Q. After years of abuse, the granite countertop in our kitchen is all scratched up and has a thin crack in one corner. Can it be repaired?
A. First, determine whether you really need the crack fixed. Granite often has natural veining or spider cracks, but that doesn’t mean it’s broken, says Filippo Carlini, manager at Frank Zanotti Tile & Stone (6 Walker Ave., Highwood, 847-433-3636). But if a dime fits in the crack, you might want to consult a stone dealer. Carlini fills cracks with resin to match the granite. Don’t expect perfection, he says-granite is more durable than marble or limestone, so it’s also harder to fix. Carlini knows where the repaired crack is on his own kitchen counter, but it doesn’t bother him (“I can still see it, my wife can still see it, but most of our guests never know”). The only way to completely fix a crack, he says, is to redo the whole piece.

If you decide to pursue repair, it’ll cost you. Most companies charge a minimum of $300 for granite spot repairs, says Donald Jackson, co-owner of Complete Stone Restoration (1658 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-235-9737). Light countertop scratches can be ground out, but the job is labor-intensive. “I’ve gone to some places where it’s literally the entire countertop [scratched], and then you’re looking at a lot more money,” Jackson says.

To prevent damage to your countertop, “keep all the little dogs, kitties, and kids off,” says Mike Pavilon, president of Sungloss Marble and Stone Restoration (937 N. Ashland Ave., 773-661-9070). Most granites stand up well to knives and hot pans, but why take a chance? Use cutting boards and trivets, to be safe. Engagement rings have also been known to do damage, he says-diamond is one of the only stones hard enough to scratch granite.

For regular maintenance, clean the countertop with stone soap, available at Sungloss and at other stone dealers and hardware stores, or use dishwashing liquid and cool water. Avoid using steel wool, wood cleaners, and products-like window cleaner-that contain ammonia or bleach.
-Laurel Jorgensen

Have a design or renovation question? E-mail us at chicagohome@chicagomag.com. Sorry, we cannot take questions by phone, or guarantee individual responses.