Quartz countertops are one of the most popular choices for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects. Made from ground natural quartz crystals combined with resins and pigments, quartz offers an attractive, durable, and low-maintenance alternative to natural stone and other countertop materials. However, like any material, quartz countertops may eventually show signs of wear such as scratches or dulling over time. This leads many homeowners to wonder: can you grind quartz countertops to restore their original factory finish?
What is Quartz?
Before delving into grinding methods, it’s helpful to understand exactly what quartz countertops are made of.
Quartz is an abundant mineral found in the earth’s crust. It is incredibly hard and durable, ranking a 7 out of 10 on the Mohs mineral hardness scale. Pure quartz itself is usually colorless or white, so other minerals and pigments are added to create the distinctive patterns and colors found in quartz slabs.
The key ingredient in quartz countertops is ground quartz crystals, making up 90-94% of the material. The remaining 6-10% consists of polymer resins that bind the quartz together, and pigments that create various color patterns.
So in summary:
- Main ingredient: Ground quartz stones
- Additional ingredients: Polymer resins, pigments
- Hardness: 7 on Mohs scale
- Appearance: Vibrant colors and patterns
The combination of quartz crystals and resin makes the material harder and less porous than natural stone. This resistance to scratches, stains and heat makes quartz a practical and low-maintenance choice.
Grinding vs. Polishing Quartz Countertops
Now that we know the composition of quartz, we can look at methods for renewing its surface. There are two main approaches:
Grinding – This process uses an abrasive material to wear down the top layer of the quartz. Grinding can remove stains, etching and scratches. It exposes a fresh layer of quartz crystals.
Polishing – Polishing is a gentler buffing process that uses finer abrasives. It creates a smooth, shiny finish by removing minor scratches and dullness.
So which method should you choose for restoring quartz counters? Here are some key considerations:
Depth of Damage
- Minor surface issues like dullness or fine scratches can often be resolved with polishing alone.
- Deeper scratches, gouges and etching require grinding to penetrate below the surface.
Color and Pattern
- Grinding removes enough material to expose a fresh layer of quartz. This preserves the original factory finish.
- Polishing cleans up the existing top layer. If stains have altered the color, polishing alone may not restore the original appearance.
- DIY polishing kits are widely available. Grinding equipment is more specialized.
- Professional refinishing can provide grinding and expert polish for best results.
Can You Grind Quartz Countertops Yourself?
While minor polish jobs can be DIY, grinding quartz requires specialized tools. Homeowners wishing to restore their counters themselves have two options:
It is possible to rent an industrial grade floor grinding machine for DIY projects. These powerful grinders with diamond abrasive disks can grind down quartz countertops. However, operating them requires skill, safety precautions and careful handling to avoid damaging the counters.
Potential hazards of DIY grinding:
- Aggressive grinding can remove too much material.
- Grinding across the grain instead of with it can create scratches.
- Overheating causes cracking and scorch marks.
- Rental equipment is heavy, noisy and creates clouds of quartz dust.
In summary, DIY grinding carries a high risk of ruining the counters if not done properly. It takes experience to achieve the right pressure, direction and speed.
Buy Grinding Pads
Various grinding pads and discs are sold online for use with a handheld rotary tool. This allows more control than a floor grinder. However, it can still be difficult for a non-professional to grind evenly and avoid swirl marks. Hand tools simply lack the power and precision of professional equipment.
For DIYers, handheld grinding pads provide a safer but slower and more labor-intensive option. Removing extensive damage across large areas may not be feasible.
Professional Quartz Countertop Grinding
To ensure expert results and avoid ruining counters, professional refinishing is recommended for quartz grinding. Quartz fabricators and specialist countertop repair services have the skills and tools to grind counters properly.
Here is the typical professional process:
- Cleaning – The countertops are deep cleaned to remove any debris or residue.
- Masking – Sensitive areas like walls and backsplashes are masked off for protection.
- Grinding – Starting with coarse grit, grinders remove a thin layer of quartz exposing fresh crystals. Progressively finer grits are used until the desired level of shine is achieved.
- Polishing – Final polishing smoothes out micro-scratches from grinding, creating a glassy finish.
- Sealing – An impression sealer is applied to fill pores and further protect the surface.
Pros of professional grinding:
- Specialized tools grind evenly without damaging counters.
- Technicians properly manage direction, speed, overlap and pressure.
- Allows repair of chips, cracks, severe scratches and stains.
- Restores like-new glossy finish.
- No mess or hazards in your kitchen.
In summary, professional quartz grinding can restore badly damaged countertops to their original beauty. For DIYers, polishing kits can handle minor issues.
What You Need to Know Before Grinding Quartz
While professional grinding gives great results, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Permanent Color Alteration
Grinding will expose the raw natural quartz underneath. This means any dye or pigment particles added to create a color toned slab will be removed.
Countertops may lighten or change hue after grinding off the colored layer. This should be considered if trying to match surrounding surfaces.
Thinning the Quartz
Each grinding removes a microscopic layer of quartz. While each pass only takes off about .5mm or less, repeatedly grinding the same spot over years can eventually thin the slab.
Quartz countertops are typically 1.2 to 1.5 inches thick. A few professional grinding sessions will not compromise quartz counters structurally. But excessive thinning could potentially lead to cracking or warping.
Does Not Remove Deep Scratches
While grinding renews the surface, any deep gouges reaching below the grinding level will still remain. These may require a quartz repair specialist to fill for a perfectly smooth finish.
In summary, grinding has limitations, so occasional maintenance polishing is recommended to avoid the need for deep grinding over time.
Maintenance Between Grinding Quartz Countertops
Professional grinding can restore heavily worn or damaged quartz countertops. To maximize the time between grinding sessions, proper maintenance is key:
Use Cutting Boards
Never cut directly on quartz counters. Use cutting boards to protect from knife scratches.
Wipe Up Spills
Promptly wipe up acidic liquids like wine or fruit juice to prevent etching.
Clean with Care
For routine cleaning, use a soft sponge or cloth with warm water and mild soap. Avoid abrasive cleansers.
Apply an auto polish regularly to maintain the glossy surfaced. DIY kits are widely available.
With proper care, grinding may only be needed every 5-10 years for quartz countertops in a residential kitchen. Regular polishing and avoiding damage can significantly extend the time between grindings.
How Much Does It Cost to Grind Quartz Countertops?
The cost of grinding quartz countertops depends on factors like:
- Countertop size – Cost is calculated per square foot. Larger kitchens cost more.
- Location – Labor rates vary regionally. Urban areas are generally more expensive.
- Amount of damage – Light grinding of minor scratches costs less than heavy correction of deep damage.
- Color variation – Slabs with drastic color changes may require extra work to blend during grinding.
Typical costs range from:
- Light grinding to renew surface: $5-$8 per square foot
- Heavy grinding to remove damage: $8-$12 per square foot
In addition to the service charge, there may be a fee for masking materials or an impression sealer finish. Expect to pay $200 to $700 for a full residential kitchen quartz grinding job.
Quartz grinding costs a fraction of replacement. And because quartz is stain-resistant, grinding is only needed periodically over the lifetime of the counters.
Quartz Countertop Grinding FAQs
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about renewing quartz surfaces:
Does grinding remove some of the pattern?
Yes, grinding will gradually eliminate any subtle variations in the surface pattern. However, the main veining and color variations will remain intact even after a few grindings since they penetrate deep into the slab.
Is it possible to grind just part of a countertop?
Spot grinding a single area is possible. However, this will likely create a visible transition line. It is preferable to grind the entire surface evenly. Masking can protect walls, backsplashes and other areas if needed.
Can you change the color of a quartz countertop by grinding?
Grinding will expose the naturally lighter quartz underneath. But the pigments added to create the color run throughout the slab. Overall hue change is minimal unless grinding extremely deep.
Is there a way to restore etching or chemical damage?
Severely etched areas may require filling for structural reasons. For less severe etching, grinding and polishing can remove the damaged top layer and restore appearance.
How smooth will quartz be after grinding?
In most cases, grinding and polishing leaves quartz counters silky smooth to the touch. Only deep gouges reaching under the grinding limit may remain slightly perceptible.
While quartz countertops are highly durable in daily use, grinding provides a way to renew their appearance after years of use. Light grinding combined with polishing removes minor scratches and dullness, while deeper grinding can eliminate etching, stains and heavy damage.
For DIYers, handheld grinding pads allow spot repairs but professional services are recommended for overall countertop renewal. Proper maintenance between grindings allows longer intervals between restoration services. Overall, grinding provides a fraction-of-replacement-cost way to keep quartz counters looking like new for decades.