How to Demo Quartz Countertops

Quartz countertops are an increasingly popular choice for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects due to their durability, low maintenance, and wide variety of colors and patterns. Demoing existing countertops is an essential first step before installing new quartz counters. Properly removing the old countertop prevents damage to your cabinets and allows for accurate measurements of the new quartz countertop. This guide will walk you through all the steps involved in demoing quartz countertops to ensure a smooth and successful project.

Prepare the Work Area

Before starting demolition, you’ll need to prepare the space to prevent damage and make the process easier:

Cover Nearby Surfaces

  • Use drop cloths or plastic sheeting to cover the floor, cabinets, and backsplash around the countertop area. This protects surfaces from dust and debris during demolition. Tape down the edges of drop cloths to keep them in place.

Remove Items from Countertops

  • Clear everything off countertops like small appliances, kitchen tools, dishware, and decor. Remove any fixtures attached to the wall like towel bars and soap dispensers. Take out drawers and shelves under the counter. This gives you full access to the countertop during demo.

Turn Off Electricity and Water

  • Shut off power to any outlets, switches, or lighting in the counter area. Turn off the water supply to faucets, sinks, or other fixtures. Make sure gas is shut off if removing a cooktop. This prevents electrical shocks or water damage during the demo process.

Ventilate the Area

  • Open windows and use exhaust fans to ventilate the kitchen or bathroom. Demolition can create a lot of dust so proper ventilation is key. Consider using a dust collection system if accessible. Wearing a safety mask is also recommended.

Remove Countertop Surface

With your prep work complete, it’s time to start removing the existing countertop. Always check if it’s possible to remove it in one piece first:

Lifting Intact Countertops

  • For stone, concrete, stainless steel, or other heavy material countertops installed in one piece, see if you can lift off the entire countertop and move it out. This requires 2-4 people depending on the size.

Cutting Countertops into Sections

  • If removing the countertop whole is not feasible, use a circular saw to cut it into manageable sections. Make cuts where the counter is attached to cabinets or walls. Wear eye and ear protection when cutting.

Pry Off Sections

  • After cutting the countertop into pieces, work your way along prying it up. Use a pry bar and hammer to lift the sections off any adhesive or fasteners. Take care not to damage the underlying cabinet structure.

Remove Any Remaining Adhesive

  • Once the countertop pieces have been pried off, scrape away any leftover adhesive, mortar, or caulk from the cabinet using a putty knife or chisel. Avoid gouging the wood.

Pull Out Support Structures

With the countertop surface gone, you’ll likely have some underlying support material to remove as well:

Take Out Undermount Sinks or Basins

  • For undermount sinks, use a circular saw to cut through any caulk or adhesive holding them in. Disconnect plumbing and lift out the sink. Remove any mounting brackets or hardware.

Detach Integrated Cooktops

  • For cooktops integrated into the counter, disconnect any gas or electrical lines. Use a screwdriver to remove perimeter brackets or supports before lifting out the cooktop.

Remove Plywood Decking

  • Plywood decking under laminate or tile countertops should be unscrewed or pried up with a pry bar. Removing it provides access to the cabinets.

Clean Up Cabinet Surfaces

Once all countertop elements have been removed, the underlying cabinets require some care before new countertop installation:

Remove All Old Adhesive

  • Use a chisel or putty knife to scrape away any remaining adhesive, thinset, or other residue from the top of the cabinets. Remove every trace to ensure proper bonding of new countertop.

Sand and Clean Cabinets

  • Lightly sand cabinet surfaces with 120-150 grit sandpaper to remove splinters, roughness, or uneven spots. Then wipe down with a damp cloth to remove all dust before installing the new top.

Make Any Needed Repairs

  • Inspect cabinet surfaces closely and make any necessary repairs before installing new countertops. Fill holes or gouges with wood filler and let dry completely.

Measure for New Countertop

  • With the cabinets cleared off, take accurate measurements of the length, width, and any corners or angles. This ensures your new quartz countertop will fit perfectly.

Dispose of Demolition Debris

The final step is disposing of all the debris from the demo. Proper cleanup and disposal helps ensure a smooth installation of your new quartz countertops:

Remove Debris from Work Area

  • Clear all removed countertop sections, discarded materials, tools, dust, and trash from the job site. A thorough cleanup prevents items getting stuck under new counters.

Load and Haul Debris

  • Depending on regulations in your area, demolition debris can likely be disposed with everyday trash items. Load up all debris in sturdy bins, bags, or hauling trailer to transport.

Dispose at Permitted Waste or Recycling Facility

  • Drop off collected demolition waste at a licensed disposal, landfill, or recycling center. Some quartz countertop installers include haul away and disposal of old counters in their services.

Safety Tips for Demoing Countertops

Demoing countertops involves potential hazards. Keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Wear eye, ear, and respiratory protection to avoid injury from debris. Long sleeves and pants also help prevent cuts.
  • Use proper lifting techniques when handling heavy countertop sections. Get help moving very heavy materials to prevent injury.
  • Make cautious cuts when sawing countertops to prevent slipping and lacerations. Secure sections before trying to pry them loose.
  • Allow exhausted power tools to cool before touching to avoid burns. Unplug tools when not in use.
  • Ventilate well and control dust levels throughout the demolition process.

FAQs about Demoing Quartz Countertops

Is it hard to demo quartz countertops yourself?

With some DIY experience, demoing quartz yourself is very doable. The quartz surface itself can be cut and pried up with standard tools. Removing underlying structures like sinks involves plumbing work but is also manageable. Just follow safety precautions. Hiring a pro is recommended if you’re uncomfortable doing the demo work.

Can I demo just part of my quartz countertop?

It is possible to demo only a section of a countertop that needs replacing, while leaving other areas intact. This may involve carefully cutting out the damaged section, then recutting and polishing the remaining edges so the new piece can be seamlessly installed. Professionals have techniques to blend new and existing quartz.

What tools do I need to demo a quartz countertop?

Common tools needed are pry bars, hammers, circular saw with diamond blade, chisels, putty knives, sandpaper, screwdrivers, safety gear, and a shop vac. You may also need a reciprocating saw or oscillating tool depending on the counter installation method. Always use sharp blades for clean cuts.

How long does it take to demo and replace a quartz countertop?

It typically takes 2-3 hours to demo an existing standard sized quartz kitchen countertop. Replacement installation then ranges from 4-8 hours depending on counter dimensions and complexity. So in total expect 6-12 hours start to finish for removal and new installation.

Should I demo my countertop before or after new one arrives?

It’s generally best to demo the old countertop right before installation of the new one. This minimizes the time you are without use of the countertop space. If lead times are long, demo can be done earlier as long as cabinets are well covered.

Can countertops be recycled after demolition?

Many countertop materials like quartz composites, natural stone, and some woods can be recycled, reused, or repurposed after removal. Consult with recyclers on options. Proper disposal is required for certain hazardous components or treatments.


Demoing quartz countertops is a manageable process with some DIY experience and the right tools. By following safe work practices and step-by-step removal of all countertop elements, you can thoroughly prepare the space for your beautiful new quartz countertop installation. Pay attention to proper cleanup and debris disposal at the end for a smooth start to your kitchen or bath remodel.