Quartz countertops are popular in many homes today due to their durability, low maintenance, and stylish appearance. However, like any other countertop material, quartz can become scratched, dulled, or damaged over time with regular use. Sanding and polishing is an effective way to restore the beautiful, glossy surface of quartz countertops when they become worn. With some basic tools and techniques, DIYers can sand down and refinish their quartz countertops to make them look brand new again.
Reasons for Sanding Quartz Countertops
There are a few common reasons homeowners may want to sand their quartz countertops:
- Removing Scratches – Even though quartz is very scratch resistant, superficial scratches can occur over time from things like knives, pots/pans, and general wear and tear. Light sanding helps diminish the appearance of these scratches.
- Dealing with Etch Marks – Acidic substances like lemon juice, vinegar or harsh cleaners can etch quartz and leave dull, whitish marks. Sanding removes the top layer and refreshes the surface.
- Improving Adhesion – If you plan to apply a quartz color enhancer or concrete sealer to your countertops, light sanding first creates a rougher surface for better adhesion.
- Achieving a Consistent Finish – Sometimes quartz can develop inconsistent areas of shine from cleaning or use. Light overall sanding helps maintain an even finish.
Supplies Needed for Sanding Quartz
Sanding quartz countertops doesn’t require much in the way of specialized tools. Here is a list of what you’ll need:
- Orbital Sander – Also called a random orbital sander, this tool evenly and smoothly sands flat surfaces like countertops. opt for a 5-inch model with variable speed.
- Sandpaper Discs – Use medium grit (100-150 range) and fine grit (180-220) paper specifically designed for stone.
- Replacement Sanding Pads – The sandpaper disc attaches to a rubber pad on the sander. Have extras ready.
- Masking Tape – To cover sections of countertop you don’t want sanded.
- Shop Vacuum – To control dust while sanding. Attach hose to sander if possible.
- Safety Gear – Gloves, goggles, mask/respirator to protect from sanding dust.
- Polishing Compound – Used after sanding to restore glossy finish.
- Clean Cloths – Both lint-free and paper towels for cleanup.
Step-by-Step Guide for Sanding Quartz Countertops
Sanding quartz countertops to remove scratches, etch marks or dull areas takes patience and the right technique. Here is a step-by-step guide:
1. Clear Countertops
Completely clear off countertops and remove sinks/faucets if possible. Cover nearby surfaces with plastic sheeting.
2. Prepare the Sander
Attach a medium grit sandpaper disc to the orbital sander per manufacturer instructions. Break in new sandpaper on scrap wood first.
3. Tape Off Areas
Use masking tape to cover areas you don’t want sanded like edges and seams. Only sand the damaged sections.
4. Start Sanding
Turn sander on low speed and begin working in small circular motions. Apply light pressure. Keep sander moving constantly.
5. Use Proper Technique
Work in the direction of existing stone pattern/grains. Go over entire area to blend and feather edges. Clean surface frequently.
6. Avoid Pitting
Do not stay in one area too long. Aggressive pressure can damage and pit quartz. Keep sanding motions light and even.
7. Change Paper as Needed
When paper wears out, replace with a new disc. Move to finer grit after initial sanding to smooth scratches.
8. Remove Dust
Vacuum thoroughly when finished sanding. Wipe down with damp microfiber cloth. Allow to dry completely.
9. Polish Surface
Apply polishing compound with soft cloth. Rub in circular motions until original gloss is restored. Buff with clean, dry cloth.
10. Seal and Protect
Finally, apply a penetrating quartz sealer to protect sanded areas and prevent future stains and etching. Allow to cure fully.
Sanding Tips and Precautions
To ensure optimal results without damaging quartz, keep these sanding tips in mind:
- Always sand in direction of existing stone pattern and work evenly across entire surface.
- Avoid excessive pressure which can chip edges or create pits. Quartz needs only light sanding.
- Change sandpaper discs frequently for best performance. Don’t continue using worn, ineffective paper.
- Use rubbing alcohol to cleanse surface so dust doesn’t hinder sandpaper effectiveness.
- Only sand damaged areas. Mask off sections of countertops that don’t need sanding.
- Rinse sanded areas well and allow completely dry before polishing or sealing quartz.
- Consider hiring a professional if you have concerns about undertaking this project as a DIYer.
Maintaining Quartz Countertops After Sanding
Once your quartz countertops are sanded and refinished, be sure to properly care for them going forward:
- Use cutting boards, trivets and pads under hot pans/dishes to prevent future scratches.
- Clean up spills immediately to avoid potential etching. Avoid harsh cleaners.
- Re-apply a penetrating quartz sealer every 1-2 years for optimal protection.
- Don’t place extremely hot items like pots off the stove directly on quartz. Allow to cool first.
- Consider a more durable finish like honed or leathered quartz to help mask minor scratches.
With proper sanding techniques and ongoing maintenance, you can keep your quartz countertops in like-new condition for years before needing to redo this refinishing process.
Frequently Asked Questions
What grit sandpaper should be used on quartz?
Start with 100-150 grit paper for the initial sanding to remove deeper scratches. Move up to 180-220 grit to smooth out the surface. Avoid very coarse 60-80 grit paper.
Can I use a handheld manual sander?
Yes, a manual palm sander can work but will take more time and effort. Using an orbital sander provides smoother, faster sanding. Always keep it moving constantly.
Do I need to sand the entire quartz countertop?
No. It’s best to only sand damaged areas and blend/feather into surrounding stone. Mask off sections that don’t need sanding.
Should I seal quartz after sanding?
Sealing with a penetrating quartz sealer adds protection after sanding. But it isn’t mandatory. Just be sure to keep the surface very clean and dry it thoroughly before applying any sealer.
How often can quartz countertops be sanded and refinished?
Quartz can usually be sanded and refinished effectively 2-3 times before the material gets too thin. Avoid over-sanding and only remove the minimal amount needed.
Sanding is an effective DIY technique to refresh worn quartz countertops suffering from superficial scratches, etching or dullness. With proper tools, methods and care, homeowners can successfully sand down blemished areas and restore their quartz countertops to a like-new, glossy finish. Pay attention to using proper sanding techniques, thoroughly preparing the surface, and maintaining quartz properly after refinishing. With some time and effort, you can avoid the expense of replacing quartz countertops by sanding and renewing their appearance instead.