How to Fix Your Kitchen Countertops


Kitchen countertops see a lot of wear and tear. From daily use to accidental spills and drops, it’s no surprise that counters start to show signs of damage over time. Cracks, stains, burns, and an overall worn-out look can make your kitchen seem dated and dingy. Replacing the countertops completely is expensive, but with some simple fixes, you can have them looking like new again. This article will explore common problems with kitchen countertops and provide solutions to restore them affordably.

How to Fix Cracks and Chips in Countertops

Cracks and chips are some of the most common issues with kitchen countertops. They occur over years of use, particularly around the sink area that sees frequent water exposure. Thankfully, fixing cracks and chips in countertops is an easy DIY project.

Start by thoroughly cleaning the area to remove any debris that may hinder the repair process. Use a putty knife to widen the crack slightly and ensure the repair compound can properly fill it.

For plastic laminate countertops, use a resin epoxy filler formulated for countertops. Mix equal parts of the resin and hardener as directed on the product. Fill the crack with the epoxy, overfilling slightly to account for shrinkage as it cures. After it dries completely, sand flush with the countertop. Finally, buff the repaired area with automobile wax to restore the laminate shine.

For solid surface counters like quartz and granite, use a coloring putty that matches the stone. Knead the putty and firmly press it into the crack to fill completely. Allow to dry fully then sand smooth. Reseal the countertop with a stone sealer suitable for kitchen use. This helps blend the repair visually.

For ceramic, porcelain, or glass tile countertops, use a tile repair epoxy to fill cracks and chips following manufacturer’s directions. Clamp together if needed while drying. Once cured, sand smooth and buff surrounding area to hide the repair. Re-grouting may be necessary for wider cracks.

How to Fix Burn Marks on Countertops

Hot pots and pans can easily scorch and leave burn marks on countertops. But don’t despair over these unsightly spots. Burn marks can often be removed with items already in your pantry.

For laminate counters, use a gentle cleanser like baking soda and water or vinegar and water to scrub the burn. Apply toothpaste to the mark and let sit for 20 minutes before scrubbing again. Pour boiling water over the area to draw out the burn, wiping immediately. Finish by buffing with car wax.

On quartz, sprinkle baking soda directly on the burn and rub with a damp sponge. For tougher marks, make a thick baking soda paste with just enough water to form a spreadable consistency. Allow the paste to sit for 24 hours before scrubbing clean. Vinegar can also help remove burns on quartz counters.

For granite, use fine-grit sandpaper to carefully sand out the burn, taking care not to damage the overall surface. Follow with a granite polish to restore the shine. Baking soda paste also works to draw out burns on granite. Rinse thoroughly after cleaning.

How to Remove Stains from Countertops

Kitchen countertops see all manner of spills from wine and coffee to grease and food. While minor stains can develop over time with general use, specialty cleaners can remove most types of stubborn staining.

For organic stains like coffee, tea, or fruit juice on laminate counters, use a cleaner with enzyme action to break down the sugars. Or try a mild hydrogen peroxide solution. For tougher grease stains, apply baking soda followed by peroxide before scrubbing.

On quartz, many stains can be removed with vinegar or lemon juice. For dried spills, allow citrus juice or vinegar to soak on the stain for 10 minutes before scrubbing. Commercial stone cleaners also effectively eliminate most quartz stains without harming the finish.

For granite, use a specially formulated granite cleaner. Avoid bleach or acidic cleaners that can damage the stone. For water spots and rings, apply a granite polish. To remove grease, mix dish soap with baking soda or dry the area thoroughly and apply acetone on a clean cloth.

Be sure to thoroughly rinse counters after any heavy-duty cleaning to remove all residue. This prevents buildup of cleaner chemicals that can lead to discoloration over time.

How to Disinfect Countertops

Kitchen counters need regular disinfecting to kill germs and bacteria that spread illnesses. But not all countertops can withstand harsh cleaners like bleach. Here are effective ways to disinfect different types of kitchen countertops safely.

Disinfecting Laminate Countertops

For routine cleaning, use a disinfectant spray designated for laminate surfaces. Avoid bleaches, which can damage and discolor the finish.

To naturally disinfect laminate, mix:

  • 1⁄2 cup white vinegar
  • 1⁄4 cup hydrogen peroxide
  • 2 cups warm water

Spray mixture onto countertops and let sit briefly before wiping clean with a microfiber cloth. The acetic acid in vinegar and oxidizing peroxide action kills bacteria.

Disinfecting Quartz Countertops

Look for disinfectants specifically designed for quartz that contain isopropyl alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or sodium hypochlorite (bleach). Diluted bleach solutions of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water can sanitize quartz counters without damage.

For a natural option, use thyme essential oil. Add 2 tablespoons of thyme oil to 1 cup of distilled white vinegar. Wipe down quartz counters with the solution and let air dry. Thyme oil provides antibacterial protection.

Disinfecting Granite Countertops

Use disinfectants made for natural stone or a mild bleach solution of 1 part bleach to 15 parts water for granite counters. Avoid vinegar, lemon juice, or other acids that can erode the finish.

Tea tree oil makes an effective natural granite cleaner. Add 20 drops of oil to 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Spray granite surfaces and wipe down. Rinse thoroughly with plain water.

No matter what type of countertop you have, be sure to thoroughly dry after disinfecting. Standing moisture can damage solid surface counters over time.

How to Seal Countertops

Sealing is an important step in protecting countertops from damage. Granite, marble, quartz, and grout lines should be regularly sealed to prevent staining and increase water resistance.

Use a penetrating sealer formulated for the specific countertop material. Clean counters thoroughly before sealing to allow maximum absorption. Apply enough sealer to create a thin, even coating following product directions. Buff off any excess.

Reapply sealers periodically based on manufacturer recommendations, usually every 1 to 5 years depending on use. Look for signs like darkening around sink areas to determine when counters need resealing.

How Often to Seal Granite

  • Commercial kitchens – every 6 months
  • Heavily used home kitchens – every 1-2 years
  • Light use home kitchens – every 3-4 years

Use a granite sealer that contains silicone, fluoropolymer, or acrylic resin. Avoid wax- or oil-based products that can stain.

How Often to Seal Quartz

Quartz is stain-resistant but still benefits from sealing every 2-5 years. This prevents oil and grease from penetrating the surface. Use a sealer formulated for quartz containing silicone or water-based acrylic.

How Often to Seal Butcher Block

Butcher block requires much more frequent sealing than stone – at least once a month for heavy-use boards. Apply a thin layer of food-grade mineral oil and let it fully absorb. Increase frequency if water is absorbed quicker, indicating the finish needs replenishing.

How to Repair finish Worn Areas on Countertops

The finish on countertops can become worn over years of use, making the surface appear dull and faded. Worn areas typically develop around the sink andprep areas that see the most action. Thankfully, resurfacing kits can renew the finish without having to replace the entire countertop.

For laminate counters, use a colored laminate repair compound to fill and revitalize scratches and worn areas. Sand damaged spots, clean thoroughly, then mix and apply the repair filler. Once cured, sand smooth and buff to blend with surrounding finish.

Quartz countertops can develop rough, etched areas around sinks. Use a quartz repair kit with compounds formulated to smooth and polish these spots. Etch removers containing minerals and acids refine the surface, while polishing pads restore the glossy finish.

Refresh granite’s surface by applying a granite polish to worn regions using small circular motions. Use feathering techniques from edge to center to blend the polish and hide dull areas. Avoid oil-based products that may darken granite.

Butcher block can look dry and rough over time. Sand lightly to remove discoloration, then apply thin coats of food-grade mineral oil to recondition. Let the oil fully absorb, then buff with a soft cloth to revitalize the surface.

How to Remove Hard Water Stains from Countertops

Water with high mineral content can leave nasty spots and rings on kitchen counters. Hard water contains dissolved calcium and magnesium that get deposited and leave white stains on surfaces when the water evaporates. Thankfully, you can banish these marks with common kitchen staples.

For hard water stains on laminate counters, lay a paper towel soaked in vinegar over the spots. Let it sit for 30 minutes so the acetic acid can dissolve the minerals. Scrub with a damp cloth or soft-bristled brush. Rinse any vinegar residue.

On quartz counters, spray the stains with vinegar and let sit briefly before scrubbing with a nonabrasive sponge. Rinse thoroughly. If stains persist, make a paste from vinegar and baking soda. Apply to the affected area, allow to sit for 20 minutes, then scrub clean.

For granite, use a poultice specifically formulated for removing hard water stains on natural stone. Mix according to package directions then apply over the stains, allowing it to fully dry on the surface. Remove poultice and rinse counters thoroughly. A stain remover containing phosphoric acid can also help eliminate hard water marks on granite.

How to Remove Rust Stains from Countertops

Countertops around the sink can develop rust stains over time. Draining pans, placing wet pots and utensils, and mineral deposits from hard water exposure can all leave behind rust marks. Thankfully, you likely have what you need under the sink to remove pesky rust stains.

For laminate counters, sprinkle lemon juice or lime juice directly onto the rust stain. Allow to sit briefly before scrubbing with a damp cloth. The citric acid will help dissolve and loosen the rust so it can be wiped away.

On quartz, spray vinegar over the rust spot and let penetrate for 5-10 minutes. Use a soft cloth or nonabrasive sponge dampened with vinegar to gently rub and remove the stain. Rinse well.

For granite, make a poultice with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Spread over the stain thickly and allow to dry fully. Scrape off and wipe clean. Rinse thoroughly. Commercial rust removers formulated for natural stone can also easily eliminate rust spots on granite.

No matter what type of countertop you have, dry the area well after removing rust stains. Make it a habit to fully dry sinks and surrounding counters after use to prevent future rust marks.

How to Remove Mold and Mildew from Countertops

Mold and mildew growth can occur in kitchens, especially around the moist sink area. Thankfully, these fungal invaders can be killed and removed with some basic household cleaners. Here is how to get rid of mold and mildew from different countertop surfaces.

For laminate counters, spray straight undiluted vinegar onto problem areas. Let sit 10 minutes before scrubbing with a stiff nylon brush. Rinse counters thoroughly afterward. The acetic acid in vinegar kills mold and mildew on contact.

On quartz, use an enzyme cleaner, hydrogen peroxide, or diluted bleach solution to kill mold and mildew. Scrub with a soft cloth, nylon pad, or soft-bristled brush. Avoid harsh abrasives that may scratch quartz. Rinse well after cleaning.

For granite counters, apply hydrogen peroxide or diluted bleach solution to moldy areas. Allow to sit briefly before scrubbing clean and rinsing. Vinegar or lemon juice can stain porous granite, so avoid acidic cleaners.

No matter the counter material, address any moisture issues that allow mold to grow. Improve ventilation, fix dripping faucets, and wipe up sink overflows promptly. Keep counters dry by quickly drying after use and fixing any plumbing leaks.

How to Brighten Grout Lines on Countertops

Grout lines on tiled countertops easily absorb stains and become dingy over time. Thankfully, you likely already have the tools to freshen up that unsightly grout right under your sink.

Use baking soda to gently scrub and lift dirt from stained grout. Make a thick paste with baking soda and just enough water to allow scrubbing action. Apply paste along grout with an old toothbrush or other soft-bristle brush. Wipe clean and rinse.

For tougher stains, use oxygen bleach cleaner formulated for grout. Check the product label to verify it is safe for the tile and countertop material. Apply the oxygen bleach according to package directions. Allow to sit before scrubbing and rinsing counters thoroughly.

Avoid using vinegar, ammonia, or harsh chemicals to clean grout on porous natural stone tiles. For countertops with travertine, limestone, or marble tile, use a specialty stone-safe grout cleaner.

Be sure to seal and periodically reseal grout lines to protect against future staining and discoloration. Caulk around the perimeter and any vertical joints for watertight moisture protection.

How to Remove Odors from Countertops

Kitchen counters can absorb all types of odors over time. Garlic, fish, and general food smells can linger, even after cleaning. Eliminate pesky odors with these simple solutions.

For laminate counters, cut a lemon in half and rub directly onto affected areas. Let the juice sit for 10 minutes before rinsing clean. The natural citric acid kills odor-causing bacteria.

On quartz, wipe down counters with equal parts vinegar and water. For tougher odors, sprinkle baking soda and allow to sit overnight before wiping or vacuuming away. Vinegar disinfects while baking soda absorbs unpleasant smells.

For granite, spray counters with either vinegar water or lemon water. Avoid using acidic solutions long-term, as they can erode granite. Baking soda can also freshen smelly granite surfaces.

No matter the counter material, address any standing water issues that allow odors to develop. Fully dry counters after cleaning and use a kitchen dehumidifier to reduce ambient moisture. Improve ventilation to prevent odor buildup.

How to Make Countertops Look New Again

Over time, countertops can appear dirty, dull, and dated. Thankfully, a deep clean and high-shine finish can make counters look brand new again. Follow these steps based on your countertop material.

Restore Laminate Countertops

  1. Clean with degreasing dish soap using a soft cloth or sponge.
  2. Disinfect with vinegar and water solution.
  3. Remove scratches using fine steel wool.
  4. Apply laminate polish to restore shine.
  5. Buff thoroughly with microfiber cloth.

Renew Quartz Countertops

  1. Clean with non-abrasive quartz stone cleaner.
  2. Disinfect with diluted bleach solution.
  3. Remove etching with etching remover compound.
  4. Apply quartz polish with soft cloth.
  5. Buff to restore luster.

Revitalize Granite Countertops

  1. Clean with specially formulated granite cleaner.
  2. Disinfect with hydrogen peroxide and water solution.
  3. Remove dull areas with granite polishing compound.
  4. Apply granite sealer to protect the finish.
  5. Buff to a like-new shine.

A sparkling clean, sealed, and polished countertop can make the entire kitchen look brand new again. Be sure to properly care for and maintain your counters after restoration to prevent damage and wear.

DIY Kitchen Countertop Ideas

Tired of your current kitchen counters but don’t want to spend big on replacements? Consider one of these budget-friendly DIY countertop ideas to refresh your space.

Paint Laminate Countertops

Use a primer formulated for laminates, then apply two coats of oil-based enamel paint for a durable and moisture-resistant finish. Choose a sleek solid color or get creative with painted patterns. Finish by applying a clear acrylic sealer.

Resurface Tile Countertops

Regrout old tile counters then apply a concrete resurfacing product tinted and textured to mimic natural stone. Kits come complete with primer, resurfacer, trowels, rollers, and sealers for an affordable remodel.

Apply Concrete Overlay

Enhance plain flat counters by applying a thin concrete overlay product. Concrete resurfacing kits contain special admixes to create stone, tile, and textured looks once cured, dried, and sealed.

Add Butcher Block Sections

Replace portions of counters with economical butcher block planks. Use water-resistant boards and maintain with regular sealing. The warm wood adds rustic style perfect for kitchen islands.

Install Faux Metal Sheeting

Real metal can be expensive, so use peel-and-stick faux metal laminates to get the look on a budget. Copper, stainless steel, and galvanized tin laminate sheets create the look of high-end metal counters without the cost.

FAQs About Fixing Kitchen Countertops

What is the easiest countertop to repair?

Solid surface counters like Corian are the easiest to repair. Scratches and gouges can be sanded out