There are a lot of different types of stone counters on the market today. Whether you like the bold minerals formations in granite, the understated look of white marble, or the soft feel of soapstone, there are almost endless choices. Today, we’re going to talk about two products that are dominating the countertop conversation right now: Quartz and Quartzite.
What is Quartz or Engineered Quartz?
Let’s start with quartz. Quartz is often referred to as “engineered stone” or “engineered quartz” or more commonly “Quartz Surfaces”. It is a man-man product named after the natural mineral quartz, which is often found in granite. You can’t make countertops out of the mineral quartz alone, so when we are talking about quartz counters, we mean the man-made material.
Engineered quartz is a composite made from crushed quartz. The crushed stone is bound together with a resin or cement. About 93% of the product is crushed stone and 7% is resin. Colors can be added to create patterns and hues that are not normally found in granite or marble. For example, quartz counters like Sparkling Ruby Quartz or Arctic White Quartz provide the convenience and durability of granite in solid red and white, colors that are rarely so bold and simple in granite.
One of the biggest appeals of quartz is that you can get a wide variety of solid colors and consistent patterns. Some quartz is even designed to look like marble. It’s amazing how advanced these reproductions have become in the last few years as quartz manufacturers’ technology has improved. Quartz is extremely durable. It will not scratch, it does not need to be sealed, and it won’t fade under indoor lighting.
The only downside is that it quartz is not heat resistant, so you have to use hot pads, and it may fade under direct sunlight if used outdoors (the amount of sunlight that will come in through your windows is not a problem).
What is Quartzite?
On to quartzite. Quartzite is a 100% naturally occurring stone. Like granite and marble, it is quarried and polished.
There are three main types of stones: igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary. Granite is igneous, and quartzite, like marble, is metamorphic. Metamorphic stones are created when pure quartz sandstone is super heated deep within the earth. That’s why quartzite tends to have a similar look to marble, with a glassy finish and smooth white or gray colors.
In fact, one of the main reasons quartzite is so popular is its resemblance to marble. While they often look like a marble, most quartzites are much harder and hold up better as kitchen countertops. Many quartzites are actually harder than granite!
To put that in scientific terms, granite measures a 6-6.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness while quartzite can be as hard as 7. Quartzite is also scratch and heat resistant.
Quartzite does need to be sealed; it is recommended that you seal it twice a year. While it is more susceptible to etching than granite, you can keep your quartzite looking like new for years and years if you keep it regularly sealed with a high grade sealer.
Some Quartzites are very hard and good examples are Tajmahal, Sea Pearl. Some quartzites are hard but little more prone to etching and a good example is the popular Super White.
It is still much more resistant to etching than marble. (Etching is when acidic liquids like lemon juice or vinegar react with the calcium in metamorphic stones. The acidic liquid can dissolve the top layer of polish, leaving a rough spot. If this happens, don’t worry, most etching can be repaired on your own using a bit of polishing powder from an online stone supplying companies like GranQuartz.
Should I Choose Quartz or Quartzite?
Granite, quartzite, and quartz are all high quality, durable countertop choices. They have some minor differences in maintenance, but considering how easy it is to seal your own countertops, the real deciding factors will be your individual needs and style.
Quartz is a much simpler look with consistent patterns. It is a great choice for those who want a solid color or who don’t like the look of granite or marble. Quartzite, on the other hand, is a great option for homeowners who love the natural look of marble, but don’t want marble’s risk of etching and scratching.
Remember, although the names are similar, these are very different materials and each has many different colors. If you like both and can’t decide, ask your local fabricator to talk more about the nuances of each material and how it will work in your individual kitchen or bathroom.