Countertop Materials Consequent Quality

By Onyxa Canada, Updated April 26, 2022

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Summary

In addition to the material’s inherent quality, some features come from the primary characteristics. Scratch-Resistance and Etch-Resistance are based on the materials’ hardness, while the capability to withstand temperature changes comes from being heat-resistant. Water-absorption rate and stain resistance are due to the materials’ non-porous surfaces. Finally, discolor resistance is a result of UV resistance. These resistance features are considered a material’s consequent quality as described below.

  1. Scratch Resistance
  2. Etch Resistance
  3. Heat Resistance
  4. Water Absorption
  5. Stain Resistance
  6. Discolor Resistance


In the following, we will review these characteristics among different materials, including laminate, wood, marble, granite, quartz, and porcelain.



1- Scratch Resistance

The more durable and hard the material is, the more scratch-resistant it will be. The following section will review the materials’ scratch resistance quality. You will see that laminate, wood, and marble countertops may scratch when you use them as a cutting board in your daily routine. On the contrary, granite, quartz, and porcelain countertops won’t be scratched, and they permit using a knife on them. However, only porcelain countertops are considered scratch-proof.

Porcelain Quartz Granite Marble Laminate Wood
 
Scratch resistance in countertop materials


Laminate: Vulnerable to chipping

Laminate countertops are more susceptible to burns, chipping, or delamination.However, laminate countertops are made to be scratch-resistant, but the fact is that laminate can be scratched. So, you should not use them as a cutting board. Laminate countertop pros vs cons.

Wood: Scratchable over time, but restorable too.

Wood is a softer material, and this is evident by the dents and scratches that show up more quickly than on other materials. If you cut meat directly on the wood’s surface, knives will scratch the counters over time, but you can refinish and restore the original surface multiple times. Know more about wood countertop.

Marble: The softest natural stone and may scratch

Marble is the softest natural stone, so it does not have the same degree of scratch resistance as granite, quartz, and porcelain. Therefore, if you use marble for your kitchen countertop, it may scratch, unless you avoid using it as a cutting board to protect the marble’s surface. However, there are some ways to remove the scratches and restore your marble if your marble countertop is scratched.

Granite: Won’t be scratched easily

Due to its durability, unlike laminate, wooden countertops, and even marble countertops, you can use knives on your granite countertop, don’t be concerned about scratching your countertop.

Quartz: Highly Resistant to scratching but not completely scratch-proof

Quartz countertops are very hard to scratch, but with enough force, a scratch can appear. Similar to marble, there are ways to fix the scratches on the quartz surface with resin fillers.

Porcelain: Scratch-Proof

Due to the porcelain countertop’s hard surface, it is scratch resistant. You can even slice and dice food right on it without worrying about damaging the surface. However, it is very difficult to scratch, but one thing that you should be aware of is ceramic knives, which can sometimes scratch porcelain countertops.



2- Etch Resistance

In addition to being scratch-resistant, the hardness of the materials could determine the etch resistance or acid resistance too. Etching is when a substance begins to eat away at the stone, causing dullness or discoloration. Laminate and wood are not considered etch-resistant. More commonly, granite and marble countertops may suffer from etching, not staining. So, they require more regular care and sealing.

Porcelain Quartz Granite Marble Laminate Wood
 
Etch resistance (Acid resistance) in countertop materials


Laminate and Wood: Not etch-resistant or acid-resistant

Laminate and wooden countertops are not acid-resistant, and you have to prevent the contact of any acidic liquids or powerful chemical cleaners with the surfaces of your laminate or wooden countertops.

Marble and Granite: Require sealing to beetch-resistant and acid-resistant.

Unsealed granite is vulnerable to acid exposure. An etched surface happens when acid comes in contact with the granite countertop and is left long enough for the acid to dissolve some of the minerals and result in a discolored area. However, if you seal your natural stone countertop, there is no need to worry about spilling lemon juice or any acidic liquid on the surface of the countertop.

Quartz: Etch-resistant

Unlike natural stones, quartz is more etch-resistant. However, due to resins in quartz compositions, acid compositions may react to chemicals, leading to discoloration instead of etching.

Porcelain: Etch-resistant

Due to the hardness of porcelain slabs, they are etched-resistant too. So, porcelain countertops and other applications that you may use, are resistant to most chemicals and will not etch or get dull spots from acidic foods and drinks.




3- Temperature Changes

In addition to the heat resistance feature, your countertop or bathroom tile should also be able to withstand temperature changes. This feature becomes even more important for outdoor applications.

Porcelain Quartz Granite Marble Laminate Wood
 
Temperature resistance in countertop materials


Wood & Laminate: Not Temperature Changes Resistant

Laminate countertops are made of plastic combined with paper or particleboard and are not heat resistant nor temperature change-resistant. Like laminate, wooden countertops cannot tolerate heat or cold temperatures. So, you can’t expect to withstand temperature changes.

Marble & Granite: Extreme temperature changes can cause cracking.

Even though granite is heat resistant, extreme temperature changes can cause cracking. Marble is comparable to granite for heat resistance and temperature change resistance, but slightly weaker.

Quartz: Can withstand temperature changes.

However, quartz withstands sudden changes in temperature due to polymers incorporated with quartz, but quartz countertops can discolor with heat and direct sunlight. 

Porcelain: Withstand Sudden Temperature Changes

Porcelain tiles withstand sudden temperature changes, such as putting something frozen where there was immediately before a hot pan.



4- Water-Absorption rate

The more non-porous material is, the more water-resistant it is. The water absorption rate is essential for selecting a kitchen countertop because it is inevitable that your countertop gets wet in daily routine usage. And if water seeps into the countertop, it can damage it over time.

Porcelain Quartz Granite Marble Laminate Wood
 
Water absorption rate in countertop materials


Laminate: Waterproof

Laminate countertops are waterproof for daily use in a bathroom or as a kitchen countertop. However, there is a chance that laminate countertops can suffer from delamination due to water seeping over time. And it is difficult to repair delamination, and oftentimes, you will need to replace the entire countertop.

Wood: Requires sealing to be water-resistant.

Due to its natural nature, the wooden countertop is susceptible to water seepage and damage. However, if you seal your wooden countertop, it can stand up more to water seeping in.

Marble & Granite: Sealed natural stones are waterproof.

Usually, natural stones soak up water through tiny, not-visible pores. This is one of the main reasons why you should seal your natural stone countertop or take special care of it to prevent water damage.

The water absorption rate of natural stones ranges from 0.8% to 0.01%. When it comes to buying good-quality natural stone countertops, you have to pick the ones with less than 0.5% absorption rate.

Quartz: Resistant to water seeping and damage.

Unlike natural stones, which require sealing, quartz countertops are waterproof due to a water absorption rate of 0.5%. It means that quartz is resistant to water seeping and, therefore, water damage.

Porcelain: Resistant to water seeping and damage

Due to their non-porous surface, porcelain countertops are virtually impervious to water. According to the Tile Council of North America, its water absorption rate is less than 0.5%. Therefore, porcelain slabs are a very good choice for use in kitchen countertops and bathrooms because of their waterproof feature.



5- Stain Resistance

Due to the non-porous surface, the material could be stain-resistant too. None of the countertop products are completely stained proof, but the more non-porous a product is, the more stain-resistant it is, and there is no need to seal their surfaces.

Porcelain Quartz Granite Marble Laminate Wood
 
Stain resistance in countertop materials



Laminate: Stain Resistance to some degree but not stain-proof

Laminate countertops do well for chemical and stain resistance, but they are not considered stain-proof. Bleach, inks, and dyes can damage the laminate surface and cause stains. Even if you store liquids on its surface, they may leak and stain. Also, stained laminate surfaces are more difficult to repair, and you will have to replace your countertop.

Wood: Should be finished to protect wood countertops from stain.

Finished wood countertops will not stain easily. The quality type of finish product penetrates into the wood grain and hardens from the inside out.

Marble & Granite: Medium stain-proof after sealing

To make your granite countertop stain-resistant, you have to seal it well. After that, it’s nearly stain-proof. However, even if your granite countertop has been sealed, when a staining substance spills on it, you have to wipe it immediately because it may degrade the seal and leave your countertop more vulnerable to the next spill incident.

While marble countertops are more porous compared to granite countertops, the necessity of sealing them is more crucial than granite. However, it is expected that the degree of stain resistance in marble is slightly less than in granite.

Quartz: Non-absorbent & stain-resistant.

Quartz won’t ever get marks like those of unsealed marble, which is stained even by water.

Although the quartz countertop is stain-resistant, it’s not stain-proof. Sometimes its resins and pigments can react with certain chemicals, which more often lead to discoloring or deformation.

It is better to avoid contact with bleach, high pH cleaners, permanent markers, paint, paint remover, nail polish remover, glue, and oil soaps. Exposure to these materials could damage and stain your quartz countertops.

Porcelain: Non-absorbent & stain-resistant.

Due to its non-porous nature, liquids could not seep to their depth, and if there was any stain, it would remain on the surface and be easily cleaned off.

Of course, concrete countertops, travertine, and laminate countertops do not stain easily, but solid surface countertops like Corian, quartz countertops, and porcelain countertops have more stain resistance, in general, compared to others.

Both quartz countertops and porcelain countertops are highly resistant to stains due to their non-porous composition. On the contrary, a marble countertop is more vulnerable to staining because of its porous nature.



6- Discolor Resistance

Porcelain Quartz Granite Marble Laminate Wood
 
Discolor resistance in countertop materials


Laminate: Discolored by a hot pot

Laminate countertops have low heat resistance, so they will easily be discolored by a hot pot.

Wood: Finished wood surfaces do not discolor.

Although wood countertops are not highly heat resistant, you can count on them to not discolor when you make their surface finished.

Marble: Not considered as discolor resistance

Even though marble withstands high temperatures for a while, it is best to not place a hot pot on your marble countertop to avoid the risk of discoloring or burning its surface.

Granite: Medium discolor resistance

Granite won’t discolor or lose its shine over time. However, if an acidic liquid is split on its surface, it may discolor.

Quartz: Acid-resistant, but its resin composition may lead to discoloration.

Unlike natural stones, quartz is more acid-resistant. However, due to resins in the quartz composition, it may react to chemicals, leading to discoloration.

Porcelain: Resistant to most chemicals

Unlike marble and granite countertops, porcelain countertops will not discolor when exposed to acidic foods and liquids such as tomatoes, vinegar, or lemon juice. Acidic foods, drinks, or chemicals could not discolor or bleach out porcelain countertops, as can sometimes happen with quartz countertops.

Conclusion

As to materials quality, we divided the comparison of various features into two different sections: materials’ inherent qualities and materials’ consequent qualities. In the previous section, we reviewed inherent characteristics, and in this article, we have focused on the consequent traits. However, as the below tables show an overall view of these features, you can see that the results are similar to their inherent qualities, where the porcelain surface leads the way, followed by quartz and granite.

 

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