What is the primary difference between the two materials?
Quartz is an engineered stone made from ground silica which is bound together with polymers, resins and pigments. This material is molded and baked into slabs in a factory setting.
Quartzite is a natural stone found beneath the surface of the earth. It is formed when sandstone containing a high percentage of quartz is altered by pressure and temperature. This material is then mined and cut into slabs.
Which is lower maintenance?
Quartz is extremely durable. It has a non-porous surface that does not need to be sealed. This surface acts as a barrier against staining and bacteria. Use cutting boards when you chop on quartz, otherwise you might etch the surface. Then acids in food may erode the resins to result in dull white spots.
Quartzite is slightly harder and more scratch-resistant than quartz, but its porous surface will absorb stains and bacteria if not sealed before installation and on an annual or semi-annual basis. Cutting gently with knives directly on a quartzite countertop will not cause etching. Which can take the heat? The resin in quartz melts at around 300 degrees, so avoid placing hot pans directly on these countertops as it may damage the resin and leave a mark or divot. Quartzite can handle much higher heat including hot pans placed directly on its surface, but having said that, it’s always a good idea to use a pad or trivet.
Which can take the heat?
The resin in quartz melts at around 300 degrees, so avoid placing hot pans directly on these countertops as it may damage the resin and leave a mark or divot.
Quartzite can handle much higher heat including hot pans placed directly on its surface, but having said that, it’s always a good idea to use a pad or trivet.
How do you clean each of them?
Though quartz will resist permanent staining when exposed to liquids like wine, vinegar, tea or juice from fruits and vegetables, it’s important to wipe up spills immediately with mild dishwashing detergent and a soft cloth. Avoid abrasive cleaners, or highly acidic or alkaline solutions, as those chemicals can disintegrate the bonds between quartz and resin. Check with your installer for specific suggestions regarding appropriate cleaning methods. Should a deeper cleaning be necessary, you can use a stone and quartz cleaner as often as once a week.
Since quartzite is a porous stone, it needs to be sealed. Depending on the sealing product selected, this may need to be done as often as yearly, but some sealants last as long as 15 years.
“Be careful when selecting a sealer—make sure it is a good quality sealant meant for stone,” says Kaelyn Van Camp, marketing manager for Stone Mart. Some trusted brands Stone Mart carries include MORE Surface Care and Supreme Surface. “Your fabricator may offer to apply the sealant if you prefer,” Van Camp says, “But most of them are easy enough to apply if you read and follow the product’s directions.”
Which looks more natural?
Because quartz is bound by a resin, it can sometimes look too manufactured to some. Quartzite has the slightly coarse texture of sandstone giving it a more organic feel. It is also an appealing choice to environmentally conscious consumers because it is a totally natural product.
Which offers more colors or patterns?
Because it is created in a factory setting, quartz can be altered with regard to color and pattern. Added pigments can yield white, cream, gray, brown, blue, or pink results. Patterns can be flecked, veined or solid.
“There are so many different quartz colors and patterns, and its durability compared to quartzite and granite makes it our most used material for countertops,” says kitchen designer Lauren Donges from Neal’s Design-Remodel.
Although you will most often find quartzite in shades of white or gray, occasionally iron oxide can give the stone a pinkish or reddish tint. The patterns are natural with veining that is different from slab to slab, and even within the same slab.
“My personal favorite countertop to use on projects is quartzite. I think it has a much more natural movement and 3D appearance than quartz and granite, and each slab is so unique that it makes each project one-of-a-kind,” Donges says.
Which is more expensive?
Quartz ranges from about $50 to $150 per square foot installed depending on the color, style, edges, fabrication and composition.
“Not all quartz is created equal,” says Tyler Quinn, market representative for Cambria USA in Dayton and Cincinnati. “There is no regulatory factor defining the percentage of quartz mineral needed in a material to label it as quartz. That range can be anywhere from 30 to 90 percent. A higher quartz mineral content will perform better.”
Quartzite ranges from $90 to $210 per square foot installed depending on the stone and type of finish, edge, and fabrication.
It’s important to note that sometimes quartzite can be mislabeled. Be sure to buy from a company with a solid reputation. “You can’t always tell by looking at it,” says Don Engel, owner of Cincinnati StoneWorks. Engel and his team rely on the expertise of their long-standing vendors. “They’ve done their homework,” he says.
Having said that, should a slab arrive that Engel says looks different than what he’s seen before, his team conducts an acid test. If a highly acidic liquid, like vinegar, etches the surface, it is not quartzite, but might be a calcium-based material such as marble. The two materials may look similar, but quartzite is the more durable of the two.
Which is right for you?
The answer depends on three main factors:
1) How does the pattern, color, texture work in your space?
2) How much maintenance (sealing) are you willing to do?
3) How does the cost fit into your budget?
Once you address the above issues, often the final few candidates will reveal themselves. Then it’s time to make the decision on your own or with the help of a partner, friend or kitchen designer. Good luck choosing between the two Q’s!
Article originally appeared in November 2023