With all the options available today, it is simultaneously the best and the most overwhelming time to be in the market for stone countertops. We have more options available to us today than ever before, but all that choice leads to something we like to call Options Paralysis. With so many different materials, finishes and shades to choose from, it can be easy to become so overwhelmed that you just end up picking nothing at all.
Unfortunately, we can’t make that decision for you, but we can help to equip you with more information to help make that choice easier. That brings us to today’s topic: quartz versus quartzite. With such a similar name and often a fairly similar appearance, it’s not immediately apparent what the difference between the two materials is.
So, let’s break down some of the differences between them as well as some pros and cons that should help you make a decision.
Quartzite Is a 100% Natural-Stone While Quartz Is Not
While both materials do indeed contain quartz crystals, quartzite is a metamorphic rock that has been mined and shaped into slabs. Meanwhile, quartz is an amalgam made up of roughly 90% quartz and other minerals, with the other 10% being resins, polymers and pigments to form a slab. Because of its construction method, quartz is considered an engineered material, whereas quartzite can be classified with other materials like granite, marble, travertine, slate and limestone as a natural stone.
More on Quartzite:
The interesting thing with quartzite is that it actually started out as sandstone that was heated and compressed through geologic processes to become a much more dense and durable stone – even harder than marble or granite in fact. Being one of the tougher metamorphic rocks, quartzite has a few advantages over many sedimentary and igneous rocks in the fact that it is more resistant to scratches and less porous than its counterparts – but that doesn’t mean it is impervious to these types of damage (more on that below).
The durability is a plus, but the main selling point of quartzite is in its unique appearance in terms of interesting mineral streaking and wide range of colors and shades it can take on. Ranging from marble-like whites and light greys to blue-grey, green or yellow slabs with dark or light crystalline streaks, quartzite offers some of the more exotic looks out there.
More on Quartz:
Versatility is the name of the game with quartz. Manufacturers are able to get a wider range of shades and color tones out of quartz than is really possible with natural stone. That means you can have quartz that mimics the look of granite or marble without the maintenance downsides, or go for a look that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to find, such as deep reds, greens or blues.
Quartz also tends to have a much more uniform look across the whole of the slab due to the fact that it is one big amalgam of minerals and pigments. That could be a good or bad thing depending on the look you’re going for. Some design motifs benefit from a streaky piece of natural stone while others do well with a more consistent look and tone across the slab.
Which is more practical?
While neither material is what we would call high maintenance in the least, we do have to give the nod to quartz as the more practical material overall. Being that it is bound together by resin, quartz is not porous like quartzite or other natural stone, and therefore does not need to be sealed in order to prevent etching and stains.
Quartzite is generally hardier than most of its other natural-stone counterparts, though, and it does boast higher heat resistance than quartz. A hot pot or pan right off the stove has the potential to discolor or partially melt the resin surface of quartz – but no matter which countertop you go for, we do recommend using a trivet or serving tray whenever possible to prevent heat damage just in case. Even natural stone can crack from an extreme heat differential.
None of this is to say that quartzite is high maintenance at all, but there is just a little more to consider, such as sealing.
Quartzite Needs to Be Resealed, Quartz Doesn’t:
Similar to granite, quartzite is not only a somewhat porous material, but it is also susceptible to etching from acidic chemicals. Without a protective seal on natural stone, liquids can penetrate the surface of the stone and stain just below the surface, making it rather difficult to remove. Most quartzite features calcium carbonate as well, which is highly susceptible to being broken down and eaten away by low pH chemicals such as vinegar, wine, citrus and coffee.
That means the stone will need to be sealed regularly in order to prevent damage from staining or etching during regular usage. The stone will be given a seal once it is installed, but it will need to be resealed at regular intervals depending on the kind of use it sees. You can help to mitigate the amount of damage done to your stone’s seal by making sure to wipe up spills when they happen, and use a pH neutral cleaner like Granite Gold Daily Cleaner®. You can check out our guide on sealing here.
For cleaning quartz, even though you don’t need to worry about a protective seal, it is still important to avoid household cleaners that aren’t meant for use on quartz. Cleaners like dish soap for instance leave a thin layer of film on the surface which can show itself as streaking or a general hazing overtime. Common household cleaners can also harm quartz. Granite Gold Quartz Brite® on the other hand goes on streak-free and acts as a two-in-one cleaner and polisher, taking out two birds with one stone.
To read more on what not to do when caring for your quartz or other natural-stone, check out our other guides here. If you have any more specific questions pertaining to caring for your stone and need some advice, you can give our Stone Care Experts a call at 1-800-475-STONE. Also be sure to check out the full line of stone care and other related products from Granite Gold®.