Quartz vs. Quartzite
If you’re in the market for new countertops, you’ve probably seen the names “Quartz” and “Quartzite” popping up in your searches. Although their names are similar, these two materials are actually quite different.
What’s the difference between quartzite and quartz? And how do you decide what’s right for you?
A few things, such as how much you will use the countertops, can help you decide which material is best. Are you an avid home chef who spends most of their free time chopping and sauteing? Then you’ll need a countertop that’s durable, won’t easily scratch, and is easy to clean. On the other hand, if you mostly get take out, then you might be more concerned with how the counter looks, rather than how it performs.
Once you’ve figured out how you plan to use your countertops, it’s time to take a close look at your material options to figure out which one will fit your needs — and your budget.
What Is Quartz?
Quartz is a man-made material made of mineral chips and resins. When combined into a mold, these materials form a solid surface that can be cut to any shape or size you want. Quartz is designed to mimic the look of natural stone, however, its patterns tend to be more uniform because it has been designed in a factory rather than formed underground. It is also cheaper than natural because it can be produced in a factory rather than mined from the ground.
Because quartz is man-made, it comes in a variety of shades and patterns, which makes it great for coordinating with cabinets, flooring and other features when you’re upgrading a kitchen or bathroom. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a color that quartz doesn’t come in.
Quartz is manufactured to be smooth. When you run your hands over a quartz countertop, you’ll feel a cool, smooth surface that is easy to wipe clean after spills. The resins that are used to bind the quartz in the manufacturing process make it easy-to-clean. The resins also make the stone non-porous, which means it can’t absorb liquids that get spilled on it, even if they sit there for a long time.
Quartz is an increasingly-popular option for countertops because it is beautiful, durable, and easy to maintain. It doesn’t need to be sealed regularly and it can stand up to regular use. Being low-maintenance makes it especially appealing to families with children whose countertops are sure to take a beating over the years.
What Is Quartzite?
Quartzite is a naturally occurring stone that forms underground when sandstone gets altered inside of the earth due to exposure to extreme pressure and high temperatures. Typically, quartzite is mined at a quarry and then cut into slabs to be turned into countertops.
What makes quartzite unique is that its colors and patterns are the direct results of the heat and pressure it experiences inside of the earth. They are not altered from their natural form. Although most quartzite comes in shades of gray or white, it may also occasionally have a red or pink hue inside of it. The way the minerals form patterns inside of the slab also varies. In some cases, the patterns may vary from one end of the slab to the other.
Because it is mined through a process similar to marble or limestone, quartzite is a highly regarded and valuable material. It is often a popular option for people who want the features in their homes to have a more natural, earthy look and feel. Quartzite has a slightly rough texture because of its natural properties.
Pros and Cons of Quartz and Quartzite
What is the difference between quartzite and quartz?
While one isn’t better than the other, there are some differences between quartz and quartzite. Take a look at are their similarities and differences to help yourself decide which one best meets your needs.
Pros of Quartz
Quartz is a great material to use in your home for a variety of reasons:
- It repels moisture. The way quartz is manufactured means its non-porous. It won’t absorb liquid that’s spilled on it, resulting in stains or a buildup of unwanted bacteria. This also means it can be cleaned with any kind of surface cleaner and it won’t get damaged. If you have children or you tend to make a mess when you cook, this can be an appealing feature.
- It’s low-maintenance. Because quartz is non-porous, it doesn’t need to be resealed every year to protect it from spills and stains — and it won’t etch, which is what happens when certain acidic foods interact with your countertops for an extended time period. It’s permanently sealed and there’s very little you can do to damage that. Besides that, it can be cleaned quickly and easily with just about any store-bought cleaner.
- It’s available in a variety of patterns and colors. The manufacturing process for quartz allows it to be produced in a wide variety of colors and patterns. That means it’s easier to incorporate into just about any design or color scheme. Quartz countertops give you the flexibility to design around existing cabinetry or a beloved backsplash, rather than having to coordinate everything else with your countertops.
Cons of Quartz
There are some potential drawbacks to using quartz in your kitchen.
- It’s sensitive to heat. Besides the risk of etching, the resins that are used to make quartz start to melt around 300 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can’t place hot pans or baking dishes directly on top of a quartz countertop. If you do, they’ll leave a scorch mark or small indentation where the resin begins to melt. Using a potholder between the countertop and hot dish is enough to protect it, but it’s important to be aware of the impact of heat on quartz.
- It has fewer pattern options. Because quartz is man-made, its patterns tend to be more consistent throughout each slab. It’s going to look the same from one end to the other. If you’re looking for uniformity, this can be a good thing. But if you’re looking for a countertop that has an eco-friendly, natural look to it, then quartz may fall short of your design goals.
- It’s for mid-sized budgets. Quartz is more budget-friendly than quartzite but is still considered a luxurious material and so typically costs more than natural stone. Because quartz countertops don’t require annual sealing, they also cost less to maintain over time, so you still might want to choose quartz instead of natural stone if you want to prioritize up-front spending over longer-term costs.
Pros of Quartzite
Interested in quartzite? Some of its benefits include:
- It’s all-natural. Quartzite contains anywhere from 90-99 percent quartz grains that are bound together by the mineral silica. You can’t get more natural than quartzite! This is a great option if you’re designing a kitchen or bathroom with a natural vibe or you want to stick to using natural materials throughout your home.
- It looks genuine. Manufactured countertops tend to look overpolished or just a little too uniform for some people. Quartzite, on the other hand, has a unique earthy look and feel that many homeowners love. Besides boasting a natural pattern that varies throughout the slab, it even feels like natural stone.
- It’s acid and scratch-resistant. Quartzite falls between a 7 and 8 on the Moh’s Hardness Scale, which means it can hold up to light knifework on its surface. Although we’d never recommend using quartzite in place of a cutting board, it’s nice to know that it won’t easily chip or break if the knife slips out of your hand or if you’re in a hurry to slice a sandwich and forget to grab a cutting board.
- It’s heat resistant. There’s no need to use potholders with quartzite countertops. It’s a strong material that can take the heat, so placing hot pans or baking dishes directly on its surface is no problem. The heat resistance of quartzite can be appealing to avid cooks or those who can’t always find a potholder when they need one.
- It’s durable: Quartzite makes a great alternative to marble because it does not etch or scratch.
Cons of Quartzite
Although quartzite is a great option for kitchen or bathroom countertops, it’s important to understand the challenges you may face if you choose it:
- It has a higher cost. The process to mine and refine quartzite is labor-intensive. After the slab is pulled from the ground, it’s cut to exact size specifications with a diamond blade. That means that each countertop is precisely cut and made-to-order and is slightly more expensive than quartz or other man-made materials. The final cost of a countertop depends on the size of the countertop and the specific type of material you select. In some cases, a higher-end granite may be comparable to certain quartzite options.
- It requires annual maintenance. Quartzite is a porous material, which means it needs to be regularly sealed to prevent it from absorbing liquids that get spilled on its surface. When quartzite is first installed, it will be sealed, but it’s up to you to re-seal it every year to prevent staining or bacteria build up inside of the stone’s pores.
- It’s available in a limited range of colors. Quartzite is typically found in variations of white and gray, with an occasional pink or red hue. The limited color pallet can be frustrating if you are trying to match it to existing cabinets or a predetermined color scheme. The stone’s variation in patterns also means that it can vary in color shades from one end of the stone to the other, which can be a turn off for people who are determined to have a completely uniform look in their kitchen or bathroom.
What Projects Are Best for Quartz and Quartzite?
Although we’ve used the example of kitchen countertops throughout this piece, the cool thing about both quartz and quartzite is that they have other uses. If you’re looking for a unique design element for your home or even an office, consider these uses for quartz or quartzite:
Both quartz and quartzite can create a unique, durable floor in a kitchen, bathroom or office. The variation in quartzite can give a room a more natural look, while still giving it a fancy shine. It’s also incredibly durable as long as it’s sealed on a regular basis. On the other hand, quartz doesn’t need to be sealed, which makes it easier to maintain and it also has a glamorous look that makes for unique, eye-catching flooring. Because of its durability and ease of cleaning, it can be a great material to use in high-traffic areas like a mudroom or entry area of a home.
You can use both quartzite and quartz for a backsplash or focus wall in your kitchen or bathroom. The variations in patterns in quartzite make for a stunning, one-of-a-kind focal point. But the gloss and shades of both can lend a touch of elegance to just about any space. And since they’re easy to clean and hard to chip, you won’t have to spend too much effort maintaining either material once it’s installed.
Quartz and quartzite both stand up well to daily use and can be an excellent finishing touch to any kitchen or bathroom design. If you’re looking for a material that’s beautiful but will stand up to a house full of children, either quartz or quartzite is a great option because of their durability and ease of care.
If your specific application is to redo your current fireplace, go with quartzite. This project is one instance where quartz would not be the preferred material. The durability of quartzite as a material lends itself well to any fireplace design, especially if you are looking for a timeless, earthy feel.
Quartzite or Quartz: Let Lesher Help You Decide
Quartzite or quartz? If you’re in the market for new countertops or flooring, let Lesher Natural Stone, Quartz, & Tile help you select the best material for your needs. With 25 years of experience selling countertops, bathroom tile, sinks and more, Lesher is committed to providing you with high-quality products you’ll love. Visit our Middletown showroom today or request a free quote online!