Quartz countertops have become an increasingly popular option for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects in recent years. Often touted for their durability, low maintenance, and customizability, quartz counters provide many benefits for homeowners. However, one common question that arises is: is quartz countertop porous?
What is a Porous Surface?
A porous surface has tiny holes or pores that allow air, water and particles to penetrate into the material. Porous materials allow liquids and stains to seep in, which can lead to damage and discoloration over time. Granite, marble, limestone, concrete, and wood are examples of naturally porous countertop materials.
On the other hand, non-porous materials have a dense structure that prevents liquid from being absorbed. Materials like quartz, stainless steel, laminates, and solid surfaces are non-porous. The lack of pores makes non-porous countertops resistant to stains and easier to keep sanitary.
Are Quartz Countertops Porous?
The short answer is no, quartz countertops are non-porous. Here’s a more in-depth explanation:
Quartz countertops are made from crushed quartz mixed with resin and pigments. The resin binds the quartz particles together to form a hard, non-porous surface. Unlike natural stone, the resin makes quartz impervious to moisture.
Quartz density ranges from 93% to 97% crushed quartz combined with 7% to 3% resin. This high ratio of stone to resin gives quartz its non-porous qualities. The resin fills in the natural pores and voids within the quartz.
During manufacturing, quartz slabs are also enhanced with polymers and vacuum vibrocompaction. These processes remove any remaining air pockets and further densify the material.
The resulting surface is dense, stiff, and water-resistant. Liquids and dirt cannot penetrate quartz counters like they can with porous natural stone.
Why Non-Porous Quartz is Better for Countertops
The non-porous nature of quartz makes it an ideal countertop material:
- Resists staining: Spilled liquids like wine, coffee, and juice stay on the surface instead of soaking in. Quartz resists stains much better than porous natural stone.
- Low maintenance: Since liquids cannot penetrate the surface, quartz does not require yearly sealing like granite and marble. Simple wiping keeps quartz clean.
- Sanitary: The lack of pores minimizes spots for bacteria, mold, and mildew growth. Quartz has naturally antibacterial properties.
- Durable: With a Mohs hardness of 7, quartz stands up well to scratches, cuts, and heat. The non-porous surface adds durability.
- Custom designs: Seamless, non-porous quartz allows for custom patterns and effects like swirls, veins, and speckles.
- Shock and scratch resistant: Quartz counters do not chip or stain as easily as natural stone. The resin binder creates shock resistance.
- Less prone to damage: Liquid spills cannot penetrate and cause stains or discoloration over time. Quartz maintains its pristine factory finish.
Maintaining a Non-Porous Quartz Countertop
To keep quartz counters in good condition:
- Blot spills immediately to prevent staining, especially oils and acidic substances like lemon juice. Use a microfiber cloth to blot.
- Clean regularly with a mild non-abrasive soap and water. Avoid harsh cleaners and chemicals.
- Rinse thoroughly after cleaning to remove any residue. Let air dry.
- Use a cutting board to protect from scratches and nicks from kitchen knives.
- Avoid excessive pressure when working on a quartz countertop to prevent damage.
- Clean up spills quickly if liquids like nail polish, paint or dye land on the counter. Blot immediately to avoid staining.
- Have surfaces re-polished by a professional if etching or dulling occurs over time. Avoid DIY polishing.
With routine care, a quartz counter’s non-porous surface will stay in excellent condition for many years. The low maintenance requirements are a major perk for busy kitchens and baths.
What About Seams on Quartz Countertops?
Quartz slabs are relatively small compared to natural stone, so counters often require visible seams where two pieces meet. This leads some homeowners to wonder if these seams are porous.
The answer is no – quartz seams are not porous either. Here’s why:
- Quartz is non-porous throughout the material, including the slab edges.
- Reputable fabricators use seam adhesive to bond slabs together. This adhesive penetrates and seals the seam.
- After installation, some fabricators apply a penetrating sealant along the seams for added protection.
- Good fabricators ensure the seam is flat and even to prevent moisture intrusion.
With proper installation, the seamed area should be stain-resistant and non-porous like the rest of the quartz surface. Any gaps or uneven areas can collect spills though, so it’s important to wipe up liquids quickly.
Can You Seal or Add a Finish to Quartz?
Since quartz is non-porous, sealants and topical finishes are generally not recommended or required. In fact, some finishes can actually damage quartz over time. Here’s why you typically don’t need to seal quartz:
- Already stain-resistant: The resin makes quartz counters impervious without any added sealant.
- Sealants sit on surface: Since quartz is non-porous, sealants merely sit on the surface and can attract dirt.
- Adds gloss: Some sealants make quartz look too glossy compared to its natural finish.
- Can discolor: Solvent-based sealants can react with chemicals in quartz and create yellowish stains over time.
- Difficult to remove: Sealants and finishes can penetrate quartz pores on a micro level, making them hard to strip off later.
In most cases, quartz manufacturers advise against using any sealer or finish. Wipe spills quickly, clean routinely with soap and water, and have a professional polish occasionally to keep quartz counters looking their best.
Can Liquids Penetrate Chips or Cracks in Quartz?
Due to its durable nature, quartz is resistant to chips and cracks with proper care. However, accidents can happen in a busy kitchen. Although quartz itself is non-porous, a crack or chip creates a route for liquid to penetrate under the surface.
What happens if a quartz countertop gets damaged?
- Small nicks and scratches are usually superficial and will not allow liquid inside the slab.
- Cracks and chips however, especially along seams or corners, can create an entry point.
- Liquids can seep into the subsurface layers and eventually lead to staining and microbial growth.
- If staining occurs under the quartz, the discoloration can be difficult or impossible to remove.
To prevent liquids from penetrating cracks and openings, it’s best to get damaged quartz repaired professionally as soon as possible. The crack can be filled with color-matched resin to seal out moisture.
- Keep quartz free from cracks and damage to maintain its non-porous integrity.
- Blot spills quickly to avoid moisture seeping under loosened areas.
- Repair chips and cracks with resin fillers to prevent permanent stains.
Can You Use Quartz Outdoors?
With its durable composition and stain resistance, some homeowners consider using quartz for outdoor countertops and surfaces. However, quartz is an indoor material that is not designed for outdoor use. Here’s why:
- Temperature fluctuations: Quartz can withstand moderate heat. But in outdoor conditions, extreme temperature swings from hot sun to cold nights can damage quartz.
- Moisture exposure: Although quartz resists liquids, outdoor areas see frequent moisture from rain, sprinklers, etc. Constant wetness can penetrate seams and degrade adhesive.
- UV rays: The resin binder in quartz can become brittle and discolored when exposed to years of sunlight. Quartz will appear dull and faded over time outdoors.
- Not frost-proof: Freezing temperatures allow liquid water inside quartz to expand, leading to cracks and damage over winter.
- Prone to chipping: Quartz corners and edges can chip from bumps and outdoor use, allowing liquid intrusion. Chips are common on outdoor natural stone as well.
- Manufacturers don’t recommend: Quartz companies advise against using their products in outdoor kitchens, patios, pool areas, etc.
Overall, quartz countertops are designed for indoor use. The constant temperature fluctuations, moisture levels, and UV exposure of outdoor areas can shorten the lifespan of quartz surfaces. It’s best to choose outdoor-rated materials for any counters, floors, walls, and surfaces that live outside.
Is Quartz More Porous Than Granite?
Granite is inherently porous due to its natural stone origins. In comparison, quartz’s non-porous qualities give it an advantage over granite. Here’s a look at their differences:
- Made of natural stone that forms over millions of years
- Contains tiny pores, cracks and fissures
- Requires yearly sealing to prevent stains
- More prone to chipping along the porous areas
- Can harbor bacteria in unsealed pores
- Stains can occur and be difficult to remove
- Needs frequent polishing and re-sealing
- Manufactured from crushed quartz and resin
- Non-porous surface resists liquid absorption
- Does not require regular sealing like granite
- Less prone to chips and cracks
- Resists germs and bacteria growth
- Stains less easily than granite
- Maintains luster with occasional polishing
The main takeaway is that granite is naturally porous, while quartz is engineered to be non-porous. The resin filler and vibrocompaction make quartz an impervious, stain-resistant material.
Granite requires yearly sealing to reduce porosity, while quartz remains stain-proof without sealants. In terms of porosity, quartz has a clear advantage over natural granite countertops.
Is There Such Thing as a Porous Quartz Countertop?
Given everything we’ve discussed, are there any scenarios where quartz could potentially be porous? While quite uncommon, here are a few hypothetical situations:
- Low-quality quartz: Cheap brands use less resin filler, which may make the surface more prone to porosity. Stick with quality name brands.
- Improper installation: Large gaps at seams, or cracked corners not reinforced, may allow liquids to penetrate. Ensure certified installers do the job.
- Weak spots: Occasional imperfections in quartz can create microscopic cracks and pores. Blot spills quickly to prevent absorption.
- Worn finish: Over many years, strong cleaners could wear down the surface enough for slight penetration. Have quartz re-polished occasionally.
- Damaged areas: Cracks and chips along the edge or at seams can allow moisture intrusion (as mentioned earlier). Repair any damage immediately.
With high-grade quartz from reputable brands, proper fabrication and installation, and good preventive care, the chances of porosity issues are extremely low. Always exercise caution around seams and damages areas though.
Frequently Asked Questions about Quartz Porosity
Here are answers to some common questions homeowners have about the porous nature of quartz:
Does Quartz Need to be Sealed?
Quartz does not require sealing. The resin makes quartz non-porous, so sealants merely sit on the surface. Most manufacturers advise against using sealants.
Can Liquids Penetrate Quartz?
No, barring any cracks or imperfections, liquids stay on the surface and cannot penetrate quartz. The dense non-porous structure prevents absorption.
Is There Porcelain in Quartz Countertops?
No porcelain is used. Quartz counters are made from crushed quartz bound with resin. Porcelain is an entirely different material made from clay that can be porous.
Is White Quartz More Porous Than Other Colors?
No, quartz porosity does not vary by color. All quartz contains high percentages of ground quartz in resin, so even lighter colors are non-porous. The pigments do not affect porosity.
How Long Does Quartz Resist Liquids?
Thanks to its non-porous qualities, quartz resists liquids indefinitely as long as the surface remains intact. With proper care, quartz maintains its stain resistance for life.
Can Red Wine Stain Quartz?
No, red wine will not stain or discolor quartz counters. The pigments may briefly sit on the surface but can be cleaned with soap and water since the wine cannot penetrate the quartz.
Is Quartz Prone to Water Spots?
Unlike natural stone, quartz will not show water spots or rings when exposed to moisture. Liquids do not soak in or leave behind minerals that can etch quartz’s non-porous surface.
Quartz offers many advantages for today’s busy kitchens and baths, with its durability, antibacterial properties, custom designs, and stain resistance topping the list. Upon closer inspection, quartz’s non-porous nature makes it uniquely suited for home spaces that see plenty of use and moisture.
Understanding quartz’s non-porous qualities allows homeowners to keep their investment in pristine shape for the long haul. With proper care and maintenance, quartz countertops will withstand years of family meals, homework sessions, parties, crafts, and everything in between. So take heart that spills and messes wipe away easily, and you can relax knowing liquids don’t seep into quartz.
By choosing quartz over more porous materials, homeowners can enjoy worry-free, stain-free counters that just need a quick wipe down to look like new again. Just be diligent about blotting up spills, repairing any damage right away, and having surfaces re-polished occasionally by a professional. Following the manufacturer’s recommendations will keep quartz counters in tip-top shape.