A kitchen in Chevy Chase designed by Sarah Kahn Turner of Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath.

A Primer on Countertops

Kitchen designer Jennifer Gilmer offers tips on maintaining surfaces in the busiest room in the house

WOOD CABINETRY
Remember, it’s not the wood you’re cleaning but rather the top-coat varnish. Just moistening a soft cloth with dish soap and water is best. If there are streaks, you can use a chamois or lint-free cloth to help remove them or bring the shine back up on the varnish. Use a clean, dry cloth to wipe the surface of your cabinets before applying mild soap and water.
https://www.homeanddesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/CL_Kitchen-shoot-hi-res-18.jpg DOS AND DONTS
DO check the ingredients if you are purchasing a cleanser for wood.
DON’T use alcohol-, oil- or wax-based products.

NATURAL-WOOD COUNTERTOPS
Wood countertops in high-use areas should not have top-coat varnish on them, as it will scratch over time and catch dirt. Natural wood is durable as long as it’s maintained with mineral oil. For the first year, oil the wood top every three months. For the next few years, oil it when it starts to look dry. After that, one application a year should be fine. If the wood top suffers marks, burns or water rings, sand them away, then lightly sand the entire surface. Clean with mild soap and water using a cloth or paper towel. Finally, rub in oil and wipe off the excess. The counter should look like new. If your counter does have a top coat, see cabinetry care above.
https://www.homeanddesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/CL_Kitchen-shoot-hi-res-1.jpg DO use cutting boards to avoid regular maintenance.
DON’T place hot plates or bowls directly on the wood countertop.
DON’T leave anything wet on the counter; regular oiling will help minimize water absorption.

STONE COUNTERTOPS
Marble is much more porous than granite, but simple care and maintenance will keep both granite and marble surfaces looking beautiful for generations to come. While all granite and marble tops are pre-sealed, we recommend applying a resin-based penetrating sealer at least every six months. Sealing fills the pores, which helps protect from stains. Some daily care is necessary to maintain the quality of the stone. Wiping spills will prevent a mineral buildup (a whitish residue), especially around faucet holes and sinks.
https://www.homeanddesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/CL_IdeaBook-hi-res-5.jpg DO clean surfaces with mild detergent or soap approved for use on stone.
DO blot up spills immediately.
DO avoid vinegar, lemon juice and other acidic substances on the stone surface.
DO use mineral oil on unfinished soapstone when it starts to look mottled.
DON’T use oily products on marble or granite.
DON’T use cleaners that contain acid such as those used on grout or tub and tile.
DON’T use abrasive dry or soft cleansers.