Quartz countertops are popular choices for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects due to their durability, aesthetics, and low maintenance. However, some homeowners wonder – do quartz countertops crack? The short answer is yes, quartz can crack under certain circumstances. However, quartz is far less prone to cracking compared to other countertop materials like natural stone or concrete. Here is an in-depth look at the factors that can cause quartz countertops to crack and how to prevent cracks from forming.
What is Quartz?
Before examining why quartz can crack, it helps to understand what quartz countertops are made of. Quartz countertops are engineered stone products created from roughly 90% ground natural quartz and 10% polymer resins and pigments. The resins bind the quartz particles into a durable, non-porous slab.
Compared to natural stone like granite or marble, quartz offers superior resistance to stains, scratches, heat, and cracks. However, quartz is not completely crack-proof. Several factors can lead to cracks forming in a quartz countertop over time.
What Causes Cracks in Quartz Countertops?
Though infrequent, there are some scenarios that can result in cracks in a quartz countertop:
Quartz is incredibly hard and durable, but it is not impervious to cracks from blunt force. A heavy object dropped directly onto a quartz countertop can potentially crack it. Pots, pans, appliances, tools, etc. slammed down onto the countertop may crack the surface upon impact.
Uneven Cabinet Base
The substrate that quartz countertops are installed on must be perfectly level and stable. Any unevenness, movement, or flexing in the cabinet base can place stress on quartz slabs and cause hairline cracks or fissures over time.
Cracks can also form if the countertop is not installed properly. Quartz requires specialized adhesives and seam joining techniques. Any imperfections during installation can lead to inadequate structural support and eventual cracking from regular use.
Rapid temperature changes can create thermal shock that may crack a quartz countertop. Placing extremely hot pots/pans directly on the surface without a trivet can cause thermal shock damage.
Small hairline cracks may form if the quartz slab experiences uneven tension across its surface. This can happen if support brackets are spaced too far apart or if the countertop overhangs too much without sufficient support underneath.
Natural Stone Veneer Cracking
Some quartz slabs feature a layer of natural stone veneer fused to the top surface. This veneer can potentially crack or chip separately from the quartz below due to impact or improper bonding during manufacturing.
In rare cases, hidden material defects or air pockets within a quartz slab may lead to cracks forming more easily, despite proper installation and use. Reputable quartz brands thoroughly inspect all slabs to avoid this.
Settling of Foundations
If the home’s foundation settles unevenly it can place stress on countertops and cause cracks over time.
How to Prevent Cracks in Quartz Countertops
While quartz can crack, there are preventative measures you can take to minimize the risks:
- Inspect quartz slabs thoroughly prior to installation for any cracks or material flaws.
- Hire experienced professionals for templating and installation.
- Ensure cabinets and substructure are plumb, level, and provide robust support.
- Use rear support brackets for long overhangs.
- Adhere to seam placement recommendations to avoid stress points.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for seam joining, adhesives, etc.
- Avoid exposing quartz to sudden or rapid temperature changes.
- Use trivets and hot pads when placing hot cookware on the surface.
- Take care to not drop heavy objects directly onto the countertop.
- Have any natural stone veneers properly bonded to the quartz.
- Clean spills promptly to avoid prolonged exposure to liquids.
- Inspect countertops periodically and address any concerns immediately to prevent further damage.
What To Do If Your Quartz Countertop Cracks
If you do notice a crack develop in your quartz countertop, don’t panic. Here are some tips:
- Stop using the area around the crack to prevent it worsening.
- Contact the manufacturer or installation company immediately. Many come with warranties against defects and cracks.
- Take photos of the crack damage to share with the fabricator. Measure and note the length and direction of the crack.
- Be prepared to have a professional inspector determine the cause of the crack and whether it necessitates a full replacement or spot repair.
- For small hairline cracks, injection of specialty adhesives or resins may be an option for sealing the crack.
- Larger cracks, or those with shifting, will likely require replacing the entire affected slab.
- If the crack resulted from improper installation, the original fabricator should replace the slab free of charge.
- Cracks from material defects may also be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.
- For cracks due to owner damage or house settling, replacement will be at the owner’s expense.
- Expect to pay anywhere from $200 up to $1000+ for crack repairs, depending on severity. Full slab replacements run $1000-3000+.
Causes of Cracks in Quartz Countertops
As discussed above, quartz countertops can crack under the right circumstances. Here we will examine in greater detail the various causes that can lead to quartz slabs cracking:
Sudden impacts from objects hit or dropped forcefully onto the countertop surface represent a prime cause of cracks in quartz. Quartz is engineered stone made from roughly 90% ground quartz aggregate held together by polymer resins—not marble, granite or concrete. It does not have quite the same impact resistance as those dense natural stones. While quartz is remarkably hard, a heavy pot, tool or appliance slammed down onto it may generate enough force to crack the surface on impact. Cracks from impacts usually appear as conspicuous visible lines radiating out from the point of collision. Dropping cookware, heavy mixing bowls, glassware and barware directly onto a quartz counter can potentially crack it instantly.
Quartz countertops form a structural system with the underlying cabinets and base. The countertop needs to be adequately supported across its entire surface and perimeter. Any unevenness, shifting, flexing or settling of cabinets can place uneven stress on quartz slabs. This uneven tension occurring repeatedly over months or years can eventually lead to cracks forming in the quartz. Cabinet bases that are uneven by even 1/8” across a run can be problematic over time. The same goes for countertops that overhang too far beyond the cabinet support without rear braces or legs.
Quartz countertops require specialized installation expertise. Improper adhesion, inadequate edge support or defective seaming procedures can all contribute to cracking down the road. The polymer-based adhesives used to adhere slabs directly to the cabinets must offer long-lasting, crack-resistant strength along the entire perimeter and any seams. Poor practices like inadequate adhesive application, failure to properly bond seams or sloppy alignment of support brackets often lead to cracks later on. Always hire experienced quartz fabricators for templating and installation.
Rapid temperature fluctuations can create thermal shock within quartz that results in cracking. The resins binding the quartz particles lose strength and rigidity as temperature increases. Sudden exposure to extreme heat against the surface can cause the resins to soften and expand unevenly, resulting in thermal shock cracks. Placing boiling pots or extremely hot pans directly on the countertop is the primary cause of thermal shock damage. The abrupt change from room temperature to over 200°F can crack the surface. Using trivets and allowing cookware to cool is advised.
Thin hairline cracks in a quartz countertop often arise from uneven tension within the slab. Quartz needs to be supported properly across the entire surface to avoid localized stress points. Cracks due to tension often form near edges and openings where surrounding areas place uneven downward forces. Insufficient support brackets, overhangs without braces, and improper seam placement during fabrication can create ongoing tension that turns into visible cracks over time.
Natural Stone Veneer Issues
Some higher-end quartz slabs feature a layer of marble, granite or other natural stone fused to the upper surface. This natural stone veneer can potentially crack or spall separately from the quartz below. The veneer is adhered to the quartz with epoxy resins. Any imperfections in this bond can allow the thin veneer to crack independently when stressed or impacted. Chips and cracks in these delicate stone layers pose no structural harm to the underlying quartz but can be an aesthetic eyesore if they occur in visible areas.
Quartz slabs with hidden material defects may be prone to cracking with regular use. Small air pockets or unmixed resin pockets within the quartz material can create weak points in the slab. Cracks tend to form and propagate from these defective areas with repeated stresses. Reputable quartz brands thoroughly vet and inspect all slabs prior to distribution to minimize defects. But some flawed slabs occasionally slip through quality control.
If the home’s foundation or wood framing undergoes uneven settling, it can compromise the cabinetry support and integrity of countertops. Cracks can form in quartz and other countertop materials if the base structure becomes warped or distorted from house settling over time. Homes with crawl spaces or basements on expansive clay soils are most susceptible to damaging foundation movement.
Can You Repair Cracks in Quartz?
In some cases, yes. Minor hairline cracks and chips in quartz can often be repaired. Deep cracks or ones causing countertop instability usually require a full replacement. Here are some quartz countertop crack repair options:
- Crack Injection – Specialty adhesives designed for quartz can be injected into small cracks to seal them. Epoxy resins or polyester are typically used. Professionals drill small holes at the crack endpoints and force the adhesive deep into the fissure until it fills completely. The drill holes are then sealed flush. Crack injection can successfully repair hairline cracks up to around 2mm wide.
- Chip and Crack Fillers – Small chips or surface cracks under 12mm wide can be filled with proprietary quartz fillers that blend with the finish. The damaged section is routed out into a V-shape, filled with the adhesive filler, and polished smooth once cured. Fillers can match the color well but usually left a faint outline visible.
- Full Slab Replacement – Cracks over 2mm wide, or ones causing countertop instability, typically warrant a full slab replacement. The damaged section of countertop is cut out and replaced with a new quartz slab. The seam is then bonded and finished. This provides a permanent fix but is more labor intensive and costly than minor repairs.
- Spot Repairs – Some fabricators can cut out just the very damaged portion of the countertop and inlay a matching color/finish quartz plug. This is less convenient than replacing the whole slab but avoids having a lengthy seam across the surface. It takes great skill to achieve an inconspicuous spot repair.
How Much Does Quartz Countertop Crack Repair Cost?
Costs for repairing a cracked quartz countertop vary based on the severity and type of repair required:
- Minor crack injections generally range from $200 – $500 per crack.
- Small chips filled run $100 – $300 each.
- Larger seamless spot repairs cost $400 – $1000+ per crack.
- Full quartz slab replacements often run $1000 – $3000+.
- Repairs needed due to manufacturing defects may be covered under warranty at no charge.
- Damage from homeowner accidents is not covered by warranties.
For hairline stress cracks, crack injection is often the most affordable repair method. But for peace of mind, those wanting invisible flawless repairs may prefer a new quartz slab. Discuss repair options and warranties with your countertop fabricator.
Factors that Contribute to Cracking
Many factors can contribute to the formation of cracks and fissures within a quartz countertop surface. Being aware of these contributing factors can help homeowners take precautions and understand causes if cracking does occur:
While engineered to be highly durable, quartz countertops still have weight limits. Excessive weight placed on a quartz counter, especially concentrated in small areas, can lead to cracking over time. Sitting, standing or placing very heavy loads weighing over 200 pounds on a quartz kitchen island or section of countertop can potentially cause damage. Distributed weight across the entire surface is not an issue, but avoid focusing excessive point loads.
Poor Structural Support
Quartz requires a sound underlying framework to remain intact. Cabinets and base structures that are warped, uneven or weak can allow too much flexing and eventually cracks. Any time the countertop moves independently from the cabinetry due to inadequate connectors, fasteners, or uneven base, the shifting and tension can compromise the slab. Support brackets placed too far apart also provides insufficient reinforcement.
Length Spanning Too Long
Quartz countertops should not span longer than 10 feet without seam joints or supplemental supports. Exceeding this span length can lead to subtle countertop sagging, distortion, and eventual cracking over years of use. The weight causes the quartz to creep downward subtly. Following manufacturer guidelines for maximum runs based on thickness avoids this issue.
While an overhang gives a nice floating appearance for islands and peninsulas, too much overhang beyond the cabinet base can lead to cracking from the suspended weight. Quartz can safely overhang 12-15 inches with proper reinforcement brackets. But exceeding 15 inches, or failing to use support legs or brackets, allows subtle drooping that results in deterioration and cracks.
Quartz countertops are designed for indoor use. The UV rays, temperature extremes, and precipitation outdoors can compromise quartz resins over time. Outdoor installations often experience cracking, discoloration, and accelerated deterioration as the resins break down. Only quartz blends marketed as outdoor-rated should ever be installed externally.
As explained previously, subjecting quartz countertops to intense heat too quickly can create thermal shock cracks. The resins binders reach critical temperature limits and lose structural integrity, allowing cracks and checking as the slab surface rapidly expands and contracts. Always use trivets, hot pads, or allow cookware to cool somewhat before placing on quartz.
Quartz requires very little maintenance but improper practices can still damage it over time. Failing to wipe up spills promptly can allow moisture penetration leading to cracks. Avoid abrasive cleaners, pads or applying excessive pressure that deteriorate the delicate surface resin over time. Follow the manufacturer’s care and maintenance guidance to avoid unnecessary cracking risks.
What to Know Before Installing Quartz Countertops
Installing quartz countertops requires advanced technical expertise to ensure proper support and prevent unnecessary cracking later on. Here are key installation considerations:
Select Experienced Fabricators
Quartz countertop installation is not DIY friendly. Hire professional fabricators intimately familiar with quartz materials, adhesives, and reinforcement requirements. Read reviews and evaluate experience. Confirm they follow the specific quartz manufacturer’s instructions. Improper installation techniques are a top cause of eventual cracking.
Check Slabs for Flaws
Inspect all quartz slabs closely prior to fabrication. Look for any manufacturer defects, pits, surface cracks, or uneven coloration throughout the material thickness. Reject any questionable slabs to avoid inherited flaws or weaknesses. Also examine edges for proper support inserts pre-installed by the manufacturer.
Ensure cabinets are plumb, level, and structurally sound without sagging, gaps, or alignment issues along the entire installation surface before installing quartz. Remediate any underlying cabinet defects first. Add strengtheners or additional braces if needed. The slab integrity depends wholly on the underlying cabinet base integrity.
The adhesive chosen must provide a permanent, crack-resistant bond resistant to vibration, shifting, and shocks. Adhesives designed specifically for quartz work best. Follow all adhesive application and usage directions precisely to ensure optimal bonding strength. Improper adhesion is a common cause of cracks at seams and along the slab perimeter.
Strategic seam placement minimizes concentrated stresses on the slabs. Seams should never align with cabinet edges or high use areas. Stagger seams across multiple slab runs. Follow manufacturer guidelines for recommended seam locations and joints where possible. Seaming mistakes can lead to tension cracks.
Around all exposed edges, use specialty reinforcing edge adhesives made specifically for quartz. These materials fill any gaps between the slab and cabinet edge for added stability. Perimeter overhangs without edge support eventually crack from the unsupported weight.
Backsplashes need independent structural bracing, not just silicone adhesive. Improperly adhered backsplashes shift and exert torsion forces onto the countertop surface that can crack it. Use backsplashes with attached kerfs or mechanical fasteners to avoid this issue.
Quartz requires small expansion joints near heat sources like ovens and cooktops. This gap allows thermal expansion without lateral stresses. Adhesives and grout materials designed for expansion joints are installed here. Neglecting expansion joints risks temperature-related cracks.
Proper bracket placement provides critical reinforcement for overhangs and high stress points. Use heavy duty L-brackets designed for quartz. Position according to manufacturer overhang recommendations to adequately support the slab weight. Insufficient brackets crack over time.
Schedule periodic maintenance inspections with the original fabricator. Check for any new cracks or bond line separations needing repair under warranty. Spot correct any installation deficiencies before major damage occurs. Follow all manufacturer care and cleaning guidelines to