Quartz countertops are popular options for kitchens and bathrooms because of their durability, aesthetics, and low maintenance. However, many homeowners wonder: will quartz countertops stain? The short answer is yes, quartz can stain. However, quartz is less prone to staining than other countertop materials and stains are often easier to remove from quartz.
What is Quartz?
Before diving into the staining potential of quartz, it’s helpful to understand exactly what quartz countertops are made of.
Quartz countertops, sometimes referred to as engineered stone, are made from ground natural quartz crystals combined with resins and pigments. The exact ratio varies by manufacturer, but high-quality quartz typically contains over 90% ground quartz.
The resins bind the quartz particles together to form a durable, non-porous surface. Pigments are added to quartz to achieve different colors and patterns that mimic look of natural stone.
Why Quartz is Resistant to Staining
There are a few properties of quartz that make it more stain-resistant than other natural stone countertops like granite or marble:
Quartz is non-porous, meaning it does not absorb liquids easily. Materials like granite are more porous, so spills can seep into the tiny pores in the stone and cause stubborn stains. The non-porous nature of quartz prevents absorption of most spills.
Resins Fill Gaps
The polymer resins mixed into quartz fill in any natural pits or cracks between the quartz particles. This leaves little space for stains to set in. The resins make the surface less prone to staining compared to natural stone.
Does Not Etch
Quartz is very resistant to etching from acidic substances like juice, wine or cleaning products. Materials like marble will become etched and appear dull when exposed to acids. The resins in quartz provide an acid-resistant barrier.
How to Prevent Staining on Quartz
While less prone to staining than other materials, quartz can become stained without proper care:
- Wipe up spills immediately before they have time to set
- Use coasters under glasses and bottles to prevent etching
- Clean with a pH-neutral quartz cleaner, not acidic cleaners
- Avoid exposing quartz to strong chemicals like paint removers or oven cleaners
- Apply a quartz sealer every 1-2 years for added protection
With routine cleaning and by promptly treating any spills, stains on quartz can be minimized.
What Kind of Stains can Develop on Quartz?
Although less staining occurs compared to other materials, quartz is still susceptible to some stubborn stains without prompt cleanup. Here are some common stains that may occur:
Oils like canola oil or olive oil can soak into quartz and leave behind a dark, greasy stain if not cleaned up quickly. The longer the oil sits, the deeper it penetrates.
Foods with natural pigments like berries, ketchup, spices and wine can temporarily or permanently discolor quartz if allowed to set. Acidic juices may etch the surface over time.
Hard Water Marks
Mineral deposits in tap water can leave behind white, chalky hard water stains on quartz, especially around wet areas near a sink.
Inks from markers, pens or printer cartridges can stubbornly adhere to quartz. Permanent marker is especially challenging to remove.
Metals like iron, copper and bronze can oxidize and leave behind rust stains on quartz surfaces. Leaving metal items on quartz exposes it to this oxidization.
How to Remove Stains from Quartz
While stains are possible on quartz, they are typically easier to remove than on surfaces like granite or marble. Here are some tips for removing common quartz stains:
For Oil-Based Stains:
- Immediately blot with paper towel to absorb excess oil
- Mix a gentle degreaser like dish soap and warm water
- Use a non-abrasive sponge or soft cloth to wash the area
- Rinse thoroughly then dry with a clean cloth
For Food Stains:
- Gently scrape off any excess food with a plastic spatula
- Create a baking soda paste with a few tablespoons of water
- Allow paste to sit for 5-10 minutes on the stain
- Scrub using a soft sponge in circular motions
- Rinse and dry the area thoroughly
For Hard Water Marks:
- Mix equal parts white vinegar and warm water
- Soak a cloth in the solution and place over marks for 30 minutes
- Wipe the area then rinse thoroughly with clean water
- Dry with a soft, lint-free cloth
For Ink Stains:
- Apply rubbing alcohol to a soft cloth
- Gently rub the alcohol on the stain
- Rinse thoroughly with water
- Dry the area with a clean towel
For Metal Marks:
- Make a baking soda and water paste
- Apply paste to marks and allow to sit for 5 minutes
- Scrub gently with a soft sponge
- Rinse thoroughly and dry with a clean cloth
For severe stains, consult your quartz manufacturer or installer for professional stain removal. Avoid abrasive cleaners or scrubbing pads which may damage the quartz surface.
Can Stains Reappear After Cleaning Quartz?
It is possible for some stubborn oil-based stains to reappear even after cleaning quartz counters. This is often called “ghosting”.
The oil penetrates below the surface and cannot be fully removed with regular cleaning. The oil residue remains buried in the quartz, then slowly migrates back up and becomes visible again as a pale stain.
To prevent ghosting, thoroughly clean the quartz with a degreasing cleaner after any oil spills. Use paper towels to blot up excess oil before it seeps in. For severe oil stains it may take several repeated cleanings to fully remove the slick residue.
Do Quartz Counters Need to be Sealed to Prevent Staining?
Unlike granite or marble, quartz does not require regular sealing. The resins mixed into quartz make it non-porous, so sealing is not essential.
However, light occasional sealing can provide added protection from stains. Quartz manufacturers generally recommend sealing every 1-2 years with a water-based quartz sealer. Avoid silane or silicone-based sealers designed for natural stone, as these may damage quartz.
Use an absorbent cloth to apply a thin uniform layer of sealer according to product directions. Allow proper drying time before using the quartz surface again.
Will Sunlight Cause Discoloration of Quartz?
All countertop materials are prone to some fading or discoloration with prolonged exposure to UV light from sunlight. However, quartz offers better sun resistance than many other options.
The main risks of sun damage to quartz are:
- Fading of darker pigmented colors
- Development of yellowish discoloration
- Loss of glossy sheen
Placement of quartz in direct sunlight increases the risks of fading. Using window treatments to minimize UV light exposure helps preserve the original color and appearance.
Quartz made with lighter, more subtle pigments will show fading less over time. Darker bold quartz colors have increased susceptibility to light damage.
Can Hot Pans Damage or Discolor Quartz Countertops?
One advantage of quartz over softer materials like solid surface is its high heat tolerance. However, extremely hot pans directly from the stove or oven can potentially scorch some quartz colors, especially solid darker pigments.
To be safe, always use a trivet or hot pad under extremely hot cookware fresh from the burner or oven. Avoid putting boiling pots or baking sheets directly on quartz.
With routine care, most quartz countertops resist thermal damage or discoloration. But sensitivity can vary based on the specific brand, color and resin composition.
Signs of Poor Quality Quartz
Some lower quality quartz is more prone to damage and staining. Here are some red flags that may indicate questionable quartz quality:
- Manufactured overseas with limited quality control
- Lacking reputation of established quartz companies
- Very low prices compared to quartz average costs
- Weak or no warranty against manufacturer defects
- Minimal quartz content, fails quartz scratch test
Reputable quartz brands made in USA or Europe utilizing over 90% quartz and strong resin formulas are less likely to stain, etch or discolor. Research quartz options to identify high-quality products best suited for long-term durability.
How to Choose More Stain-Resistant Quartz
All quartz has some risk of staining, but certain types offer enhanced resistance:
- Lighter colors – Dark quartz shows more visible stains. Lighter quartz hides marks better.
- Less patterned quartz – Solid colored quartz shows fewer visible stains than busy particle patterns.
- Quartz containing glass – Some quartz incorporates crushed glass which resists staining.
- Higher end quartz brands – Quality controls result in sturdier stain resistance.
- Matte finish quartz – The lack of a glossy polish allows stains to be less noticeable.
Quartz Stain Prevention Tips
With routine care and prompt wipe-ups, stains on quartz can be minimized. Follow these best practices:
- Clean spills immediately before they set and stain
- Use coasters, trivets and cutting boards to protect quartz
- Avoid exposing quartz to strong chemicals that can discolor
- Clean quartz regularly with a gentle quartz-safe cleaner
- Apply a quartz sealer every 1-2 years for added protection
- Check the quality and stain resistance warranty before purchase
Can You Sand Down Stains in Quartz?
Minor surface stains or scratches in quartz can be carefully sanded out to restore the appearance. However, sanding quartz takes precision and risks damaging the surface if done improperly.
Potential problems with sanding quartz include:
- Creating uneven spots or depressions
- Causing more noticeable scratch marks
- Damaging the finish if done too aggressively
Sanding is generally only recommended for superficial spot fixes by a professional. For deep set stains, full quartz replacement may be better than risking sanding damage.
Do Quartz Counters Stain Compared to Other Materials?
Compared to other popular countertop materials, quartz offers very good stain resistance:
- More resistant than marble which stains easily
- Less prone to staining than granite which is porous
- Holds up better than laminate which can swell from moisture
- Not as heat or stain sensitive as solid surface countertops
Quartz is comparable in stain resistance to sintered compact surfaces like Dekton or Neolith. But properly cared for quartz performs well for most households in resisting stains.
Can You Bleach Quartz to Remove Stains?
It is not recommended to use bleach or bleach-based cleaners on quartz countertops. The chemicals in bleach can damage the resin binders in quartz causing erosion or discoloration.
Bleach may also react with pigments, resulting in rust stains or faded blotchy spots. In some cases, bleach can strip off the top finish layer of the quartz.
For tough stains, use a cleaner specifically designed to be quartz-safe. Avoid harsh chemicals like bleach that jeopardize the look and integrity of the material. Test stain removers in an inconspicuous spot first.
How Long Does Quartz Last Before Staining Becomes a Problem?
With proper care and maintenance, quality quartz countertops should provide 15-25 years of use before needing replacement. Staining alone should not damage quartz to the point needing replacement within 10-15 years.
Gradual fading, scratching, and etching over decades will necessitate replacement. But stains themselves will not ruin a quartz countertop that quickly when cared for properly. Keeping quartz sealed and avoiding strong chemicals maximizes longevity.
Is There Such Thing as Stain-Proof Quartz?
No quartz is 100% stain-proof given the right circumstances. But many modern quartz options come extremely close thanks to advanced engineering.
Top quartz brands using purified raw materials and high-pressure vacuum fabrication methods can produce ultra-durable, resilient surfaces nearly impervious to stains.
While no material is completely stain-proof, high-end quartz offers homeowners the closest thing available to stain-immune countertops. Nonetheless, reasonable care should still be exercised.
Quartz offers homeowners excellent stain resistance compared to other natural stone and laminate countertops. But it can become stained if not cared for properly.
Follow basic maintenance best practices wiping spills quickly, avoiding abrasives, and using trivets for hot pans. Quality quartz brands applied in kitchens and bathrooms provide years of stain-free beauty and enjoyment.
Quartz is not stain-proof. But the durability and low maintenance of quartz make it less prone to significant staining issues compared to other countertop options. With routine care, quartz countertops will maintain their original beauty in busy kitchens and baths.