One of the most popular white natural stones in the last few years is Super White. With beautifully apportioned white and gray minerals in a marble like pattern, this material has become an instant classic. But what exactly is it? Granite? Marble? Quartzite?
The answer is complicated. (This is become a common theme in our articles as we strive to fully educate clients rather than giving simplistic answers.) As we’ve pointed out before, the countertop industry relies more on practical categories than on geological precision.
If you visit a stone supplier, you’ll find most of the natural stone counters placed into the broad categories of granite, marble, or quartzite (and the latter is only a recent addition to supplier labels). In reality, the natural world is not quite so conveniently divided up, and many countertops are not true granite or marble, but close relatives of these stones.
This does not mean that companies are tricking you or hiding the truth. If they labeled each stone geologically instead of picking the common category it best fits, then you’d have to get a science degree in order to buy new countertops! However, it does mean that you can’t always predict a countertop’s durability on just the label.
Super White Is Not a Granite
Let’s start off by establishing what Super White is not. It’s not a granite. There are three main types of stone in the world: igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary. Granite is igneous, while marble and quartzite are metamorphic. This means that while granite was formed from cooling magma (think igneous like “ignite”), marble and quartzite were slowly formed (technically “metamorphosed”) as long-term pressure, heat, and chemical reactions turned one kind of stone into another.
It’s fairly easy to tell these two broad geological categories apart, so it’s safe to say that Super White can never be geologically classified as a granite.
Super White is a Quartzite…Sometimes…and Sometimes It’s a Marble
Super White is most often closest to a quartzite (and in many cases is actually a quartzite). Wait, you ask, how can it be more than one kind of stone?
Most stone quarries are huge, and the exact makeup of mineral deposits will change from one part to the other. As geologist Karen Kirk points out some Super Whites are calcite marbles (known for being softer), some are dolomite marbles (often harder and more resistant to scratching), and some are true quartzite, which will actually hold up like granite when properly sealed.
Of course, this is also due to the fact that some suppliers will label similar stones like Arabescato Marble as Super White, even though they are not the same.
For the sake of consistency, we refer to our slabs as Super White Quartzite even though some may technically be marble. It would be too confusing for our clients if we tried to label each slab individually when the line between the two categories is not as clear as many believe.
So, Should You Use Super White Quartzite in Your Kitchen?
If you are looking for a durable quartzite, keep in mind that Super White will not be as hard as other quartzites like Taj Mahal Quartzite or Sea Pearl Quartzite. However, the bottom line is that most Super White Quartzite is harder than classic marbles like White Carrara Marble or Calacatta Marble.
Properly sealed, Super White Quartzite has a much lower risk for etching, staining, scratching, or chipping than the traditional marbles used for counters.
In her article, Kirk describes how she used an acid test on pieces of Super White to determine their mineral make-up and durability. We recommend that if you do any testing, you use a sealed piece of Super White. When it comes to white quartzite and marble, sealing with a specialized, high-grade sealer can make a significant difference in the resistance of your countertop to staining. And of course, if the sealed quartzite is durable, then it doesn’t really matter how an untreated stone will react to spills.
How to Find a Hard Super White Quartzite
So, this geological information is useful, but how do you make sure your slab is a harder Super White and not a soft marble? It comes down to making sure that you trust your granite fabricator. A reputable company will be open with you about how hard their current slabs are and how they will hold up in the kitchen. When possible, they will purchase higher quality Super White slabs to ensure the best possible result in clients’ homes.
Many homeowners make their final choice on an installer by selecting the cheapest price. Though more expensive does not necessarily mean better, it’s important to consider the reputation of your fabricator and the quality of their slabs before you invest in Super White countertops.
At Arch City Marble and Granite, we carefully inspect all our slabs before purchase. We are committed to honestly discussing the pros and cons of each material so that you can be confident knowing you’ve chosen the right countertop for your home.
To see our full slabs of Super White Quartzite, visit one of our two showrooms in the greater St. Louis area.
Image source: Contemporary kitchen by houzz