Quartz countertops are a popular choice for many homeowners due to their durability, aesthetics, and low maintenance. However, like any surface, quartz can develop minor scratches and lose its luster over time. Thankfully, it is possible to restore quartz to its original smooth finish with the right techniques and products. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about smoothing and polishing quartz countertops.
What Causes Quartz Countertops to Become Unsmoothed?
There are a few common causes of an unsmooth quartz surface:
Quartz is very durable, but not completely scratch-proof. Over time, small scratches can develop from things like utensils, pots and pans, and appliances placed on the countertop. The edges of the scratches make the surface feel rough.
Chemicals like cleaners, wine, juice, and vinegar can etch or corrode the surface of quartz, causing it to become rough and porous. Avoid exposing quartz to acidic substances to prevent etching.
Loss of Shine
While quartz lacks the high-gloss shine of polished stone like granite, it does have a subtle sheen when new. This luster can fade over time with regular use and cleaning. Restoring the polish brings back that subtle shine.
Using abrasive cleaners or scouring pads can actually damage quartz and make the surface feel rough and unsmooth. Always use non-abrasive quartz-safe cleaners.
Over many years, UV exposure can degrade the resin coating on quartz, causing dullness and loss of smoothness. Keeping quartz out of direct sunlight helps prevent damage.
Supplies Needed to Smooth Quartz Countertops
Smoothing quartz requires a gentle process using specialty abrasives and polishes. Here are the key supplies you’ll need:
- Quartz polishing compound or mineral powder – Look for a high-quality product designed for quartz.
- Microfiber cloths – Used to apply the compounds and remove residue.
- Soft buffing pad – Attaches to a low-speed polisher to smooth larger areas.
- Plastic putty knife – For hand application on small scratches and spots.
- Masking tape – Protects edges and adjacent surfaces from overspray.
- Cotton swabs – Useful for hard to reach areas.
- Bucket of warm water – For cleaning up polishing residue.
Do not use products containing abrasives like silica carbide or cerium oxide, as they are too aggressive for quartz. Stick to quartz-specific polishing products.
Step-by-Step Process to Smooth Quartz Countertops
Follow these steps carefully to achieve the best results smoothing your quartz countertops:
1. Clean the Surface
Thoroughly clean the countertop first with a mild non-abrasive cleaner like dish soap and water. This removes any dirt, grease or residue that could interfere with smoothing. Rinse and dry completely.
2. Inspect and Identify Problem Areas
Look over the entire surface and take note of any scratches, dull spots, or rough patches you want to address. This allows you to focus on problem areas.
3. Tape Off Edges and Adjacent Surfaces
Use painter’s tape to cover any edges, backsplashes, walls or other surfaces adjacent to the quartz. This prevents overspray getting on surrounding areas.
4. Shake or Stir the Polishing Compound
Before using, be sure to thoroughly mix up the quartz polishing compound or mineral powder. This ensures the abrasives are evenly distributed.
5. Apply Compound with Soft Pad or Plastic Putty Knife
For large surface areas, attach a buffing pad to a low speed random orbital sander/polisher. Apply a small amount of compound to the pad and polish in sweeping motions.
For small scratches and spots, apply a small amount of compound to a plastic putty knife. Rub carefully over the affected area using minimal pressure.
6. Clean Off Residue
Wipe away any wet polishing compound with a clean microfiber cloth. Ensure you remove all residue before it dries.
7. Rinse with Warm Water
Use a bucket of clear warm water and a new microfiber cloth to remove any remaining compound residue. Change the water frequently.
8. Dry and Inspect the Surface
Carefully look over the countertop once fully dried. Determine if problem areas need additional polishing to become smooth. Repeat steps if needed.
9. Apply Quartz Sealer (Optional)
For added protection, apply a thin coat of quartz sealer which helps fill pores and prevent future etching or staining. Remove any excess.
10. Remove Tape and Admire Results!
Carefully peel off all masking tape from edges and adjacent surfaces. Your quartz countertop should now have a nice smooth, polished finish!
Tips for Achieving the Best Results
Follow these tips and tricks to get your quartz countertops looking their absolute smoothest:
- Work in small manageable sections, about 3-4 square feet at a time.
- When using a buffing pad, keep it flat against the surface. Avoid angling which can create deeper scratches.
- Let the compound do the work. Use minimal pressure when polishing to avoid creating new scratches.
- Be patient and take your time when working on problem spots. Several light applications are better than pressing too hard.
- Always keep compounds and polishing pads clean and free of built up residue for best results.
- Consider hiring a professional if you have severe etching or sun damage. They have specialized tools to smooth and resurface quartz.
- Apply a penetrating quartz sealer annually to protect the finish and prevent future dullness.
Smoothing Quartz Edges
The polished edges of a quartz countertop can also lose their smooth finish over time. Use the following approach to restore the edges:
- Place painter’s tape on the top surface a few inches in from the edge to prevent compound getting on the main surface.
- Apply compound to a piece of extra-fine grit sandpaper. Rub gently along the edge, keeping the sandpaper completely flat.
- Wipe away residue frequently and change sandpaper sheets often to avoid deep scratches.
- Finish by cleaning, rinsing, drying, and applying sealer to the polished edge.
- Remove tape and inspect the freshly smoothed edge. Repeat if needed.
How to Smooth Smaller Quartz Surfaces
The process remains the same when smoothing smaller quartz items like coffee tables, vanities, shelves, and tabletops. Here are some tips:
- For small scratches, wrap compound around a cotton swab rather than a putty knife. Gently buff the affected spot.
- On furniture, tape off all adjacent wood, metal, or other delicate surfaces for protection.
- Use a hand-held polishing pad instead of a large buffer on smaller surfaces. Apply compound lightly.
- Rinse residue in a sink rather than on the floor. Use a spray bottle nozzle for better control rinsing vertical surfaces.
- Inspect closely and move lamps or decor to check for smoothness on all areas and edges.
Maintenance to Prevent Resurfacing
To keep your quartz countertops smooth for years to come, follow these maintenance practices:
- Use trivets, hot pads and cutting boards to protect the surface from scratches and burns.
- Clean spills promptly to prevent staining and etching. Avoid exposing quartz to wine, citrus, vinegar or chemicals.
- Daily cleaning is best done with a soft sponge or microfiber cloth using only non-abrasive quartz cleanser.
- Reseal the countertop every 6-12 months using a quality quartz sealer for added protection.
- Avoid window and direct sunlight which can degrade the quartz surface over time. Utilize window treatments to diffuse sunlight.
Professional Resurfacing Services
If your countertops have severe damage beyond simple polishing, consider hiring a professional quartz fabricator to resurface them. They have access to specialized equipment like:
- Diamond grinding pads to remove deep scratches and etch marks.
- Pressurized air injectors that smooth pitting and rough textures.
- Mini sand blasters to remove stains and create a uniform appearance.
- Electrostatic cloths that extract dirt and debris from pores for a deep clean.
While expensive, professional resurfacing services can make badly damaged quartz look brand new again and save the cost of replacement. Most jobs can be completed in a single day.
When to Consider Quartz Countertop Replacement
In some cases, the quartz surface may be too far gone for simple smoothing or professional resurfacing to restore. Replacement should be considered when:
- Etching and staining is severe enough that the color is noticeably uneven or large dull spots are present.
- There are many deep gouges, chips, or cracks that penetrate deep into the surface of the slab.
- Your countertops are very old and the quartz material itself is visibly deteriorating.
- You desire an updated color or style of quartz rather than your existing selection.
- Other parts of your kitchen are being remodeled and you want a cohesive updated look.
While an investment, replacing overly damaged quartz delivers beautiful, flawless results.
FAQ About Smoothing Quartz Countertops
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about smoothing and polishing quartz:
Can I use marble polishing powder on quartz?
No, marble polishing compounds contain ingredients like silica carbide that are too abrasive for quartz. Always use a quartz-specific product.
What grit sandpaper can be used on quartz countertops?
Only very fine grit sandpaper (3000-5000) should ever be used on quartz and even then with extreme care to avoid creating deep scratches.
Is there a homemade solution I can use to polish my quartz?
Home remedies like baking soda or vinegar should never be used attempt to smooth quartz, as the abrasives can damage the surface. Invest in quality polishing products designed for use on quartz.
How soon after installation can I polish my new quartz countertops?
It’s best to wait 2-3 weeks after installation before attempting to polish. This allows any residual adhesives or sealants from the fabrication process to fully cure.
How often should quartz countertops be professionally resurfaced?
With proper care, quartz only needs professional resurfacing every 5-10 years depending on the amount of wear. Be sure to address damage early before it worsens.
Can I use a power sander to smooth out rough spots on my countertop?
No, the high-speed and aggressive abrasives of a power sander should never be used on quartz. Always stick to hand polishing or a low-speed buffer to avoid damage.
While quartz countertops are impressively durable, they can lose their smooth luster over the years with regular use. Thankfully, it is possible to restore their original factory-smooth finish at home using specialty quartz polishing compounds and a bit of elbow grease. Be sure to properly prep the surface, work in manageable sections, rinse residue thoroughly, and avoid overly abrasive techniques. Your patience will pay off allowing you to enjoy flawlessly smooth quartz counters for years before needing a professional resurfacing or replacement. Follow the proper maintenance steps to minimize future wear and keep your quartz looking its best.