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How to seal your granite countertops

Who the heck is Rob Robillard?

I can hear that question in my head being said by many of you as I write this introduction.

Oh, he’s that new guy answering questions in the Sunday Globe. Not sure why they picked him.

Hi, my name is Rob, and I’m the new guy.

My parents used to tease me, saying I was a born mechanic and had “hands-on” in my blood. They usually said this after I took apart a household item and put it back together again, often with parts left over.

I’m a doer. My mom was the doer in the family and would tackle all sorts of projects, often dragging my reluctant dad into home improvement and basement-remodeling projects.


I learned at an early age how to use tools, and I looked for every opportunity to buy them, use them, and help people with them.

I’m not a master carpenter. My carpentry skills were acquired by a hybrid of self-teaching and mentoring, coupled with a voracious appetite to learn the trade.

In my late teens and early 20s, I subscribed to every trade magazine and read every building book I could get my hands on. And, yes, I was, and still am, a fan of Handyman on Call Peter Hotton (whose column runs in Thursday’s g section).

Twenty-four years ago, at the age of 23, I gutted my newly acquired house, and with the help of a seasoned carpenter, I began my apprenticeship by rebuilding it.

Later, I worked for and apprenticed with some of the finest carpenters and cabinetmakers I know. About that same time, I took classes, became a licensed builder, and eventually started doing carpentry repairs and small building projects on my own. That was 18 years ago.

Today, I am a general contractor, carpenter, and the principal of a carpentry and renovation business, employing two others, in Concord. I am also the editor of two tool and home improvement-related websites: AConcordCarpenter.com and ToolBoxBuzz.com . These sites provide tool and how-to information for contractors, remodelers, and DIYers. I enjoy using my knowledge and experience to educate on best practices. I love problem-solving, tools, and fixing and building things. Hours go by when I’m in my workshop, but they feel like minutes. It’s these times when I seem to be without a care in the world.


I’m big into giving back and have been involved in many charitable projects, including “Extreme Home Makeover,” Habitat for Humanity , local building projects, two projects in Honduras, The Ability Experience, and most recently I took a volunteer position as the tool safety and building trainer for Build America (PushAmerica.org ). Build America is a six-week event in which a college-age team travels the country promoting and constructing accessible environments and camps serving the disabled.

Well, you can see I keep myself pretty busy. These aren’t even all of the hats I wear.

So why the Globe?

When I mentioned the job to my friend Bill, he warned me about taking on too much: “Rob, when you have a full plate and you add to it, stuff inevitably falls off.”

That statement got me thinking about the Globe and more specifically the Fred Pryor seminar I took a few years back called “Managing Multiple Priorities, Projects, and Deadlines.” It completely changed how I operate, in all aspects of life. I learned to prioritize and be more methodical and more productive. I view all of my “hats” as agents to make me more synergistic, or at least that is a goal of mine. So to quote Anthony Robbins, a well-known life coach and infomercial personality: “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”


So, again, why the Globe?

I say why not? It’s time to move on and do something different, to help readers. So, let’s talk! In my weekly article, I promise to take your questions seriously, provide pragmatic advice, offer updated industry information, and, who knows, maybe sprinkle in some humor — so, beware. I’m not afraid to give my opinion, but when I do, I make sure it’s based in fact.

Let’s start off with an easy project you can do as the snow flies:

Sealing granite countertops

It is important to protect the surface from staining and discoloration from kitchen spills such as red wine, juice, and cooking oil. Sealing granite is an easy DIY project, and you might be wondering, how do I know if my granite needs to be sealed?

Well, if you’ve lived in your house for more than a year or two and have never done it, then you should. Another way to check is to dribble water on the countertop. The water will bead up on a well-sealed one. If the water soaks in, then it’s time for sealer.


1. If your countertop is stained, pick up HMK R77 Rust Remover , which you can get at many granite-supply stores. It’s corrosive, so follow the directions very carefully.

2. Purchase granite sealer at any home improvement store.

3. Clear your counters and thoroughly clean the granite using soap and water. Allow to dry.

4. Apply sealer to the rag and work in small areas, thoroughly covering all surfaces and following the manufacturer’s recommendations.

5. Allow the sealer to dry for the recommended time (usually 4 to 8 hours) before using the counter again. (TIP: A good time to seal a countertop is after dinner, allowing it to dry overnight.)

6. When dry, wipe down the counter with a soft, clean rag.


Rob Robillard gives tips for sealing your granite countertop.

Rob Robillard is a general contractor, carpenter, and editor of AConcordCarpenter.com and principal of a carpentry and renovation business. Send your questions to homerepair@globe.com or tweet them to@globehomes or @robertrobillard.