How to Identify Quartz Countertops


Quartz countertops have become an increasingly popular option for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects in recent years. Made from engineered stone, quartz counters provide an attractive, durable, and low-maintenance surface. But with the rise in popularity of quartz, there are also more options and styles available from different manufacturers. This abundance of choice can make it difficult to identify what material your existing countertop is made of, especially distinguishing between quartz and other solid surface materials like granite or marble. This guide will walk you through the key ways to identify quartz countertops by looking at visual cues, physical properties, and performing simple tests. With the right knowledge, you can easily discern quartz from lookalike materials.

Examine the Visual Cues

The first steps in identifying quartz counters are through careful visual examination of the material’s aesthetic properties. Quartz has some distinctive visual characteristics that set it apart from other stones and solid surfaces:

Color Patterns

  • Quartz slab counters are engineered from ground quartz crystals combined with pigments and resin. This manufacturing process allows more control and consistency over the color patterns compared to natural stone.
  • Quartz counters often have uniform speckled colors throughout such as white, gray, or black with flecks of color mixed in. The color usually appears consistent across the surface.
  • Natural granite and marble have more random, chaotic veining patterns since the colors derive from whatever mineral deposits were naturally present in the stone.

Lack of Veining

  • Since it is engineered, quartz lacks the prominent veins seen in marble and some granites. The color patterns appear more mottled or speckled rather than with dramatic veining.
  • Some quartz can mimic the look of veining but on close inspection you’ll notice the vein-like patterns have an engineered uniformity unlike natural stone.

Consistent Glossiness

  • Quartz counters have a gloss or sheen applied to them during manufacturing giving them a consistent polished finish across the surface.
  • Natural stones show more variation in glossiness across the slab depending on how the material was cut and processed. Areas with different mineral compositions take the polish differently.

Minimal Pitting/Holes

  • Quartz counter surfaces are smooth and uniform with very little surface pitting or holes since the slabs are engineered under pressure.
  • Natural stone slabs often have small pits, holes, or intricate crystalline patterns on the surface that can make them more porous. Quartz lacks these porous surface formations.

By examining the color, veining, gloss, and surface texture, you can get your first clues that a countertop may indeed be quartz rather than a natural stone or other solid surface.

Evaluate the Physical Properties

The visual test gives a good starting point but examining the physical properties and behaviors will confirm whether your counters are indeed quartz.

Temperature Tolerance

  • Quartz counters are engineered to be non-porous so they stand up to heat much better than natural stone. Quartz slabs can tolerate brief exposures to moderately hot pots or pans without damage.
  • Materials like marble and limestone are more prone to scorching, discoloration or burns from hot objects placed directly on them.

Scratch Resistance

  • Quartz counters are highly scratch resistant and do not mar easily thanks to the resin binder used in their fabrication. They withstand regular use and only cutlery or very pointed objects might scratch them.
  • Softer natural stones like marble will show scratched more readily from daily use. Granite is harder and nearly as scratch resistant as quartz.

Stain Resistance

  • Quartz resists staining from spills like wine, coffee, or oil due to its non-porous quality. Minor stains can typically be wiped away without discoloring the surface.
  • More porous natural stones will soak up stains more stubbornly, potentially discoloring the surface. Marble for instance can become permanently stained by oils or acidic liquids.

Impact Resistance

  • Quartz is engineered to be resilient. Impacts that might crack or chip many natural stones are unlikely to damage a quartz surface. Dropping a heavy object is unlikely to harm quartz.
  • Marble or limestone can crack or chip more easily from impacts due to their brittle crystalline structure. Quartz flexibility makes it more resilient.

By testing how the material reacts in day-to-day conditions compared to natural stone, you can confirm that quartz counters have the superior physical qualities you would expect.

Perform Simple Diagnostic Tests

For further confirmation, some simple hands-on tests can help verify if your countertop is indeed quartz.

The Windowpane Test

Quartz counters are translucent rather than completely opaque. Perform this simple light test:

  • Go into a dim room during the day with the lights off.
  • Shine a bright flashlight on the underside/edge of the countertop surface.
  • Look on top of the surface near the light’s location. If quartz, you will see illumination glowing through.
  • Quartz allows some light penetration unlike more opaque surfaces like granite. This translucent property creates a glowing effect during the windowpane test that helps identify quartz.

The Float Test

Natural stone contains densities of minerals that allow them to sink in water. Perform this water flotation test:

  • Cut a small 1 inch slice off the corner of your countertop with a wet saw.
  • Drop the slice into a bowl of room temperature water.
  • Being an engineered material, a quartz sample will float. Granite, marble, and other natural stones will sink.
  • This float test helps distinguish the engineered quartz from its natural stone counterparts.

Try a Scratch Test

You can attempt scratching the surface to evaluate its hardness:

  • Find a subtle, inconspicuous spot on the countertop near a corner or edge.
  • Use a sharp knife tip and gently attempt to scrape the surface in a small area. Apply moderate pressure with the knife tip and drag it across the spot.
  • Quartz resists deep scratching from sharp objects. If it only leaves a faint superficial mark, it indicates the hardness and scratch resistance expected from quartz.
  • Softer stones like marble will show a prominent gouge. Granite may have only minor scraping too.

Take care only to perform light scratch testing on subtle areas to avoid damaging the overall appearance. But this can help verify the resilience of quartz.

Key Points of Difference with Other Materials

To further help identify quartz counters, it helps to know how it differs from other options like granite, marble, and solid surfaces. Compare these key differences:

Quartz vs. Granite

  • Granite has a more random, chaotic natural pattern compared to quartz’s uniform speckled colors.
  • Quartz lacks the pits, holes and intricate crystalline shapes you often see in granite.
  • Granite can be stained by oils. Quartz is non-porous and stain resistant.
  • Quartz withstands heat better than granite without discoloration or burning.

Quartz vs. Marble

  • Marble has distinct veining patterns compared to quartz’s speckled colors.
  • Quartz is hard and scratch resistant. Marble will scratch and scuff more easily.
  • Acids and oils stain marble but not quartz.
  • Quartz tolerates heat well but marble can burn, crack or discolor.

Quartz vs. Solid Surface (Corian)

  • Solid surfaces show seams where different pieces are joined but quartz counters are often seamless.
  • Blemishes in solid surface are visible but quartz counters are uniform in color and pattern.
  • Solid surfaces can scorch but quartz withstands heat well.
  • Quartz is less prone to impact marks and pits compared to solid surface.

Understanding how quartz differs from popular options like granite, marble, and solid surface can help positively identify quartz based on its unique properties.

Consult Manufacturer Guidelines

If you have uncertainty identifying your existing counters, check for any manufacturer markings or ink stamps. Consult the manufacturer’s care and cleaning guidelines which often describe the material and its properties:

  • Popular quartz brands like Caesarstone, Cambria, or Silestone have detailed guidebooks online that can help identify their product.
  • Look for terms like “highly scratch resistant,” “resists staining,” “durable,” and “tolerates heat” as clues pointing to quartz.
  • See if the descriptions match the qualities and tests for the counters in question.

With manufacturer documents as a guide, you can scrutinize your counters to see if they match up with quartz properties described.

When in Doubt, Hire a Professional

If you remain uncertain about identifying your counters:

  • Home improvement stores may have specialists who can inspect and identify uncertain countertop materials.
  • Local stone yards, fabricators, or countertop installers may offer free evaluations.
  • General contractors, interior designers, or architects can also provide an expert material identification.

Don’t risk damage from the wrong care methods – get a professional opinion on mystery countertop materials.

Proper identification of your existing counters will prevent mistakes that could damage them. It also informs appropriate care and maintenance. Knowing how to distinguish quartz counters by sight, touch, and performance will give you confidence tackling any future kitchen or bath renovation.

Frequently Asked Questions About Identifying Quartz Countertops

Is quartz actually a real stone?

Quartz is an engineered stone made from ground natural quartz aggregates combined with pigments, polymers, and resin then formed into slabs under high pressure. So it incorporates natural quartz but undergoes manufacturing processes that make it distinct from a purely natural stone.

Why does quartz look different than granite?

Quartz lacks the natural variations of granite that come from random mineral deposits. Instead, quartz has uniform colors and speckled particles that maintain consistency across the engineered slab. Granite has more chaotic, random veins, pits, and gloss variations.

Can you stain quartz counters?

Quartz resists stains thanks to its non-porous surface unlike more absorbent materials like marble. But highly pigmented spills over time still can stain quartz. Avoid leaving strong pigments like wine, coffee and oil on the surface and prompt cleanup of spills will prevent discoloration.

Is quartz abrasion resistant?

Yes, quartz stands up very well to abrasion and daily wear and tear. Its durability comes from the resin binder used to form the engineered slab. Quartz rates just under diamonds in hardness and abrasion resistance, making it an extremely durable countertop choice.

Why is quartz heat resistant?

The resin materials used to form quartz slabs make it non-porous and highly tolerant of heat exposure. Brief contact with hot pans or high temperatures does not damage quartz thanks to these heat-tolerant binding resins. Natural stone is more prone to burning or discoloration from heat.

How thick are quartz countertops?

Quartz slabs used for countertops are typically 0.75 to 1.25 inches thick. Thicker slabs are more resilient to impact and bending. Most fabricators recommend a 3cm (1.25 inch) thickness for kitchen counters to provide the best durability under years of use.

Can you repair quartz countertops?

Minor damage like superficial scratches or scorched spots can be sanded away and buffed out of quartz counters. But deep damage exposing the core of the slab requires a full replacement. There is no way to repair the internal structure once damaged, unlike natural stone which can be filled. Preventing damage is key.


Identifying quartz countertops is an important skill when planning kitchen or bath renovations. Knowing how to distinguish engineered quartz counters from natural stone surfaces or other solid surfaces allows proper cleaning and care to avoid damage. Examining the visual cues like consistent colors and aggregate patterns provides the initial hints that a countertop is quartz. Evaluating the physical performance and durability with heat, scratch and float tests confirms the properties of quartz. Comparing quartz to granite, marble and solid surface materials also helps identify the differences. For unfamiliar countertop materials, consult manufacturer guides or hire a professional to identify. With the techniques outlined, homeowners and contractors can confidently discern quartz counters from lookalike materials.