Quartz countertops are an increasingly popular choice for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects thanks to their durability, low maintenance, and stylish appearance. However, like any surface, quartz requires some care and maintenance to keep it looking pristine. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to protect and care for quartz countertops to help them retain their beauty for years to come.
Cleaning Quartz Countertops
Regular cleaning is the first step in protecting quartz counters. Here are some best practices:
Use Mild Cleaners
Avoid abrasive cleaners or anything acidic like vinegar, lemon juice, etc. These can etch or dull the surface over time. Instead, clean quartz with mild dish soap and warm water using a soft cloth or sponge. Rinse thoroughly after cleaning.
Daily Wipe Downs
Wipe up spills immediately to prevent staining, especially oils, wines, tomatoes, mustard etc. A quick daily wipe down with a damp microfiber cloth reduces buildup.
Deep Clean Weekly
Once a week, give the counters a thorough cleaning using a gentle quartz cleaner or all-purpose cleaner diluted with water. Clean grout lines with a soft bristled brush. This regular maintenance keeps quartz looking like new.
Avoid Bleach and Ammonia
Never use cleaners containing bleach, ammonia, alkalis or hydrofluoric acid as these can pit and discolor the finish.
Use a Limestone/Marble Cleaner
Look for a specially formulated limestone/marble cleaner which are safe for quartz but powerful enough to deep clean without dulling the finish.
Prevent Soap Scum Buildup
Soap and minerals in water can leave a cloudy film over time. Use a squeegee after washing dishes to remove excess water and promote quicker drying.
Protecting Against Heat Damage
Quartz is engineered to be more heat resistant than natural stone. However, prolonged direct heat exposure can still damage the solid acrylic-polyester resin binder causing cracks and discoloration. Follow these tips to avoid thermal shock:
Use Trivets and Hot Pads
Place trivets, hot pads or cooling racks beneath hot pans, baking sheets, casserole dishes etc. removed directly from the oven or stove top. Never set them directly on the quartz.
Don’t Leave Hot Appliances
Avoid leaving hot hair tools, crock pots, griddles, instant pots or other electrical appliances directly on the counter. The prolonged heat can penetrate the stone.
Backsplashes protect wall edges above ranges, ovens, and cooktops from splatters than can heat and discolor quartz. Full backsplashes of tile or other non-combustible material provide the best protection.
Don’t Pour Boiling Liquids
Always allow tea kettles, pots of boiling water etc. to cool slightly before emptying over a quartz sink. Thermal shock from rapid temperature changes can damage the material.
Flambéing food requires igniting alcohol which produces an open flame right on the counter. Choose another prep area for this cooking technique.
No Hot Pans from Oven/Broiler
When broiling meat or pulling hot pans from a hot oven, use thick mitts and set them on a trivet or rack to cool – never directly on quartz.
Limit Candle Use
Avoid leaving lit candles or sterno warmers in close proximity to the countertop. The open flame heats the surrounding stone.
Check Appliance Manuals
Some appliances like instant pots, air fryers etc. specifically warn against use on quartz and solid surface countertops due to excessive heat output. Always check manuals.
Preventing Scratches and Nicks
Quartz stands up remarkably well to daily wear and tear. However, extremely sharp objects can scrape, scratch or nick the surface. Here are some precautions:
Use Cutting Boards
Never cut or chop directly on the counter. Always use a cutting board to protect from knife marks.
Limit Abrasive Scouring
Aggressive scouring with steel wool, hard sponges, or abrasive cleansers can wear down the finish over time. Use gentle pressure with soft sponges/cloths.
Install Edge Guards
Metal edge guards protect exposed corners against nicks from metal cookware, keys, tools etc. Great for heavy traffic areas like near the stove or sink.
Avoid Harsh Chemicals
Do not use paint removers, turpentine, nail polish remover or drain cleaners on quartz which can remove the polish.
Lift Don’t Drag Items
Lifting objects prevents scratching the surface. Never drag pots, appliances, tools, etc. which can scrape quartz.
Use Placemats and Trivets
Placemats protect from ceramic dishes, cast iron pots etc. scratching the surface. Trivets also prevent thermal cracks.
Don’t Pound or Cut on Surface
Avoid hammering meat or using quartz as a makeshift chopping block. This high impact can chip the edges. Always use a hardwood board.
Clean Under Appliances
Regularly clean under small appliances to prevent dirt and debris buildup from causing abrasions and scratches.
Install Buffered Cabinet Bumpers
Self-adhesive clear cabinet bumpers prevent doors and drawers from banging into countertops and chipping the edges.
Apply Sealants Near Sinks
Special quartz sealants add extra protection against etching and pitting near sinks prone to exposure from acidic foods and soaps. Reapply sealants periodically.
Preventing Stains and Discoloration
The non-porous nature of quartz makes it resistant to most stains. However, prolonged exposure to certain substances can cause discoloration that requires professional removal. Here are some tips to avoid stains:
Immediately Clean Spills
Quickly wipe up wine, coffee, oil, and other staining substances. Dried on residue increases staining risk.
Avoid Long Contact with Iron
Cast iron pans and cookware can leave a metallic stain if left on quartz. Always use trivets and promptly wipe up rusty water.
Clean Up Grease Splatter
Grease splatters near stoves need frequent cleaning. Built up grease residue can penetrate the surface.
Don’t Allow Food to Rot
Leaving acidic produce like lemons, limes or tomatoes on the counter for extended periods increases etching risks. Wipe up decaying food immediately.
Use Coasters for Beverages
Coasters prevent glass rings and moisture underneath drinks. Condensation can penetrate joints and seams.
Remove Nail Polish Promptly
Don’t use quartz as a work area for manicures. Nail polish and remover contain staining and damaging chemicals.
Clean Pet Accidents Thoroughly
Pet urine contains urea which can yellow and etch quartz. Blot up accidents immediately and sanitize with an enzyme cleaner.
Avoid Long-Term Dyes and Pigments
Prolonged contact with fabric dyes, colored cosmetics, latex and oil paints, permanent markers etc. can stain quartz. Wipe up promptly.
Use Sealants Near Cosmetic Areas
Sealants provide added protection on surfaces near sinks to prevent makeup stains around bathroom vanities.
Protect from Excess Sunlight
Direct ultraviolet light can slowly discolor some quartz varieties. Limit sun exposure with window treatments.
Preventing Damage from Impacts and Drops
Quartz is highly impact resistant thanks to its durable engineered composition. However, excessive force can cause chips, cracks, and breakage. Follow these guidelines:
Handle Heavy Objects with Care
When setting down heavy pots, appliances, etc., set them down gently. Dropping them from even a short distance can crack quartz at impact points.
Avoid Hard Impacts Near Edges
Hitting quartz edges with hard objects like tools, pans, etc. can chip the material. Be especially careful near cut out areas for sinks.
Supervise Kids Around Quartz
Children playing near counters can chip quartz with hard toys. Monitor play areas and avoid quartz use in high traffic kids’ spaces.
Pad Counters Near Stovetops
Padded counter mats around stoves prevent pot lids, utensils and heavy pans from forcefully hitting the surface.
Install Reinforcement Brackets
Reinforcement brackets underneath overhangs and unsupported spans provide extra impact protection against heavy dropped items.
Avoid Moving Heavy Appliances
Dragging heavy stand mixers, microwaves etc. across the surface can crack or chip the material. Always lift objects to reposition them.
Handle Plates and Dishes with Care
Rough loading of dinnerware and cookware can crack sink areas and chip countertop edges. Avoid slamming and use care unloading dishwashers.
Immediately Remove Broken Glass
Sweep up broken glassware immediately to prevent abrasive shards scratching the surface if dragged across the counter.
Don’t Pound Surfaces
Never pound on the surface with fists, tools, etc. The impact can damage the solid acrylic-polyester resin structure.
Caring for Quartz Sink Areas
Quartz sinks require some special care given their frequent exposure to staining substances, impacts, and temperature changes:
Avoid Abrasive Scouring
Aggressive scrubbing with abrasive pads or harsh cleansers can gradually wear down the glossy finish inside sinks. Use soft sponges/scrub brushes.
Minimize Temperature Shock
Avoid pouring boiling water directly from kettles and pots which causes rapid temperature changes and thermal shock. Allow hot liquids to slightly cool first.
Use Bottom Racks for Dishes
Load dishes on the lower rack inside dishwashers so hot circulating water doesn’t directly contact quartz sink basins during drying cycles.
Apply Sealants Periodically
Sealants provide added protection from staining and etching inside frequently used sinks. Reapply every 6 months.
Handle Sink Areas Gently
Avoid rough handling of heavy pots, cast iron pans, etc. around vulnerable sink cutouts which can chip from impact.
Keep Chemicals Away From Sink
Store harsh drain cleaners and chemical cleaning products well away from sink areas to prevent acidic etching if splashed.
Install Reinforcement Brackets
Metal reinforcement brackets adhere underneath sink cutouts to provide better structural support and impact resistance from heavy falling pots and pans.
Use a Bottom Grid
Plastic bottom grids protect sink basins from scratches when washing dishes. Remove grids to fully clean the basin weekly.
Clean Disposal Flanges
Remove and thoroughly clean sink disposal flanges regularly to prevent leaking rotten food from staining sink areas.
Loosen Calcium Buildup
Remove hard water calcium deposits frequently using vinegar or limescale removers to prevent permanent etching around faucets.
Protecting Against Joint Damage
Quartz countertops are made from slabs joined together. Proper care of seams and joints prevents moisture damage or separated laminations:
Clean and Dry Joints
Wipe joints and seams after spills or cleaning to prevent moisture penetration. Pay special attention near sinks.
Apply Joint Sealants
Special sealants designed for quartz joints block moisture and weepage between slabs. Reapply every 1-2 years.
Avoid Excess Moisture Near Joints
Position small kitchen appliances that release steam like rice cookers away from seams to limit moisture exposure and potential damage.
Don’t Overload Near Joints
Avoid excessive weight which can stress and separate quartz slabs. Do not park yourself on joints or apply heavy impact forces.
Check for Separations
Inspect joints periodically and look for any separations between slabs which indicate damaged caulking. Have them resealed immediately.
Get Annual Inspections
Have a countertop professional inspect seams annually and reapply joint sealants or epoxies as needed to maintain moisture protection.
Limit Vegetable Prep Near Joints
The acids in cut fruits and veggies can penetrate joints, damaging caulk over time. Avoid excessive food prep directly on seams.
Use Trivets Near Seams
Setting hot pots and pans directly on joints risks heat damage to underlying caulk. Use trivets and hot pads.
Clean Up Spills Quickly
Liquid spills migrate down joints easily. Wipe up moisture immediately to avoid ingress around vulnerable quartz seams.
Professionally Repairing Any Damage
Quartz holds up very well, but chips, nicks, scratches, discoloration or heat damage can occasionally occur. Trust a professional fabrication shop for expert repairs:
Spot Treat Minor Stains
Light stains can often be removed by a pro using a buffing compound or poultice to pull out discoloration.
Sand and Refinish Scratches
Light scratches can be sanded down and buffed out. More severe scratches may require refinishing the entire surface.
Use Color-Matched Fillers on Chips/Cracks
Small chips and cracks can be filled with color-matched epoxy resin fillers ground and polished flat.
Heat Damage Requires Polishing
Areas discolored or damaged by thermal shock may need extensive mechanical polishing to remove the top damaged layer.
Cut Out and Replace Severe Damage
Badly damaged sections may need to be cut out and seamlessly replaced with a new quartz piece by an experienced pro.
Recaulk Seams if Needed
Separated or cracked seams require cleaning out old caulk and complete re-sealing for water protection.
Bleach Stains If Possible
Stubborn stains from dyes or chemicals may be bleached out using professional products. Avoid DIY bleaching.
Grind Down Stubborn Marks/Scratches
Deep scratches or scorched areas often require grinding the surface with diamond pads and re-polishing.
Seek Professional Help
Do not attempt DIY spot repairs. Always hire an experienced quartz fabricator/installer for proper repairs.
Maintaining Quartz’s Flawless Finish
Quartz comes from the factory with a beautifully polished, glossy finish. Proper care maintains the gloss and light reflective quality:
Clean With Non-Abrasive Cleaners
Using mild cleaning products avoids wearing down the factory sheen over time. Abstain from using abrasive scouring pads or powders.
Increase Cleaning Frequency Near Cooktops
Frequently degrease and disinfect surfaces near stoves and ranges to prevent buildup of greasy residue that can dull quartz.
Use Sealants and Finishing Products
Sealers and finishing sprays add an extra layer of protection and enhance the glossy appearance. Reapply finishing products periodically.
Address Minor Scratches Quickly
Have minor scratches professionally buffed out before they become more severe issues requiring refinishing.
Do Not Refinish at Home
Avoid DIY refinishing or mechanical polishing which requires professional equipment to match the original polish and finish.
Replace Severely Damaged Sections
Badly damaged areas may need replacement to match the pristine factory finish. Professionals can replace sections seamlessly.
Increase Humidity Near Counters
Low humidity can make quartz appear dull and dry. Use humidifiers during winter months to keep moisture levels higher.
Have Professionals Handle Issues
Don’t sand, buff or refinish quartz yourself. Always hire reputable fabricators to address any finish issues.
Frequently Asked Questions About Protecting Quartz Countertops
Here are answers to some common questions about caring for and protecting quartz countertops:
Is it okay to cut foods directly on quartz?
No, always use a cutting board. The impact from cutting can dull quartz and knives can scratch the surface.
How do I prevent quartz from staining?
Promptly wipe up spills, especially oils, wine, coffee, etc. Avoid contact with dyes, nail polish and leaving acidic foods on the surface.
Can I place a hot pan directly on my quartz countertop?
No, always use trivets or hot pads to prevent thermal shock cracking and discoloration from direct high heat.
My quartz counter has a rough spot – what should I do?
Minor surface roughness can be professionally sanded and re-polished. Do not attempt this at home.
Are vinegar or citrus safe to use on quartz?
No – acids like vinegar, lemon juice, etc. will etch and damage quartz over time. Use only pH neutral cleaners.
I noticed a chip near the sink – how can I get it fixed?
Chips and cracks can often be repaired with color-matched filler epoxies. Contact a professional fabricator for the best results.
Can I use my quartz countertop as a crafting surface?
Avoid using quartz as a craft/hobby area. Glues, paints, dyes can cause stubborn stains. Cover with a project board instead.
Is it okay to place quartz near heating vents or fireplaces?
Avoid installing quartz near high heat sources like fireplaces or hot air vents that can damage the solid acrylic binders.
How often should I have my quartz counters professionally cleaned?
For residential kitchens, a deep cleaning every 12-18 months removes built up grime a homeowner can’t tackle through regular daily/weekly care.
Quartz offers unparalleled beauty and durability for kitchen and bath countertops. By following these preventative care and maintenance guidelines, homeowners can keep their quartz counters looking pristine and protect their investment for many years of enjoyment. Employing smart cleaning habits, using trivets and cutting boards consistently, addressing spills and stains promptly, and avoiding improper exposure to high heat, heavy impacts or harsh chemicals