How to Finish Quartz Countertops

Quartz countertops are an increasingly popular choice for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects due to their durability, aesthetics, and ease of maintenance. While quartz is resistant to scratches, stains, and heat, proper finishing is still required after installation to achieve the desired look and optimal performance. This guide will walk you through the process of finishing quartz countertops, from materials needed to techniques for polishing and sealing.

Supplies Needed for Finishing Quartz Countertops

Finishing quartz countertops requires just a few simple supplies:

  • Quartz polishing pad – Use a buffing pad made specifically for polishing engineered stone. It often has a white finishing side and more abrasive gray polishing side.
  • Polishing compound – Select a high-quality polishing cream designed for use on quartz or engineered stone. It helps add shine and smoothness.
  • Microfiber cloths – Keep plenty on hand to wipe away excess polishing compound.
  • Paintbrush – Helps apply polishing cream into seams and edges. Can use small foam brush too.
  • Sealant – Choose a penetrating sealer made for quartz to protect from stains. “Impregnating” sealers work best.
  • Plastic sheeting – Covers surfaces to prevent messes during polishing.
  • Gloves and eye protection – Keeps hands and eyes safe from debris when buffing.
  • Optional – a handheld buffing machine for easier application and polishing.

Step-by-Step Guide to Polishing Quartz Countertops

Prep the countertops – Clear all items from countertops. Tape plastic sheeting along the walls and edges to protect surrounding surfaces.

Clean thoroughly – Use a granite cleaner and soft cloth to remove dust, dirt, adhesive, and residues from installation. Rinse any cleaner residue and allow countertops to fully dry.

Inspect for defects – Look closely for any chips, cracks, uneven seams, pitting, or other flaws. Use epoxy filler if needed to repair minor defects according to manufacturer instructions.

Apply polishing cream – Shake or stir polishing compound well before using. Apply a nickel-sized amount directly to the quartz surface and spread into a thin, even layer using overlapping circular motions.

Polish with pad – Use the smoother white side of quartz polishing pad to buff cream thoroughly over all surface areas. Apply light to medium pressure and keep pad flush with countertop. Overlap strokes and work in different directions.

Focus on edges – Use a paintbrush to work polishing cream into seams, edges, and hard to reach areas. Target these areas when buffing too. Go over edges multiple times to ensure even polishing.

Remove compound – Wipe away any excess polishing cream with a clean microfiber cloth after 1-2 minutes of buffing. Change cloths often to remove compound effectively.

Repeat steps – Apply more polishing cream and buff in stages over the entire surface to build up shine. Typically 3-4 rounds of polishing are needed for best results.

Final buff – Do a final pass with a dry microfiber cloth using firm pressure to remove any leftover haze and really bring out the glossy finish.

Clean up – Remove plastic sheeting and wet wipe the entire surface to remove any lingering debris or residue. Rinse thoroughly and dry with a clean cloth.

Seal counters – Once fully dry, apply a penetrating quartz sealer evenly according to product instructions. Remove any excess sealer and allow to fully cure for 24-72 hours.

Enjoy finished counters – Quartz countertops should now have a smooth, glossy polished finish. Admire your hard work and be sure to properly care for counters going forward. Avoid using abrasive cleaners.

Tips for Achieving Best Results

  • Allow sufficient drying time after each polishing stage. Leftover moisture can impact results.
  • Check that countertops are level. Any uneven areas will be harder to polish smooth.
  • Move the polishing pad frequently to avoid uneven wear. Rotate or flip pad often.
  • Apply even pressure and use consistent overlapping strokes for uniform polishing.
  • Periodically clean pad during polishing to remove built-up residue.
  • Be patient and take your time when working on seams and edges. Don’t rush this detail work.
  • Try the gray abrasive side of pad if needing to removing etching or tougher marks.
  • Consider having countertops professionally installed for optimal seams and surface.
  • Reseal quartz every 1-2 years depending on use. Annually is best for heavy usage areas.
  • Use trivets, cutting boards, and coasters to protect quartz from hot pans, knives, glasses.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Cloudy appearance – Typically caused by moisture or not enough polishing. Make sure countertops are dry before polishing. Do additional rounds of compound and buffing.

Scratches – Can happen during installation or if using abrasives. Use gray side of polishing pad and really work compound into scratches. May require professional help for deep scratches.

Water spots/etch marks – Minerals in water can leave dull marks. Wipe up spills quickly. May need a marble polish or etch remover to fix. Reseal afterwards.

Streaks or haze – Results from leftover residue or uneven polishing. Buff thoroughly with a dry cloth using firm pressure in the direction of the grain.

Dull finish – Usually means more polishing needed. Be sure to do multiple rounds of compound buffing, especially along edges. Can also quickly restore shine by resealing.

Bumpy texture – Indicates debris leftover from install or rare quality issue with slab. May require calling fabricator to polish affected areas.

Whitish film – Caused by excess sealer or soap scum buildup. Use a degreasing cleaner and scrub with non-abrasive sponge. Rinse thoroughly.

Cracks – Can happen over time from settling, movement, extreme heat. Contact a pro to evaluate and discuss repair options. May require quartz patch or replacement.

FAQ About Finishing Quartz Countertops

How long does the polishing and sealing process take?

It takes 2 to 4 hours for a DIYer to properly polish and seal an average sized quartz kitchen. Hire a pro to cut time in half.

Can I use a polishing attachment on my drill?

Yes, using a handheld buffing pad attachment on a low RPM drill can help speed up polishing and take strain off hands.

Do natural quartz countertops need sealing?

Sealing is not mandatory but highly recommended to protect from stains and etching. Reapply sealer every 1-2 years.

What’s the best quartz countertop sealer?

Opt for a penetrating “impregnator” sealer specifically designed for quartz. Popular brands include Miracle Sealants, Granite Gold, and StoneTech.

Is it alright to polish quartz countertops regularly?

Occasional polishing is fine to restore luster, but avoid over-polishing. This can gradually erode the surface over time.

How do you clean polished quartz countertops?

For routine cleaning, use a mild soap and soft sponge or cloth. Avoid abrasive pads and harsh cleaners which can damage the finish.

Can you powder coat quartz countertops?

Powder coating is not recommended for quartz. It leaves a plastic-like film on top that mars the natural beauty. Best to polish and use a penetrating sealer.

What kind of pad should be used to polish quartz?

Always use a buffing pad designed specifically for use on engineered stone like quartz. The soft white side is used for polishing.

Is it better to seal quartz countertops before or after installation?

Sealing is best done after installation when countertops are polished and cleaned. This allows you to check for defects first.

Professional Finishing as an Alternative

While DIY finishing can save on costs, hiring a professional fabricator or refinisher has advantages:

  • Saves time and labor with specialized tools and experience.
  • Removes any existing defects and improves seam appearance.
  • Achieves higher polish with powerful buffing equipment.
  • Applies sealer evenly for maximum stain protection.
  • Offers full finishing services or simple “refresh” polish.
  • Provides expert troubleshooting for problems like etching.

Discuss your needs with fabricators to determine whether full professional refinishing or simple buffing service is the best option after new install. For existing counters, inquire about options to revive the polish and seal without a full redo.

Maintaining the Finish of Quartz Countertops

To keep quartz countertops looking like new after finishing:

  • Use cutting boards, trivets and coasters religiously to protect surface.
  • Wipe up spills immediately to prevent stains and etching.
  • Clean with mild soap, water and soft cloth or sponge. Avoid abrasive pads.
  • Reseal counters every 1-2 years with a quality impregnating sealer.
  • For issues, start with a degreasing cleaner and resealing. If no improvement, contact a pro.
  • Avoid using bleach, alkaline cleaners, or acidic cleaners which can damage sealer and etch quartz.
  • Consider professional “refresh” polishing services every 3-5 years to restore luster.

With proper care and maintenance, freshly finished quartz countertops will retain their flawless polish and visual appeal for years before needing refinishing. Be diligent about using trivets and cleaning spills quickly to maximize the life of the finish.


With the right tools and techniques, DIYers can achieve professional-level polishing on newly installed quartz countertops. Focus on thorough cleaning, using quality polishing compounds, repeating buffing stages, and properly sealing the surface. Pay special attention to edges and seams. Schedule ample time for best results. Or alternatively, hire a professional for a faster, higher polish. Maintain the finish by avoiding abrasives, wiping spills immediately, and resealing every 1-2 years. With regular care, quartz countertops will retain their polished beauty for many years before needing to be refinished.