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It’s easy to confuse quartz and quartzite countertops. Their names are similar and often so are their looks. But ask yourself: what walks like a duck, sounds like a duck and looks like a duck, is it always a duck? Not in this case. Here we are talking about two different countertop materials. And thus they will hold differently in your kitchen. Although they share some similar characteristics, there is a world of differences between them. And so I am about to take you on a short trip in the world of quartzite countertops to introduce you to this material’s advantages and disadvantages, and see how it compares with quartz.
But before we jump into the details of the pros and cons of quartzite countertops, let’s define the material.
What is Quartzite?
It’s a natural stone. In the world of geology, it is identified as a metamorphic rock, which is slowly formed over a very, very long period of time by sand grains. Now, the sand grains might be tiny but under the pressure of the earth, they are compressed and don’t stop moving. The result? They stick together and form sandstones, which are also affected by the heat and pressure of the earth and take various shapes. This crazy dance of both the sand grains and sandstones enables their metamorphosis into a rock, which we know as quartzite.
Enough with geology.
Just keep in mind that this process of metamorphosis, which happens due to the intense pressure and high temperatures under the earth, defines the properties and colors of quartzite as much as the impurities found in the mining region.
The Pros of Quartzite Countertops
There is a paradox here. As a natural stone, quartzite is resistant to heat, scratches, and etching. But countertops are sealed. And the sealers require attention. If you take your knife and scratch the countertop, the material might remain intact but the sealer will most likely crack. That’s bad news for you. Why? Because quartzite countertops will also resist stains thanks to the sealer. Once this is torn, say bye-bye to the sanitized slab and good-morning to bacteria.
And that’s not all. The sealers cannot stand heat either. Try leaving the hot pan on the quartzite countertop once you remove it from the oven. You won’t like the results. Okay, the sealers are not damaged just by leaving a relatively warm pan on the counter but it’s always best to use a trivet.
I know exactly what you are thinking right now. All the above are disadvantages and indicate that quartzite countertops are not resistant. So, why am I saying that they are highly resistant? Give me a sec to explain. The bad news comes from the sealers. And unfortunately, quartzite countertops need sealing – just like most natural stones. Quartzite as a stone is very resistant and so the counters need some attention, like using trivets and cutting boards.
To make you smile again, quartzite countertops are resistant to etching. That’s important to those who hate the white marks created when lemon juice or other acids are spilled on the counter.
Let’s recap really quickly. Quartzite countertops resist etching. They also resist stains when they are properly sealed. And in order to keep them free of scratches and marks from direct heat, it’s best to use cutting boards and trivets to protect the sealer.
Remember the example with the knife mentioned above? Although the sealers are sensitive to the knife blade, quartzite is not. To get an idea of the stone’s durability, consider that it ranks 7 on the Mohs Hardness Scale while the knife blade ranks 5 – 6.5. You can see the difference here. Quartzite is one of the most durable stones out there and although not damage-free (due to the sealer), it will serve you for a very long time. Now, here’s where the info about the birth of this stone helps you understand its strength. The interlocked quartz grains along with the years the stone takes to metamorphose under heat and pressure make countertops extremely strong.
If you like marble countertops then you will adore quartzite slabs too. Like natural stones, they are distinguished by veins, wavy patterns, and diagonal or cross-cut lines – this depends on how the slabs are cut. The swirling patterns create motion and that makes the counters in the kitchen very interesting. Just pay attention. Just like any other natural stone counter, no two slabs are the same. In order to create an impressive kitchen, you need to tell your fabricator to get you slabs with patterns that will seem to follow one another and thus create an interesting design.
Easy to clean
As long as you keep your quartzite countertops sealed, they are very easy to clean. And you won’t need special products either. Some dish soap and water will suffice. Abrasives won’t hurt the stone but will eventually damage the sealer. So, avoid them.
If you are planning to install an outdoor kitchen, quartzite will make a great countertop choice. Apart from being durable, it’s also UV resistant and thus the colors will not fade under the sun.
The Cons of Quartzite Countertops
Sealing is required
When you decide to buy quartzite countertops, you must be prepared to deal with the disadvantage most natural stones have. They are porous. And so, they must be sealed. The porousness of each slab depends on the mining region but don’t make the mistake to assume that some can hold well in your kitchen without sealers. Although sealers are a headache on a day-to-day basis, they keep counters free of stains. And that’s the healthy way to cook. The good news is that there are some permanent sealers on the market. Otherwise, the counters should be sealed once a year or as needed.
You won’t like the quartzite countertops cost. They are expensive – just like any other natural stone. Now, due to the hardness of quartzite, cutting the stone is difficult and requires special diamond cutters. This is a time-consuming and expensive procedure which also demands great skills. So, it costs. Expect to pay at least $100 per sq. ft. Don’t forget that the price is always subject to your location, the vendor, and the slab (thickness, edge designs, etc.). Also, add the labor, transport, and installation expenses to get a full picture of what it will cost you to install quartzite countertops. One more factor that determines the price is rarity. The rarer the slab the more it will cost.
Time to take a break to pinpoint one major concern. Due to their resemblance, marble and quartzite countertops are often confused. Not that it’s a bad thing to get marble instead of quartzite. But if you want quartzite, pay for quartzite, and install what you think it’s quartzite, it must be quartzite. Apart from some exceptions, marble is often more expensive than quartzite but it’s softer too. So don’t let anyone tell you that they offer hard and soft quartzite countertops. They are all dense and hard.
How to be sure you have chosen quartzite and not marble?
Test it. You can do that in three different ways.
- Scratch it with a knife. If it’s quartzite, it will remain intact. If it’s marble, it will be scratched.
- Place a glass tile on a steady surface and use quartzite to scratch it. Does it scratch it? If yes, you’ve got it right. It’s quartzite.
- Pour lemon over the slab. Remember, quartzite doesn’t etch. Marble does.
With all that said, let’s move to the last disadvantage of quartzite countertops.
Not available in many color options
The base colors of most quartzite countertops are gray and white although the swirls and veins change the looks of the slabs. Since the impurities in each mining region influence the appearance of the stone and the patterns, expect to find slabs with green, pink, yellow, or gold streaks. One thing to remember is that you won’t find solid colors among quartzite countertops – since they are natural stones.
Now, we have looked at how to distinguish between quartzite and marble countertops but how about between quartzite and quartz countertops! Have no doubt that both options are great but we still talk about two different countertops and as such, they also have different properties that will have an impact on your life. So, it’s best to know the differences between quartz and quartzite countertops.
Quartzite vs Quartz Countertops Differences
- Quartzite is a natural stone whereas quartz is manmade. Does this detail make one countertop better than the other? It depends on what you want and what you expect.
For example, engineered quartz is even more durable than quartzite, which is already rated as one of the strongest countertops. Although they both rank 7 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, engineered quartz also contains polymer resins which act as the binders of all components and allow for some elasticity. The advantage here is that quartz is non-porous and so it won’t need sealing while the slabs will still resist just about anything – stains, etching, scratching and chipping. But just like quartzite, it won’t hold well under direct heat – each for its own reasons. Quartzite won’t resist direct heat due to the sealer while quartz due to the polymer resins.
Another difference is the color options. As an engineered product, quartz is offered in many more colors. The pigments make all the difference while the ground quartz contained in the slabs allow you to select countertops which perfectly mimic natural stones. But quartz is also found in solid colors. The advantage of quartzite here is that it’s the real thing – that’s if you opt for a natural stone slab.
As far as the quartz vs quartzite countertops cost differences, expect to pay more for quartzite than quartz.
By knowing the properties of each of the two countertop materials, you get a better idea of how to distinguish them. To make your life a bit easier, consider the following too.
- The colors of quartzite countertops are often light. If the slab is dark, it’s most likely quartz.
- All slabs have a patterned appearance. If the color is solid, it’s quartz.
- If the slab was quarried, it’s quartzite.
- If the patterns are random and thus dramatic, it’s quartzite.
- If the patterns are rather consistent and uniform, it’s quartz.
What do you need to remember about quartzite countertops?
Quartzite countertops will be the Goliath of your kitchen thanks to their durability and resistance, given that they are sealed and thus maintained properly. With their beautiful swirls and unique patterns, they add glamor to any kitchen and are well-versed to match any home style. It’s the natural stone that will be your true friend when you prep food and clean afterward although you need to be careful with the hot pots and knives due to the sealer. Is it better than marble or quartz? Let’s say this: it’s a completely different material. Some properties might be common among them, but the differences outnumber the similarities. All in all, the quartzite countertop performance is excellent and if you put it under test, it will surely pass with flying colors! So, go for it.