Quartz countertops are growing in popularity for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects. Made from crushed quartz blended with resin and other materials, quartz offers an attractive, durable, and low-maintenance alternative to traditional countertop materials like granite and marble.
As a manufactured product, quartz countertops can be fabricated in almost any color and style imaginable. But like any material, quartz can become dull, etched, or scratched over time. This leads many homeowners to wonder: can you sand blast quartz countertops to renew their appearance?
What is Sand Blasting?
Sandblasting is an abrasive technique used to texture or finish a surface. It involves propelling fine particles of sand or other media against a hard surface through compressed air or steam. The high-velocity particles gently abrade the surface, removing oxidation, stains, and top layers to reveal a fresh base material underneath.
Sandblasting gives the surface a matte, frosted appearance by etching micro-indentations into the material. It’s commonly used to finish and decorate glass, strip paint and corrosion from metal, and etch designs into stone or concrete.
Benefits of Sand Blasting Quartz Countertops
There are a few potential benefits to sandblasting quartz countertops:
Removes Scratches and Damage
Over time, daily use can take its toll on quartz. Knives, pots, and scrubbing can scratch the surface, while spills can stain or etch the material. Sandblasting removes a thin top layer, taking scratches, damage, and stains along with it to reveal a fresh, flawless surface underneath. It provides a deep clean and resurfacing not possible with cleaning alone.
Restores Luster and Appearance
Quartz has a desirably smooth, glossy appearance when new. But normal wear and tear can dull and roughen the surface over the years. Sandblasting brings back the material’s reflective luster by smoothing away abrasions in the surface.
Allows Changing the Finish
Manufacturers finish quartz with either a polished or honed (matte) surface texture. Sandblasting opens up the possibility of customizing the look by altering the surface finish. It can remove polish and impart a honed appearance, or vice versa.
Can Etch Decorative Designs
With artistic skill and proper technique, sandblasting allows imparting custom decorative effects into a quartz surface. Designs, patterns, and lettering can be etched into the material by blocking off sections with a stencil before blasting.
Risks of Sand Blasting Quartz Countertops
While sandblasting offers some potential benefits, it also comes with inherent risks including:
Quartz contains roughly 90% ground quartz aggregate, held together by a resin binder and pigments. Sandblasting erodes the surface unevenly, breaking down the resin much faster than the harder quartz pieces. This can leave the quartz particles exposed and create tiny pits in the surface.
Removing the Finish
Sandblasting will remove the glossy polish or honed matte finish from quartz, leaving behind a frosted appearance. While this may be desirable in some cases, it permanently alters the original factory finish.
Abrasions and Swirls
Aggressive sandblasting can create swirling abrasion patterns or “brush” marks where the blasting was concentrated in one area for too long. It requires a delicate touch to avoid surface damage.
Reduced Stain Resistance
The resin binder gives quartz its stain resistance. Removing the top resin layer with sandblasting can allow stains, spills, and moisture to penetrate the exposed quartz aggregate more easily.
Dust and Debris
Sandblasting releases a lot of fine dust and gritty debris. This dusty mess requires extensive cleanup afterward. The airborne dust also necessitates wearing safety goggles and a respirator mask during blasting.
Professional vs. DIY Sand Blasting
Sandblasting requires specialized expertise and equipment to be performed safely and effectively. There are a few options:
Professional Sand Blasting
The best option is hiring an experienced professional fabricator or refinisher. They have industrial-grade equipment, knowledge of proper pressures and media to use, and techniques to minimize surface damage. Professionals also have access to dustless blasting systems.
DIY Sand Blasting Kits
Affordable do-it-yourself sandblasting kits are available at hardware stores and online. These include a handheld blasting gun, hose, face shield, and sand media. While cheaper, DIY kits are harder to control and often lack the power to effectively resurface quartz. They also create substantial dust.
Another option is renting professional-grade blasting equipment from a tool rental company. Purchasing the abrasive media is required. This provides stronger equipment than DIY kits, but technique is still a challenge. Rentals are often prohibitively expensive for countertop applications.
Alternatives to Sand Blasting Quartz
Given the risks involved, many quartz manufacturers and industry experts advise against sandblasting countertops. Safer and gentler options to renew quartz include:
Polishing and Buffing
Light buffing with progressively finer grit diamond pads can remove shallow scratches and restore luster. Look for buffing kits designed specifically for quartz. Take care not to buff right through the finish.
Specialized quartz cleaners and refinishing products are designed to remove stains and etchings and polish away minor scratches. Refinishing is less invasive than sandblasting and preserves the intact factory finish.
For more severe damage, thermal heat treatment by a professional “burns” away scratches and abrasions using carefully controlled high temperatures. This vaporizes just the top surface while minimizing impact on the underlying material.
As a last resort, badly damaged quartz can be fully resurfaced by grinding down the entire surface to remove all scratches and stains, then polishing to a uniform finish. This is invasive and removes more material than sandblasting.
Answering the Key Question: Can You Sand Blast Quartz Countertops?
While it is physically possible to sandblast quartz countertops, most manufacturers advise against doing so. The risks of causing permanent damage are significant. Sandblasting can ruin the attractive factory finish, reduce stain resistance, and introduce swirls or uneven spots in the surface.
Gentler alternatives like polishing, refinishing, and heat treatment remove many common defects in quartz while preserving the integrity of the material. Or the countertop can be fully resurfaced if damage is too extensive.
However, for experienced professionals with specialized equipment, sandblasting can be an option for quartz countertops with caution. Factors like using the proper pressure, nozzle size, media material, and technique allow sandblasting quartz while minimizing negative impacts. Learning how deep to penetrate and when to stop is also crucial.
The bottom line? Sandblasting is not recommended as a DIY project for quartz countertops. But in the right hands, it can be used to successfully restore or alter the finish of heavily worn or damaged quartz surfaces. Consult a professional fabricator to see if sandblasting is the right solution for your needs. With care and expertise, sand blasting offers potential benefits for refinishing tired quartz countertops.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sand Blasting Quartz Countertops
Many homeowners considering sandblasting their quartz countertops have additional questions about the process. Here are answers to some of the most common queries:
Can I sandblast just a small area or spot?
It is not advisable to spot blast only isolated areas on a quartz countertop. The sandblasted section would visibly stand out against the surrounding unfazed finish. For best results, the entire surface should be blasted evenly.
What kind of sand or media can be used?
Silica sand and aluminum oxide are common blasting media. Plastic beads are also sometimes used for finer control. The hardness of the media impacts results, with more aggressive sands removing more material. Finer abrasives like baking soda or walnut shells lack the power to resurface quartz.
How long does it take to sandblast a countertop?
Total time depends on the size of the surface being blasted. But the actual blasting is relatively quick, often just 10-15 minutes per countertop. Additional time is needed for preparing the space and cleaning up dust afterward.
Can you reverse or undo sandblasting later?
Sadly no. Sandblasting permanently alters the surface by eroding away the top layer of material. The original factory finish cannot be restored. The only remedy is polishing or fully resurfacing the countertop to renew the appearance.
Will it damage my quartz sink if blasted?
Quartz sinks should be protected during sandblasting. The abrasion process that retextures the countertop will also damage the smooth surface inside a quartz sink. They are best removed prior to blasting.
Does it matter if my quartz is glossy or matte?
Sandblasting impacts all quartz finishes, whether the original surface is polished or honed. A glossy finish will become frosted and matte after blasting. But the technique can then be used to impart a different final texture.
How long does a sandblasted quartz surface last?
When performed correctly, sandblasting restores the look of worn quartz comparably to a brand new installation. Like any surface, sandblasted quartz will show gradual signs of wear over a decade or more before needing renewal. Durability depends on care and maintenance.
Get Your Quartz Countertops Looking Like New Again!
Quartz countertops enrich kitchens and bathrooms with their attractive appearance, durability, and easy maintenance. But even this tough engineered stone can show the effects of heavy use over time. Sandblasting offers tantalizing potential for renewing worn and damaged quartz surfaces.
While sandblasting quartz countertops is possible for the right situations, significant risks of permanent damage come with it. Seek the advice of professional fabricators to explore gentler alternatives that may better suit your needs. With some tender loving care, you can have your quartz countertops looking like new again without the hazards of blasting.