Quartz countertops are growing in popularity for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects. Made from ground quartz combined with resins and pigments, quartz offers an attractive, low-maintenance, and durable alternative to natural stone and laminate. But there is often confusion around whether you need to seal quartz countertops. This complete guide will explain everything you need to know about can you seal quartz countertop.
What is Quartz?
Quartz is an engineered stone made from roughly 90% ground natural quartz combined with polymer resins and pigments. The resins bind the quartz particles together to form a hard, non-porous slab. The pigments add color and pattern.
Compared to natural stone like granite and marble, quartz is less porous and requires very little maintenance. The resins fill in the pores of the natural quartz, creating a density that prevents liquids from seeping into the material. This resistance to staining and etching is one of the key benefits of quartz countertops.
Do You Need to Seal Quartz Countertops?
The short answer is no. You do not need to seal quartz countertops.
The polymer resins make quartz non-porous, so sealing is not required. In fact, sealants cannot penetrate the tight surface of a quartz slab. Any sealer applied would simply sit on top and wear away over time.
Unlike natural stone countertops like marble, granite, and soapstone that need to be sealed regularly to prevent stains, quartz repels liquids naturally. The pigments and resins create a stain-proof barrier.
So sealing is not only unnecessary but ineffective on quartz surfaces. The best practice is to simply keep quartz clean with gentle soap and water. Avoid abrasive cleaners that could damage the finish. With this basic care, a quartz countertop will stay beautiful for years without sealing.
Will Sealing Hurt a Quartz Countertop?
Sealing a quartz countertop does not damage the material itself. Since the sealer cannot penetrate the surface, it will not cause any functional problems.
However, there are a few drawbacks to sealing quartz:
- The sealer wears off over time, leaving behind a sticky residue. This requires using a stone sealer remover and scrubbing to get the countertop fully clean again.
- Sealers can discolor quartz, leaving behind a hazy, foggy appearance. Certain sealers react with the resin binders in quartz.
- It’s a waste of time and money. Sealers cost anywhere from $20 to $50 per bottle. When the sealant inevitably wears off after a few months, you have to repeat the process.
- Excess sealer builds up in the cracks of patterns like speckled quartz. This creates visible white lines that are difficult to remove.
Unless you want to deal with stripping off sealers every few months, it’s best to simply avoid sealing quartz counters. The minimal benefit is not worth the hassle.
Are There Any Exceptions?
For most standard quartz slabs, sealing is unnecessary. However, there are a few exceptions:
- Quartz used outdoors should be sealed. When exposed to full sun and rain, an outdoor quartz countertop or island is more vulnerable to staining. Using a penetrating sealer made for stone provides an added layer of protection. Reapply the outdoor sealer every 1-2 years.
- Quartz near an undermount sink is more prone to damage. Liquids dripping from the faucet can run down the edge of the countertop underside. Seal this vulnerable area if you notice water stains developing over time.
- Heavily textured quartz finishes have more surface area for liquids to potentially penetrate. Though rare, some textured quartz patterns have enough surface porosity to warrant sealing. Check with your fabricator to see if your particular quartz finish requires it.
- Quartz panels with veining can absorb spilled liquids in the veining channels. Look closely at the veins. If the channels appear porous rather than solid, consider sealing just the veins to prevent staining.
In these specific situations, sealing quartz may offer some benefit and is unlikely to cause any harm. Be sure to use a sealer approved for engineered stone and reapply annually.
How to Seal a Quartz Countertop
If you decide to seal your quartz countertop, follow these important steps:
1. Clean the Surface
Make sure the quartz is completely clean before sealing it. Use a non-abrasive cleaner or mild soap and water to remove any residue. Rinse thoroughly and let dry fully.
2. Read the Sealer Instructions
Not all stone sealers can be used on engineered quartz. Choose a sealer specifically formulated for quartz and granite. Read the application directions carefully.
3. Work in Sections
Apply the sealer to small sections at a time, usually about 2-3 square feet. Use a clean applicator cloth or foam roller, and spread the sealer evenly. Allow each section to dry fully before moving to the next area.
4. Remove Excess Sealer
Once dry, wipe off any remaining sealer with a clean, dry cloth. Buff in a circular motion. It’s important not to allow excess sealer to build up or pool on the surface.
5. Allow to Fully Cure
Give the sealer at least 24-48 hours to cure completely. Avoid putting any heavy items on the countertop during this time. The full curing time prevents Oil-based foods and liquids from penetrating the sealer prematurely.
6. Reapply Annually
Quartz sealers typically last 6-12 months with regular use of the countertop. Be sure to reseal your quartz counters once a year to maintain the protective barrier.
How is Sealing Different for Other Countertops?
It’s important to understand that sealing quartz differs from sealing natural stone and other countertop materials:
- Granite countertops are very porous and require sealing every 6-12 months. The sealant soaks into the tiny pits and cracks in the stone, preventing liquid penetration.
- Marble countertops are prone to acid etching from drinks like wine or citrus juice. Regular sealing creates a protective barrier against etching and stains.
- Concrete countertops should be sealed to prevent moisture from penetrating the slab and causing cracks. The sealant makes the surface stain-proof and easier to clean.
- Butcher block countertops need a waterproof finish, usually mineral oil. This prevents warping, cracking, and mold growth in the wood.
- Tile countertops are not very porous, but sealing grout lines prevents staining and mildew growth.
So while sealing is vital for many other countertop materials, quartz does not require this extra protection. The resins make quartz naturally stain-resistant already.
FAQ About Sealing Quartz Countertops
Many homeowners have additional questions about sealing their quartz countertops. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:
Should I seal quartz before or after installation?
There is no need to seal quartz either before or after installation. Since quartz cannot be penetrated by sealants, sealing at any point is ineffective. Save your time and money.
Do I have to seal all 4 sides of a quartz countertop?
Sealing any of the edges or sides is unnecessary. Quartz is non-porous throughout the entire slab, whether it’s the top surface or the underside. Properly cleaning all sides is sufficient maintenance.
How often should I seal my quartz counters?
You should never need to seal a quartz countertop under normal conditions. Quartz does not require reapplication of a sealant, unlike natural stone. The only exception is outdoor quartz counters that should be resealed annually.
Can I use a granite sealer on quartz?
You can safely use a high-quality sealer made for both granite and engineered stone. Avoid sealers with chemicals like xylene that can damage quartz resins. Read labels closely and do not assume all stone sealers are quartz-safe.
What happens if I don’t seal my quartz countertops?
With proper daily care, an unsealed quartz countertop will perform perfectly well for decades. Not sealing quartz will have no negative consequences in terms of stains, damage, or maintenance. Save your money – don’t bother sealing quartz.
Caring for Quartz Countertops
While sealing is unnecessary, you should take steps to properly care for a quartz countertop:
- Blot up spills immediately to prevent staining, especially oil and grease spills.
- Avoid exposing quartz to strong chemicals like paint removers, oven cleaners, etc. Rinse any cleaners off promptly.
- Use a cutting board to protect from scratches and nicks from cooking knives.
- Clean quartz regularly with a soft sponge or cloth and mild soap.
- Inspect quartz for signs of damage like cracks or chips and get repairs done quickly.
With this simple care routine, a quartz countertop will stay in great shape for 15-25 years or longer.
One of the best benefits of quartz over natural stone is that it does not require regular sealing. The polymer resins make quartz non-porous and resistant to stains and etching without the need for sealants.
Sealing a quartz counter is typically unnecessary, wastes time and money, and can even create cleaning problems down the road. With basic care like prompt cleaning and avoiding harsh chemicals, quartz will stay beautiful and stain-free without sealing.
Unless you have an unusual situation like an outdoor quartz kitchen, you can confidently skip sealing quartz counters. Instead, spend that time enjoying the low-maintenance, durable, and worry-free qualities that makes quartz such a popular choice!
This comprehensive guide explains everything homeowners need to know about can you seal quartz countertop. Follow these recommendations on sealing quartz to properly maintain your investment while maximizing durability. With this knowledge, you can decide if sealing could potentially benefit your specific quartz countertop or if it’s an unnecessary step.