White quartz countertops are an increasingly popular choice for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects. With their bright, clean appearance and durability, it’s easy to see why. But is a white quartz countertop actually easy to maintain on a daily basis? Let’s take a closer look.
What is Quartz?
Quartz countertops, sometimes called engineered stone, are made from ground natural quartz crystals combined with resins and pigments. The quartz makes up over 90% of the material, making it extremely hard and durable. The resins bind the quartz particles together into a slab, while the pigments provide the color and pattern.
Compared to natural stone like granite or marble, quartz offers consistent coloring all the way through, making repairs less noticeable. And unlike solid surface materials, quartz is far less prone to stains, scratches and burns. This high performance makes quartz an excellent choice for busy kitchens and baths.
Benefits of White Quartz Countertops
Opting for a white quartz delivers some specific advantages:
- Bright, clean look – The light color immediately makes rooms feel clean and opens up smaller spaces. White reflects light well, so it pairs nicely with tasks like food prep.
- Neutral canvas – White quartz works with nearly any cabinetry, flooring or wall color. It allows you to easily change up accessories down the road for an updated look.
- Resists stains – With proper care, white quartz does an excellent job resisting stains from food, dyes and everyday messes. This helps maintain the like-new appearance.
- Low maintenance – Compared to other light countertop options like marble, white quartz is far easier to keep looking pristine day to day.
But with the benefits come some special care requirements. Let’s look at what’s needed to keep white quartz performing its best.
Daily Care Tips
White quartz is fairly bulletproof in the grand scheme of natural stone countertop options. But to keep it looking like new long-term, be sure to:
Clean up spills quickly – Don’t let puddles of juice, wine or anything potentially staining sit on the surface. Wipe up wet messes right away using a paper towel or soft cloth.
Use mild soap and water for most cleaning – For routine maintenance, stick to gentle liquid dish soap and warm water applied with a soft sponge or microfiber cloth. Avoid harsh cleansers and abrasive scrubbing pads.
Rinse soap residue thoroughly – After washing the countertop, take care to rinse away all traces of soap with clean water. Soap scum buildup can dull the bright white over time.
Blot up oils and grease – Oily messes can leave a residual stain if left to soak in. Absorb excess oils by dabbing gently with a paper towel. Then clean the area normally with dish soap and water.
Avoid direct heat – Don’t place hot skillets or pans directly on the quartz. Always use a trivet. While quartz resists heat better than solid surface, intense direct heat can damage the finish.
Following these habits daily will go a long way in keeping a white quartz countertop sparkling and blemish-free. But accidents still happen in busy kitchens. Here’s how to handle common mishaps:
Cleaning Up Common Messes
Dried food stains – Gently scrape any dried-on debris with a plastic putty knife. Apply a paste of baking soda and water and let sit for several minutes before scrubbing with a soft cloth. Rinse thoroughly.
Oily residue – Dab the area with rubbing alcohol using a soft cloth. Never pour alcohol directly on the countertop. Once oil is absorbed, wash normally with dish soap and water.
Mold/mildew stains – Mix up a solution of 1 part bleach to 4 parts water. Apply to the stain with a soft cloth, let sit several minutes, then scrub gently. Rinse several times with clean water to remove bleach residue.
Hard water marks – Wipe on a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water. Let fizz on the stain for 2-3 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with warm water. Use a microfiber cloth to avoid scratches.
Light scratches – Very fine superficial scratches can often be buffed out using 0000 steel wool and a few drops of liquid dish soap. Rub gently in a circular motion, then rinse and dry. Check a small inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t dull the finish.
For dried, sticky messes like gum, candle wax or nail polish, first harden the material using an ice cube. Then gently scrape away hardened bits with a plastic putty knife. Avoid sharp metal tools that could gouge the quartz.
Preventing Damage Long-Term
Taking a few simple precautions will help avoid damage that can’t be cleaned away:
- Use cutting boards and trivets to protect the surface
- Install a sink-mounted laminate protectant trim piece if lacking one
- Don’t place toiletry bottles directly on the quartz
- Avoid abrasive cleansers, pads and tools marked as “not for use on quartz”
- Don’t use the countertop as a stepping stool – it isn’t designed to support a lot of weight
- Have any chips or impact damage repaired quickly to prevent cracking
With occasional resealing and professional honing as needed, a white quartz countertop should stay looking like new for decades before a full resurfacing becomes necessary.
Maintenance Costs Over Time
Compared to other popular options like marble and granite, white quartz generally costs less to maintain long-term. Here’s a look at estimated maintenance costs per year:
- White quartz: $50-100 for sealants, cleaners, repairs
- Marble: $100-300 for intensive sealing and gradual etching/scratch removal
- Granite: $75-150 on average, but can develop staining issues over time
With white quartz, you avoid special etching treatments needed for marble and the periodic staining challenges of some granites. The main costs involve topical sealants and properly repairing any chips/cracks that occur.
Professional honing to remove superficial scratches may be needed every 3-5 years at a cost of $150-300. So for the first decade, expect total maintenance costs in the $750-1500 range.
Improving Gloss with Refinishing
Over many years, the original gloss level of a white quartz countertop may gradually dull just from regular use. This can make the countertop appear stained even when thoroughly clean.
Professional refinishing can restore the original factory shine. A skilled fabricator lightly sands the entire surface and applies new coats of sealant. This also repairs any fine scratches accumulated over the years.
Cost for refinishing white quartz countertops averages $45-85 per linear foot, depending on local rates. It takes 1-2 days to complete the process. The fresh gloss and sealing provides years of renewed stain resistance.
When to Consider Replace vs Refinish
Instead of refinishing an older white quartz countertop, replacement may be the better investment if:
- Severe damage like cracks or broken edges are present
- Discoloration has penetrated below the surface
- There are many impact chips and pits despite repairs
- You desire updating the color or style
- The substrate below needs replacement
For surface level damage, refinishing often makes more sense. But if issues run deeper or you want a fresh new look, replacement may be the wiser – albeit more expensive – option. Replacement costs typically run $60-120 per square foot installed.
Is White Quartz an Eco-Friendly Choice?
As homeowners become more conscious of environmental impacts, the eco-friendliness of building materials deserves consideration. Here’s how white quartz counters rate:
- Made largely of natural stone innately recyclable and abundant
- Doesn’t require quarrying of new natural stone
- More consistent in appearance than natural stone, reducing waste
- Requires less sealing chemicals than many natural stone options
- Resins and pigments used in manufacturing have some environmental impacts
- Some color variations may contain traces of radiation-emitting minerals
While no countertop option is 100% eco-friendly, white quartz ranks relatively well. And improvements in manufacturing processes are making quartz counters greener. Opting for recycled content quartz has less ecological impact.
Enhancing a White Quartz Countertop’s Beauty
To highlight the brilliance of a white quartz surface, consider pairing it with:
- Boldly colored kitchen cabinets and mosaic tile backsplashes
- Metallic finishes on fixtures, appliances and pendant lighting
- Natural wood or stone accents through open shelving, eating bars and window valances
- Soft-colored walls like light blues, greens and grays to allow the white quartz to stand out
- Darker iron or wrought metal kitchen stools for contrast
A white quartz countertop serves as a pristine canvas. With smart accents and accessories, you can create a stunning kitchen or bath design that maximizes the beauty of the white quartz.
Should You Choose White Quartz Countertops?
White quartz delivers a fresh, vibrant look with many years of lasting beauty when properly cared for. Stain resistance exceeds most other light countertop materials, while routine maintenance is quite simple. This provides homeowners with a durable, low-maintenance surface able to handle busy kitchens and baths.
While no material is totally stain or damage-proof, white quartz responds well to simple cleaning methods for common mishaps. Costs to maintain its appearance long-term are quite reasonable. Refinishing can extend its lifetime in lieu of replacement in many cases.
Taking into account all the benefits and maintenance requirements, white quartz ranks as one of the easier to care for countertop materials, especially in the popular white color range. For those desiring a lightweight, pristine look with stay-clean convenience, white quartz is an excellent option worth considering.