If you have stone countertops in your property, you may be familiar with the term “Moh’s Hardness Scale,” but do you know what it is?

Countertops are made from various materials, stone being a common choice among homeowners. But, not all stones are the same, especially when it comes to their hardness. These minerals are rated using a scale to determine how dense the material is called Moh’s Scale of Hardness. 

Today, we’re diving into the Moh’s Hardness Scale, various types of stone counters, and what you can do to keep your countertops in great shape, regardless of where they fall on the scale.

Continue reading to learn more.

What is the Moh’s Scale of Hardness?

The Moh’s Scale of Hardness was created by Frederich Mohs in 1822. The numbers on the scale represent how scratch-resistant, or how hard, a mineral is and is related to the breaking of chemical bonds and microfractures on the surface of a material. On the scale, one represents the softest material, and a ten represents the hardest. This scale can also be used for metals. 

“Hardness” is determined by one mineral’s ability to scratch another. For example, a diamond can scratch granite, granite can scratch marble, and marble can scratch talc. This means that diamond is harder and more scratch-resistant than granite, granite is harder and more scratch-resistant than marble, and marble is harder and more scratch-resistant than talc.

The Hardness of Various Stone Countertops 

The hardness of stone countertops varies from one material to the next, as well as from one slab of the same material to the next (depending on its mineral content). For example, a slab of marble with a lower calcite content might score a five on the Moh’s Scale, while another slab cut from a different quarry with a higher calcite content might be a three. 

Here are some common stone counter materials and their typical hardness score:

  • Soapstone — Soapstone ranges from one to two. While the material scratches easily, they can be sanded out without difficulty.
  • Marble — Marble is one of the softest yet most popular counter materials. It ranges from three to five.
  • Limestone — Limestone also ranges from three to five.
  • Travertine — Travertine is commonly used for showers, floors, fireplace surrounds, and backspaces. But it can also be used as a countertop material as long as its naturally occurring holes are filled, smoothed, and properly maintained. This natural material ranges from four to five on the Moh’s Scale.
  • Quartz — Quartz, not to be confused with quartz, is an engineered stone. It is softer than quartzite, scoring a hardness of seven.
  • Quartzite — Quartzite, a natural stone, ranges from seven to eight.
  • Granite — Granite ranges from six to eight on the Moh’s Hardness Scale. Homeowners should still use cutting boards, mostly to protect their knives!

How to Avoid Damaging Your Stone Countertops Regardless of Their Hardness

Kitchens and bathrooms get a lot of use, and, as a result, your countertops are exposed to some potentially harmful things. A common misconception of hard stones is that they cannot be damaged. This isn’t true! Even the hardest countertop materials are susceptible to damage. 

Here’s what you can do to prevent various types of damage to even the hardest of countertops:

  • Preventing Stains — Natural stones that are porous should be sealed before use. Many types of natural stone have tiny holes that can absorb colors found in food, drinks, liquids, and other substances. Prevent stains by cleaning up spills as soon as they occur.
  • Proper Sealing — To test whether your counters need to be sealed, go to the most-used area of your counters and pour a small drip of water on the surface. Let it sit for a few minutes before wiping it dry. If it leaves behind a dark spot, the stone is absorbing the water and should be sealed. The type of stone counter you have and how you use them will determine how often your counters need to be sealed
  • Use Stone-Appropriate Cleaning Products — Always use cleaning products that are safe to use with your type of stone. Avoid acidic or aversive cleaners that might damage the surface of your counters. Keep in mind that some cleaning products, like dish soap, might leave behind a film and can build up over time and dull or discolor the appearance of your countertops.
  • Avoid Sitting or Standing on Your Counters — Whether your counters are a ten on the Moh’s Scale or are highly supported, they can break or crack due to too much weight being put on a weak point in the stone, such as a fissure or small crack. This is especially true near the sink area, a known weak point in your counter.
  • Always Use Layers of Protection — Avoid scratches, stains, and other types of damage by always using layers of protection. For example, use trays under your soaps, use trivets and hot pads for hot pans and pots, and use coasters below cups and glasses.
  • Protect Against Sun Damage — Stone that contains organic components, like limestone, travertine, and marble, are susceptible to sun damage and can fade. Quartz intended for indoors and granite treated with resins or dyes can also fade when exposed to UV rays. Avoid installing counters in areas that get full sun for long periods every day. If unavoidable, utilize shades during peak sunlight hours for added protection.

Research Your Stone Countertops 

Because one slab of stone countertop may rank high on the Moh’s Hardness Scale, it is essential to do some research before making your countertop purchase if you are seeking a high scratch resistance counter. You’ll find that the higher quality granites, marbles, and other stone counters often have a higher hardness than lower quality granites, marbles, and other materials.

Get Quality Stone Countertops at Granite 4 Less

Choosing your stone countertops can be fun and exciting, but it’s important to select a material that is durable enough for your use.

The skilled and knowledgeable team at Granite 4 Less can guide you throughout the selection process and help you select a countertop with the hardness and durability you need. We proudly serve homes and businesses in the Salt Lake City area and are here to answer any questions you may have. Contact us today to learn more.