Quartz countertops have become a popular choice for kitchens and bathrooms due to their durability, low maintenance, and stylish appearance. Many homeowners wonder if these countertops are susceptible to water damage since they will be exposed to water regularly from washing dishes, cleaning, and spills. The good news is that quartz countertops are highly water-resistant and do not easily absorb liquid.
What Is Quartz?
Quartz is an engineered stone made from roughly 90% ground natural quartz crystals combined with polyester resins and pigments. This combination creates a very hard, non-porous material that resists scratches, stains, heat, and water.
Unlike natural stone countertops like granite or marble, quartz has very low porosity. This means there are minimal pores or holes within the material that could allow water or other liquids to seep in. The resins act as a sealant to fill spaces between the quartz particles.
Why Quartz Doesn’t Easily Absorb Water
There are a few key reasons why quartz countertops do not readily absorb water:
The low porosity of quartz significantly limits water absorption. Liquids have difficulty penetrating the tight spaces between the quartz grains. Although not completely impervious, the amount of liquid absorbed is negligible.
Polymer Resin Binders
The polymer resins used in the fabrication of quartz countertops fill in pores and create a water-resistant barrier. This prevents moisture from seeping into the interior of the slab.
Quartz has a very high density and is heavier than natural stone surfaces. The dense structure leaves little space for water to be absorbed.
Resistance to Moisture Damage
The material is engineered to stand up well against water exposure. Quartz countertops retain their integrity and appearance even with routine contact with moisture.
Does Quartz Absorb Water Over Time?
When liquid comes into contact with a quartz countertop, only a minuscule amount may penetrate the surface. However, quartz does not act like a sponge and draw in or absorb water over an extended period of time.
Any water spilled on a quartz countertop will bead up on the surface. It will not absorb into the interior of the slab even after prolonged contact. You do not have to wipe up water immediately to prevent damage.
Quartz is unaffected by sink overflow, leaving glasses of water to perspire, or having water sit on the surface for long periods. The water-resistant properties remain intact for the lifetime of the countertop.
Does Water Damage Quartz?
Quartz countertops are highly water-resistant and do not sustain water damage easily. Small spills and splashes will simply bead up and can be wiped away without issue. Even large amounts of water from activities like canning, cleaning produce, or a sink overflow will not damage or discolor a quartz surface.
However, it is possible for the resin sealant to become compromised over time. Constant exposure to standing water allows moisture to work its way slowly into micro-fissures in the surface. This diminishes the water-resistant properties of the countertop.
To prevent long-term water damage:
- Avoid leaving sinks and faucets running, allowing water to pool on the surface
- Wipe up spills as soon as possible
- Immediately dry any wet areas on the countertop
- Re-seal quartz annually with a penetrating sealer
With proper care and sealing, quartz countertops are highly water-resistant for decades. They retain their appearance beautifully even in busy kitchens.
Does Quartz Stain from Water?
Quartz countertops are non-porous enough that water itself will not stain the surface. Water marks or rings left behind as moisture evaporates are also not a concern.
The biggest risk of stains comes from minerals or contaminants dissolved in water. Prolonged exposure to hard water can potentially etch light marks into quartz. Washing produce or thawing meats on the countertop allows organic residues to leach out. These substances could stain if not promptly cleaned up.
To avoid potential stains:
- Wipe up spills immediately
- Use a cutting board for food prep
- Clean with a gentle quartz-safe cleaner
- Avoid using harsh chemicals that can damage the surface
With simple care and maintenance, quartz stands up very well to regular contact with water and resists stains. Annual sealing provides added protection.
Can You Use Quartz Countertops Outside?
Quartz is an ideal choice for outdoor kitchen countertops because of its water resistance. Since quartz does not readily absorb moisture, it can withstand exposure to rain, snow, and humid environments. The resins create a surface that prevents water penetration.
Outdoor quartz countertops will not warp or crack due to freezing and thawing water. Hot pots and spills also will not damage quartz. Just be sure to seal the surface annually to maintain water repellency.
The material does not need to be covered or brought indoors during inclement weather. It is durable enough to withstand the elements year-round. Outdoor quartz requires very little maintenance – just soap and water for cleaning.
How to Clean & Maintain Quartz Countertops
Caring for quartz countertops is simple, as the surfaces are highly water-resistant:
- For everyday cleaning, use a soft cloth with warm water and mild soap. Avoid abrasive cleaners or pads.
- Rinse thoroughly after cleaning and dry with a soft cloth. Letting water pool or air-dry can diminish water repellency over time.
- For dried spills, use a non-abrasive quartz cleaner formulated to remove residue without damaging the surface.
- Reseal quartz countertops annually using a penetrating sealer made for engineered stone. This maintains water repellency.
- Avoid exposing quartz to strong chemicals like paint removers, oven cleaners, etc. Rinse any spills quickly.
With routine care, quartz countertops retain their water-resistant properties and beauty for many years. Proper maintenance also keeps them looking like new.
Signs of Water Damage in Quartz
Quartz countertops are highly water-resistant, but prolonged exposure can allow moisture to compromise the sealant and work into the stone. Signs of water damage include:
- Loss of shine and darkened spots from moisture penetrating the surface
- Visible moisture underneath quartz near seams and edges
- Cracks or swelling from excess water absorption
- White hazy marks or erosion from mineral deposits in water
- Mold or mildew growth in microscopic cracks
Catching water damage early is key. Do not allow water to pool on quartz surfaces. Immediately dry wet areas and reseal annually. Deep damage may require professional repair or replacement.
Can You Repair Water-Damaged Quartz?
In many cases, it is possible to repair quartz countertops with minor to moderate water damage. Chips, cracks, and stains often can be addressed with professional repair techniques.
Fixing Etches, Stains, and Discoloration
Surface damage can frequently be reduced or removed by re-polishing the affected area. For stubborn stains, a poultice drawing solution can lift residues from below the surface.
Sealing Damaged Spots
Small cracks and chips allow water intrusion beneath the quartz surface. These spots can be filled then resealed to restore water resistance.
Refinishing Severely Damaged Sections
Badly eroded or cracked areas may need to be refinished. This involves sanding down the damaged section, recoating it with epoxy resin, and polishing to blend with the rest of the countertop.
Full Countertop Resurfacing
If water damage is extensive, the entire countertop may need resurfacing. This entails sanding, resealing, recoating, and refinishing the entire slab. It restores the structural integrity and appearance.
Be sure to hire an experienced professional for repairing quartz countertops. Addressing damage right away gives the best results. Extensive damage may be beyond repair, requiring a quartz countertop replacement.
FAQs About Quartz and Water
Does quartz need to be sealed to resist water?
Quartz countertops are engineered to be water-resistant without initial sealing. However, annual sealing helps maintain moisture repellency over time.
Can you cut on a quartz countertop?
Yes, quartz stands up well to being cut on, holding a sharp edge for a long time. Always use a cutting board to protect from dents and deep scratches that could allow water intrusion.
Is it okay to place hot pans on quartz?
Quartz can withstand brief contact with very hot pots or pans without damage. Using trivets is still a good idea to avoid cracking or discoloration over time.
How durable and scratch-resistant is quartz?
Quartz rates 7-8 on the Mohs scale, making it very hard and scratch resistant. Only diamonds and other quartz can scratch the surface. The material withstands heavy day-to-day use.
Can you use bleach to clean quartz countertops?
Quartz can be damaged by prolonged exposure to bleach or harsh chemicals. Use a gentle stone cleaner instead. For stubborn stains, a mild bleach solution can be used briefly and rinsed thoroughly.
Is quartz prone to harboring bacteria?
Quartz has natural antibacterial properties that discourage bacterial growth. Routine cleaning also reduces pathogens. Studies show quartz harbors less bacteria than many other counter materials.
Quartz makes an excellent choice for kitchen and bathroom countertops that perform beautifully despite regular water exposure. The engineered stone is highly water-resistant and does not readily absorb or allow penetration of liquid. This prevents water damage, stains, and harboring of harmful bacteria. With simple care and maintenance, quartz countertops maintain their integrity and appearance for decades. Following best practices for cleaning, sealing, and drying keeps quartz countertops in top condition despite heavy use and moisture. Considering its durability and minimal maintenance, quartz is one of the best options for homeowners seeking worry-free, water-friendly countertop surfaces.