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With proper care, granite countertops can last for decades making them well worth the investment. This durable and attractive surface can withstand most normal kitchen messes, but it is an absorbent material. A little TLC can protect your granite counters from scratches and stains.

Q: I need to repair the mortar joints on my older brick home that was built in the late 1800s. I’ve seen some horrible workmanship where the mortar doesn’t match at all, and I want to avoid this. How does one match the original mortar? What would you do to make sure the finished repair is nearly invisible? Is this even a realistic goal, or should I just resign myself to ugly mortar joints that don’t match? —Rhonda S., Boston