Engineered quartz countertops give you a durable and luxurious surface that can withstand a lot of daily kitchen use, but they aren't indestructible. Quartz is ranked among the hardest minerals on earth, and when combined with an amalgam, it creates a countertop that's a reliable and heat resistant option for your counters. But one of the problems with quartz countertops happens when you put something too hot on the surface.
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The Story Behind Quartz Countertops
Quartz countertops are made from about 94 percent ground quartz, combined with polymer resins. Sometimes bits of recycled glass or metallic flecks are added to give it a multidimensional look. The resins help keep the countertop from scratching or staining, so you don't need to treat your quartz countertop with a sealant as you do others made of natural stone. But the resin also lowers the heat-resistance level of the countertops.
Quartz Countertops and Heat
Quartz countertops are heat resistant but not heat-proof, so the counter can withstand limited exposure to hot items. A steaming mug of coffee, a warm plate of food or a coffee maker on quartz countertop surfaces isn't going to cause a problem.
The problem with quartz countertops and heat comes in when you put something really hot on the surface. For instance, a searing hot pot or frying pan placed directly on a quartz countertop could damage it. Prolonged exposure to high heat can leave scorch marks or discoloration on the countertop. Suddenly placing something hot on the surface can also cause cracking because of the thermal shock.
It's best to protect your quartz countertop by first putting down a trivet or potholder when you put anything hot on it. Quartz countertops should be safe as long as hot items don't exceed 300 degrees Fahrenheit, but it's better to avoid the risk.
Quartz or Granite
In general, engineered and granite countertops are both exceptionally durable. Both are extremely hard surfaces that are scratch resistant and have low absorbency. In terms of heat tolerance, granite can withstand high temperatures, such as the heat from a boiling pot of water or a piping hot casserole dish from the oven, while quartz is less resistant to heat and would be damaged by something that hot. However, it's still a good idea to use a trivet or hot pad on granite to avoid damaging the surface over time.
Granite is considered a low maintenance surface, but should have a yearly sealer treatment to help keep it from being marred through staining or etching. Quartz offers a higher resistance to staining, and has very low maintenance requirements. Just wipe it down with soap and water.
Quartz vs. Other Countertops
Laminate countertops are an affordable and functional alternative for your kitchen. They're stain resistant and easy to maintain. However, laminate surfaces offer very little resistance to heat and will easily crack if exposed to hot objects such a hot pan or ceramic bakeware.
Solid surface countertops, which are made from acrylic sheets laminated together, are also affordable and are more durable than laminate countertops. But solid surface countertops have little resistance to extreme temperatures, and hot pots or kettles will damage the surface, as will extremely cold temperatures.
Rachel Zohn has a semi-obsession with tile, countertops, fixtures and furnishings -- and for that you can blame her work as a design moderator for Zillow Digs, the home inspiration section of Zillow.com. She is also a writer, specializing in blogging about home decor and home furnishing. Zohn has a bachelor's degree in journalism from San Francisco State, and is a former newspaper reporter.