Can You Put Runnels in Quartz Countertops?

Quartz countertops are a popular choice for modern kitchens and bathrooms due to their durability, aesthetics, and low maintenance. While quartz is an extremely versatile material, some homeowners wonder if it can be customized with unique designs like runnels. Here is a comprehensive guide on whether runnels can be incorporated into quartz countertops.

What are Runnels?

Runnels refer to narrow channels or grooves carved into the surface of a countertop. They serve both decorative and functional purposes.

Some key features of runnels include:

  • They provide a visually appealing texture and dimension to countertops.
  • They can be used to drain liquids off countertops into sinks.
  • Runnels make it easy to sweep small items like crumbs and spices into the sink.
  • They can be customized into various widths and designs to suit different styles.

Runnels are most commonly seen in natural stone countertops like granite, marble, and soapstone. But newer countertop materials like quartz have the potential to be fabricated with runnels too.

The Challenge of Adding Runnels to Quartz

While quartz countertops can be customized in many ways, runnels present some unique challenges:

  • Quartz is engineered from ground quartz crystals and resin. This gives quartz a more homogenous composition compared to natural stone. There are no veins or pits to follow when carving grooves.
  • Maintaining structural integrity can be difficult. Quartz has less natural flexibility compared to softer stones. Carving into the rigid material can weaken it and make it prone to cracks and fissures over time.
  • Detailed custom fabrication is required. Precise cutting and polishing is needed to achieve clean, uniform runnel lines in quartz. This adds labor and costs.

For these reasons, most quartz fabricators avoid adding runnels during manufacturing and installation. The risks of damaging the countertop and creating weaknesses in the material are quite high.

Innovations Making Runnels Possible

Advancements in quartz fabrication are now making it possible to successfully incorporate runnels in quartz countertops:

  • CNC technology allows precise and narrow grooves to be machine-cut into quartz slabs by specialized stone equipment. This creates uniformity in the runnels.
  • Reinforced margins on the edges of runnels give added stability to the channels and prevent cracking or chipping over time.
  • Flex resin has been developed to create more pliability in thick quartz slabs, allowing carving without fracture.
  • Experienced craftsmanship from highly-skilled quartz fabricators is essential for assessing the risks and challenges of each unique quartz piece.

When these specialized techniques are used, runnels can be etched into quartz countertops in a structurally sound manner and with beautiful results.

Design Considerations for Quartz Runnels

If you opt for runnels in your quartz countertop, keep these design factors in mind:

  • Runnels should not be too narrow or deep. Grooves over 1/4 inch wide or 1/8 inch deep increase the risk of damage over time.
  • Avoid sharp angles. Gradual curves and rounded edges help reduce stress points in the quartz.
  • Limit the length of runnels. Long runnels have more potential for cracking than shorter ones.
  • Allow proper support underneath. Reinforcing the cabinetry underneath runnels prevents flexing and cracking.
  • Expect added costs. Due to the expertise required, quartz runnel fabrication will be pricier than a basic install.

Maintaining Quartz Countertops with Runnels

Caring for your quartz countertop will involve some special considerations:

  • Take care not to let liquids pool inside runnels for long periods, as this can stain over time. Wipe up spills promptly.
  • When cleaning, use a soft cloth and mild soap. Avoid abrasive pads or scrubbing.
  • Check periodically for signs of small fractures developing at runnel edges. These should be sealed quickly to prevent further cracking.
  • Avoid placing excessively heavy items directly over runnels, as too much weight concentration can cause damage.

Should You Choose Runnels in Quartz?

The decision depends on your priorities:

Benefits of adding runnels:

  • Creates a one-of-a-kind look and custom feel.
  • Adds artistic detail not possible with plain quartz.
  • Allows liquids to drain off countertops.

Drawbacks of adding runnels:

  • Risk of long-term cracking or instability.
  • Limits options for future repairs or alterations.
  • Requires hiring specialized quartz artisans.
  • Adds significant cost to the project budget.

Consult with an experienced quartz fabricator to determine if your particular project and countertop design are suited for incorporating runnels safely and beautifully. With the right expertise, quartz runnels can be an intriguing way to customize your space.

Frequently Asked Questions About Quartz Runnels

Can any quartz countertop have a runnel added?

No, not all quartz slabs are equally suited to having runnels carved in. The thickness, density, and composition has to be evaluated to assess the feasibility and risks.

What’s the best way to clean a quartz runnel?

Use a soft, damp cloth with a small amount of mild soap. Avoid getting acidic substances like lemon juice inside runnels. Promptly dry any liquid spills.

Do runnels impact the structural integrity of quartz?

Runnels do present a risk of compromising strength, especially if not carved precisely. Limiting width, depth, and length reduces this risk. Added supports also help.

How much extra does it cost to get runnels in a quartz countertop?

Due to the complex fabrication, costs are typically 25-50% higher than a basic quartz installation. Exact pricing depends on the details.

Can you add runnels to quartz after the initial installation?

It’s possible but not advisable. Having runnels carved later means moving and reinstalling the countertop, which greatly increases the chances of damage occurring.


While rare, adding runnels to quartz countertops is becoming more viable with innovations in fabrication technology and skill. The specialization required means this customization comes at a relatively high cost and some risk of long-term damage. Consult closely with experienced quartz specialists to determine if runnels can be incorporated safely into your specific kitchen or bath design. When done properly, they can create a showstopping focal point. With some quartz projects, opting for a plain surface remains the wisest and most functional choice.