Differentiating Between Quartz and Quartzite Countertops

Differentiating Between Quartz and Quartzite Countertops

Decoration and Design
Interior Design
By Dikran Seferian November 03, 2021

You have probably come across the words quartz and quartzite on several occasions. You may also be using them interchangeably — even retailers in the field tend to do so. Although the two may sound like the same thing, you'll find out that they actually differ from one another in more than one way. Both, however, are high-end choices for countertops. Regardless of their differences in appearance, composition, and so on, quartz and quartzite do have a few properties in common. These properties, along with the exclusive characteristics, make the stones ideal options for several other household elements besides countertops. 

Defining Quartz and Quartzite

The main factor that differentiates quartz from a quartzite is that the former is man-made. Quartz is crafted by binding the crystals found in quartzite with resins, pigments, glass, and other materials. Roughly 90% of the material is natural while the remaining 10% consists of added polymers. The end result is a non-porous stone that is available in various designs, colors, shades, and patterns. This versatility allows quartz to be made to resemble any type of stone. The pigments that are mixed into quartz can give it a spectrum of hues including blue, pink, violet, and orange. Moreover, quartz slabs are either flecked or veined to display a variety of patterns.

Quartzite, on the other hand, is a completely natural stone. It starts off as sandstone and is naturally formed into quartzite under intense pressure and heat beneath the surface of the earth. Up to 99% of quartzite is composed of quartz crystals which are fused with the sandstone in the natural process. It mainly comes in shades of gray or white, but can also have hues of red or pink due to the iron oxide in the stone. As for the pattern, quartzite features a veiny look with inconsistencies throughout the slab — and is often mistaken for granite or marble due to high similarities in patterning.

The Many Colors and Patterns of Quartz

The Many Colors and Patterns of Quartz

Characteristics of Quartz and Quartzite 

Durability

Quartz is highly durable due to the process that it goes through. Its non-porous properties make it resistant to moisture and bacteria. Moreover, the hard surface of quartz prevents it from being chipped or scratched. Quartzite, on the other hand, is relatively porous and therefore — without the proper treatment — prone to bacteria and moisture. Then again, it is known to be resistant to acid and scratches. While quartz scores seven on the Mohs mineral hardness scale, quartzite scores eight. Both, however, can take the stroke of a knife rather well. But you may want to avoid chopping acidic foods on quartz countertops; the acid interacts with the resins in the stone, which causes etching — quartzite doesn’t have this issue. Moreover, you can feel free to place a hot pan on a quartzite countertop as it is heat-resistant. The same can’t be said about quartz because of the resin it contains, which is known to melt at 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Advantages of Quartzite Countertops

The Advantages of Quartzite Countertops

Maintenance

Being a champion in durability, quartz surfaces practically require no maintenance other than wiping up spills and dirt with a wet sponge — basically routine cleaning. Quartzite surfaces, however, need to be treated with a sealant prior to installation and once a year afterward. The sealing process involves topping the surface with a natural stone sealer and letting it soak for at least ten minutes. Next, the countertop is wiped down after which the sealer is allowed to cure for up to three days. Natural stone sealer is available at home improvement centers for $10 to $30. 

Cost

In terms of cost, quartzite is generally more expensive than quartz. You can expect to pay anywhere from $70 to $200 for a square foot of quartzite. The price mainly depends on the complexity level of mining the stone and turning it into slabs. Quartz, on the other hand, is slightly cheaper with a price range of $60 to $150. This has to do with the fact that a slab of quartz is easier to produce. The combination of quartzite crystals, resin, pigments, and other polymers is poured into a mold and then baked. The result is a standard-sized slab of 55 by 120 inches with a thickness of two or three inches.

Installation 

Both quartz and quartzite slabs can be rather heavy to carry, with the former weighing between 20 to 25 pounds per square foot and the latter 20 pounds per square foot. Basically, neither are suitable for a DIY countertop installation. With the cost of labor amounting to an average of $70 an hour, you can expect to pay an all-inclusive price of $3000 to install a quartz countertop — and nearly $4500 for quartzite.

Lifetime

As for the longevity of quartz and quartzite, let’s just say that you’ll be passing your countertop down to your children, who may then pass it down to theirs. Both materials have been used for centuries and are virtually invincible. This comes to no surprise considering the natural process that quartzite goes through and the extreme durability of quartz.

Choosing the Best Material for Your Countertop

Choosing the Best Material for Your Countertop

Other Applications of Quartz and Quartzite 

Besides countertops, quartz and quartzite are used in several other household items. While both can be interchangeable in most cases, one may otherwise be more preferable than the other.

Backsplash

Not to go far from the countertop, you can use either quartz or treated quartzite for a stylish backsplash. Their resistance to stain and moisture makes them ideal for areas that tend to be frequently wet. Quartzite may have the advantage in this case due to it being heat-resistant, which is important considering its close proximity to the stovetop.

Dressing Up Your Backsplash in Style With Quartz

Dressing Up Your Backsplash in Style With Quartz

Flooring

The tough nature of the two stones makes them ideal choices for flooring. Besides being resilient against heavy-foot traffic, the stain resistance of quartz makes it immune to spills. Quartzite, however, will need to be sealed before being used as flooring. And sealing the entire floor may not be as inexpensive as sealing a countertop. You could, nevertheless, use quartzite flooring for smaller rooms such as a bathroom. On the other hand, quartz might be more preferable as it offers a wider variety of patterns and colors.

Bathtub and Shower

The moisture-resistant properties of quartz make it suitable in a bathtub or shower as a surround. Even if the water in your plumbing system is hard, cleaning sediments off your quartz surround is no issue at all. However, you may want to avoid using quartz as a bathtub or shower flooring as it can be very slippery when wet. Treated quartzite is also a reliable option for this application.

Stylish Surround Ideas for Your Shower

Stylish Surround Ideas for Your Shower

Feature Wall

If you’re looking for a way to spruce up a contemporary design, consider a slab of quartz for a unique feature wall. You can't go wrong with quartzite either. Depending on your own design preference, you could either choose quartz for its variety of colors and patterns, or you could go for the natural look of quartzite. Add a lighting effect to your feature wall and you got yourself a centerpiece that's sure to be a conversation starter. 

Furniture

Another fancy way to use quartz or quartzite can be as a custom table surface.  Depending on the style you're going for, either stone will do just nicely. For a luxuriously natural look, consider quartzite. If your interior follows a certain palette, quartz may be available in the color you have in mind. Moreover, the durability of these two stones can essentially make your one-of-a-kind table a lifelong investment. 

Fireplace Mantels

The heat resistance of quartzite makes it a formidable choice for a fireplace mantel and surround. It's also a better alternative to other natural stones as it is relatively more durable;  if you're insisting on stone for your fireplace, quartzite is your go-to choice. You could also opt for quartz since its heat threshold is well above that of a fireplace mantel. 

Charcuterie or Cutting Board

After installing a quartz or quartzite countertop in your kitchen, you will end up with a sink cut-out portion of the slab. Why not use that portion as a cutting board? You could even ask for it to be cut into a custom shape so that it doesn't look like a sink cut-out. The cold surface of the material also makes it ideal for a charcuterie board. The scratch resistance of quartz and quartzite means that you can use either one for this purpose.

DS

Written by
Dikran Seferian

Written by Dikran Seferian

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