Quartz countertops are renowned for their durability and resistance to scratches. But are they really as scratch-proof as they seem? Let’s take a closer look at whether quartz countertops are truly scratch resistant.
What is Quartz?
Quartz is an engineered stone made from crushed quartz crystals combined with resin and other materials. The quartz content typically ranges from 90-94%, with resin acting as a binding agent.
The resins used can be polyester, epoxy, or acrylic-based. Pigments are added to achieve the desired colors and patterns. The mixture is compacted under high pressure and vibration which fuses the materials together into a slab.
Why Quartz is Prized for Countertops
Quartz possesses many attributes that make it an excellent choice for kitchen and bathroom countertops:
- Durability – Quartz is extremely hard and dense, making it very resilient against scratches, chips, cracks, and heat.
- Low Maintenance – Requiring very little ongoing care compared to natural stone. Quartz does not need regular sealing or polishing.
- Stain Resistance – Quartz repels most stains from spills like wine, coffee, and juice. It does not need frequent cleaning or specialist products.
- Non-Porous – With very low porosity, quartz does not absorb liquids or harbor bacteria growth.
- Appearance – Available in a huge array of colors/patterns. The look of natural stone can be mimicked with more consistency.
With this impressive list of benefits, it’s no wonder quartz has become the most popular engineered stone on the market today for countertops. But the critical question remains – is it truly scratch resistant?
Is Quartz Scratch Proof?
Quartz countertops are marketed as “scratch resistant”, which implies they are highly scratch resistant compared to other stones and materials. However, no countertop surface is completely scratch-proof.
Quartz is composed mostly of one of nature’s hardest minerals. But unlike a pure mineral, it contains resin that can be damaged. So quartz will pick up light superficial marks over time with normal use.
However, quartz is far more scratch resistant than surfaces like granite, marble, laminate, solid surface, wood, and tile. Day-to-day activities are unlikely to mark or damage a quartz countertop. Accidental scratches are typically minor and only visible on close inspection.
What Can Scratch Quartz?
While quartz has excellent scratch resistance, it is not impervious. Certain substances and conditions can scratch quartz:
- Sand/dirt – Grains of sand and dirt act like sandpaper, slowly causing surface scratches. Ensure countertops are kept free of abrasive particles.
- Cutlery – Knives and utensils can lightly scratch quartz surfaces if dragged across. Use cutting boards and take care when handling silverware.
- Dropped objects – A significant impact from something heavy/sharp dropped perpendicular onto the quartz can potentially mar the surface.
- Appliances – Allowing appliances like mixers, blenders, and coffee makers to violently vibrate on the countertop could cause scratches over time. Use pads to absorb the impact.
- Cleaners – Aggressive acidic or alkaline cleaners can damage the resin in quartz and dull the surface. Only use pH-neutral quartz-safe cleaners.
- Solvents – Chemicals like paint strippers, nail polish remover, and drain cleaners can all mar quartz if left in contact. Immediately wipe up spills.
- Metal pans/pots – Allowing metal cookware to repeatedly grind on the quartz surface can slowly abrade and dull the countertop. Use pads under hot pans.
- Sharp objects – Scraping across the countertop with knives, razors, or very hard materials like glass can scratch quartz.
Factors Affecting Scratch Resistance
Not all quartz countertops have equal scratch resistance. There are a few factors that influence how easily a particular quartz surface can become marked:
Higher natural quartz content will increase hardness and scratch resistance. Premium brands have quartz particles finely ground for optimal durability. Lower quality quartz contains more resin and filler.
The specific resins used in quartz manufacturing impact performance. Brands using top-grade resins will be most scratch-resistant. Lower-cost resins scratch easier.
Polished, glossy finishes better hide subtle marks. Honed, matte quartz reveals scratches more readily due to light refraction on the duller surface.
Color and Pattern
Busier patterns and darker quartz colors conceal superficial scratches better than solid, light-colored surfaces.
Some brands apply proprietary coatings and treatments to boost scratch resistance during manufacturing. This enhances the durability of the quartz.
How to Prevent Scratching
While quartz won’t stay in pristine factory condition forever, there are steps you can take to minimize scratches:
- Use cutting boards, trivets and pads under hot items.
- Immediately clean spills – don’t let liquids sit.
- Avoid using cookware with coarse bases.
- Don’t cut or chop directly on the countertop.
- Use non-abrasive pH-neutral cleaners only.
- Minimize pressure and friction from objects dragged across the surface.
- Prevent impacts from heavy, hard items.
- Inspect countertops routinely and address minor scratches early.
What to Avoid on Quartz Surfaces
To keep quartz looking its best for years to come, always avoid:
- Abrasive scouring powders/pads.
- Harsh alkaline or acidic cleaners.
- Scraping with sharp tools or glass.
- Leaving spills unattended.
- Allowing appliances and cookware to grind.
- Letting heavy impactful items drop.
- Using the surface as a cutting board.
- Exposing to strong chemicals.
How to Fix Light Scratches
While deep gouges may require professional repair, light surface scratches can often be minimized yourself using these methods:
Gently rubbing a polishing compound designed for quartz into scratches can reduce their appearance by smoothing and shining the surface.
Using fine-grit sandpaper (1500-2000 range) to delicately sand scratches in a circular motion can help even out the surface.
Baking Soda and Water Paste
Mix baking soda and water into a spreadable paste. Apply to scratches, allowing it to dry completely. Rinse and scrub residue away.
Dip 1000 grit sandpaper into hydrogen peroxide and sand scratches gently. Rinse residue away. The peroxide helps fill scratches.
Be cautious when attempting do-it-yourself scratch repair to avoid making the problem worse. If damage is extensive, hire a professional for best results.
Will Quartz scratched by copper?
A common question asked is if copper will scratch quartz countertops. The answer is yes – copper is definitely hard enough to mark quartz. Allowing copper pans, kettles, pipes, or utensils to have ground contact against the countertop can potentially scratch the surface over time.
To prevent copper abrasion damage, use pads or trivets under copper cookware. Immediately clean up any patina residue left from copper reacting with spills or moisture. Avoid leaving unprotected copper in prolonged contact with the quartz. With proper care, copper will not be an issue. But accidentally dragging copper across the countertop could leave grey metal marks.
How scratch resistant is quartz compared to granite?
Quartz rates 7 on the Mohs scale, while granite rates from 6 to 8 depending on type. Overall, quartz has superior scratch resistance compared to granite.
Granite is vulnerable to knives, pots/pans, and acidic spills eroding the surface. Quartz is essentially non-porous, so it resists staining and etching much better. Minor superficial marks on quartz can often be removed, unlike granite scratches which are permanent.
However, honed or leathered granite finishes do a better job hiding light scratches vs. quartz glossy polishes. Ultimately, quartz will retain its lustrous smooth surface much longer under typical kitchen use than natural granite.
Is there a quartz material more scratch resistant than standard quartz?
Several proprietary types of quartz claim even greater scratch resistance than regular quartz:
- Antique Quartz – Combination of quartz and ceramic that is up to 10 times harder than natural stone according to the manufacturer (Ply Gem).
- Nuquartz – Quartz enhanced with titanium for superior scratch resistance and durability.
- Quartzite – Not to be confused with quartz, this metamorphic sandstone is 100% natural and very dense/hard.
- Sintered Quartz – Quartz surfaces fused together under intense heat/pressure for enhanced scratch & stain proof properties.
However, independent scratch test comparisons of these materials show little measurable difference vs. quality name brand quartz. The extra cost of these specialty quartz products is often not justified for the small gain in scratch performance.
Are quartz countertops really scratch proof?
While quartz countertops have excellent scratch resistance compared to other kitchen surfaces, they are not completely scratch-proof. Cutting, chopping, and dragging sharp or abrasive objects across the surface can mark and damage quartz over time.
However, light superficial scratches on quartz are much less noticeable than on granite, marble, or laminate. Everyday use is unlikely to cause severe scratching or gouging on a quartz countertop. Proper care and avoiding abrasion/impact minimizes the appearance of marks. Quartz can be considered scratch-resistant for all intents and purposes, but no countertop surface is scratch-proof.
Quartz possesses outstanding scratch resistance thanks to its hardness and non-porous composition. While no countertop material is completely scratch-proof, quartz stands up to typical wear remarkably well. Treating quartz with care and avoiding harsh abrasives will keep it looking pristine for years of beauty and enjoyment in the home.
Does standard cleaning scratch quartz?
pH-neutral quartz cleaners and soaps will not harm quartz surfaces during routine maintenance. Avoid harsh chemicals and abrasive pads/particles that could scratch.
Can you scratch quartz with a knife?
Yes, a sharp knife edge dragged forcibly across the surface can mark and scratch quartz. Avoid cutting or chopping directly on quartz. Always use a cutting board.
Do quartz scratches go away?
Minor light scratches can potentially be smoothed away by sanding or polishing. But deeper scratches in quartz can only be repaired, not removed entirely. Take care to prevent scratches in the first place.
Is a honed quartz finish more scratch resistant?
No, the honed finish shows more scratches because of light refraction. The polished glossy finish helps conceal subtle marks better long-term.
Does white quartz stain and scratch easier?
Yes, lighter solid quartz colors like white tend to show marks and scratches more readily. Patterned or darker quartz hides flaws better.
Is Caesarstone or Silestone quartz more scratch resistant?
Both are quality brand names with excellent scratch resistance. Follow each manufacturer’s care recommendations to keep either quartz looking great.
Can you use Magic Eraser on quartz?
Magic Eraser (melamine foam) is slightly abrasive and should be avoided as it could potentially dull and scratch the surface over time with excessive use.
Will car keys scratch quartz?
Keys can scratch if dragged forcefully across quartz. Try to avoid allowing hard metals to grind against the surface. Use key hooks or dishes to protect quartz.
Can quartz be damaged by heat?
Quartz resists heat very well and will not burn or scorch. But prolonged high heat can cause subtle surface discoloration over time. Always use trivets.