Quartz countertops are engineered stone surfaces made from natural quartz crystals and resin. They are an increasingly popular choice for kitchen and bathroom countertops due to their durability, aesthetic appeal, and low maintenance requirements. One of the most common questions homeowners have when considering quartz countertops is whether they are scratch resistant. Here is a detailed look at the scratch resistance of quartz countertops.
How Scratch Resistant is Quartz?
Quartz countertops are composed of approximately 90% ground quartz crystals combined with pigments for color and resin as a binder. The quartz crystals make the material very hard and dense, rating around 7 on the Mohs hardness scale. In comparison, granite rates from 6-7 on the same scale. This high hardness makes quartz very scratch resistant for daily wear and tear.
However, quartz is not completely scratch proof. The resin binder is softer than the quartz crystals, so it can get minor scratches over time. But the overall surface is still highly scratch resistant compared to other countertop materials. Here are some key factors regarding the scratch resistance of quartz:
- Quartz resists scratches from everyday items like dishes, utensils, pots/pans, and cleaning supplies. It can withstand normal use without showing signs of damage.
- Though unlikely, quartz can get scratched by objects harder than the resin binder. Examples are gems, jewelry, screws/nails, and knives.
- Surface scratches tend to be minor and only affect the resin binder. They do not impact the structural integrity of the quartz.
- Etching from acidic foods and chemicals is not the same as scratching. It creates a dull spot but does not remove any material.
- Matte or honed quartz finishes show signs of wear more visibly than polished finishes. The shine helps hide minor marks.
- Darker quartz colors tend to conceal scratches better than light/white quartz.
Overall, quartz offers excellent scratch resistance compared to other natural stones and materials like marble, limestone, laminate, wood, concrete, etc. But no countertop surface is completely scratch proof under all circumstances.
What Causes Scratches on Quartz?
As mentioned above, quartz countertops can get surface damage under extreme circumstances. Here are some examples of culprits that can scratch quartz:
Gems, Jewelry and Watches
Diamonds, rubies, and sapphires are harder than quartz. Dropping a ring or watch with hard gems on a quartz counter could potentially leave visible marks. Try to avoid direct contact between quartz and jewelry containing diamonds, rubies, sapphires etc. Also, remove watches with metal bands before cooking to avoid scratching.
Knives, razor blades, scissors, and other sharp tools can scratch quartz countertops. Take care when handling these items on quartz. Never cut directly on the surface. Always use a cutting board. Accidentally dropping or scraping a sharp object across quartz can leave noticeable scratches.
Screws, Nails, and Tacks
Metal hardware such as screws, nails, and tacks are hard enough to scratch quartz. Keep these items away from quartz surfaces during a construction or installation project. Never hammer screws or nails directly into a quartz countertop.
Abrasive Cleaners and Pads
Quartz can get scratched by aggressive cleaning techniques over time. Avoid abrasive cleaners, scouring powders, stainless steel pads or scouring sponges. Even soft scrub brushes can potentially dull the surface resin with excessive force. Use only gentle, non-abrasive cleaners on quartz.
Heavy, Dragging Objects
Dragging heavy pans, appliances, furniture, or other objects across the quartz can scratch the surface. Always lift objects to move them rather than pushing or dragging. Use care when placing heavy objects on quartz as well.
By being aware of potential scratching hazards, quartz countertops can retain their flawless appearance for many years. Avoid direct contact between quartz and extremely hard materials. And never cut, hammer or drag anything across the surface. With reasonable care, quartz resists normal scratches from everyday use.
How to Prevent Scratches on Quartz Countertops
While quartz countertops are very scratch resistant, some preventative measures will help them look pristine for longer:
- Always use cutting boards for food preparation. Never cut directly on quartz.
- Don’t allow pots/pans to make direct contact with the quartz surface. Use trivets or hot pads.
- Apply felt padding to the bottom of furniture legs to prevent scratches from drag marks.
- Lifting objects instead of sliding prevents potential scratching issues.
- Clean spills promptly to avoid staining/etching. Use only non-abrasive cleaners.
- Avoid exposing quartz counters to strong chemicals like paint removers, oven cleaners etc.
- Don’t place hot hair tools directly on quartz surfaces. Use heat protectant mats.
- Remove jewelry before cooking to prevent contact with quartz. Keep jewelry boxes away from counters.
- Place rubber mats at quartz countertop edges to cushion accidental bumps.
- Install the optional apron front for sinks to protect from splashes.
With some simple precautions, quartz countertops will retain their durable beauty for many years of daily use. Their scratch resistance makes them ideal for busy kitchens and bathrooms.
How to Remove Scratches from Quartz Countertops
If scratches do occur on quartz, there are some techniques to diminish their appearance:
Polishing for Light Scratches
For minor surface scratches, use a quartz polish product to buff out imperfections. Follow product directions carefully. Avoid applying too much pressure during polishing. This works well for light scratches and general countertop rejuvenation.
Sanding Deeper Scratches
Use fine grit sandpaper (400+ grit) to very lightly sand out deeper scratches in the countertop surface. Work in small circular motions concentrating only on the scratches. Avoid sanding the whole surface. Follow with a polish application to restore the quartz shine.
Heat Treatment for Severe Damage
For severe scratches, gouges or chips, apply localized heat to soften the quartz resin binder. Use a household iron on the lowest setting. Slowly move it over the damaged spot for 30-60 seconds to gently melt the resin. This can effectively flatten scratches by blending the edges. Re-polish after heating.
For extreme quartz damage that affects a large area, hire a professional countertop refinishing company. They use specialized techniques and tools to grind down and re-finish badly damaged countertop sections. This provides a smooth, uniform appearance.
With the right methods, many scratches and marks on quartz countertops can be minimized or removed. Be sure to follow product directions carefully during DIY repairs. Contact a professional if damage is widespread or repairs are unsuccessful.
Difference Between Scratches and Etching on Quartz
It is important to distinguish between physical surface scratches versus chemical etching that can occur on quartz countertops:
Scratches are caused by contact with a harder object that physically removes some of the material leaving a visible groove or trail.
Etching is chemical damage from acidic substances removing some of the shine/sheen. This creates a dull spot but does not physically remove quartz material.
Common household items that can potentially etch quartz are citrus fruits, vinegar, wine, soft drinks, tomatoes, cleaning products, etc. Avoid prolonged contact between quartz and acidic substances. Always wipe spills promptly. Mild etching often responds well to polishing.
Unlike scratches, etching does not structurally damage the quartz surface. Etching just affects surface appearance, not durability. With proper care, etching can be minimized and remedied. Scratches are more serious physical damage that requires repair methods.
How Quartz Compares to Other Countertops for Scratch Resistance
Quartz has excellent scratch resistance compared to natural stone and many other countertop materials:
- Granite – Quartz resists scratches better than granite due to its higher density. Granite scratches more easily from cutting, pots/pans, and general use over time.
- Marble – As a softer stone, marble is very prone to scratching from regular kitchen use. Quartz withstands normal wear much better.
- Laminate – Plastic laminate scratches easily from daily use. Quartz maintains its smooth surface far longer than laminate.
- Solid Surface – Materials like Corian are somewhat scratch resistant but not as durable as quartz for daily wear and tear.
- Concrete – Unsealed concrete stains easily and can get scratched from use. Quartz is a superior alternative.
- Wood – Wood scratches and dents readily from everyday use. Quartz offers much more scratch protection.
- Tile – Ceramic or porcelain tile chips easily and grout lines accumulate grime. Quartz provides an overall smoother, more seamless appearance.
While no material is completely scratch proof, quartz countertops offer excellent scratch and scuff protection compared to many other options. Their durable composition and strong aesthetic appeal make quartz an ideal choice for heavy use kitchen and bath areas. With reasonable care, quartz countertops will stay looking pristine for many years.
Frequently Asked Questions About Quartz Scratch Resistance
Here are answers to some common questions about how scratch resistant quartz countertops are:
Is Quartz More Scratch Resistant Than Granite?
Yes, quartz has better scratch resistance than natural granite. The resin binder in quartz makes it more flexible and durable on the surface. Granite can get minor nicks/scratches from cutting and daily wear over time. Quartz better maintains its smooth factory finish.
What Finish is Most Scratch Resistant on Quartz?
Polished quartz finishes provide the best scratch protection. The high shine surface helps conceal minor marks. Honed/matte quartz finishes show signs of wear more noticeably. However, both polished and honed quartz offer good scratch resistance.
Can Quartz Be Scratched by Silverware?
Regular flatware for cooking and eating won’t scratch quartz surfaces. Stainless steel utensils have a hardness below quartz. They may leave metal marks which are not scratches but can be cleaned off. However, dragging cutlery across the counter may cause light surface scratches.
Do You Need to Seal Quartz Countertops?
No, sealing is not required or recommended for quartz countertops. The resin binder creates a non-porous surface that resists stains and damage. Sealing products cannot penetrate quartz and remain on the surface. This attracts more dirt and dulls the finish.
Does Quartz Look Brand New for Life?
With proper care, quartz countertops will stay looking close to brand new for many years. However, no material is indestructible. Dropping heavy/sharp objects on quartz can damage the surface. And over decades, normal wear and tear will eventually dull quartz. But the durability far surpasses other options.
Quartz offers excellent scratch and scuff protection compared to many natural stone and engineered countertop materials. While not completely scratch proof, quartz resists damage from normal kitchen/bathroom use including cooking, cleaning and accidental bumps. The durable composition ensures the pristine factory finish remains smooth and flawless for many years with proper care. For homeowners wanting a stylish, low maintenance countertop, quartz is an ideal choice that will stay beautiful under heavy daily use.
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