What’s the Difference Between Quartz and Quartzite Countertops?
Quartz and quartzite, the former is more common in home and commercial projects than the latter, but when selecting a countertop material these names sound almost identical and are ripe for confusion. We’ll break down the differences and advantages of both.
What is Quartzite?
Quartzite is a naturally occurring rock formed from sandstone. The quartzite is quarried into large uniform blocks, which are processed and bundled based on their intended application. Bundles used in surfacing applications, such as countertops, have a resin applied to their surface and are polished.
Quartzite can share a visual resemblance to marble—coloring is typically white to light gray, sometimes with pink, brownish-red, or purple shading from iron, with darker colors being less common. Unlike marble, quartzite is rarer, much harder, and will not scratch, etch, or chip as easily.
Interior and exterior surfacing applications are both suitable for quartzite. Pure quartzite is harder and more stain resistant than granite, but is also rarer and more costly. Despite this high performance quality, it still requires sealing and common sense maintenance.
Some specimens of quartzite on the market are misclassified as quartzite but are marble. An indicator of this misclassification can be material disclaimers for porosity, softness, or dis-recommendation of high-traffic consumer applications. If durability is important to you and you have suspicions of specimen misclassification, do your research by asking questions or requesting a sample to determine how easily it will scratch or etch compared to a marble sample.
What is Quartz?
Quartz is an engineered stone for interior surfacing applications and is manufactured by mixing primarily quartz—a naturally occurring and very hard mineral—man-made resins, polymers, and pigments to achieve a variations of designs and colors, including marble, limestone, and contemporary looks.
From a design perspective quartz is a popular choice for its colour palettes that cannot be found in a quarried stone. As well as its natural styles that can provide stunning elegant looks, such as marble and sandstone, with the durability of engineered stone.
Extremely hard and durable, quartz is marketed as “virtually maintenance free” and “stain resistant” due its non-porous qualities. While these claims are true, they should not be confused with requiring no maintenance or being stain-proof. Owning a quartz countertop does require a low amount of common sense maintenance and care. An advantage of quartz is that it never requires sealing or usage of topical treatments.
Which type should you use for your countertop?
Quartz and quartzite are sound choices for a countertop, but like many things the answer is nuanced. Colour and aesthetic considerations aside, here are some factors to consider when deciding which to use:
Will the countertop have an interior or exterior application? Quartzite can be used in exterior applications, quartz should not.
Where quartz slabs are generally manufactured in large consistent sizes, the slab size of quartzite will vary based on where it is quarried. The size of the slabs may be a factor in the requirement and/or placement of seams.
Care & Maintenance
Since quartz is non-porous it requires less general maintenance than quartzite. Quartzite would still require sealing about every 3 to 5 years. While trivets or hot pads should be used for the placement of very hot items on the surface of either, quartzite is more heat resistant than quartz. All things being equal, quartz has the advantage for lower maintenance.
Due to demand, rarity, and the complexity of the job, quartzite will generally cost more than quartz.