Quartz countertops are an increasingly popular choice for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects. Made from ground quartz crystals combined with resins and pigments, quartz offers an attractive, low-maintenance, and durable surface. However, one common concern people have about quartz is whether it scratches easily. Here is a detailed look at the scratch resistance of quartz countertops.
How Resistant is Quartz to Scratches?
One of the biggest benefits of quartz counters is that they are extremely scratch resistant compared to materials like granite or marble. Quartz is composed of approximately 93-97% ground quartz crystals, one of the hardest minerals on Earth. The remaining 3-7% of the material is polymer resins that bind the quartz particles together.
The high quartz content makes these countertops highly scratch-resistant for daily wear and tear. In fact, quartz rates around a 7 on the Mohs hardness scale, compared to a diamond which rates 10. For reference, granite rates from 6-8 on the same scale. This extreme hardness makes quartz highly impervious to scratches from common kitchen tasks like chopping, slicing, and placing dishes and pots.
However, quartz is not completely indestructible. No countertop material is immune to all scratches, but quartz stands up better than most surfaces. With significant force and abrasion, quartz can be scratched by very hard materials like unglazed ceramics, cast iron skillets, or abrasive cleaners and pads. But under normal household use, quartz provides excellent scratch protection.
Factors That Impact Scratch Resistance
While all quartz counters are scratch-resistant, there are some factors that can influence how easily an individual quartz material or installation can become marked or damaged:
Quartz Brand and Composition
Not all quartz slabs are created equally. Some brands use higher-quality quartz particles and more premium resin formulations. Higher quartz content typically improves scratch resistance. Top brands like Caesarstone, Cambria, and Silestone tend to offer better durability than generic or low-cost quartz options.
Surface Finish and Maintenance
Quartz can be fabricated with different surface finishes, ranging from a polished sheen to more textured matte or honed finishes. Polished finishes usually highlight scratches less than textured surfaces. Proper care is also key – always use cutting boards, trivets and silicone mats to prevent unnecessary surface damage.
Color and Pattern
Quartz comes in a wide array of colors and patterns. Solid, light-colored slabs will show marks more readily than darker quartz. Busy granite-like patterns can also hide scratches better than uniform solid quartz. This is an important consideration depending on your color preference.
Proper seamless installation is crucial for any countertop. Poor fabrication with uneven seams and gaps can lead to chipping and increased susceptibility to damage along the quartz edges and cutouts. Always hire experienced professionals for quartz installation.
Some areas of countertops see more wear than others. Islands and peninsulas are more prone to casual leaning and abuse than a dining table quartz overhang. Backsplashes also experience less exposure than main counter areas. Expect more potential for marks in heavy usage zones.
How to Prevent Scratches
While quartz is impressively scratch-resistant, some basic preventative measures will keep your counters pristine for decades:
- Use cutting boards for food prep – never cut directly on the quartz surface
- Don’t drag pots, pans, or appliances across the counters
- Install padding underneath accessories like knife blocks
- Apply felt pads underneath furniture legs and decor
- Avoid abrasive cleansers and scrubbing devices
- Blot up spills immediately to prevent staining
- Clean with nonabrasive quartz-safe cleaners only
- Have sealants reapplied every 1-2 years by a pro
With proper care, your quartz counters should stay smooth and mark-free for many years of heavy usage. Keeping a few best practices in mind will help your quartz look as flawless as the day it was installed.
How to Fix Light Scratches and Marks on Quartz
Despite your best efforts, quartz counters can pick up minor scratches and superficial marks over time. Small, light scuffs are usually not very noticeable due to the natural patterns in quartz surfaces. But for more visibility, there are a few DIY options to improve the appearance of light scratches:
- Clean first – Use a nonabrasive cleaner suitable for quartz to clean the scratched area to remove any surface debris or dirt trapped in the mark.
- Sanding – For shallow marks, use a fine 400 grit sanding block to very lightly buff the scratch in the same direction as the countertop polish lines. Take great care not to apply too much pressure and damage the surface further.
- Polish – After sanding, apply a specialty quartz polish product (like Gel-Gloss) to restore the quartz shine and help disguise fine scratches. Use small circular motions to work the polish into the surface.
- Heat – For very minor surface marks, a brief pass with a handheld blow dryer on a low warm setting can temporarily improve the look. Avoid prolonged excessive heat.
- Commercial scrubs – Products like Bar Keepers Friend can also be used to gently rub out some shallow scratches. Avoid heavy scrubbing force.
For deeper scratches that catch your fingernail, professional help may be needed to properly polish and refinish the damaged area. But for light everyday marks, some simple DIY approaches can often refresh the look of your quartz.
Professional Quartz Scratch Repair
If your quartz countertop develops a deeper scratch or gouge that penetrates the surface, professional help is recommended. Attempting to fix severe damage as a DIY project risks damaging the counters further. Here are some professional scratch repair options:
Sanding and Polishing
Quartz fabrication shops have specialized tools to sand out and restore damaged areas of quartz. This involves expertly sanding the scratch and surrounding area in increasing fine grits to remove the mark and then re-polishing the sanded surface to a smooth factory finish. This professional process removes far more material than DIY sanding.
Filling and Sealing
For deeper scratches, the damaged section may need to be filled with a color-matched filler epoxy. The material is precisely mixed to match the surrounding quartz. Once filled, the area can be re-sanded and re-polished. This restores the look while repairing the scratch.
If damage is severe enough, the best option may be to remove and replace an entire affected section or panels of the countertop. Since quartz is non-porous, new slabs can be seamlessly bonded into place for an invisible repair. This avoids the appearance of obvious filled patches in highly visible areas.
In cases of extensive damage, a full resurfacing of the quartz may be performed. This involves mechanically grinding down the entire surface in tiny increments to remove all scratches and damage and then re-polishing the freshly exposed undersurface. This can restore badly damaged quartz to like-new condition.
Professional quartz repair may have associated costs, but can make scratched counters look pristine again and avoid a full replacement. Be sure to hire an experienced quartz fabricator or installer for best results.
Cost to Repair Scratched Quartz Countertops
The cost to repair scratched or damaged quartz countertops depends on the severity of the damage and type of professional restoration required. Here are typical ballpark costs:
- Minor sanding/polishing – $100 – $300
- Scratch filling and sealing – $200 – $600
- Panel replacement – $400 – $1000 per new panel installed
- Full resurfacing – $2000 – $3500
Qualified quartz technicians will assess the damage and recommend the most cost-effective repair approach. If the countertop has reached an unsalvageable state, a full replacement may be required at a cost of $80 – $140 per square foot installed.
How to Prevent Quartz Scratches When Remodeling
During a kitchen or bathroom remodel involving quartz countertops, be sure to take steps to keep the new counters damage-free:
- Keep counters covered with protective plastic or cardboard when not actively working on installation
- Use soft clean drop cloths to prevent debris, tools, or materials from contacting the surface
- Hold off on installing cabinets, sinks, etc directly onto counters until all construction is complete
- Delay moving in appliances until the very end of the project
- Educate all workers to be cautious and avoid leaning or dragging objects across the quartz
A little extra care goes a long way to let your beautiful new quartz counters emerge pristine after a remodel.
Signs Your Quartz Needs Professional Help
While DIY fixes work for minor marks, some types of damage warrant contacting a professional:
- Deep gouges or scratches that catch on your fingernail
- Noticeable chips along the counter edges or around cutouts
- Micro-cracks radiating from impact points
- Burns or discoloration from excessive heat
- Large stained areas that resist cleaning
- Visible seam separation or cracked caulking
Don’t worry about small scratches diminishing the look of your quartz too much. But for more concerning damage, the right repairs can restore your counters to their original beauty.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does quartz scratch as easily as granite?
No, quartz is significantly more scratch resistant than natural stone like granite. Granite rates from 6-8 on the Mohs scale, while quartz is around 7. This makes quartz much less prone to scratching and etching from regular kitchen use.
Is quartz more scratch resistant than marble?
Absolutely. Marble rates only a 3-4 on the Mohs hardness scale, making it very vulnerable to scratching and staining. Quartz is much more durable than the softer marble surface.
Can cutting on a quartz countertop cause scratches?
Direct cutting on the counter will almost certainly cause scratches over time. Always use a cutting board for food prep. The same goes for placing hot pans directly on the surface. Trivets and hot pads are a must.
Do textured quartz scratches show up more?
Generally, yes. Unlike a polished quartz slab, textured or honed finishes will make scratches more noticeable visually. But they don’t inherently scratch easier. Keep this in mind when selecting a surface finish.
Can I use a magic eraser on quartz scratches?
Magic erasers can potentially create even more tiny scuffs in the surface. It’s best to stick to cleaning products specifically formulated to be non-abrasive for quartz. Avoid anything highly abrasive.
How deep of a scratch can quartz withstand before needing replacement?
It depends on the visual impact, but scratches that catch your fingernail likely warrant professional repair. If the damage penetrates too deeply into the slab, replacement may be required. But quartz can withstand fairly significant scratching.
Should I seal my quartz counters to prevent scratches?
Sealing isn’t required for quartz since it’s non-porous, but professional-grade sealants can provide an added layer of protection against etching and staining, if reapplied every 1-2 years.
Is it normal for new quartz counters to get some minor scratches?
Yes, some light scuffs from normal use are to be expected on any countertop surface. Don’t worry about small marks on a newer installation. It’s difficult to keep quartz perfectly flawless indefinitely.
While no countertop is completely immune to scratches, quartz stands up extremely well compared to other options like marble or laminate. The durable quartz content and today’s advanced manufacturing makes quartz one of the most scratch-resistant materials for kitchens and baths.
With proper care and maintenance, quartz should stay looking like new for decades before needing resurfacing or replacement. For eventual light scratches, DIY fixes can often restore the appearance. But it’s always wise to contact pros for deeper damage. All in all, the scratch resistance of quartz makes it an excellent choice for long-lasting beauty and performance.