Can Quartz Countertop Be Polished?

Quartz countertops are an increasingly popular option for kitchen and bathroom remodels due to their durability, low maintenance, and stylish appearance. Unlike natural stone countertops like granite or marble, quartz is an engineered stone made from natural quartz crystals combined with resins and pigments. This results in a very hard, non-porous material that stands up well to daily wear and tear.

One of the most frequently asked questions about quartz countertops is whether they can be polished to restore their shine if they become scratched or dull over time. The short answer is yes – quartz countertops can be polished through a process called honing. However, there are some important factors to consider before polishing a quartz countertop.

What is Honing for Quartz Countertops?

Honing is the process of smoothing out superficial scratches and restoring luster to the surface of quartz. It involves using progressively finer grit diamond abrasives to lightly grind down the countertop’s surface to remove etching and scratches. The honing process does not remove significant thickness from the countertop or change its structure, but rather refines the existing surface.

Proper honing by a professional refinisher can make small scratches disappear and will return the quartz to a smooth, glossy, factory-fresh finish. Depending on the severity of scratches, more than one pass with increasingly finer grits may be required.

It’s important to note that honing cannot repair deep gouges, chips or structural damage in quartz. But for refinishing the intact surface, honing offers a simple and effective solution.

Reasons to Hone a Quartz Countertop

There are a few common reasons homeowners may want to have their quartz counters professionally honed:

  • To Remove Surface Scratches: While quartz is extremely scratch-resistant, normal wear and tear over several years can take a toll. Light honing can remove little surface scuffs and scratches from kitchen tools and appliances.
  • To Restore Luster: Quartz has a beautifully glossy finish when brand new. But over time it’s normal for the surface to gradually dull from everyday use. Light honing restores the polished glow.
  • To Remove Etching: Quartz can become etched over time – this is when the surface develops microscopic divots that make it appear cloudy. Mild acids from spills and cleaners are usually the culprits. Honing removes the etching and makes the countertop clear again.
  • To Refresh Appearance: If a once-glossy quartz countertop starts to appear worn and dated, honing can give it a like-new facelift. It provides a quick update without replacing the counters.

Benefits of Honing Quartz Countertops

Honing offers a few advantages over replacing your existing quartz countertop:

  • Less Expensive: Professional honing typically costs a fraction of full countertop replacement. The exact cost depends on the slabs’ size and condition.
  • Quick Process: It usually takes less than a day to hone a countertop. New installation takes much longer.
  • Minimal Mess: Honing is mostly dust-free and requires no demolition. It’s far less disruptive than new countertop installation.
  • Maintains Existing Countertop: Hones and refinishes your existing quartz rather than replacing the whole slab.
  • Eco-Friendly: Avoiding full replacement is greener since honing reuses your existing countertop.
  • Color/Style Maintained: Honing preserves your current quartz color and veining pattern rather than changing the look.

How Often Can Quartz Countertops be Honed?

Quartz countertops can generally be honed successfully every 3-5 years as needed to remove scratches and restore luster. However, there is a limit to how often quartz can be honed since the process gradually removes a tiny layer of the surface each time.

Most quartz countertop manufacturers recommend having a countertop honed no more than 1-3 times over the life of the slab. This helps ensure adequate thickness remains to provide a structurally sound countertop. Trying to hone a quartz countertop too many times can compromise durability and lead to cracks or other damage.

How frequently honing is needed depends on the amount of wear and tear the counters see based on lifestyle factors like family size, entertaining habits, and type of use. Light honing every few years is fine for most homes, while heavy-use kitchens may require it more often to keep quartz counters looking their best.

Does Honing Remove Material from Quartz?

Yes, the honing process does slowly remove some of the quartz material as the abrasives smooth and polish the surface. However, the amount removed is minimal – usually only about .1-.3 mm thickness.

This thickness loss is superficial and does not impact the underlying structure or integrity of the countertop. A standard 2-3cm thick quartz countertop can safely be honed several times throughout its lifespan. But gradually removing quartz thickness is why repeated, frequent honing is not recommended.

The key is performing periodic light honing only as needed to correct minor surface issues vs over-honing too aggressively or too often. This preserves adequate thickness while keeping the counters looking their best long-term.

Does Honed Quartz Look Different than Polished?

Quartz is most often seen with a polished, glossy finish. This high-shine look is achieved at the factory using fine polishing abrasives under pressure.

Honing uses similar abrasives, so a properly honed quartz countertop should look very similar to a polished finish. The objective is to smooth away scratches/etching and restore the glossiness. A honed quartz surface should not appear noticeably different from a polished factory finish.

However, some people do choose an intentional honed or matte finish for their quartz countertop rather than the standard polished look. This is achieved using a more coarse abrasive and results in a flatter, low-sheen finish. So in some cases, honed quartz may differ aesthetically from a polished look. But for refinishing/restoring purposes, proper honing should not significantly alter the visual style.

How to Hone a Quartz Countertop

It’s important that quartz countertops are honed properly to achieve the desired results. Here is an overview of the general honing process:

Step 1: Clean and Inspect

The countertop should be thoroughly cleaned before honing to remove dirt, residues and waxes which can interfere with abrasives. The installer then examines the slab closely to assess all existing damage and determine required grit levels.

Step 2: Mask and Tape Off

Sensitive surfaces like cabinets, walls and backsplashes near the countertop edges are covered with painter’s tape and plastic sheeting to protect from dust. The slab edges may also be taped off.

Step 3: Initial Heavy Abrasive Pass

Starting with a coarse diamond-impregnated honing pad, the installer works over the countertop applying moderate pressure to cut down small scratches and etching. This first pass evens out the overall appearance.

Step 4: Incremental Finer Grit Passes

Progressively smoother grit pads – often ranging from 50 to 3000+ grit levels – are used to methodically refine the quartz surface. 3-6 steps of graduated polishing are typical. The countertop is wiped clean between each pass.

Step 5: Final Buff and Polish

A buffing compound is applied to the quartz surface and the installer burnishes it to a uniform shine. Some also apply a professional grade sealant to finish the polishing process.

Step 6: Clean Up Residue

Any remaining residue or slurry from the buffing compounds is carefully cleaned off the countertop. Tape and protective sheeting are removed. The freshly honed counters are given a final cleaning.

DIY Quartz Honing at Home

While it’s technically possible to hone quartz countertops yourself using rubbing compounds and polishing pads purchased online, professional refinishers strongly advise against DIY honing.

Quartz is an extremely hard material that requires powerful polishing equipment to hone properly. Attempting to do this delicate process manually with store-bought supplies rarely succeeds and often worsens existing damage. DIY honing of quartz usually leads to a wavy, uneven finish full of pigtail swirls and new scratches.

For quartz countertops, professional honing services using specialized tools almost always produce far superior, long-lasting results vs DIY methods. Paying a bit more for expert skills prevents disappointment and expensive slab replacement.

Signs It’s Time to Hone Your Quartz Countertop

Watch for these signs that your quartz countertop could benefit from professional honing:

  • Numerous faint scratches from cutlery, cookware and appliances
  • Small but visible scrape marks near edges and backsplash
  • Overall dull or faded areas lacking gleam
  • Cloudy splotches or streaks across the surface
  • A finely pitted texture (etching) develops in places
  • Whites/patterns appear yellowed or dingy
  • Food stains no longer wipe entirely clean
  • Stubborn water spots left behind after cleaning
  • Counter lacks the rich, smooth polish of a new installation
  • Existing scratches worsen over time rather than better blend

If you notice these types of superficial damage affecting the look of your quartz, it’s a good indicator that honing is needed. Left unaddressed, etching and scratches will likely become more pronounced.

How Long Does a Honed Quartz Countertop Last?

When properly honed by an experienced professional, a quartz countertop should look fantastic for 3-5 years before needing re-honing.

The longevity of results depends partly on use and care. Following best practices that minimize scratches, etching and staining will extend the like-new restored appearance. Gentle daily cleaning is important vs harsh chemicals.

With appropriate care and maintenance, most homeowners can expect professionally honed quartz countertops to retain their renewed luster for several years before another honing is warranted. Periodic light honing can extend the useful life of a quartz countertop to 15-20 years or longer.

Is Honing Quartz Countertops Worth It?

For homeowners happy with their existing quartz countertops’ color and style, professional honing is usually very worthwhile to extend their lifespan vs replacing the counters.

The cost of quality honing services is quite reasonable compared to new slab installation. Honing restores beauty and function while avoiding landfill waste from replacement. And the process is fast and low impact.

Assuming the countertop is structurally sound without major damage, periodic honing can absolutely be worth the investment to refresh quartz’s appearance and performance. For moderate wear-and-tear, it’s a budget-friendly maintenance solution.

However, if the countertop already has deep gouges, cracks, stains that can’t be removed, or requires excessive thickness removal, replacement may be the better option. Get a professional assessment.

For most scratched, faded or etched quartz countertops in otherwise good shape, professional honing effectively remedies cosmetic defects. It can add years of enjoyment before new counters become necessary.

FAQs About Honing Quartz Countertops

Does honing damage quartz?

When done properly at reasonable intervals by professionals, honing does not damage quartz countertops. It simply removes a tiny amount of surface material to refresh the finish. But over-honing too frequently or aggressively can eventually compromise durability.

How much does it cost to hone quartz countertops?

The cost averages $2-4 per square foot depending on current condition. Simple polishing of minor scratches starts around $2/sq. ft. Heavily etched/scratched countertops requiring extra work may be $3-4/sq. ft.

Can you hone quartz yourself?

It’s not advisable. DIY honing often scratches or ruins quartz. The heavy-duty tools needed to hone quartz properly are expensive for homeowners to purchase. Professionals deliver superior results.

Does honed quartz need to be sealed?

Sealing is not required but can help honed quartz resist staining and etching after polishing. Using a penetrating sealant formulated for quartz countertops provides an added layer of protection following honing.

How long does honing take?

The process takes 4-6 hours for an average sized (30-40 sq. ft.) kitchen countertop. Simple polishing can be faster while heavy etching/damage removal takes longer. The countertop is usable again right after honing.

Can Honing Remove All Scratches from Quartz?

Whether honing can remove all scratches from a quartz countertop depends on the scratch severity. Light honing works well for minor surface scratches but cannot eliminate deep gouges or structural damage.

Light Surface Scratches

Fine scratches that do not feel catching/rough when you run your fingers over them can be removed by honing. These micro-abrasions in the surface polish can be smoothed away completely.

Medium Scratches

Moderately deep scratches may still improve from honing but full removal is difficult. Light catch marks when touched may persist, but become less noticeable.

Heavy Gouges

Deep cuts, chips, fractures, cracks, and gashes that penetrate beneath the polish layer cannot be removed by honing. These require filling or slab replacement.

In general, honing eliminates or greatly reduces small-to-medium surface scratches. Deeper damage that impacts the underlying quartz material usually remains to some degree. Multiple passes with gradually finer grits can improve deeper flaws, but full removal is unlikely.

Can You Hone Quartz Countertops with Sandpaper?

It’s not advisable to hone quartz countertops using basic sandpaper. While sandpaper is abrasive, attempting to smooth and polish a hard engineered stone like quartz requires specialized diamond-infused honing pads and equipment.

  • Wrong Abrasive Material – Regular sandpaper is coated in sand glued onto paper or cloth backing. This material is ineffective at refinishing an ultra-hard surface like quartz.
  • Insufficient Grit – Sandpaper alone cannot achieve a high enough grit polish needed to restore a clear, glossy quartz finish.
  • No Backing Pad – Sandpaper needs a firm rubber or foam pad beneath it to apply even pressure across the surface.
  • Easy to Cause More Damage – Sandpaper’s coarse abrasives frequently make scratches and swirls worse even when carefully used on quartz.
  • Doesn’t Remove Cloudiness – Etching and haziness in quartz requires specific diamond abrasives to rectify, not standard sandpaper.

While using sandpaper may slightly smooth some scratches, it almost always leaves a wavy, scratched finish. You cannot successfully restore a professional quartz surface shine with DIY sandpaper polishing. Investing in expert honing services pays off in superior results.

Can You Use a Handheld Rotary Tool to Polish Quartz?

Rotary tools like Dremels are also not recommended for DIY quartz countertop honing. Despite flexible attachments, these small handheld devices lack the power and proper abrasives to hone engineered stone.

  • Underpowered – Their motors lack strength to smooth thick, durable quartz slabs. High RPMs helps but still insufficient.
  • Uneven Pressure – Unable to apply consistent vertical pressure across the full surface area which leads to wavy spots.
  • Can Burn Quartz – Spinning at very high speeds generates heat which can burn or discolor quartz if not carefully managed.
  • Prone to Swirl Marks – Light passes with Dremels often leave visible circular scratch marks on quartz countertops.
  • Not Designed for Large Surface Honing – Rotary tools best suited for small, delicate surface polishing vs honing wide countertops.
  • Still Requires Diamond Abrasives – Need diamond pads not sanding bands to hone quartz, and most household Dremel kits lack diamond attachments.

For pros, specialized variable speed grinders with pressure-controlled diamond pads can hone quartz effectively. But casual rotary tool use often damages rather than improves countertops.

How to Care for Quartz Countertops to Reduce Need for Honing

Certain habits when caring for quartz countertops can help minimize the appearance of scratches and need for repeated honing over time:

  • Always use cutting boards, hot pads and trivets. Never cut or place hot pans directly on quartz.
  • Clean spills promptly to prevent staining and etching. Acids like wine or juice will damage quartz surface.
  • Use non-abrasive cleaners only. Avoid scrubbing pads, powders or scouring creams.
  • Rinse any cleaning products off thoroughly. Residues can dull and pit quartz.
  • Blot dry with towels to prevent spotting and water marks. Don’t let water pool.
  • Apply sealants every 1-2 years to reinforce stain resistance.
  • Don’t place TVs or other electronics on kitchen counters as heat can damage quartz.

With regular gentle cleaning and avoiding direct impacts, quartz countertops can maintain their polished factory finish for longer before honing is needed.

Is Etched Quartz Worth Honing?

Light etching in a quartz countertop can definitely be removed successfully via honing to restore an even, glossy appearance. But deep etching may not warrant the cost of restoration.

Shallow etching with a smooth texture is ideal for honing. This type of damage is only in the surface polish layer and can be remedied with a few passes of diamond abrasives. Honing provides a cost-effective refresh.

However, severe etching with prominent pits/divots often penetrates deeper into the quartz material itself. Smo