Quartz countertops are durable and low-maintenance, but over time can develop etching or marks from acidic foods and cleaners. Removing etching from quartz requires using the right techniques and products to gently polish the surface without causing more damage. With some time and elbow grease, it is possible to minimally restore the appearance of etched quartz countertops.
What Causes Etching on Quartz?
Quartz countertops are made from ground quartz crystals combined with resins and pigments. While very durable, the resin binders that hold the quartz together can be damaged by:
- Acidic foods like lemon juice, vinegar, wine, soda, tomatoes, mustard, etc. Acid eats away at the resin.
- Spills from acidic cleaners, drain cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, etc. These are often highly acidic.
- Scratches and abrasions from cutting directly on the counter without a cutting board.
All of these can break down the glossy resin finish and create microscopic pits, causing a rough, frosted appearance known as etching. Etching appears as cloudy spots or streaks on the countertop surface.
Can Etching Be Completely Removed from Quartz?
Unfortunately, etching causes permanent damage to the quartz resin binder. The etching itself cannot be completely removed or repaired. However, it is possible to minimize the look of etching and restore some of the quartz’s polish. This involves gently smoothing and polishing the damaged surface to make etching less noticeable.
With the right techniques and products, etching can often be improved between 70-90%. Completely removing all signs of etching damage is generally not possible without refinishing or replacing the countertop.
Step-by-Step Process to Remove Etching
Here is a simple 3-step process to help minimize the appearance of etching on quartz countertops:
1. Clean and Prepare the Surface
- Clear all items from the area to be treated. Remove any buildup of dirt, grime, or waxes.
- Use a non-abrasive degreasing cleaner formulated for stone surfaces. Rinse well and let dry completely.
2. Smooth and Polish with an Etching Cream
- Apply an etching cream designed for quartz countertops to the affected areas. Rub gently into etching marks using a soft cloth or pad.
- Work in a circular motion, applying light to medium pressure. Take care not to scrub aggressively.
- Rinse surface and reapply etching cream as needed until etching is smoothed out.
3. Clean and Reseal the Surface
- Remove all residue from etching treatments. Clean well with soap and water, then let dry.
- Use a quartz sealing product to add back gloss and protection to treated areas.
- Avoid putting hot pans directly on treated areas. Always use trivets and cutting boards.
With this simple process, most light to moderate etching can be significantly reduced. However, re-etching is likely over time if proper care is not taken.
Best Products for Removing Quartz Etching
Look for etching creams that contain light abrasives and polishing compounds formulated for quartz:
- Bar Keepers Friend – Contains oxalic acid to lift etching and smooth marks.
- Alpha Bright Quartz Etching Cream – Made specifically for removing quartz etching.
- Gel-Gloss – Quartz polish contains aluminum oxide for gentle polishing.
- Countertop Magic – Pumice-based cleaner polishes away etching.
Avoid abrasive cleansers like Comet or Soft Scrub, as these can worsen etching. Steer clear of acids like vinegar or lemon juice, which will further damage the resin.
Preventing Future Etching
To avoid more etching after repairs, be cautious about what comes in contact with quartz counters:
- Always use cutting boards, trivets and hot pads. Never cut or place hot items directly on quartz.
- Clean spills quickly, especially acidic foods like juices. Don’t let liquids sit.
- Use only quartz-safe cleaners. Avoid acidic or abrasive cleansers.
- Reseal quartz every 1-2 years with a quartz sealing product.
- Don’t place toiletry products like toothpaste, makeup, or lotions on the countertop surface.
With proper care and by minimizing exposure to etching agents, you can help keep quartz countertops looking their best for years.
Frequently Asked Questions About Removing Etching from Quartz Countertops
Can I completely remove etching from my quartz countertop?
Unfortunately, etching causes permanent damage, so it’s impossible to completely remove all signs of etching. However, using etching creams and polishes can minimize the look of etching by up to 70-90%.
What household products can remove etching?
Avoid household cleaners like bleach, vinegar, and lemon juice as these will worsen etching. Use a specially formulated quartz etching cream instead for the best results.
How can I prevent future etching on my quartz countertop?
Always use trivets and cutting boards. Clean spills quickly, especially from acidic foods. Use only quartz-safe cleaners and reseal every 1-2 years. Avoid placing toiletry products and makeup directly on the counter.
Can etching be removed from quartz countertops by sanding?
Sanding quartz counters is not recommended, as you may create deeper scratches and damage. Etching creams help smooth etching without abrasion.
How long does the quartz etching removal process take?
Removing etching takes patience. Working in small sections, expect the smoothing process to take 30-60 minutes per square foot of countertop. Results are gradual, but etching will lessen with repeated polishing.
Quartz countertops develop etching over time from acidic liquids, cleaners, and abrasions that damage the resin surface. While etching can’t be completely reversed, the look of cloudy spots and streaks can be greatly reduced with targeted etching removal techniques. Using the proper quartz polishing creams and sealers, most of the polish and luster can be restored to mildly etched areas. With the right care and maintenance, your quartz countertops can always look their best.