Quartz countertops are engineered stone surfaces made from ground quartz crystals combined with resins and pigments. They are an increasingly popular choice for kitchen and bathroom countertops due to their aesthetic appeal, durability, and low maintenance.
While quartz is resistant to stains, sealing is still recommended to protect its luster and prevent damage from spills. Sealing fills in microscopic pores on the surface, creating a barrier that repels moisture, oils, and acids. This helps prevent staining, etching, and discoloration over time.
Understanding what happens when quartz is sealed properly allows homeowners to make an informed decision about maintaining their investment.
What is a Sealer and How Does it Work?
A sealer is a liquid product that is applied as a thin protective coating on the surface of the quartz. Most quartz countertop sealers are silicone-based, though some are made from polyurethane or other resins.
The sealer bonds to the pores on the stone, acting as a shield to prevent absorption of liquids. This waterproofing effect helps repel stains from coffee, wine, oil, and other common kitchen spills. It also protects against etching from acidic substances like citrus and vinegar.
Sealers work by chemically reacting with the quartz to create a durable, invisible barrier. They do not affect the appearance of the stone.
The Sealing Process Step-By-Step
Sealing quartz countertops involves carefully cleaning and preparing the surface before applying the sealer:
- Remove everything from the countertop. Clean thoroughly with a gentle soap and water to remove all debris, dirt, and residues.
- Rinse well and allow the surface to dry completely. Make sure there is no moisture left.
- Read and follow the sealer manufacturer’s instructions. Shake or stir the sealer well before using.
- Liberally apply the sealer using a clean cloth or foam applicator. Cover the entire surface and edges.
- Allow sealer to penetrate the stone for 5-10 minutes. Then thoroughly wipe off all excess with a dry cloth.
- A second coat may be needed for more protection. Apply again in 1-2 hours if recommended.
- Remove all sealer residues. Buff dry after last application.
- The countertop can be used again in 2-4 hours. Fully cures in 24-48 hours.
- Reapply sealer every 1-5 years depending on usage and wear. Look for signs of fading.
- Spot seal as needed if you notice etching or stains developing.
What Happens When You Seal Quartz?
Sealing quartz countertops provides three key protective benefits:
1. Repels Moisture
The sealer fills in pores and creates a waterproof barrier. Liquids bead up and can be easily wiped away instead of absorbing into the stone. This prevents stains and damage from spills.
2. Prevents Staining
The sealer acts as a shield to block absorption of coloring agents. Coffee, wine, oil, juice and other stains have difficulty penetrating the sealed surface.
3. Reduces Etching
Acidic substances like citrus, vinegar and cleaners can etch and dull unsealed quartz over time. Sealing provides a barrier against etching to keep the polish intact.
Pros of Sealing Quartz Countertops
- Keeps surfaces looking like new for longer
- Allows quick wipe-up of spills to prevent stains
- Provides peace of mind against etching from routine kitchen acidity
- Extends time between deep cleanings
- Potentially adds resale value by maintaining pristine condition
Cons of Sealing Quartz
- Adds minor cost for sealer product every few years
- Requires keeping countertops cleared off during the sealing process
- Can take several hours for full curing before use
- Could darken some stone colors slightly and deepen veins
- Won’t prevent all stains, etching in extreme cases
FAQs about Sealing Quartz Countertops
Should all quartz countertops be sealed?
Sealing is highly recommended by manufacturers, but not absolutely mandatory. Unsealed quartz can still perform well in many homes. Sealing provides an added layer of protection.
How often should I reseal quartz?
Typically every 1-5 years depending on usage. High traffic kitchens may need more frequent resealing than bathrooms. Signs like water pooling indicate it is time.
Is there a difference between sealing polished vs. matte quartz?
Matte or honed finishes are more porous than polished. They benefit even more from sealing for stain prevention.
Can I seal just part of the countertop?
You’ll get best results by sealing the entire surface. But spot sealing high use areas is better than nothing.
What happens if quartz is not sealed?
Unsealed quartz will be more prone to staining, etching, and losing its luster over time. But it can still perform reasonably well without sealing.
Sealing quartz countertops involves applying a protective liquid coating that adheres inside the stone pores and creates a durable barrier. This waterproofs the surface to prevent stains, etching, and deterioration from kitchen spills and acids. Though not mandatory, sealing quartz helps maintain its factory-fresh beauty with minimal effort. Taking the time every few years to properly clean and seal quartz countertops is worth the investment.