The Difference between Quartzite and Quartz Countertops
Quartz countertops are a favorite for in the US, just recently displacing granite countertops for the top spot. This is understandable, as quartz countertops are extremely durable and more readily available in a wide range of colors and designs than granite is. Overall, investing in quartz countertops is a sound one for most people.
Despite being very popular, however, many people know very little about quartz countertops. They frequently confuse it with quartzite countertops and use the names interchangeably. They fact is they are completely different stones even though they sound and look very similar. Here is the difference between quartzite and quartz countertops.
Quartzite is naturally occurring stone of the metamorphic type, like marble in terms of formation. A metamorphic stone results from the breakdown of the protolith or original stone, and reformation over time under extreme conditions. The differences in metamorphic rocks mainly lay in the protolith. With marble, the protolith is limestone or dolomite. With quartzite, the protolith is quartz sandstone.
Quartzite typically forms in mountainous regions in continental Europe, the UK, Canada, and the US. Like granite, quartzite comes out of quarries as large blocks of stone. Suppliers cut these blocks in different ways for various purposes. For use as dimension stones, they produce quartzite slabs in standard sizes. For use as construction material, they crush it.
Quartz stone, in contrast, is a manmade or engineered material. Manufacturers all use a patented process called Bretonstone to produce quartz slabs for kitchen countertops, although using the process does not make it a quartz stone. To qualify as engineered quartz, the material should have a significant amount of natural quartz materials in the mix. The most popular brands of quartz stone use a minimum of 90% quartz.
You should understand, however, that quartzite is not always going to be available in the color or design you want. Since it is a natural stone, you can only choose from what the supplier has in the inventory. Granite and marble also have the same drawback. If you need a specific color and/or design for your kitchen countertops, you might want to opt for quartz instead.
In appearance, quartzite is distinguishable from other natural stones by its glassy texture, interlocking and visible mineral crystals and streaks. Quartzite countertops can achieve a very high polish, and its naturally smooth surface makes it an excellent choice for countertops, walls, floors, and backsplashes in the kitchen and bathroom.
Pure quartzite colors range from white to grey. However, impurities or contamination with other materials such as ferrous oxide can produce other colors such as green, blue, orange, pink, red, and yellow. Some types of quartzite with a granular appearance look very much like granite, and some people mistake one for the other.
Quartz countertops, on the other hand, are available in a much wider variety of colors and designs than quartzite countertops are. Manufacturers can pretty much dictate this as it is a manmade material.
Some, indeed, mimic the look of quartzite as well as granite and marble. While many homeowners choose quartz stone colors and designs that would certainly not occur in nature, most still prefer the more natural styles.
However, many people choose natural stones in lieu of quartz stone because they are not convinced that quartz countertops approximate the look and feel of natural stones. Whether this is true or not, quartz stones that look like quartzite is still not quartzite.
From an esthetic point of view, both quartzite and quartz countertops are very attractive. Some do find that quartzite has more depth, but that can be hard to qualify objectively. Some of the designs produced by quartz stone brands are quite brilliant and beautiful enough to outshine some of the best available natural stones, including quartzite.
Durability and maintenance
Quartzite and quartz countertops are extremely durable, mainly due to the high content of quartz mineral in its composition. The comparable durability of the stones will depend on the actual quartz content. Quartzite with more impurities will be less durable, but in general, quartzite is more durable than quartz stone.
Quartz countertops also tend to be more flexible and less likely to chip than quartzite. On the other hand, quartzite is heat resistant, which quartz stones are not. This can be a deal breaker for kitchen countertops since heat is a constant element in most kitchens. That said, using a trivet and heat pad is an easy solution to that issue.
In terms of maintenance, quartz countertops edge out quartzite because it is non-porous. This means they do not need sealing and mostly stain-resistant. Keeping quartz countertops clean is mostly a matter of a daily wipe down with a mild cleaning solution and quick rinse with clean water.
Quartzite is porous, like most natural stones, so it is a good idea to seal it. While it is not always the case, leaving it seal-free might lead to staining. However, keeping sealed quartzite countertops clean is as easy as quartz countertops, and the naturally glass-like texture makes it much easier.
The real advantage of quartz countertops over quartzite is the cost. The per-square-foot cost of the slabs themselves is about the same at between $60 and $100. However, installing them can spell the difference.
Quartzite is extremely hard, making it somewhat brittle. It can be very difficult to fabricate cutouts and edge treatments without damaging the stone, so fabricators need to take their time and use considerable skill as well as special equipment to do the work. This can drive your labor costs way up. Compared to quartzite, quartz stone for countertops are much more cost-effective.
The difference between quartzite and quartz countertops are technical, but significant. That said, quartzite is a viable option for your kitchen countertops. However, the drawbacks of quartzite make it less than desirable for many kitchens. Quartzite might look fantastic, but between it and quartz stone, most homeowners will derive more benefits and savings with quartz countertops. That is, provided you get it from a reputable countertop specialist.
KNC Granite is a local company servicing the areas of Maryland and Virginia. We are authorized distributors of the best brands of quartz stone as well as a large collection of granite and marble slabs.
You can check actual granite and marble slabs at our showroom in Lanham, Maryland, as well as representative samples for engineered stone from the top brands in the industry including Cambria, Caesarstone, Silestone, and MSI, all of which come with manufacturer warranties.
We deal directly with stone manufacturers and fabricators, so we can give you the best prices possible. In fact, we have a best price guarantee. Additionally, you only pay for what you use, so it does not matter how big or small your project is; you will not be forced to buy a whole slab.
We do not only supply top quality stones, however. We are experts at fabricating and installing kitchen counters or bathroom vanities. Also we specialize in kitchen remodeling and bathroom upgrade projects, delivering on time and on budget.
Give us a call or email us for your free in-home consultation and quote!