Quartz countertops are popular options for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects due to their durability, ease of maintenance, and aesthetic appeal. However, some homeowners wonder if quartz will fade or discolor when exposed to sunlight over time. Here is a comprehensive look at how sunlight affects quartz countertops and what you can do to prevent fading.
How Quartz Countertops Are Made
To understand if quartz countertops can fade in sunlight, it helps to first understand what they are made of. Quartz countertops are engineered stone slabs created from crushed quartz crystals combined with resins and pigments.
The typical composition is:
- 90-94% crushed quartz – This provides strength, hardness, and structure.
- 6-10% polymer resins – Usually polyester or epoxy. This binds the quartz particles together.
- Pigments – Added for color. Titanium dioxide is commonly used for white/light colors.
This mixture is compacted under heat and pressure to create an impervious, non-porous slab. The resins give quartz its glossy appearance and help make it resistant to damage.
Does Sunlight Fade Quartz?
With proper care and maintenance, a quartz countertop should not fade significantly from sunlight exposure under normal conditions. Here are the key reasons why:
Reputable quartz manufacturers use UV-resistant pigments to tint the slabs. This prevents the colors from breaking down easily in sunlight. However, cheaper low-quality pigments could potentially fade faster.
Unlike natural stone, quartz lacks pores for pigments to dissipate through. This helps maintain its color stability.
Durability of Quartz
Quartz is very hard and scratch-resistant. This durability prevents the surface from eroding away and exposing lighter subsurface particles, which can cause fading in natural stone.
The pigments penetrate all the way through quartz slabs during manufacturing. Natural stones often have uneven pigmentation that can lead to uneven fading.
Lack of Organic Matter
Natural stones contain traces of organic matter that can yellow when exposed to light. Quartz contains no organic material, so yellowing is not an issue.
With all these protective factors, quartz countertops are highly resilient against UV light damage and color change.
How Much Sunlight Causes Fading?
Most quartz countertops will see minimal color change even with years of direct sunlight exposure. However, there are a few scenarios that increase the chances of fading:
- Cheap low-quality quartz – Less expensive brands may use inferior pigments more prone to fading. Stick with major name brands.
- Extreme sunlight exposure – Think hot, arid desert climates with intense sun all day long. The UV exposure will be more than average.
- Sunlight reflecting off windows – Nearby windows that reflect and concentrate sunlight could speed up fading. Consider window treatments.
- Light colors – Pastels and whites have less pigment so will fade quicker than darker quartz colors.
- Improper cleaning – Harsh cleaners may slowly strip away the finish and pigments.
Under typical indoor conditions and average sunlight,quartz should remain color-true for many years before any minor changes become noticeable.
How to Prevent Sun-Related Fading
If your quartz countertops will get heavy sun exposure, here are some tips to minimize potential fading:
- Choose darker colors – Shades like black, brown, or bold colors have more pigment for protection.
- Consider granite – Granite lacks any artificial pigments to fade. The natural mineral pigments are very stable.
- Use window treatments – Strategically placed blinds, curtains, or tinting reduce direct sunlight.
- Maintain the finish – Avoid harsh cleaners. Reapply sealers regularly.
- Rotate decor – Move vases, appliances, and decor items periodically so the same spot is not constantly exposed.
- Add a UV-protectant – There are protective sealers formulated to filter UV rays. Reapply per manufacturer instructions.
With extra care and precautions, you can further safeguard your quartz countertops from sun damage, even in hot sunny climates.
Signs of Sun Damage
How can you tell if your quartz counters are starting to fade from sun exposure? Here are the key signs to look for:
- Gradual color change – The most obvious sign is if the color slowly lightens or takes on a yellowish tone over time. Compare to a sample or less exposed area.
- Uneven fading – Sections in direct sunlight may fade faster than protected areas, creating a blotchy appearance.
- Gloss reduction – The surface may start to appear more matte and lose its shine, especially on hot sunny days.
- Chalky feel – You may notice some grittiness or chalkiness when cleaning, indicating the resin binders are breaking down.
- Cracking around edges – Prolonged heat and UV rays can cause the resins to shrink and dry out, creating stress cracks.
Thankfully these changes happen very gradually over many years of heavy sun exposure. With proper window treatments and maintenance, most quartz owners will never experience significant sun damage.
Can Sun-Damaged Quartz Be Restored?
If you do notice fading or damage, there are ways to improve the appearance of your quartz:
- Reseal and polish – Have a pro reapply a protective sealer and polish out superficial damage. This restores the glossy finish.
- Use quartz cleaners and sealers – These are made to gently clean while adding a protective barrier against UV rays.
- Whitening cleaners – These specialized cleaners can slightly brighten and even-out discolored quartz. Results are limited, so avoid overuse.
- Color refresh – For more severe fading, it is possible to have quartz re-pigmented and resealed. This restores the original color.
- Spot replacement – Badly damaged sections can sometimes be seamlessly replaced if spare material is available.
- Full replacement – In cases of extreme damage, a full countertop replacement may be needed. Thankfully this is very rare with quartz.
With the right products and techniques, moderately sun-damaged quartz countertops can often be improved cosmetically, saving the need for replacement. Prevention is still key though.
Does quartz turn yellow in the sun?
Some yellowing is possible over many years of heavy sun exposure, especially on light colors. Topical sealants, cleaners, and polishing can help minimize yellow discoloration.
Should you put quartz countertops in front of windows?
It’s best to avoid prolonged direct sunlight on quartz counters if possible. But with proper precautions, window-facing installation is fine in most climates. Just be diligent with window treatments and resealing.
Do quartz countertops fade in UV light?
While quartz is UV-resistant, all materials can eventually fade with enough exposure. Use window shades and reapply sealants regularly to protect quartz counters in rooms with abundant sunlight.
Can faded quartz be restored?
In many cases, yes. Professional resealing, polishing, and whitening treatments can significantly improve the appearance of sun-damaged quartz. Severely faded counters may need partial or full replacement though.
Does sealing quartz help prevent fading?
Yes, sealers provide an added layer of UV protection to help minimize color change. Reapply the sealer on a schedule recommended by the manufacturer, especially on counters getting regular sunlight.
While no material is 100% impervious to fading, today’s high-quality quartz countertops are uniquely engineered to resist sun damage. With sensible precautions, you can confidently install quartz in sunny rooms without worrying about significant color change. Be aware of the signs of damage, maintain the finish properly, and take steps to reduce direct sunlight when possible. With this approach, your beautiful quartz counters should remain vibrant for many years before needing restoration or replacement.
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I hope this detailed article helps explain what causes quartz countertops to fade and how to prevent sun damage. Let me know if you have any other questions!