Quartz countertops are a popular choice for many homeowners due to their durability, low maintenance, and stylish appearance. However, one common question that arises is whether or not quartz countertops need to be sealed. The short answer is no, quartz countertops do not need to be sealed. Here is a more in-depth look at why quartz countertops do not require sealing and how to care for them properly.
What is Quartz?
Quartz countertops, sometimes referred to as engineered stone, are made from ground natural quartz crystals combined with resins and pigments. The quartz content typically makes up 90-94% of the material, while the rest is polymer resins that bind it together.
The resins make quartz non-porous, so it does not need to be sealed like natural stone. The quartz crystals make it very hard and durable, resisting scratches, stains, and heat. Quartz is one of the most popular countertop materials because it combines aesthetics and practicality.
Why You Don’t Need to Seal Quartz
The main reason quartz countertops do not need sealing is because quartz is non-porous, unlike natural stone materials like granite, marble, and travertine.
The resin used in the manufacturing process fills in the natural pores and voids in the quartz, making it impervious to moisture and stains. Liquids and oils cannot penetrate the surface, so it will not absorb stains or harbor bacteria growth.
The non-porous quality makes quartz highly stain-resistant. Spilled liquids like wine, coffee, and juice can simply be wiped away instead of staining or etching the surface. However, you still want to clean up spills promptly to prevent possible damage.
Doesn’t Etch Like Natural Stone
While acidic substances like lemon juice or vinegar can eat away at surfaces like marble and limestone, quartz does not etch when exposed to acid. The resin coating prevents the etching effect.
Maintains Luster Without Sealing
Sealers are applied to natural stone countertops to prevent staining and help the stone retain its shine. But quartz’s non-porous surface stays smooth and glossy without a sealer.
Warranty May Be Voided
Sealing quartz counters could potentially void the manufacturer’s warranty. The warranties assure the material will be stain-resistant without sealing, so applying a sealer suggests the manufacturer’s claims are inadequate.
Added Expense for Unnecessary Step
High-quality sealers designed for stone surfaces are typically expensive. Sealing quartz means paying for an unnecessary product that provides no real benefits.
Can Trap Moisture
Improperly applied sealers can potentially cause problems by trapping moisture underneath the surface. This can lead to warping or delamination.
Proper Care for Quartz Countertops
Even though sealing is not required, quartz countertops do benefit from proper maintenance. Here are some tips for keeping quartz counters looking like new:
- Clean quartz frequently with a mild soap and warm water using a soft cloth or sponge. Rinse well and dry with a towel.
- For food prep areas, clean up spills and messes right away to minimize staining risks.
- Use a non-abrasive quartz cleaner to remove stuck-on dirt and buildup.
Avoid Harsh Chemicals
- Do not use abrasive cleaners, scouring pads, or powders that can scratch and dull the surface.
- Avoid harsh chemicals like bleach, ammonia, alkalis, or solvents. They can damage the resin binding.
- Vinegar, citrus juices, and wine should be wiped up quickly to prevent possible etching over time.
Prevent Heat Damage
- Use trivets and hot pads under hot pans, baking sheets, crock pots, etc. to prevent burns.
- Don’t place heated hair styling tools directly on the quartz.
- Prevent extended exposure to extreme heat from appliances like electric griddles.
Handle with Care
- Use cutting boards for food prep. Do not cut directly on the counter.
- Don’t pound or apply excessive force on the surface.
- Avoid dropping heavy or sharp objects that can chip or crack it.
Reseal Seams if Needed
- If seams between slabs open slightly over time, use a flexible clear caulk to reseal them.
- Use a quartz polish product occasionally to restore the polished surface and shine.
FAQs About Sealing Quartz Countertops
Should I seal my quartz countertop before using it?
No, sealing is not necessary for new quartz counters. The manufacturer has already treated and sealed the surface during production. Any extra sealing could cause problems.
Over time, does quartz need to be resealed?
Quartz never needs resealing. Its non-porous quality will prevent stains and damage without applying sealers over time.
What if my quartz countertop was sealed by the installer?
Some installers still seal quartz out of habit from working with natural stone. If your countertop was already sealed, do not continue reapplying sealers.
Does a matte quartz finish need sealing?
No, matte or honed quartz has the same non-porous qualities as a polished finish. Matte quartz still resists staining without a sealer.
Can sealing help improve the look of quartz?
Sealing will not enhance quartz’s appearance, since the material is already non-porous. Proper cleaning and polishing are better ways to keep the attractive look.
I want to be extra cautious. Is sealing quartz harmful?
Sealing is typically not damaging but unnecessary. Improperly applied sealers could potentially cause moisture issues. Refer to the manufacturer’s care guide.
The Bottom Line
Quartz manufacturers designed the material to be stain, scratch, and heat-resistant without any sealing required. While sealing can benefit natural stone countertops, applying a sealer to quartz does not improve its performance or appearance. In fact, sealing could potentially void the warranty or cause problems.
To keep quartz counters in immaculate condition, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for regular cleaning and avoidance of harsh chemicals and abrasives. With proper care and maintenance, quartz countertops will retain their like-new beauty for many years without requiring any sealing.
How Quartz Countertops Are Made
Understanding how quartz countertops are manufactured helps explain why they do not require sealing like natural stone. Here is an overview of the quartz fabrication process and how it creates a non-porous material:
The two main components blended together to create quartz slabs are:
- Quartz aggregates – Finely crushed and ground natural quartz mineral obtained from quarries. Accounts for over 90% of the material.
- Polyester resins – Act as a binding agent and give the material its color and pattern. Make up about 7-10% of the composition.
Mixing the Compounds
The quartz aggregates and resins are measured out and thoroughly mixed together in specific ratios to produce the desired aesthetic and performance qualities.
Pigments can be added to the resins during mixing to create the natural-looking veining and a wide array of colors. Different techniques and ratios result in distinct patterns.
Pressing into Slabs
The blended mixture is then poured into molds and pressed under intense vibration and vacuum conditions.
This compacting fuses the quartz particles and resins together into solid slabs and removes any air pockets.
Typical slab dimensions are about 145 square feet and 2 centimeters thick.
Curing and Finishing
After pressing, the quartz slabs cure in ovens which initiate hardening of the resins to solidify the material completely.
Once cooled, the finished slabs are polished on both sides to achieve the desired finish – either a smooth glossy surface or a matte/honed texture. Some textures are further enhanced by added treatments.
Why Sealing is Unnecessary
The combination of pressure and heat during the manufacturing fuses the quartz aggregates and polymer resins into an extremely hard, non-porous material.
The resins fill in all the spaces between the quartz particles to create a uniform surface that liquids cannot penetrate.
This makes quartz resistant to stains, etching, and moisture damage without any additional sealing required after installation.
Quartz Countertop Finishes Explained
Quartz surfaces come in different finishes, from glossy polished to matte and textured. Here is a guide to the main quartz countertop finish options and how they compare:
The most common and popular finish for quartz countertops is polished. This results in a smooth, shiny, reflective surface similar to granite.
A polished finish has a luxurious, elegant appearance. It also does the best job of showing off the colors, patterns, and veining in the material. Due to its non-porous nature, a polished quartz counter remains glossy without sealing.
One downside is that polished quartz can be prone to visible fingerprints and smudges that require frequent cleaning.
Matte / Honed
A matte, or honed, finish has a flat dull surface with no glossy shine. This gives the countertop a soft, natural, stone-like appearance.
Matte quartz disguises fingerprints, smudges, and minor scratches better than the polished version. It also does not reflect light or glare from overhead fixtures.
However, the flat honed finish does not highlight the color variations and veining patterns as vividly as polished quartz. Spills and stains on a matte surface are also less repairable.
A leather finish has a subtle texture similar to an orange peel. This treatment scatters light to reduce the surface’s shininess.
Leather quartz mimics the look of natural materials like limestone, concrete, travertine, or weathered wood. The pebbled texture hides fingerprints and scratches well.
However, food particles and spills can collect in the small grooves. The textured surface also makes the countertop harder to wipe down completely.
In addition to a leather look, quartz counters can be made to resemble other textures:
- A rippled appearance, resembling waves.
- A sandblasted or frosted finish.
- Rough carved patterns.
- A brushed linear texture.
Textured quartz counters provide more visual interest than polished or matte. But heavily finished textures make cleaning more difficult.
How Durable Are Quartz Countertops?
Quartz is praised for its durable qualities. Here is an overview of how it resists damage in key areas:
Quartz’s high quartz content makes it very scratch resistant for daily use. Only diamond or objects harder than quartz can scratch the surface. It maintains its smooth look without sealing.
Quartz holds up better than solid surface counters under abrasions from pots, utensils, keys, etc. But cutting directly on the counter should still be avoided.
The non-porous resin binds the quartz so liquids cannot soak in. Spills like wine and oil are easily wiped away.
However, strongly pigmented liquids could stain if left for prolonged time. Avoiding extended exposure is important.
Quartz can withstand brief contact with moderately hot pots or pans fresh from the oven or stove. But constant exposure to high heat can damage the solid surface.
Trivets and hot pads should still be used. Prolonged contact with extremely hot appliances like griddles should be avoided.
Quartz is quite tough against impacts from heavy objects. But excessive force could potentially chip the edges or corners. Avoid hitting the surface with heavy force.
While quartz resists acidic substances better than natural stone, prolonged exposure can still degrade the solid surface and resin over time. Quickly wipe up spills of items like lemon juice.
Quartz Countertop Care and Maintenance
Caring for quartz properly helps it retain its good looks. Here are some top tips for cleaning and maintenance:
- Clear counters of debris and wipe up spills quickly.
- Frequent cleaning using a mild soap, warm water, and soft cloth prevents buildup.
- Rinse thoroughly after cleaning and dry with a paper towel.
- For stubborn residue, use a non-abrasive quartz cleaner.
Avoid Harsh Chemicals
- Do not use products containing bleach, alkali, acids, or ammonia.
- Vinegar, citrus, and wine should be cleaned promptly to avoid possible etching.
- If using a cleaner like Windex, immediately wipe off.
Prevent Heat Damage
- Always use trivets or hot pads under hot pans, dishes, etc.
- Never place flat irons or curling irons directly on the surface.
- Avoid prolonged direct heat exposure from appliances like electric grills.
Additional Care Tips
- Cut only on designated cutting boards, not directly on the quartz.
- Don’t pound or apply excessive force on the countertop.
- Lifting heavy objects can prevent scraping the surface.
- Reseal separations at counter seams if they appear.
Maintain the Finish
- Matte finishes benefit from occasional re-polishing.
- Use a quartz-specific polish to enhance the surface sheen.
- Avoid abrasive pads or powders that could dull the finish.
Benefits of Quartz Countertops
Understanding what makes quartz a top choice for countertops helps explain why sealing is unnecessary:
Quartz’s hardness and scratch resistance allow it to retain its smooth surface and avoid damage from regular use. The non-porous quality provides long-lasting stain and water resistance.
Aside from occasional polishing, quartz needs very little maintenance. No sealing or resealing is required. Simple cleaning with soap and water keeps it looking like new.
The non-porous surface does not harbor bacteria or allow mold or mildew to grow. Quartz offers good hygiene for kitchen and bath areas.
Quartz closely mimics the veined look of natural stone but offers more variety in colors, patterns, and finishes to fit any decor.
Quartz does not emit radon gas or other toxins, making it safe for home use, unlike some natural stones.
While pricier than laminate, quartz counters are an affordable option compared to natural stone that requires frequent sealing and maintenance.
Quartz Countertop Pros and Cons
No material is perfect for every situation. Here is a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of quartz counters:
- Extremely durable and scratch-resistant surface.
- Stain, heat, and impact resistant.
- Easy to clean and maintain without sealing.
- Mold, mildew, and bacteria resistant.
- Wide variety of colors, patterns, and textures.
- Affordable compared to natural stone options.
- Does not emit radon or other toxins.
- Can be damaged by excessive heat or force.
- Visible seams in some applications.
- Manufactured appearance lacks natural stone charm for some.
- Limited to mostly solid colors and patterns.
- Higher cost than laminate or tile options.
- Matte finish is prone to permanent staining.
- Can chip if exposed corners are impacted.
Increase Quartz Countertop Longevity
Quartz’s durability ensures your counters will last many years. Some tips to get the most life out of your investment:
Clean regularly: Prevent buildup of grime that can degrade the finish over time.
Avoid direct high heat: Routinely exposing quartz to very high temperatures from appliances can cause gradual damage.
Use trivets and cutting boards: Protect the surface from scratches, impacts, and cuts that could allow moisture intrusion.
Reseal separations: If gaps appear between sections, use caulk to prevent moisture penetration between slabs.
Inspect and address damage: Immediately fix any chippage, cracks, or discoloration to stop it worsening.
Consider re-polishing: Have a professional restore the glossy finish if dullness or scratches start appearing from heavy usage.
Update sealants: Ensure backsplashes and caulked seams stay watertight to prevent water entry.
Deep clean occasionally: Use a quartz-specific deep cleaning product to remove stuck-on grime for a refreshed surface.
Following the manufacturer’s care guidelines coupled with these tips will maximize the longevity of your quartz countertops.
FAQs About Caring for Quartz Countertops
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about maintaining quartz counters:
How can I add shine to my quartz countertop?
Using a quartz polish product helps enhance the glossy shine. Avoid wax or treatments meant for natural stone.
What is the best daily cleaner for quartz?
A mild soap and water works for regular cleaning. For stubborn spots, use a specially formulated quartz cleaner.
My quartz counter has some dull spots. What can fix this?
Dullness, etching, or scratches can be re-polished out by a professional stone restoration service. Avoid DIY polishing.
What should I do if my quartz countertop gets scratched?
Very minor superficial scratches can be gently buffed with a plastic scouring pad. Deeper scratches may require professional help.
How do I remove dried food or grease stains?
Gently scrub with a non-abrasive cleaner and damp sponge or cloth. Avoid using too much