Why Your Quartz Countertop Is Staining & How to Prevent It

Date: February 3, 2020
Author: Jon Smith
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Is your supposed stain-resistant quartz disappointing you with a stain? Most quartz surfaces claim to be stain-resistant, but to keep them stain-free and at their best, there are a few things to keep in mind and off the counters.

Why Is Your Quartz Countertop Staining

Quartz countertop can be stained from anything with pigment that is left to sit on the quartz countertop surface for long periods of time. It is not easy to stain quartz countertops.

Quartz is a beautiful piece for upgrading a kitchen and is known for its easy to care and no-sealant-required surface. Even though it can easily be maintained, a little bit of attention and caretaking is necessary to prevent damage and “staining” on your countertop. We’ll show you the best options to tackle spills, maintain the polished countertop, and prevent damage.

Is your Quartz Countertop Really Stained?

Your quartz countertop is technically not staining in the same way as natural stones absorb stains through their pores. Most quartz “stains” are discolorations.

Usually, some substance is reacting then absorbed into the quartz as a dark spot after a reaction. The main reactive types of chemicals or exposures that result in discoloration can vary:

  • Food
  • Chemicals/cleaners
  • Bleach
  • Burnt spot

Let’s take a look at each instance in more detail below.

1. Food Items

The main causes of stains are from remains of certain food items such as the list below that reacts with the countertop.

  • Red wine
  • Coffee
  • Fruit juices
  • Fresh berries
  • Tomato sauce
  • Tea

These food spills are not staining your countertop but are typical food types that can react with the quartz makeup.

2. Cleaning Products and Chemicals

Your quartz countertop may also be reacting to your cleaning products. Products that are often used and advertised for kitchen-top can be harmful to quartz countertops.

If you have used solvents that include paint thinners, detergents, or oil soaps, your countertop may be reacting with them and leaving dark or dull spots.

3. Bleach

Bleach can leave lighter or simply white spots, which are spots left after the harsh base has reacted with the resin countertop. It typically etches the surface and leaves its mark like marble etching.

4. Burnt Spot or Heat Spot

Lastly, quartz tops may be heat-resistant but are not completely prone to heat. If you had accidentally placed a hot pot or pan on top of the surface, it could have left a burnt spot on the resin surface – or even a crack!

How to Prevent your Quartz from Staining

For the most part, quartz countertops are known for their low maintenance, easy-to-care surface. With just a few adjustments in the cleaning routine, you should be able to prevent staining on your beautiful quartz surface.

Stain Removal Tips and How to Treat Spills

Of course, the first thing to do with a spill is to clean it immediately off the surface, but are you doomed when it doesn’t come out?!

Thankfully, you can try a few simple methods.

  • Try using a paste of baking soda and water on the surface of the quartz top. Then rub it in with a soft cloth.
  • Use Bar Keeper’s Friend to remove most countertop stains. Scrub the stain with a nylon pad or a brush. This method is not always effective and can also dull quartz surfaces. Make sure you test a small surface first before using the product.
  • If a Bar Keeper’s Friend is too harsh for the type of quartz you are treating, try a non-abrasive cleaner like Bon Ami to scrub the stain. Again, you can use a nylon pad or a brush.
  • For milder stains, try using a glass cleaner and scrub the stain with a non-abrasive nylon pad.
  • Magic erase. If you want to use a magic eraser, be sure to test it first. Magic eraser contains abrasives and it may dull or damage the quartz surface.
  • For water stains, use a hard water cleaner that is specifically made for quartz surfaces.

Most of these methods are for surface stains that have not damaged the resin, or the quartz. These are the stains that appear just as a darkened spot and a similar shade of the offending source.

A Word About Sealants

As much as you want to prevent future stains with physical barriers, don’t use sealants that are designed for natural slabs. Natural slabs are porous, and quartz is not, which means the sealants won’t absorb and adhere.

Sealants will not be effective on the quartz surfaces, and in some cases, sealants can change the color of your quartz surface or make it hazy.

Cleaning Products

As with cleaning products, you may see various dulled spots on your quartz from exposure to some chemicals such as acetone (which includes nail polish remover)! These dulled spots are not treatable, and you won’t be able to bring back the shine.

Day to Day Maintenance of Your Quartz Countertop

Engineered quartz countertops are generally to maintain. The best thing to keep in mind is that spills must be cleaned and removed immediately.

For general purposes, the best way to clean the quartz surface is with warm water and soap on a soft cloth for a day to day practice. Any gentle soap such as dishwashing liquid is a safe bet for the quartz surface

General Maintenance and What Cleaning Products to Use

If you do need to use some cleaners for cleaning up messes, the best option is to go with a nonabrasive cleaner such as Soft Scrub or Barkeeper’s friend. These are made for purposes like this one.

Many recommend using a glass cleaner to saturate the countertops for a few minutes for a deep clean. Wipe the up the glass cleaner afterward with a wet cloth.

Hot Surfaces

As quartz countertops are heat resistant but not prone to heat, it is important to use trivets for hot surfaces to avoid burnt spots!

Use trivets for placing hot pots, pans, and even appliances on your quartz.  To be on the safe side, for any heat-generating appliances, like crockpots, toaster ovens, or mini grills), require the use of a trivet, potholder, or any protection from the appliance directly touching the quartz surface.

Even if you think the heat is not excessive, be safe, and protect the surface. The heat not only leaves burnt spots but can also dull the shine of the polish and resins.

In the worst-case scenario, you could introduce a thermal shock to your quartz surface, which will cause a deep crack across your countertop. 

Many advise to attentively use trivets, trays, and cutting boards regularly to prevent heat contact, food spills, and further damages to the quartz surface.

Which Cleaning Products to Avoid Using on Quartz

As mentioned before, cleaners that include solvents for killing bacteria (e.g., antimicrobial agents) can be harmful to a quartz surface. Harsh chemicals can weaken the bond between the quartz and resin components of the quartz and result in damaged surfaces.

Thankfully, your countertops are already antimicrobial! So, it helps to know that you won’t need antibacterial/antimicrobial agents to clean your countertop surface. Lastly, avoid abrasive cleaners that can attack the polished finish and dull the surface.

Some examples of cleaning product ingredients to avoid include:

  • Paint thinners (Turpentine)
  • Caustic Soda
  • Degreasers
  • Detergents
  • Oil soaps
  • Bleach
  • Nail Polish remover
  • Oven Cleaners
  • Any Low pH cleaners
  • Abrasive cleaners or pads

If you do have contact with any of these chemicals on the surface of your quartz countertop, immediately clean it off with water and mild detergent.

Quartz Countertop Basics

To best tackle the source of the problem, it is best to understand what the difference is between staining a natural stone countertop versus what is happening on your quartz countertop.

To truly understand what is happening to your quartz, it is important to learn what quartz is and how it compares to a natural stone slab.

Quartz: What It Is and Why It Stains

Quartz, often referred to as engineered quartz, is a manmade slab that features beautiful surfaces like natural stone slabs at the convenience of easy installation and affordable prices for the wallet.

Engineered quartz is mostly a combination of natural materials. The usual quartz slab consists of 90 to 94 percent of ground quartz mixed with 6 to 10 percent of resins and pigments.

Compared to natural slabs, quartz countertops are favored for its non-porous surface, which is provided by the resins. This is good because it provides a surface that doesn’t need to be sealed frequently. That’s why we hear it called “stain-resistant.”

The downfall is that these resins are the reason the quartz can be damaged by the harsh chemicals, cleaners, and heat.

Why Is Quartz Used for Countertops?

Quartz isn’t infallible, but it has many features that make it a great choice for countertops:

  1. Stain resistance and mild heat resistance. Note: this is different than being impervious to heat, and, compared to stones such as granite, quartz slabs are less heat-resistant, which leads to burnt spots and cracks if exposed to hot surfaces.
  2. Resistance to pressure and its strength to impact resistance. They are invulnerable to most abrasions, scratches, and dents without a sealant that most natural and porous slabs require.
  3. Built-in antimicrobial within the resins. This is one of the benefits and also a reason not to use antimicrobial agents on the surface (more on this later).

Even being a countertop that doesn’t require staining, quartz surfaces are known to be resistant to moisture, and most staining as it is a non-absorbent surface. Not requiring a sealant is a huge benefit, but it doesn’t mean that it is resistant to all sources of damage.

Quick Pro and Con Checklist for Quartz Countertops

ProsCons
·      As durable as stone slabs

 

·      Easy installation compared to natural slabs

·      Cheaper than natural stones

·      Non-porous

·      Stain-resistant (not “Stain-proof”)

·      Prone to chips and cracks

·      No sealing required

·      Not as heat resistant as natural stones like granite

 

·      Lesser quality than natural stones

 

Should Stained Countertops Be Replaced Before Selling a House?

With its affordable price tag, quartz is also known for its durability, worry-free, and long-lasting countertop. With proper maintenance, they should last you many years of a beautiful and stain-free kitchen countertop.

If your counters are stained, try the stain removal tips first before making a big decision. As durable as it is, unfortunately, if the resin of the quartz mixture is damaged by the stain or heat, they are often permanent.

Quartz is a nice feature for a house when it’s on the market, but if you are interested in exchanging the countertop to another type of surface before selling, consider natural stone slab options or another shade of quartz.

1)    Granite

The 90 to 94% of natural stones that make up engineered quartz comes from a form of granite (and sometimes marble). Granite is one of the most commonly used countertops and is a preferred (natural) stone for kitchen countertops.

Granite countertop surface is very hard and is resistant to most scratches – even knife blades. Granites are porous and need sealants but increase house values significantly.

ProsCons
·      Granite is durable to water damage

 

·      Resistant to scratches

·      Resistant to heat

·      Stained granite is also known to be stain-resistant

 

·      Porous (should be sealed and resealed)

 

·      Expensive in comparison to most materials

·      Variable in color but limited compared to man-made options.

 

2)    Soapstone

Soapstone is what we commonly know from chemical laboratories. These are becoming trendier these days, bringing in a unique look to a modern or luxe kitchen.

ProsCons
·      Rich color tones

 

·      Stain resistant

·      Low maintenance

·      Scratch-resistant

·      Mineral oil treatment

 

·      Professional installation

 

 

3)    Marble

Marble is elegant and well-desired, but for a high price tag. Marble will bring shine to your kitchen like the quartz.

The great beauty of marble is its unique veins that each piece of slab has.  As with most natural stones, marble slabs are made to order and expensive to install.

ProsCons
·      Heat resistant

 

·      Wide arrange of colors

·      Natural stone

·      One-of-a-kind (marble slabs are all unique)

·      Expensive

 

·      Must be sealed and resealed

·      Prone to scratches, soiling and chipping

·      etching (from acidic juices and chemicals).

Thinking of Switching to Quartz Countertops?

If you don’t have quartz yet but are thinking of switching to it, don’t let the idea of staining deter you. It’s actually very durable and easy to care for if you know how to treat it.

Knowing its relative “weaknesses” in advance just allows you to live better with it and keep it looking great for a very long time.

Versatile Quartz Adds Style and Value to Your Home

And with numerous styles of quartz, there are also numerous palettes of colors and styles readily available to change the look of your kitchen. Quartz is a well-loved countertop surface and you’ll be adding value to your home by changing to a fresh and sparkling (or matte) quartz countertop.

Quartz can come in a variety of styles from traditional looks of marble, contemporary, and even modern. The surface textures of quartz countertops can range from polished, suede, matte, or even bumpy.

The following is a list of the ten most popular brands of quartz countertops:

CaesarstoneKnown for its wide variety of styles and 40 readily available colors. (E.g. Textures can range from rough to smooth) Caesarstone promoted jumbo slabs in 2017 that featured 130” slabs ranging in different colors and unique surfaces.
Cambria QuartzHigh-end brand and only available in specialty styles. It offers a wide variety of over 100 design styles and colors. Their realistic patterns are comparable to natural stone patterns and imitate marvelous marble veins. The only brand that is fully manufactured in the United States.
Corian QuartzManufactured by DuPont. They come in varieties of 40 colors and a mixture of textures. Readily available at design centers.
Granite TransformationUses granite stones with quartz to make up the majority of the engineered quartz. Available in 40 colors and textures.
HanStone Highly durable surfaces known to be six times more durable than granite. They offer varieties of styles in 50 different designs categorized into their unique collections.
IceStonecomparison to the usual mix ratio of 90% quartz/natural stone, they make their quartz alternatives from recycled glass, cement, and a dash of pigment.
MSI Q Quartzpremium provider of countertops for residential and commercial units. Supported by warranty
Okite A high-end luxury brand that offers 40 elegant colors. They are exclusively found at high-end kitchen cabinet retailers. They offer ranges of colors and types of veins to imitate the luxurious designs of a marble vein.
Santa Margherita QuartzIt offers unique surface options with texture. Varies styles from traditional designs to more modern and funky styles.
Silestone Aside from Caesarstone, one of the well-known quartz countertop brands. It provides over 60 colors and styles. They are based in Spain and comes with a 25-year warranty. (examples of surface are volcano, suede, or polished)
Viatera It offers a range of 50 earthy colors. A line created in Italy by LG. They offer varieties of colors and show distinct styles of edges to choose from (e.g. beveled edges, large ogee, stepped half bullnose, etc.) They provide varieties of colors ranging in 20 different colors to match unique styles of modern homes.

 

 

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About Jon - Website Owner

Jon Smith

Hi, my name is Jonathan Smith. I have been in the granite business for many years and have worked my way up from an installer helper to an installer and then a countertop business owner. 

I started my countertop company with very little and grew extremely fast because of my knowledge and helpfulness. I started this countertop resource for 1 main reason. That reason is that there are no countertop websites with all the correct information and none of them are from an industry expert like myself. 

I am still in the trade every single day installing countertops, educating people on the type of material they are using for their homes, and making people's dream kitchens a reality.

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2 comments on “Why Your Quartz Countertop Is Staining & How to Prevent It”

  1. just got quartz countertop installed. Is it ok to put my dishwashing liquid bottle on it, next to the faucet is where I usually keep it but not sure with quartz. Any other simple things that might cause problems if left on it (spray kitchen cleaner bottle for instance).

    1. Emily,

      Oh yeah, you should be fine. I do recommend using a silicone trivet though to keep water from causing hard water stains but with quartz. I also recommend keeping it dry. Water can cause problems with calcium build-up if not kept dry. I don't really see this being a big deal for you. When in doubt use a trivet. Anything metal can cause metal transfer marks to be visible depending on the color of your quartz. Quartz is hard to damage so don't be too worried about it. Use it as you need otherwise it just becomes this beautiful unused area of your home lol. As far as cleaners. Do not leave anything lying around that is not food safe.

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