Quartz countertops are an increasingly popular option for kitchen and bathroom remodels thanks to their stylish appearance, durability, and low maintenance requirements. However, some homeowners wonder if quartz countertops can be polished to restore their original luster over time. This comprehensive guide will examine if you can polish quartz countertops, the best methods and products to use, and tips for keeping quartz counters looking their best.
What is Quartz?
Before diving into polishing methods, it helps to understand exactly what quartz countertops are made of. Quartz is an engineered stone created from roughly 90% ground natural quartz crystals combined with polymer resins and pigments.
This combination creates a durable, non-porous surface that resists scratches, stains, and heat. The resins allow quartz to be molded into smooth slabs that emulate the look of natural stone. While often referred to simply as “quartz,” many quartz brands use specific trademarked names like Silestone, Caesarstone, Cambria, and Viatera.
The Benefits of Quartz Countertops
Quartz offers several advantages over natural stone and other countertop materials:
- Durability – Quartz is harder and less prone to chipping, scratching, and etching than granite, marble, and other natural stones. The polymer resins make it highly resilient.
- Low Maintenance – Routinely cleaning with soap and water is all that’s needed to keep quartz looking great. It never needs to be sealed.
- Stain Resistance – The non-porous surface resists stains from spills, oils, and common kitchen acids like wine, coffee, and tomatoes.
- Consistency – The manufacturing process allows for uniform patterning and minimal variation between slabs.
- Stylish Options – Quartz comes in a wide array of colors and patterns that mimic granite, marble, and other natural stones. Metallic, glass, and other accents can be added as well.
Thanks to these stellar attributes, quartz countertops retain their beautiful appearance for many years. But can they be polished to look brand new again?
Can You Polish Quartz Countertops?
The short answer is yes, quartz countertops can be polished. However, there are a few caveats to consider:
- Quartz can only have a matte polish, not a glossy shine. The polymer resins give quartz a permanently matte finish. Unlike natural stones, quartz cannot be buffed to a reflective, shiny gloss. Any products that claim to make quartz glossy simply leave a coating that temporarily alters the natural matte sheen.
- Light honing is effective, but only for minor smoothing. Light honing with a specialized quartz polishing compound can reduce light scratches and restore a smooth matte finish on dulled areas. But honing cannot eliminate deep scratches or significant damage.
- Deep repairs require a pro. Severely scratched, cracked, or damaged quartz typically needs professional repair. Many fabricators offer quartz repair and resurfacing services. Refinishing is also an option, but requires replacing the top layer.
- Routine cleaning maintains the factory sheen. While quartz can be polished, just regular cleaning with a PH-neutral stone soap is often enough to keep the original matte finish looking great for years.
So in summary, while quartz can technically be polished, the extent of polishing is limited compared to natural stone. But the right polishing products and methods can refresh dull spots and improve the smoothness of lightly scratched areas.
How to Polish Quartz Countertops
If your quartz countertops have lost their luster in high traffic zones or developed light surface scratches, here are some recommended methods for polishing them:
- PH-neutral stone cleaner or dish soap
- Soft rags or microfiber cloths
- Paint brush or scrub pad for stone cleaner
- Quartz polishing compound or renewal product
- High-grit sandpaper (3000-5000 grit)
- Buffing pad or very soft cloth
- Tack cloth
- Masking tape (for protecting walls and backsplashes)
- Drop cloths
Cleaning & Prepping the Surface
Thoroughly clean the entire surface with a PH-neutral stone soap first. This removes any dirt, grime, or waxy residue that could hinder polishing. Use a brush or scrub pad to work the cleaner over the surface and get into the textured areas. Rinse well and let dry completely.
Use masking tape to cover walls, backsplashes, and other surfaces you don’t want to polish. Tape drop cloths in place beneath the countertops. This protects floors and cabinets from drips.
Polishing with Compound
Specialized quartz polishing compounds are formulated to gently smooth and hone quartz without damaging the finish. 3M and Ager quartz polishes are two popular options. These help restore a uniform matte sheen and minimize light scratches.
Apply a small amount of compound to a soft cloth or buffing pad. Use light pressure and circular motions to work it over dull, scratched areas of the countertop. Take care not to press too hard, especially around edges and seams. After polishing the entire surface, wipe off any residue with a damp microfiber cloth.
For best results, repeat the polishing steps 2-3 times. This further improves the finish. Make sure to re-clean the surface between applications.
Smoothing with Sandpaper
For deeper smoothing, you can wet sand with a high-grit sandpaper. 3000, 4000 or 5000 grit silicone carbide sandpaper works best on quartz.
Lightly wet the quartz surface first. Starting with light pressure, gently sand damaged and scratched areas to smooth and hone the quartz. Be sure to keep the sandpaper constantly wet by dipping it in water. Work in a circular motion.
After sanding, wipe off all residue. Rinse and let dry completely before applying the polishing compound.
Note: Only use sandpaper on very minor scratches and dull areas. Aggressive sanding can damage the finish.
Protecting the Polished Finish
To keep quartz counters looking revitalized after polishing, be diligent about using trivets, cutting boards, and cleaning spills promptly. Avoid abrasive scrub pads or cleaners with acids, alkalis, or bleach. Consider applying a penetrating quartz sealer every 1-2 years. Re-polish high use areas whenever they lose luster.
With proper care and occasional polishing, quartz countertops will maintain their like-new matte finish and appearance for many years. Contact a professional fabricator immediately for repairs if cracks, chips, or structural damage ever occurs.
Tips for Keeping Quartz Countertops Looking Great
While quartz is low maintenance compared to other natural stones, taking some basic precautions helps keep it damage-free and looking its best:
- Use cutting boards, trivets, and hot pads. Never directly cut or place hot pots/pans on the quartz.
- Clean spills promptly, especially oils, wines, and acidic foods. Blot – don’t aggressively scrub.
- Use a PH-neutral stone cleaner. Avoid bleach, alkaline, acidic, or abrasive cleaners.
- Re-seal with a penetrating quartz sealer every 1-2 years.
- Don’t use quartz polish or cleaners that claim to make it “shiny.” They only leave temporary coatings.
- For food prepping, consider adding a butcher block section to spare the quartz.
- Have professionals do any sink or cooktop cutouts to avoid cracking seams.
- If cracks ever occur, refrain from using the area and contact a pro immediately.
Quartz Polishing Compound Options
There are a variety of specialty polishing products formulated to refresh and maintain quartz countertops. Here are some top options:
Ager Premium Quartz Polish
- Gentle cream polish designed specifically for quartz.
- Uses micro-abrasives to smooth scratches and restore luster.
- Won’t damage or etch quartz surfaces.
- For use on countertops, vanities, walls, and floors.
- Apply with soft cloth using circular motions.
- Needs 2-3 applications for best results.
3M Quartz & Glass Polishing Compound
- Cream formula with fine abrasives to polish quartz.
- Minimizes light scratches and water marks.
- Restores gloss to faded quartz.
- Also effective on glass, porcelain, and fiberglass.
- Use with lambswool applicator pad.
- Apply moderate pressure with swirling motions.
GranQuartz Polishing Cream
- Developed by a leading quartz manufacturer.
- Gentle polish restores sheen and smooths texture.
- Does not contain waxes, acids, or bleach.
- Also cleans and brightens grout haze on quartz.
- Apply with soft cotton cloth and rinse well after.
CRL Quartz & Glass Polish
- Liquid formula for polishing quartz or glass.
- Removes waxy residues and water spots.
- Helps hide fine scratches on quartz surfaces.
- Contains citrus oils for added cleaning power.
- Spray on and wipe off with microfiber towel.
Professional Quartz Countertop Polishing Services
For severely damaged, etched, or scratched quartz that requires more intense polishing, professional services are recommended. Qualified fabricators have specialized tools and expertise to resurface and polish quartz countertops.
Benefits of professional quartz polishing include:
- Ability to repair significant damage like deep scratches or cracks.
- Polishing worn areas to a smooth, even finish.
- Restoring Severely dulled or etched surfaces.
- Avoiding mistakes that can damage quartz.
- Access to commercial-grade polishers and compounds.
- Expertise honing quartz for best possible outcome.
Look for an experienced local fabricator that offers professional “quartz renewal” services. They have the proper equipment to finely hone, buff, and polish your quartz countertops back to a like-new condition. Costs vary based on the size of the job.
For counters with extensive damage, a quartz refinishing service may be required. This involves mechanically removing a thin top layer and resurfacing the slab. Refinishing yields a brand new quartz surface. But it is only an option if the damage goes deeper than polishing can repair.
FAQs About Polishing Quartz Countertops
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about polishing quartz countertops:
Can you make a quartz countertop shiny?
No, the resins in quartz give it an inherent matte finish that cannot be buffed to a glossy shine like natural stone. Products that claim to make quartz shiny only leave a temporary coating or residue on the surface.
What’s the best polish for quartz countertops?
Look for a gentle, PH-neutral polish specifically designed for quartz. Popular options include Ager Quartz Polish, 3M Quartz & Glass Compound, and GranQuartz Polishing Cream. Avoid polishes with acids or abrasives.
Can you use a car polish on quartz?
No, automotive polishing compounds are much too harsh and abrasive for quartz surfaces. They can damage the finish. Always use a polish made for quartz and glass.
How do you get scratches out of a quartz countertop?
For light scratches, use a quartz polishing compound and buff in circular motions with a soft cloth. For deeper scratches, wet sand with 3000-5000 grit sandpaper followed by polishing. Severe scratches may need professional repair.
How often should you polish quartz?
It’s not necessary to regularly polish quartz countertops. Just occasional polishing of high use areas when they lose their sheen. Clean regularly with a PH-neutral stone cleaner and re-seal every 1-2 years to maintain the factory finish.
What is the most durable quartz countertop?
All major quartz brands such as Caesarstone, Cambria, Silestone, and Viatera are highly durable. Silestone is rated excellent for impact resistance. Caesarstone is one of the hardest options. But any reputable quartz brand lasts for decades with proper care.
While quartz countertops are remarkably low maintenance compared to other natural stone surfaces, periodic polishing can keep them looking like new after years of use. Using the proper polishing methods and products, light scratches and dulled areas can be improved for a uniform matte finish. Just take care not to damage the surface when polishing quartz yourself. For best results minimizing scratches and wear in the first place, always use trivets, cutting boards, and clean spills promptly with a PH-neutral cleaner. With proper care and occasional polishing as needed, quartz countertops will retain their beautiful, durable finish for a lifetime.