Quartz countertops have become an increasingly popular choice for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects in recent years. Often marketed as low-maintenance, stylish, and long-lasting, quartz counters offer many benefits for homeowners. But one key question many have is: just how durable are quartz countertops compared to other countertop materials? In this comprehensive article, we’ll examine the durability and longevity of quartz counters, looking at how they hold up to daily wear and tear, scratches, impacts, heat, and more. Read on to learn all about the strength and resilience of quartz countertops.
What Are Quartz Countertops Made Of?
To understand the durability of quartz counters, it helps to first understand what they are made of. Quartz countertops are engineered stone slabs created from approximately 90% ground natural quartz crystals combined with around 10% polymer resins and pigments.
The quartz crystals come from abundant sources across the globe, while the resins act as a binder to hold the material together. Pigments are added to achieve the desired colors and patterns. The mixture is compacted under heat and pressure to create an incredibly hard, non-porous material.
While mainly composed of natural stone, the resin content gives quartz more flexibility and resistance than pure natural stone counters. The material is molded into slabs which can be fabricated and installed as countertops. This engineered composition is key to quartz’s enhanced durability.
Hardness and Scratch Resistance
One of the biggest contributors to the durability of quartz is its exceptional hardness. On the Mohs mineral hardness scale, quartz ranks at 7 out of 10, with diamond being the highest at 10.
This extreme hardness makes quartz highly scratch-resistant. In fact, it does not scratch under steel or even glass. Only materials harder than quartz, such as diamond, topaz or emerald, can scratch a quartz surface.
In real world terms, this means quartz counters are very resilient against scratches from common kitchen items like pots, pans, utensils, appliances, and more. The material’s hardness means it maintains its smooth surface without scratching or wearing down over time.
Quartz scored a 9 on the Taber Abrasion Resistance Test, meaning it is highly scratch-resistant. This compares favorably to granite at 7, marble at 3, and laminate at 1.5 on this scale. Overall, quartz offers superior scratch protection compared to many other countertop materials.
In addition to scratching, another threat to countertops is chipping or cracking from impacts. Quartz performs very well when it comes to resistance to impacts.
The resin binders make quartz less brittle than natural stone. It also has very high flexural strength, meaning it can bend without damage. This makes it able to stand up to typical kitchen stresses like bumps, knocks, and dropped items without chipping or cracking.
Quartz has been tested to withstand over 20,000 psi (pounds per square inch) of downward pressure without damage. For comparison, granite can take about 15,000 psi while marble handles around 7,000 psi. This demonstrates quartz’s stronger resistance to impacts versus other stone counters.
Resilience against heat damage is another important durability factor, especially for kitchen countertops. Quartz is engineered to be more heat tolerant than many competing materials.
The resins make quartz less prone to scorching or burning under hot pans and appliances. It can generally handle brief exposures up to about 150°C. However, it is still possible to scorch quartz with extremely hot pots or pans straight from the stove or oven. Trivets or hot pads should be used.
Overall, quartz offers moderately good heat resistance. It outperforms marble and solid surface acrylics but may be surpassed by granite and sintered compact surfaces in terms of heat tolerance. Regardless, its durability against typical household heat exposures is quite good.
In addition to physical damage, countertops also face risks from staining. Food, drinks, oils, dyes and more can potentially penetrate into surfaces and discolor them over time.
Quartz offers excellent stain resistance thanks to its non-porous structure. Liquids and spills stay on the surface rather than soaking into the material. It can be easily cleaned without permanent staining.
Quartz earns top ratings on stain tests. It resisted stains from coffee, wine, olive oil, vinegar and other substances. Only a few very intense chemicals like nail polish, paint strippers or drain cleaners could potentially penetrate quartz and discolor it. Overall, its non-porous composition provides impressive stain protection.
Durability Against UV Rays
Long-term sun exposure can damage some materials, causing fading or discoloration. Quartz offers good durability against UV rays from sunlight.
The resins used in its production are designed to be UV-stable. This prevents yellowing or color shifts when installed in sunlit areas. Quartz retains its color integrity better than many organic materials when exposed to UV light over time.
Strength Against Cracks and Damage
Cracks, chips, and breakage can quickly damage countertops. Quartz possesses very high flexural strength, meaning it resists fracturing or cracking under pressure.
The interior of the material stays intact even if the surface is damaged. Minor chips or cracks are therefore mostly a cosmetic issue rather than a structural one.
Quartz has very low water absorption as well, at under 0.5%. This prevents damage from freezing/thawing cycles. All of these factors give quartz excellent strength and resilience against cracks, fractures, and water damage.
Mold and Bacteria Resistance
Mold growth or bacterial colonies in cracks and pores can be problematic on some countertop materials. The non-porous structure of quartz makes it highly resistant to these issues.
With nowhere for mold or bacteria to gain a foothold, quartz counters repel these contaminants. The material contains natural antimicrobial properties as well. Overall, quartz offers superb durability against microbes, mold, and bacteria.
Repairability of Surface Damage
No material is fully immune to damage. If scratches, chips, cracks or other surface damage does occur on a quartz counter, repair is often relatively easy.
Minor imperfections can frequently be sanded and polished out to restore the smooth finish. Small scratches or scorch marks may be repairable with quartz repair kits as well. Seamless patching of chips and cracks is also possible in some cases.
While deep damage requires replacing the slab, the repairability of superficial issues further enhances the durability and longevity of quartz. Ongoing maintenance helps keep quartz counters looking like new.
Durability Over Time
Quartz countertops are designed to last for many years with proper care and maintenance. With heavy use, quartz typically retains its beauty and function for around 15-25 years before needing replacement. Some sources estimate an even longer lifespan of up to 50 years with lighter usage.
Either way, quartz offers very favorable durability compared to many other countertop options. By combining scratch, stain, and damage resistance with easy repairability, quartz achieves exceptional longevity.
Factors That Can Impact Durability
While quartz itself is incredibly durable, some factors relating to fabrication and installation can affect its real-world performance. These include:
- Seams – Straight seam placement reduces stain collection risk versus jagged seams.
- Thickness – Thicker slabs (3cm+) are more resilient than thin pieces.
- Edges – Sturdy edges like eased or polished edges are more durable than delicate ornamental edges.
- Support – Proper underlying support prevents flexing that can cause cracks.
- Cleaning – Regular gentle cleaning maintains the surface and avoids etching.
- Quality – Reputable brands generally offer better durability assurances.
When quartz is professionally installed following manufacturer guidelines, it will achieve optimal durability and longevity.
How Durable is Quartz Compared to Other Countertop Materials?
Quartz is one of the most durable kitchen countertop materials available today. Here is how it stacks up against other popular options in various categories:
- More resistant than: Marble, granite, laminate, solid surface, wood, concrete
- Less resistant than: Sintered compact surfaces
- More resistant than: Marble, granite, wood, laminate, concrete
- Less resistant than: Stainless steel
- More resistant than: Marble, solid surface, wood, laminate
- Less resistant than: Granite, sintered compact
- More resistant than: Marble, granite, concrete, laminate, wood
- Less resistant than: Sintered compact
- More durable than: Tile, concrete, laminate
- Similar durability to: Granite
- Less durable than: Stainless steel
While no material is indestructible, quartz ranks among the most durable kitchen countertop options available. Its engineered composition gives it excellent strength, resilience, and longevity.
Caring for Quartz Countertops
To get the most out of quartz’s durability, some simple care and maintenance steps are recommended:
- Use trivets and hot pads for hot items to prevent scorching.
- Clean spills promptly to prevent possible staining.
- Use non-abrasive cleaners and avoid scouring pads.
- For stubborn stains, use a stain remover made for quartz.
- Have seams and surfaces re-sealed every 1-2 years.
- Avoid using countertop as a cutting surface. Use a cutting board.
- Inspect countertops periodically for any damage in need of repair.
With proper care, quartz countertops will retain their beauty and stay in excellent condition for many years. Their unmatched durability makes them a sound investment.
Pros of Quartz Countertops
To summarize, here are some of the top advantages that make quartz a remarkably durable and low-maintenance option:
- Extremely hard and scratch-resistant surface
- Stands up well to impacts without chipping
- Resists scorching and burns from hot items
- Non-porous surface prevents staining
- Mold, bacteria, and microbe resistant
- Resilient against cracks and fractures
- Retains color despite UV light exposure
- Superb longevity (15-25 years typical lifespan)
- Repairable surface damage via sanding/polishing
- More durable than most other countertop materials
Cons of Quartz Countertops
The only notable drawbacks of quartz countertops relate to the material’s limits:
- Not fully heatproof – still possible to scorch at very high temperatures
- Can be scratched by only a few harder materials like diamonds
- Chips, cracks, and heavy impacts will eventually damage slabs
- Gradual wear and tear makes replacement necessary over time
- More expensive upfront cost than some other countertop options
However, when these limitations are considered against quartz’s numerous durability advantages, it remains a premier countertop choice.
Is Quartz Worth It for Durability?
For homeowners wanting a stylish, low-maintenance countertop that can handle years of regular use, quartz is absolutely worth the investment. Key advantages like superior scratch protection, impact resistance, and stain proofing make quartz stand out.
While no material is completely indestructible, quartz offers exceptional durability and longevity that adds tremendous value. For those seeking enduring countertops able to withstand the rigors of daily life, quartz delivers. With proper care, quartz countertops live up to their reputation for strength, longevity, and resilience.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some common questions about the durability and care of quartz countertops:
How durable are quartz countertops compared to granite?
Quartz and granite have somewhat comparable durability overall. Granite beats quartz for heat tolerance, but quartz wins for stain and scratch resistance. Both offer good longevity. Quartz requires less maintenance than natural stone.
Can you cut on quartz countertops?
It’s not recommended. A cutting board should always be used to protect the surface. The exceptionally hard material can dull knives quickly.
Do quartz countertops stain?
Quartz is highly stain resistant, but not 100% stain proof. Prolonged exposure to strong chemicals/dyes can potentially stain it. But it resists most household spills very well.
Can quartz countertops chip?
While very impact resistant, quartz can chip from significant impacts. But small chips are usually superficial due to the material’s strength. Cracks are also rare but can develop from inadequate support.
How often should quartz countertops be sealed?
Annual or biannual resealing is a good idea. This prevents moisture from penetrating seams and restores stain protection. Most manufacturers recommend resealing every 1-2 years.
Should quartz countertops be polished?
Polishing is not necessary. The material retains its smooth factory finish very well. But light polishing can help minimize scuffs and scratches over time. Avoid abrasive polishes.
How long do quartz countertops last compared to other materials?
Quartz typically lasts 15-25 years. Granite may last 30+ years while marble and laminate last 10-15 years typically. So quartz outpaces many materials for durability and longevity.
With strength exceeding most natural stones, quartz offers homeowners unparalleled durability and longevity. Its resistant exterior withstands years of hot pans, sharp knives, aggressive cleaners and the bumps and spills of daily life. For kitchens and bathrooms wanting countertops that can take a beating yet still look beautiful, quartz is sure to satisfy. With some basic care, quartz countertops will serve families exceptionally well for over a decade or more. For scratch-free, stain-proof, low-maintenance luxury, durable quartz truly delivers.