Quartz countertops have become an extremely popular option for kitchen and bathroom remodels in recent years. Made from ground quartz crystals combined with resins and pigments, quartz offers an attractive, low-maintenance, and durable surface. However, many homeowners have questions about how easily quartz can become scratched during daily use. Here is an in-depth look at the scratch resistance of quartz countertops.
What is Quartz?
Quartz is an engineered stone made from roughly 90% ground natural quartz crystals combined with polyester resins and pigments. The quartz provides strength and hardness, while the resins bind the material together. The pigments add color and pattern.
Compared to natural stone countertops like granite and marble, quartz has a more consistent appearance since it is manufactured, not mined. The resins make quartz non-porous, so it does not need to be regularly sealed like natural stone.
While granite remains popular, quartz has surged in popularity for countertops in recent years. Homeowners are attracted to its appearance, durability, and lower maintenance needs compared to natural stone.
Is a Quartz Countertop Scratch Resistant?
Quartz has excellent scratch resistance due to the hardness of the natural quartz aggregates within it. On the Mohs Hardness Scale, which measures the ability of one material to scratch another, quartz ranks at around 7.
For comparison, diamond ranks as a 10 (the maximum) on the hardness scale. Granite ranks from 6 to 7, while marble ranks lower at around 3 to 5. The higher the number, the greater the material’s scratch resistance.
The resins binder in quartz also contributes to its scratch resistance. Overall, quartz rates as one of the most scratch-resistant countertop materials available, second only to granite (when granite is properly sealed).
What Can Scratch a Quartz Countertop?
While highly scratch-resistant, quartz is not completely scratch-proof. Materials harder than quartz on the Mohs scale can cause scratches, including:
- Diamonds – Since diamond is a 10 on the Mohs scale, it can scratch quartz. Diamonds on jewelry should not scratch quartz under normal wear, but dragging a diamond point across the surface may leave a mark.
- Abrasive pads – Scouring pads and abrasive cleaners contain minerals like aluminum oxide that are harder than quartz. They can scuff and dull the surface.
- Sharp objects – Very sharp objects like knives and razors can cut into quartz, leaving scratches and cuts. Applying significant pressure with sharp items increases the risk of scratching.
- Sand and grit – While the quartz crystals provide hardness, small particles like sand and grit can get lodged in the resin binder and scrape across the surface, causing fine scratches.
- Falling objects – Dropping heavy, sharp or rough objects on a quartz countertop may chip, crack or scratch the surface, particularly on the edges and corners.
With proper care, quartz countertops are very scratch resistant for daily kitchen use. However, anything harder than quartz or applied with pressure has the potential to damage the surface over time.
How to Prevent Scratching
Follow these tips to keep quartz countertops looking their best and avoid unnecessary scratching:
- Use cutting boards for food prep. Never cut directly on the quartz surface.
- Do not drag cookware or appliances across the countertop. Always lift items to move them.
- Clean spills promptly to prevent staining. Don’t let liquids sit.
- Use coasters under glasses and bottles.
- Avoid abrasive scrub pads and powders. Use a soft sponge or cloth with mild soap and water.
- Rinse the countertop after cleaning to remove any debris or cleaning product residue.
- Use trivets and hot pads under hot pans and dishes. Quartz can withstand heat, but prolonged direct heat could cause discoloration.
- Seal and polish the countertop 1-2 times per year to maintain the protective finish.
- Immediately clean any spills that can stain, like wine, coffee and fruit juice.
- Wipe up spills of oils, grease or acidic foods like lemons, tomatoes and vinegar.
- Lift objects to move them, never drag them across the surface.
With some basic care and maintenance habits, it is possible to prevent scratching and damage to quartz countertops during everyday use.
What Does a Scratch Look Like on Quartz?
Since quartz is non-porous, scratches remain on the surface rather than sinking into the material. Very light surface scratches may be barely visible on quartz countertops. Deeper scratches will look like thin white lines across the surface.
Here are some examples of how scratches may appear on a quartz countertop:
- Fine scratches – Barely visible, very thin faint lines across the surface. These are often only visible under certain lighting conditions. Caused by things like sand, grit or rubbing.
- Surface scratches – More visible white lines that run perpendicular across the surface. May catch your fingernail if you run it across them. Caused by sharp objects like knives, or items dragged across the surface.
- Deep gouges – Wide white lines and cracks that penetrate deeper through the top layers. Visible from multiple angles and light. Caused by very sharp objects and high pressure or impact.
- Chips – Missing pieces of material, often on corners and edges. Sections of the countertop may look like they have flaked off. Caused by heavy impact of falling/hitting objects.
- Etch marks – Dull, rough looking spots etched into the surface. Sometimes appear circular or ring-shaped. Caused by highly acidic liquids like lemon juice or chemicals sitting too long on the quartz.
The appearance, depth and visibility of scratches can vary depending on the grade and quality of the quartz material. Inspect the countertop carefully under good lighting from multiple angles to identify any damage. Very minor scratches may be hard to spot without close examination.
Can You Remove Scratches from Quartz?
While quartz is scratch-resistant, it is not actually scratch-proof. Light surface marks can usually be minimized, but deeper scratches are often permanent. Here are the options for dealing with various quartz scratches:
Fine Surface Scratches
- Use a steam cleaner to gently buff out minor scratches. The heat helps soften the resin so scratches can be smoothed away.
- Apply a quartz polish product formulated to remove light scratches. Follow product directions carefully.
- Gently rub a wet Mr. Clean Magic Eraser over scratches to minimize their appearance. This works best for new, light scratches.
- Use a buffing pad designed for use on quartz to gently polish away minor marks. Apply minimal pressure.
- Unfortunately, scratches that penetrate through multiple layers of the quartz cannot be repaired or removed at home. These require professional help.
- A countertop pro can carefully sand and then polish areas with deeper scratches to minimize the appearance of damage. However, sanding cannot remove deep grooves.
- For chips or gouges in high-traffic areas, quartz repairs or a full replacement slab may ultimately be needed for the best appearance.
Scratches on quartz should be addressed immediately before they worsen. Consult a countertop pro about repair options for any significant scratches or damage that affects the look or performance of the countertop.
Do All Quartz Countertops Scratch the Same?
While all quartz has excellent scratch resistance, not every brand or color scratch or show wear identically. Some factors that influence scratch visibility:
Popular quartz brands like Caesarstone, Cambria, Silestone and Vicostone perform very similarly in scratch tests. However, lower-end generic quartz brands may be slightly more prone to scratching. Stick with quality major brands for the best durability.
Quartz Color & Pattern
Solid darker colors like blacks, browns and reds don’t show scratches as readily as lighter quartz. Whites and off-whites will show every faint mark. Speckled patterned quartz hides scratches better than solid colors.
Quality of Installation
Poor seams and gaps where countertop slabs meet can trap debris and cause more surface wear. Quality professional installation is key.
How you care for the countertop also affects scratch resistance. Quartz properly sealed and cleaned regularly will better withstand daily wear.
While all high-quality quartz has incredible scratch hardness, some colors and textures hide light scratches better. Consider patterned quartz in darker shades if concerned about scratch appearance over time.
How Durable is a Quartz Countertop?
In addition to scratch resistance, quartz offers excellent durability:
- Quartz is non-porous, so it resists staining much better than natural stone.
- It withstands heat up to 212°F before possible discoloration.
- Quartz is not affected by acids, so it holds up to foods like lemons and tomatoes.
- Bacteria have difficulty growing on quartz due to its non-porous nature.
- Chips and cracks are rare, but may occur on the edges and corners from heavy impact.
- With proper maintenance, quartz easily lasts decades with minimal signs of wear.
Quartz’s durability, along with its scratch resistance, make it an ideal choice for busy kitchens. It maintains its beauty remarkably well compared to many other countertop materials.
Is Quartz More Scratch Resistant Than Granite?
Granite and quartz are the two most popular natural stone countertop options. Quartz arguably has a slight edge when it comes to scratch resistance:
- Quartz rates 7 on the Mohs hardness scale. Granite ranks from 6 to 7, depending on mineral composition.
- Quartz has high concentrations of the very hard quartz minerals throughout. Granite has softer areas between the minerals.
- Quartz is non-porous, so scratches stay on the surface. Granite is porous, so debris works down into scratches.
- Quartz is resistant to etching by acids. Acidic liquids can dull and etch granite.
However, granite remains a very scratch-resistant option when properly sealed and maintained. The biggest difference is that small scratches on granite are more obvious and darker than on quartz.
For most homeowners, either material provides excellent scratch resistance for a kitchen countertop with proper care. Granite needs more frequent sealing to stay protected. Ultimately, choosing between them comes down to visual preferences in appearance, colors and patterns.
Does Quartz Need to be Sealed Like Granite?
Unlike granite and other natural stones, quartz does NOT require regular sealing. Here’s why:
- Granite is porous, so sealing is required to prevent stains from permeating. Quartz is non-porous, so spills remain on the surface.
- Resin binders fill in the natural pores and spaces between quartz particles. This prevents moisture from penetrating.
- Since quartz is manufactured, not quarried, sealants are added during the fabrication process. Additional sealing is unnecessary.
While sealing isn’t required, quartz does benefit from occasional polishing. A quartz-specific polish or sealer can provide added scratch protection and create a glossier appearance. However, reapplication is only needed once or twice per year for maintenance, unlike granite’s 3-4 times per year.
Does a Quartz Countertop Need to be Polished?
Regular polishing is not mandatory for quartz countertops, but can help maintain its factory finish. Here are the benefits of occasional polishing:
- Removes minor scratches and scuffs from daily wear
- Creates a glossier, smoother surface shine
- Adds an protective barrier against future scratches
- Prevents dulling of the surface over time
- Removes hard water marks and small stains
- Evens out any slight variations between slabs for a seamless look
Use a polishing product specifically designed for quartz rather than a general stone polish. Follow product instructions carefully. For areas with deeper scratches or etch marks, consult a pro.
How often to polish depends on use, traffic and appearance:
- Home cooks may polish 1-2 times per year
- Busy kitchens or bathrooms with higher use may need polishing 3-4 times per year
- Quartz around sinks used heavily daily may need polishing more frequently
Polishing quartz regularly helps keep it looking like new for decades in a home.
Can You Buff Out Scratches in Quartz?
Light buffing can reduce the appearance of very fine scratches in quartz, but it cannot eliminate deep scratches or damage. Use these methods cautiously:
- A quartz polishing compound can disguise minor marks when used with a soft cloth.
- Rubbing a wet magic eraser lightly over the surface can minimize some new, light scratches.
- Heat from a steam cleaner helps relax the resin so very fine marks can be gently buffed out.
- Microfiber cloths can gloss over tiny scratches.
However, deep scratches or heavy damage require professional repair or replacement. Aggressive do-it-yourself buffing can actually worsen the look of scratches. Leave any significant marks for the countertop installer to evaluate and address.
How Long Does Quartz Last Compared to Other Countertops?
Quartz offers exceptional longevity as a countertop material. Here’s how its durability compares:
- Lifespan of 15-20 years with proper care
- Scratch, stain, heat and acid resistant
- Non-porous so minimal sealing needed
- Chips and cracks unlikely without major impact
- Lifespan of 15-20 years when well-maintained
- Prone to staining and etching without consistent sealing 3-4x per year
- Heat and scratch resistant but softer than quartz
- Chips or cracks more likely compared to quartz
- 10-15 year lifespan
- Etches easily from acid. Stains without diligent sealing.
- Relatively soft – prone to scratching
- Cracks and chips fairly easily
- 10-15 years until wear, damage necessitates replacement
- Prone to chipping, burning, scratching, staining
- Seams easily visible
- Not heat or stain resistant
- Lifespan of 10-25 years depending on usage and care
- Easily scratched and stained if unsealed
- Heat damage likely unless protected
- Bacteria can grow in cuts and scrapes
Quartz comes out ahead of most other countertop materials for longevity thanks to its durability. It performs beautifully for 15 years or more with minimal maintenance required.
Is There Such Thing as a Scratch-proof Countertop?
While no countertop material is completely impervious to scratching or damage, quartz comes remarkably close for a material suitable for kitchen use.
Compared to natural stone, quartz offers superior scratch resistance. Granite and marble, while very hard, are more prone to damage from knives, pots/pans and acids.
Manmade options like Corian, laminate and ceramic tile cannot match quartz for durability and scratch resistance over the long term.
The closest to a scratch-proof kitchen countertop would be stainless steel. However, stainless shows fingerprints, stains, requires frequent polishing and cannot match the attractive aesthetic of quartz. It also dents from impact rather than chipping.
For unrivaled scratch resistance plus stain protection, heat tolerance, non-porousness, minimal maintenance, and long-lasting beauty, quartz countertops are as close to scratch-proof as it gets for real-world kitchens. With proper care, they will stay looking new despite heavy daily use.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you damage quartz?
While very durable, quartz can be damaged. Scratches, chips, cracks and dulling are possible over time with heavy use. However, quartz withstands daily wear and tear exceptionally well compared to other natural stone and manmade options.
How do you clean scratches from a quartz countertop?
For light, surface scratches, use a quartz polish, steam, or Mr Clean magic eraser for minor buffing. Deeper scratches require pro repair or replacement. Never use abrasives.
Do quartz countertops stain?
Quartz resists stains remarkably well due to its non-porous surface. However, oily stains can occur without prompt cleanup. Avoid letting spills sit. Dry and wipe the surface after cleaning.
Can quartz chips be repaired?
Some minor chips can be smoothed by a pro via sanding and polishing. However significant chips will likely require full replacement of the damaged quartz slabs. Luckily chips are rare with quartz unless subjected to major impact.
How often should you seal quartz?
Quartz never requires sealing due to its non-porous surface. However, annual or biannual polishing is recommended to enhance its factory finish. Use a quartz-specific polish, not generic stone sealer.
While no countertop material is completely impervious to damage, quartz offers unmatched scratch resistance for a natural stone-like product. The durability of quartz arises from its high quartz content and polymer resins that create a hard, non-porous surface.
Quartz can be scratched by objects harder than a 7 on the Mohs scale, but it stands up remarkably well to daily kitchen use. Follow basic care and maintenance tips to prevent unnecessary scratching on quartz surfaces. Small scratches can often be buffed out, but deep marks require professional repair.
Compared to other natural stones and manmade countertop products, quartz excels in longevity, stain resistance and low maintenance needs. With proper care