citrus juice do more damage through etching. Be sure to use a very good sealer to seal your granite especially if you have a white granite.

The effects are more evident if you don't regularly seal your surface.

If you wonder why you need a seal well, selling works as a protective layer that prevents liquids from saturating into the stone. Think of it like Scotchguard for carpet.

Sealing your countertops and wiping up spills immediately will prevent etching and dullness.

Improper Sealing

Sometimes the haze or cloudiness appears because of an improperly sealed countertop. It leads to the sealer drying up on the stone surface and creating a mist. If you noticed a dull sheen after sealing then this is probably the cause of your dull countertops.

The proper way to seal stone is to apply the sealer from directly on your microfiber cloth. Do not pour the sealer on your countertop. Next, you have to spread the sealer into the surface using a clean microfiber cloth until you cover the entire surface. Let the sealer soak in for about 10 minutes. Do not buff the sealer dry.

After about 10 minutes you will want to use a clean microfiber cloth and buff the sealer dry. You will then repeat the process just like above and after 10 minutes of the sealer setting buffing it dry again. Once the second application is complete you can wait a few hours and clean your countertops normally with a granite cleaner and be sure to dry them off with a dry clean towel.

Improper Cleaning Products

Even using improper cleaning products can lead to a dull top.

They don't necessarily damage the stone, but they do leave a film. Even while it's safe to clean your surface with mild dish soap and water, it does leave a layer of dulling soap film.

Even the water in your sponge or towel can cause cloudy counters!

All this happens because granite and even marble are such shiny and brilliant stones. Cleaning them with anything besides specially formulated stone cleaning products leaves streaks similar to the stripes on glass cleaned without glass cleaner.

Instead, use a specially formulated non-acidic natural stone cleaner. It helps remove soap film and hard water deposits.

All you need to do is to agitate the surface and let it dry. This removes the cloudiness, and you can then follow with simple daily cleaning.

A Scratched Countertop

Countertops are not scratch proof. You can cause a dull area on your countertops by using pots and pans on them and not lifting them when moving them. From time to time we may slide our pots and pans across a countertop. A few times may be ok but after a few years of use, this can carve into the countertops and cause a dull area.

Unsealed Counters

Granite doesn't usually scratch easily. It's the many tiny cracks and pores that are prone to stains and minor damage from spills or hot pans placed directly on it.

Did you know that even your engagement ring can scratch unsealed counters?


Well, it's because diamond is a substance hard enough to even accidentally scratch granite!


Sometimes sudden temperature changes and shock can crack your otherwise durable surface. So avoid dropping heavy appliances or utensils on it because it can end up chipping or cracking it.

Similarly, placing hot pans directly on either sealed or an unsealed counter encourages cracking through uneven thermal expansion.

Of course, you can always fix cracks using colored resins. However, remember that any form of repair isn't invisible!

The Best Solution to Revive Dull Granite Countertops

Buffing with a fine abrasive is the best way to remove small scratches and bring back the shine to your counter. It is best to hire a professional to do this otherwise you run the risk of causing the dull you are trying to fix to get worse.

Start by thoroughly cleaning the counter using soap and water. Denatured alcohol is great for this also. Next, remove excess soapy water with a dry microfiber cloth. Work in a circular motion across the top of the counter, and change to a dry cloth if it gets too wet.

It's better to polish the stone using your own polish instead of something commercial.

Use a fork to mix three parts baking soda with 1 part water to get a smooth, thick paste. While you can alternatively use a retail polish, read its label before use.

And buy only if it's suitable for your counter.

Coat the surface with a thin, even coating of the baking soda paste and let it sit for about 2-3 minutes. If you are using a retail product, make sure to follow its instructions accordingly.

You next have to bush the surface using a clean, soft cloth and small, circular motions. Start working the polish into the stone from the corner, and work your way over the top. Don't forget to buff the edges too!

Remnant baking soda paste or polish streaks can ruin the look of your beautifully polished granite. It can be avoided and removed by wiping down the surface with a slightly dampened soft cloth.

Don't forget to seal the surface once done using a polymer sealing compound to reduce the risk of future stains.

This polish procedure should restore the shine in most dull countertops. However, it's best to leave the polishing of deeply scratched or damaged surfaces to a granite restoration professional. They have the tools and expertise to make it look as good as new!


Useful Preventive Measures

Prevention is always better than cure, even in the case of dull stone surfaces. The following tips should prove helpful at retaining your stone's shine for a longer time:

  • Avoid using cleaners containing lemon, vinegar, bleach, ammonia, lime, or glass to clean the surface. They only break down the sealant and damage the stone with time.
  • It's better to clean using microfiber cloths or terry cloth towels.
  • Do not use general purpose polishing products as they only damage the stone.
  • Always use a very soft cloth for buffing as anything abrasive can end up scratching the surface.
  • Clean up spills immediately with a soft cloth to avoid staining and marks.
  • Always use a cutting board while preparing food to prevent scratching the surface. Also, avoid leaving sharp objects, like knives, directly on the top.
  • Place hot pans, pots, curling irons, and hair strengtheners on heat-resistant pads or insulated mats. It prevents the formation of micro-scratches because of sudden temperature changes, and the sealant from breaking down.
  • Did you know that leaving your cosmetics on the counter can also dull its surface? Yes, it's because the chemicals in it may end up tarnishing the stone and breaking down the sealant with time.
  • Make sure your countertops are sealed every 6 months to a year. You can check to see if you need resealing or not by pouring a few drops of water onto the surface. If it beads up then you are ok. However, if water seeps inside, then it means that the surface needs resealing. You can either apply a sealer or contact a granite restoration professional to do it.

So you see, there are various reasons and solutions to a dull granite countertop. It's not much to worry about. However, what you CAN do is adopt the preventive measures, and retain the stone's shine for as long as possible!

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About Jon - Website Owner

Jon Smith

Hi, my name is Jonathan Smith. I have been in the granite business for many years and have worked my way up from an installer helper to an installer and then a countertop business owner. 

I started my countertop company with very little and grew extremely fast because of my knowledge and helpfulness. I started this countertop resource for 1 main reason. That reason is that there are no countertop websites with all the correct information and none of them are from an industry expert like myself. 

I am still in the trade every single day installing countertops, educating people on the type of material they are using for their homes, and making people's dream kitchens a reality.
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