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Quartz is one of the hardest minerals found in nature, so it's a fitting material for the busiest space in the home: the kitchen. Quartz countertops are made from crushed pure natural quartz combined with a small amount of pigment and resin. This combination of materials allows quartz to be a dense, nonporous stone that is both scratch and stain resistant with no sealing required.
However, says kitchen and bath designer Gary Lichlyter, "you really can't tell the difference [in terms of surface gloss and sheen] between a sealed and nonsealed quartz countertop. Sealing takes just a few minutes but can really help protect your quartz surface for long-term use, so I highly recommend it."
Cambria quartz boasts of the most simple maintenance regimen: Wash the surface with a soft cotton cloth and warm water with a mild dish soap. According to the company website, "Cambria is durable and more resistant to surface damage than other stone. However, all stone can be damaged by force and no stone is chip-proof. Objects hitting edges particularly at sinks or dishwashers may cause chips."
Remember, natural stone surfaces like quartz can also be damaged by sudden and rapid changes of temperature as well as direct contact with hot pots and pans. Always use a potholder to protect the natural quartz surface.
For tough stains: Quartz countertops are meant to be stain free, as the surface does not absorb liquids.
Stay away from: Bleach and abrasive products.
Engineered stone countertops are made of 93 percent natural stone and 7 percent polymers and are highly resistant to scratches and stains. "Engineered stone countertops are highly resilient, but high temperatures will damage the polymers and can also damage your counters," says Lichlyter. Use a hot-pot pad when placing heated objects on engineered stone surfaces.
For countertops with a smooth and matte look, use a mild soap and water solution to clean and polish the surface.
For tough stains: Multipurpose cleaners and detergents applied to scouring pads should take care of tough stains by transferring the dirt from the surface to the pad; the rough pad will not damage your countertop surface.
Stay away from: "Avoid using harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia," says Whitsunday Marble & Granite. "To clean engineered stone we recommend water and a mild detergent. Engineered stone is tough, but not indestructible."
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