Quartz countertops have become incredibly popular in recent years as a stylish, durable, and low-maintenance alternative to natural stone and other materials. Many homeowners love the look of crisp white quartz, but some have concerns that the countertops may yellow or discolor over time. Here we’ll examine whether quartz countertops actually yellow with age, the causes and risk factors, and steps homeowners can take to keep their countertops looking like new.
What is Quartz?
Quartz countertops, sometimes referred to as engineered stone, are made from ground natural quartz crystals combined with resins, polymers, and pigments. The quartz content typically makes up 90-95% of the material, making it extremely hard and durable. The resins bind the quartz particles together and allow creating different colors and patterns.
Unlike natural stone countertops which are mined from quarries, quartz slabs are manufactured in factories under highly controlled conditions. This allows much more consistency in color, veining patterns, and overall quality. The resins also make quartz non-porous, so it resists staining much better than granite, marble, and other natural stones.
Does Quartz Yellow Over Time?
Pristine white quartz countertops can make a stunning statement in any kitchen. But over the years, some homeowners report their once-white counters take on a yellowish tinge. So does quartz actually turn yellow, or is something else at play?
The short answer is no – when properly cared for, a quality quartz material should not inherently yellow or discolor as it ages. The polymer resins and pigments used in manufacturing quartz are designed to be colorfast and resist UV light.
However, there are a few factors that can sometimes make quartz appear more yellow over time:
Exposure to Sunlight
Direct sun exposure is the #1 cause of a yellowing appearance in quartz. Like other materials, prolonged UV exposure can damage the resin coating and cause gradual discoloration. Quartz is more resistant than natural stone, but not completely immune. Deficient resins or thinner/lighter colored slabs are most susceptible.
Staining from Spills & Cleaners
Foods, oils, and acidic liquids left on the counter can seep into microscopic pores in the quartz surface. Certain harsh cleaners containing dyes or bleaches can also stain. These stains bond with the resin and create a yellowish discoloration.
Etching from Acids
Acidic substances like citrus, vinegar, and soft drinks can cause etching if not wiped up promptly. This erodes the glossy finish, causing a hazy, foggy appearance that appears yellowish.
Wear & Tear Over Decades
Quartz has outstanding durability, but no material lasts forever. After 25-30+ years, normal wear and small abrasions take their toll. This creates micro-scratches that give an aged, yellowed look.
So in summary, while quartz itself does not turn yellow, many years of sun, use, and inadequate care can make it appear more yellow than when first installed. But with proper maintenance, most quartz will retain its original bright white color and glossy finish for many years.
How to Keep Your Quartz Sparkling White
Keeping quartz counters looking like new long-term requires taking some basic preventative steps:
- Control sun exposure – Install window treatments to block direct sunlight on the counters. UV film on windows also helps filter out damages rays. Rotate decorative items to prevent uneven color changes.
- Quickly wipe spills – Don’t let liquids, oils or food residues sit on quartz. Always clean up spills as soon as possible. For dried spills, use a razor scraper to lift off.
- Use quartz-safe cleaners – Avoid bleaches, dyes, and harsh chemicals that can damage the resin coating. Mild soap and water is ideal for daily cleaning.
- Deep clean regularly – Every week or two, give the counters a thorough cleaning using a quartz cleaner/polisher to remove stuck-on grime that causes yellowing.
- Reseal as needed – Applying a quality quartz sealer every 1-2 years will add extra protection by filling in micro-scratches and pores.
- Get annual professional cleaning – Have pros deep clean and reseal your quartz counters to keep them looking like new. This prevents long-term damage.
Quartz Countertop Colors & Patterns Prone to Yellowing
While all quartz colors and patterns can yellow if not cared for properly, some are more prone to discoloration issues over time:
- White quartz – Lighter colors show staining, etching, and aging effects most readily. Stark white designs demand more maintenance.
- Light pastels – Softer hues like cream, buttercream, and light grays hide wear better than bright whites.
- Neutrals and darks – Rich colors like navy, charcoal, black, brown, and beige are least likely to appear yellow. The color hides minor scratches well.
- Non-uniform patterns – Quartz with lots of variation in veining, chips, and aggregate colors conceal small damages better than uniform solids.
- Matte finish – Glossy polished quartz shows even micro-scratches. A softly brushed matte is more forgiving of minor wearing.
- Thinner quartz – Cheaper counters made with less actual quartz material and more polymer resins tend to degrade faster. Quality brands use 90%+ real stone.
Signs Your Quartz Countertops Are Yellowing
How can you tell if your once-pristine white counters are starting to yellow or discolor? Here are a few key signs to watch for:
- Loss of gloss – The surface develops a hazy, clouded look and reflections aren’t as sharp.
- Faded white color – White quartz develops a dingy, yellowish cast and appears dull rather than crisp.
- Staining – Noticeable dark yellowish spots in certain areas, especially around the sink or cooktop.
- Visible scratches – Faint scratches and abrasions that are white or yellowish rather than clear.
- Etch marks – Areas near sinks and faucets develop cloudy marks from repeated exposure to water and cleaning products.
- Uneven color – Some sections of the quartz appear much whiter than others, signaling uneven wear and tear or sun exposure.
- Chalky feeling – Running your hand across the counter reveals a rough, chalky texture instead of a smooth polish.
- Rougher finish – Small pits, pores, and nicks that catch your fingernail. A high quality quartz should feel glassy smooth.
If you notice these warning signs, it’s time to take corrective steps to restore and protect your quartz counters before the damage becomes irreversible.
How To Restore Yellowed Quartz Countertops
If your quartz counters have developed a yellowish, worn appearance from sun exposure, stains, and etching damage, take heart – it is possible to return them to their original pristine white luster. Here are the steps for quartz countertop restoration:
1. Deep clean the surface
Use a specialized quartz cleaner containing polishing compounds to deeply cleanse the entire surface, removing built-up grime lodged in the pores which causes yellowing. Avoid bleach products which can further damage the resin coating.
2. Remove etch marks
Lightly polish out any etching or cloudy spots using a quartz polishing compound on a soft white pad. Start gently and increase pressure only if needed.
3. Repair deeper scratches
Use a quartz repair kit filler compound to fill in any nicks, chips, and heavier scratching. Sand flush and re-polish for invisible repairs.
4. Apply quartz sealer
Seal the entire surface with 2-3 coats of quality quartz sealer specifically designed to penetrate and fill micro-scratches and small pores that harbor stains.
5. Buff to a uniform finish
Use a soft white buffing pad and quartz polish cream to carefully buff the counters in a consistent direction. This removes any haze and restores an even glossy sheen.
6. Schedule annual professional maintenance
Have your quartz counters professionally cleaned, polished, and re-sealed once a year to keep them looking pristine. This preventative maintenance is the key to longevity.
With diligent cleaning, polishing, and re-sealing, most yellowed quartz countertops can be restored nearly to their original appearance. The process takes some elbow grease, but is worth it to extend the life of your investment.
How Much Does Quartz Yellowing Prevention Cost?
An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure when it comes to quartz countertop maintenance. Just how much does it cost to keep your counters looking white and fresh long-term? Here are typical costs:
- Quartz-safe cleaning supplies – $25-50 per year for soaps, sprays, polishes, etc.
- Window treatments – $300+ to install UV-filtering window films or curtains to control sunlight.
- Professional deep cleaning & sealing – $400-600 per year for comprehensive maintenance service.
- Full restoration if yellowed – $800-1,500 for more extensive cleaning, polishing, repairs, and sealing.
The few hundred dollars per year for diligent care is well worth it. Compare that to $3,000-$10,000 for a full quartz countertop replacement if you allow the counters to become irreparably damaged. An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure when it comes to quartz countertop maintenance.
FAQs About Yellowing Quartz Countertops
Can you bleach quartz countertops to make them whiter?
No, avoid using bleach or other harsh chemicals on quartz. These can damage the resin coating and worsen discoloration. Use only quartz-safe cleaners.
Should you seal quartz counters annually?
Yes, applying a quality quartz sealer every 1-2 years helps keep the surface protected from stains and etching. It fills in micro-pores and adds gloss.
Can faded quartz countertops be painted to restore color?
Painting is not recommended, as it will chip and peel quickly. A better solution is professional restoration by polishing, sealing, and buffing.
Will a yellowed quartz counter eventually need to be replaced?
In most cases, proper cleaning and restoration can revive dulled quartz counters. But counters with extreme damage may eventually need replacement.
Does a matte finish quartz yellow less than polished?
Matte finishes do hide scratches and wear better. But matte quartz still needs diligent care as it can lose luster and develop stains over time.
How long should white quartz countertops last until needing replacement?
With proper maintenance, most quartz should last 25-30 years before needing replacement. Avoid direct sun exposure and harsh cleaners for maximum longevity.
Can you restore just one section of yellowed quartz?
Spot restoration is difficult – the entire surface should be cleaned, polished, and sealed so the finish matches uniformly across the counters.
How often should you polish your quartz counters?
Aside from daily cleaning, a thorough polishing every 6-12 months helps maintain the glossy finish. Heavy use areas may need more frequent touch-ups.
What are signs moisture damage is causing quartz to yellow?
Look for cloudy spots, dull patches, chalky/rough feeling areas, and whitish etching, especially around sinks and faucets where exposure to water is highest.
While quartz won’t inherently yellow as it ages like some natural stone, it can gradually appear dull and yellowish if not properly cared for over many years. The good news is that with diligent cleaning, sealing, and polishing, yellowed quartz counters can usually be restored to like-new condition. Investing a little time and money in preventative annual maintenance is the most effective way to keep your counters looking brilliant white for decades. With a careful maintenance regimen, quartz countertops will retain their beauty and value for a lifetime.