You should never put a burner-hot pan directly onto a countertop or table. Most of us learn this during our first cooking experience, one way or another. Why not, you ask? Most countertops are solid stone, right? And you can place hot things on stone without damaging it.
This is true, solid stone countertops take very little damage from a hot pan. But most countertops are not 100% stone. Even a nice granite counter has a surface layer of sealant that prevents water from seeping into the slightly porous natural stone. Regular heat application to your countertops can discolor, melt, and even peel back the sealant on a slab countertop. However, quartz countertops are a little different.
Quick Answer: Can Quartz Counters Take the Heat?
Unlike natural stone, Quartz countertops should not be exposed to hot pots and pans. A quartz countertop can withstand up to about 150 F before it takes damage. The most common result is a discolored ring on your countertop if a hot pan touches the quartz countertop surface. Fortunately, a few normal safety measures in the kitchen can protect your countertops and your hands from the usual kitchen burns. With the potholders and trivets we all learned to use as kids, your quartz countertops are completely safe.
Quartz Counters are Composite Stone Slabs
Not all stone countertops are cut from solid slabs. Quartz countertops are a manmade composite stone, made from 93% quartz chips held together by a very strong resin. Composite stone is artificial stone made from stone chips and resin sealed and cured together to imitate a natural stone slab.
When the quartz slab is mixed, the quartz and resin are combined with color elements that determine the primary color of the countertop along with chips and flakes that will act as part of the decorative grain of the artificial slab. Composite quartz slabs are then poured and cool to an extremely hard, stone reminiscent of natural solid slabs.
Benefits of Composite Stone Countertops
While quartz counters are uniquely manmade, they also have a few tech upgrades from mother nature’s modern stone. The resin that binds the quartz together is water-tight, unlike granite countertops, and serves as its own sealant. The layers of tightly packed quartz chips also form an extremely hard surface, more difficult to damage even than granite countertops.
Homeowners who choose quartz also have the freedom to choose the color, grain, and style of countertops beyond what natural stone can offer.
Quartz Countertops on the Molecular Level
- Natural Stone
- Crystalline molecular structure
- Very heat resistant
- Quartz Composite
- Resin composite slab
- Up to 150 F heat resistance
- Water-tight and stain-resistant
Natural stone is a crystalline formation. The molecules of stone fit together in a geometric pattern that is locked in like a grid. This is what makes stone so strong. Quartz slabs, however, are not locked together at the crystaline molecular level. Instead, the quartz chips that make the counter so strong are held together by a powerful hardened resin. This is why you will need to treat a quartz countertop a little differently from granite, marble, or soapstone counters.
Natural stone, however, is also porous and must be sealed to prevent water (and other kitchen liquids) from seeping through. A natural stone countertop must be re-sealed every few years though the stone will last forever. Quartz counters are equally durable but are already water-tight on a molecular level due to the resin sealing the entire slab together.
Quartz Countertops are Damaged by High Temperatures
The one limitation of quartz countertops is that the resin is not as heat-resistant as natural stone. If you place a hot pan on a quartz composite countertop, you can scorch the surface and leave a permanent spot of discoloration. The most common result is a ring left by the bottom of a hot pan or pot. When the top resin layer is scorched, it usually darkens and changes color. The ring may be an empty ring or
Heat Damage to Stone Slab Countertops
Exposed natural stone does not take heat damage. So why then is it also possible to scorch rings onto granite and marble countertops? You may have encountered heat-damaged stone counters in the past and are wondering about that natural heat resistance. The answer is in the sealant finish. Natural stone is porous so to avoid moisture wicking and stains, a water-tight sealant layer is added to the surface of most natural stone slab countertops.
That sealant layer can be scorched, making the counter appear damaged. The good news is removing and replacing the sealant can repair natural stone scorch rings. With quartz composite, however, the scorch may go deeper and be more difficult to repair.
How to Protect Your Quartz Countertops from Heat Damage
- Use Potholders and Trivets
- Keep Hand Towels Handy
- Lay Out Heat Mats
- Protect Your Curling Iron
- Serve from Separate Serving Dishes
- Keep Your Sink Clear
Use Potholders and Trivets
Potholders are cloth (and now silicon) squares of thick flexible material. They let you grab the hot handles of pots from the stove and reach for pans in the oven. They can also be slipped underneath a pot to protect the counter or table surface.
A trivet is a potholder designed for the countertop or table. They may be thicker or more rigid than potholders and can be quite decorative. Keep your potholders and trivets handy so one is always available when it’s time to handle or set down a hot dish.
Lay Out Heat Mats and Towels
Heat mats are like large trivets and are made from a variety of materials. Wood blocks, bamboo rolls, silicone mats, and even hand towels can do the job. If you know you’re about to be juggling hot pans, heat mats create safe counter space where the pans can be set down without damaging the counter.
Protect Your Curling Iron
For quartz countertops in the bathroom, be especially careful with curling irons and straightening plates. Any hot part of these hair tools can leave scorch marks on the counter. Make use of spoon rests or a stylish trivet-like mat in the bathroom so there’s always a safe place to put the curling iron.
Serve Out of Serving Dishes
While your pan may be upwards of 200 F, the food inside likely isn’t. Spoon or pour your finished recipes into separate serving dishes. The bottoms of these dishes will warm up but won’t get dangerously hot. Then you don’t need a trivet on the counter or table where the meal is served.
Keep the Sink Clear for Hot Pans
Finally, make sure there’s some sink space for each meal’s set of hot pans. The best way to clean a pan is with a splash of soap and water when it’s still sizzling hot, and the best way to get a now-empty pan out of your way is to drop it in the sink. If the sink is empty, you won’t be tempted to drop a hot pan on the counter when you’re distracted by an involved multi-stage recipe.
Installing or Replacing Quartz Countertops
If a quartz countertop completes your dream kitchen remodel, don’t stress it. When you take sealant into consideration, Quartz countertops take no more care than a sealed natural stone countertop. We’ll gladly help you install your new quartz counters and share helpful pointers on how to keep your counters looking beautiful for years.
If you have an older quartz countertop that already has a few burn scars, we’ll gladly replace your old counters with a new design of your choice. A new countertop is your chance to take personal care of the counters and keep those surfaces pristine without mistakes of the past marring the surface.
Whatever your countertop needs, Arch City Granite is here to make your kitchen and bathroom dreams into reality.
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