Quartz countertops have become an increasingly popular choice for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects in recent years. Made from engineered stone, quartz combines the elegant look of natural stone with excellent durability and low maintenance. But how long can you expect quartz countertops to last? Here’s a detailed look at the lifespan and durability of quartz.
What is Quartz?
Quartz countertops, also known as engineered stone, are made from ground natural quartz crystals combined with resins, pigments, and other compounds. The quartz content typically ranges from 90-94%.
Some key advantages of quartz:
- Extremely durable – quartz has a Mohs hardness rating of 7, making it harder than granite. This makes it very scratch, chip and heat resistant.
- Low porosity – quartz is nonporous, so it does not need to be sealed like natural stone and resists staining.
- Easy maintenance – quartz requires very little maintenance besides cleaning with mild soap and water.
- Consistent patterning – the manufacturing process allows more consistent coloring and patterning.
- Non-toxic – contains no hazardous materials like radon or VOCs.
Expected Lifespan of Quartz Countertops
With proper care and maintenance, quartz countertops can last 20-25 years or longer. The material itself is extremely hardy and unlikely to deteriorate or de-laminate under normal use. Here are some factors that contribute to the long lifespan of quartz:
- Durability – Harder than granite, quartz resists scratches, chips and cracks that can occur from everyday use. The resin binders make quartz very dense and impervious to damage.
- Stain resistance – Non-porous quartz does not need to be sealed and will not absorb stains from spills.
- Color stability – Engineered quartz maintains its color well over time and is fade resistant.
- Heat tolerance – Quartz can withstand heat up to 212°F before possible discoloration or damage occurs.
- Non-reactive – Quartz is resistant to acids and alkaline materials like vinegar, lemon juice or cleaning products.
- Easy renewability – Minor scratches or etch marks in quartz can often be sanded out and resurfaced to look like new again.
Factors That Can Shorten Lifespan
Despite its durability, there are some factors that can potentially impact the lifespan of quartz countertops:
- Chipping/cracking – Dropping heavy objects on quartz can chip the edges or corners. Cracks may form if the underlying base cabinets shift or settle.
- Stains – Some staining is possible from spills of very pigmented liquids like wine, coffee and tomato sauce that are not wiped up quickly.
- Etching – Acidic foods and cleaners can etch the surface over time, creating a hazy appearance. This is reversible with resurfacing.
- Sun exposure – Prolonged direct sunlight can cause some fading or discoloration.
- Improper installation – Poor seams, inadequate structural support, or uneven base cabinets can lead to cracks or countertop failure.
- Excessive heat – Exposure to very high heat outside the material’s limits can damage quartz.
Proper Care and Maintenance
Taking good care of your quartz countertops is the key to ensuring they last for decades:
- Use cutting boards and hot pads when preparing food to prevent scratching or burning.
- Clean up spills immediately before they have a chance to stain.
- Use mild soap and water or stone cleaner to regularly clean – avoid abrasive pads or powders.
- Re-apply sealers as needed around sink areas that see heavy use.
- Avoid exposing quartz to very high heat from appliances like pans or electric griddles.
- Have countertops professionally installed according to manufacturer’s guidelines.
- Address any issues like cracking or separation from the base cabinets right away.
Quartz vs. Other Countertop Materials
Here’s how the typical lifespan of quartz compares to other popular countertop materials:
- Granite: 15-25 years with proper sealing and maintenance. More prone to staining and etching than quartz.
- Marble: 10-15 years. Softer and more prone to scratching, etching and staining than quartz.
- Laminate: 5-15 years. Durability can vary widely by brand and thickness.
- Butcher block: With proper oiling, 10-25 years. Can scratch and stain easily.
- Concrete: With proper sealing, 20-30 years. Can crack and stain without sealant.
- Soapstone: With routine sealing, 20+ years. Softer than quartz so more prone to scratching.
Signs Your Quartz Countertops Need Replacement
Here are some key signs that your quartz countertops may be ready for replacement:
- Extensive cracking, chipping or delamination indicating failure of the substrate
- Permanent staining and etching that cannot be restored with resurfacing
- Significant color changes, fading or yellowing over a large surface area
- Numerous marks and scratches that have accumulated over time and make surfaces look worn
- Major seam separation or alignment issues
- Warping or distortion indicating structural issues with base cabinets
Cost to Replace Quartz Countertops
The cost to replace existing quartz countertops will depend on factors like:
- Installation – Hiring professional installers typically costs $40-70 per linear foot. DIY installation can reduce costs.
- Countertop style – Higher-end designer styles can cost $100-200+ per square foot installed. Standard styles may run $50-100 per square foot.
- Complexity – More complex layouts, edges, cutouts, and backsplashes will add to costs.
- Location – Prices are generally higher in major metro areas than rural areas.
For a typical 25 square foot straight-run kitchen countertop, expect to pay $1,250 – $3,750 for remove and replacement of new quartz countertops installed.
Can Old Quartz Countertops Be Refinished?
In some cases, resurfacing or refinishing can restore worn quartz countertops instead of a full replacement:
- Buffing – Light honing with an abrasive pad can remove some scratches and refresh the surface sheen.
- Sanding – Deeper sanding removes more extensive etching, scratches or discoloration. Matching the original finish can be difficult.
- Re-polishing – Machine polishing gives quartz a glossy “like-new” appearance again. Does not fix deep flaws.
- Sealing – Reapplying a protective sealant minimizes future staining around heavy use areas.
- Color enhancement – New tinted sealers or dyes can update the color of stained or faded areas.
Refinishing costs 25-50% of full replacement. But results are not guaranteed and quartz can only be refinished a limited number of times before needing replacement.
How to Extend the Lifespan of Quartz
Follow these best practices to maximize the lifespan of your quartz countertops:
- Clean spills quickly to prevent staining, especially from liquids like wine, oil and juice.
- Always use cutting boards, trivets and hot pads to prevent scratching and burns.
- Avoid abrasive scouring pads or powders when cleaning. Use a soft cloth with mild soap and water.
- Reseal sink areas every 1-2 years with a penetrating sealer to repel moisture and stains.
- Don’t place extremely hot items like pots, pans or appliances directly on the surface.
- Check for signs of damage like cracks or chipping and repair immediately to prevent further deterioration.
- Consider applying a quality wax 1-2 times per year for added protection.
- Position quartz out of direct sunlight if possible to minimize fading.
With a typical lifespan of 20-25 years, quartz ranks as one of the most durable and low maintenance countertop materials available today. Proper care like prompt cleaning of spills, use of cutting boards, and avoidance of extreme heat will ensure quartz countertops remain in great condition for decades to come. Periodic sealing and professional refinishing can also prolong the life of quartz surfaces. Thanks the material’s hardness and stain resistance, quartz requires very little regular upkeep compared to natural stone and other materials. Following the simple practices outlined above will keep stunning quartz countertops looking like new for years of heavy use.