Quartz countertops have become incredibly popular in recent years, and for good reason. They are durable, stylish, and low-maintenance compared to other countertop materials like granite or marble. However, many homeowners still wonder – are quartz countertops hard to maintain?
What are Quartz Countertops?
Before diving into maintenance, it’s helpful to understand exactly what quartz countertops are. Quartz countertops are engineered stone slabs made from roughly 90% ground natural quartz crystals and 10% polymer resins and pigments. The exact ratio can vary between manufacturers.
Quartz slabs are made by combining the ground quartz with resin, pigments, and other compounds. This mixture is compacted into molds under intense vibration and pressure to create large slabs. The slabs are then polished to achieve the characteristic glossy appearance of quartz.
Unlike natural stone materials, quartz slabs do not form naturally. The manufacturing process allows the color, pattern, and appearance of the material to be tightly controlled. As a result, quartz offers more consistent aesthetics than natural stone.
The combination of ground quartz aggregates with durable polymer resins gives quartz exceptional hardness, making the material highly scratch and chip resistant. Quartz rates around a 7 on the Mohs hardness scale. For comparison, granite rates from 6 to 7 while marble rates closer to a 3 or 4. This high hardness provides quartz countertops excellent durability for busy kitchens.
Quartz Countertop Maintenance Requirements
Compared to natural stone, quartz requires minimal routine maintenance to keep surfaces looking like new. Here are the basic maintenance needs for quartz countertops:
- Quartz can be cleaned easily with a soft cloth and mild soap and water. For best results, use a pH-neutral cleaner made specifically for stone surfaces.
- Don’t use abrasive cleaners or scrub pads, which can dull the surface over time.
- Rinse thoroughly after cleaning and dry with a soft cloth to prevent water spots.
- For stubborn messes, a non-abrasive cleaning pad can help remove grime.
- While quartz resists stains very well, spills should be cleaned up promptly to minimize possible absorption.
- Unlike granite or marble, quartz does not need to be regularly sealed.
- The polymer resins mixed into the slabs make them non-porous, so sealing is not required. This makes maintenance much simpler compared to natural stone.
- While quartz resists scratches very well, the surface can become dulled over time with regular use.
- To restore the glossy finish, quartz can be polished every 1-2 years using specialty stone polish. This may be needed more frequently in busy kitchens.
- Take care not to use wax or polishes containing abrasives that could scratch the surface.
- While durable overall, quartz can be damaged by excessive heat.
- Using trivets and hot pads is highly recommended to protect quartz from very hot pots and pans.
- As a general rule, quartz should not be exposed to sustained temperatures above 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
With just these basic maintenance practices, quartz countertops will stay looking like new for many years before needing professional resurfacing. Proper care prevents the need for deep cleaning or restoration.
Are Quartz Countertops High Maintenance Compared to Other Materials?
Compared to natural stone countertops like granite and marble, quartz requires minimal maintenance overall. Here’s how it compares:
- Requires sealing every 1-2 years to prevent staining.
- More prone to chipping and cracking if not cared for properly.
- Needs frequent polishing with stone polish to maintain glossy finish.
- Porous surface can develop etching if not sealed regularly.
- Very prone to staining, etching, and absorbing liquids if not sealed scrupulously.
- Needs sealing every 6 months ideally.
- Easily scratched and damaged without proper care.
- Develops dull, worn finish quickly without polishing.
- Does not need regular sealing due to non-porous surface.
- Resists scratches, chips, cracks, and stains extremely well.
- Only needs polishing every 1-2 years to maintain glossy finish.
- Does not easily etch or stain like natural stone.
Clearly, quartz requires less maintenance overall compared to common natural stone options. The main upkeep needs are simple cleaning and occasional polishing. With granite and marble, much more time and effort must be spent sealing, polishing, and protecting the surface.
However, quartz does require a bit more care than more resilient surfaces like stainless steel:
- Extremely difficult to stain, scratch, or damage.
- Does not need sealing or polishing.
- Easy to sanitize and keep clean.
So while quartz is not 100% maintenance-free, it remains one of the most low-maintenance countertop materials available. The durability and stain resistance minimize routine care needed in the kitchen.
Tips for Keeping Quartz Countertops Looking Their Best
While quartz is fairly low-maintenance, a few simple practices can keep surfaces in tip-top shape:
- Use cutting boards instead of cutting directly on quartz. This prevents accidental knicks and scratches over time.
- Clean up spills rapidly to prevent possible staining, especially from strongly colored liquids like wine.
- Avoid placing very hot pots, pans, or dishes directly on quartz. Always use trivets or hot pads.
- Use a granite and stone cleaner instead of abrasive cleaners or alkaline chemicals.
- For food prep areas, sanitize surfaces occasionally with a stone-safe disinfectant.
- If surfaces become dulled, restore the shine with a polish made for engineered stone.
- Have countertops professionally resurfaced every 10-15 years if they develop etch marks or worn areas.
With routine care and common-sense practices, quartz countertops will stay looking like new for many years before needing resurfacing. The durability and stain resistance of quartz makes the material very beginner-friendly compared to high-maintenance natural stone surfaces.
Answering Common Questions on Caring for Quartz
Many homeowners have additional questions about maintaining their quartz countertops. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:
Are quartz countertops heat resistant?
While durable overall, quartz can be damaged by excessive direct heat. Allowing a very hot pan to sit directly on the surface could potentially cause cracks or discoloration. Quartz manufacturers recommend using hot pads or trivets with any cookware or serving dishes coming out of the oven or when boiling liquids on the stove. As a general guideline, quartz should not be exposed to sustained temperatures above 150 degrees Fahrenheit. With routine heat protection, quartz stands up well to normal daily use in kitchens.
Do you need to seal quartz countertops?
Unlike granite and marble, quartz does not require sealing. The polymer resins mixed into the slabs make quartz non-porous, preventing moisture and oils from penetrating into the material. This means quartz does not need periodic sealing to prevent staining and damage. One of the major benefits of quartz is that it remains stain-resistant without endless sealing required.
Should quartz countertops be polished?
Polishing is not required for maintenance, but can help restore the glossy finish if surfaces become dulled over time. Quartz can generally go 1-2 years before polishing is needed. How frequently polishing is required depends on usage and wear. Busy kitchens may need polishing annually while less used surfaces may need it every few years. Use a polish specifically designed for engineered stone and avoid wax or products with abrasives. Also, take care not to polish off pigments in colored quartz surfaces.
How do you clean quartz countertops?
For routine cleaning, use a soft cloth with warm water and mild soap. Stone-specific cleaners are also recommended. Avoid abrasive cleaners or scrub pads that could dull the finish. For stubborn messes, a non-abrasive pad can help remove grime after soaking. Disinfect occasionally with a stone-safe antibiotic cleaner. With routine cleaning, quartz resists stains very well but spills should be wiped up promptly.
Can you etch quartz countertops?
While less prone to etching than marble or limestone, quartz can become etched if exposed to acidic substances over extended periods. Spills should be cleaned rapidly to prevent possible etching. Avoid contact with very acidic products like lemon juice, vinegar or chlorine bleach. If etching does occur, professional refinishing is typically needed to restore the smooth surface finish.
Quartz Provides Low-Maintenance, Durable Beauty
Quartz countertops offer homeowners a stylish, versatile, and extremely durable surface that does not require intensive maintenance like natural stone. Aside from routine cleaning, quartz needs minimal care compared to other common countertop materials. With some simple preventative practices, quartz countertops will retain their beauty for many years before needing professional restoration. While no surface is completely maintenance-free, quartz provides long-lasting good looks with low maintenance required. For beauty and simplicity, quartz remains a top choice for today’s busy kitchens.
FAQs About Caring for Quartz Countertops
Q: How often should quartz countertops be sealed?
A: Unlike granite and marble, quartz countertops never need sealing. The resin binders make quartz non-porous so liquids cannot penetrate the surface. One of the benefits of quartz is that it keeps its stain resistance without repeated sealing.
Q: Can you scratch quartz countertops?
A: Quartz is very scratch resistant thanks to its durability and hardness. However, cuts from sharp objects like knives can damage the surface over time. Using cutting boards is highly recommended to prevent scratches from developing.
Q: What cleaners can damage quartz?
A: Avoid cleaners containing acids, alkalis, or abrasive compounds. These can etch or dull quartz surfaces. Use a gentle stone cleaner instead. Avoid scouring pads or similar abrasives that could scratch the finish.
Q: How long does quartz countertops last?
A: With proper care and maintenance, quartz can last 15-25 years before needing replacement. Eventually seals around edges may need reapplication and surfaces can develop signs of wear. But quartz stands up very well compared to other countertop materials.
Q: Do quartz countertops stain easily?
A: Quartz is extremely resistant to stains thanks to its non-porous composition. However, some liquids like oils or dyes can stain quartz if left for prolonged periods. Wipe up spills promptly to keep surfaces stain-free.
Q: How do you disinfect quartz countertops?
A: Use a disinfectant cleaner made specifically for stone surfaces. Many can be sprayed on and wiped off for easy sanitizing. Avoid bleach products as they can damage quartz over time.
Q: Should quartz countertops be resealed?
A: No, quartz never requires sealing. Unlike natural stone, quartz is non-porous so liquids cannot penetrate the surface. Resealing is not needed to maintain stain resistance.
Q: Can you use quartz outdoors?
A: Quartz is durable but still vulnerable to UV rays, weathering, and freeze-thaw cycles outdoors. Quartz is intended for indoor use only. Outdoor kitchens should opt for materials specially formulated for exterior use.
Q: How often should quartz be polished?
A: Polishing is generally only needed every 1-2 years to restore the glossy finish. Quartz rarely needs more frequent polishing unless heavily worn. Use a polish specifically for engineered quartz surfaces.
Caring for Quartz Countertops: A Homeowner’s Guide
Installing beautiful quartz countertops can upgrade any kitchen or bath. With an appearance similar to natural stone but more durability, quartz offers homeowners long-lasting quality and easy care. Follow this guide for tips on keeping quartz surfaces looking their best.
Cleaning Quartz Surfaces
- Clean quartz regularly with a soft cloth and mild soap and water. Rinse thoroughly after cleaning.
- For routine cleaning, use a stone-specific cleaner instead of abrasive cleaners.
- Disinfect surfaces periodically with a quartz-safe antibacterial cleaner.
- Avoid using cleaners that contain acids, ammonia, or bleach that could etch quartz.
- Wipe up spills quickly to prevent possible staining, especially from oils, dyes, or liquids prone to absorbing into the surface.
- Use a razor blade scraper or non-abrasive pad for stuck-on messes after soaking the area.
- Take care to keep neighboring surfaces dry when cleaning to prevent water spots.
- Use cutting boards and trivets instead of cutting or placing hot items directly on quartz.
- Don’t allow spills to sit for extended periods, which increases the chance of etching or staining.
- Apply sealant to quartz edges and seams seasonally to prevent moisture damage.
- Avoid exposing quartz to very hot temperatures from appliances like griddles, pans, or crock pots.
- Use placemats under ceramic dishes to prevent scratching from contact.
- Don’t use cleaners containing alkaline, acids, or abrasives.
Maintaining the Finish
- Polish quartz every 1-2 years with a specialty stone polish to keep the glossy finish.
- Quartz rarely needs resealing thanks to its non-porous surface.
- Have a professional refinish quartz if the surface develops etch marks or worn areas.
- Repair minor chips by filling with a clear epoxy resin specifically for quartz.
When to Call a Professional
- For resurfacing or refinishing needs, hire a professional fabricator. DIY kits cannot match professional results.
- If cracks form around edges or seams, consult a fabricator to reapply sealant.
- For significant damage like cracks or discoloration, replacement may be needed. A pro can best assess repair options.
- Etch marks, dull spots, and worn areas often require professional help to improve aesthetic issues.
With routine care and by avoiding damage, quartz countertops will stay looking pristine and avoid the need for professional restoration or replacement. Follow these quartz care tips and enjoy beautiful, durable surfaces for decades.
The Pros and Cons of Quartz Countertops
Quartz combines affordability and low maintenance with the elegant aesthetic of natural stone. But like all materials, quartz has both advantages and drawbacks. Here is an overview of the benefits and downsides of quartz countertops.
Pros of Quartz Countertops
- Extremely resilient against scratches, chips, cracks
- Stain, mold, and bacteria resistant
- Handles hot pans better than many surfaces
- Non-porous so spills do not penetrate
- Little routine care needed
- Does not require regular sealing
- Resists etching and buildup of grime
- Only occasional polishing needed
- Mimics look of natural stone
- Wide range of colors and patterns
- Consistent patterning and few visible seams
- Stylish, sleek look complements modern or traditional kitchens
- Suitable for kitchens, bathrooms, laundry and more
- Can be used for counters, backsplashes, walls
- Works well paired with many cabinet styles and finishes
- Lower cost than natural stone
- Competitively priced with other engineered surfaces
- Installation costs comparable to other materials
Cons of Quartz Countertops
- Prolonged high heat exposure can damage surface
- Not as heat resistant as some surfaces
- Requires trivets and hot pads during cooking
- While very durable, quartz can chip if subjected to heavy impact
- Chips can be difficult to repair without professional help
- Seams between slabs are usually faint but noticeable
- Careful installation can minimize the appearance of seams
Limits on Outdoor Use
- Not recommended for outdoor kitchens or other exterior uses
- Vulnerable to weathering, UV rays, freeze-thaw cycles
Professional Installation Needed
- Not a DIY-friendly material for amateurs to install
- Hiring a pro is recommended to ensure proper cutting, seating, and sealing
While not perfect, quartz offers an optimal balance of aesthetics, affordability, and easy maintenance. With proper care, quartz countertops can perform beautifully for decades.
Quartz Countertop Cost Breakdown
Quartz countertops are priced competitively with other popular surfaces like granite. Here is an overview of the typical costs involved with installing quartz countertops:
Quartz Material per Square Foot
- $40 – $100 per square foot installed
- Low-end options around $40 – $60 per square foot
- Mid-range options from $60 – $80 per square foot
- High-end designer styles $80 – $100+ per square foot
Common Installation Costs
- $40 – $70 per hour for labor
- $150 – $250 flat charge for smaller projects
- Complex projects or Pros who charge by the project:
- Small kitchen around $1000 – $2000
- Large kitchens $3000+
Other Installation Fees
- $25 – $50 per cut needed
- $150 – $250 for seam polishing
- $10+ per linear foot for custom edging
- Local sales tax on material purchase
Total Average Costs
- Small kitchen: $3000 – $8000 total
- Medium kitchen: $6000 – $12000
- Large, complex projects: $12,000 –