Quartz and quartzite may sound similar, but they have some key differences
On your quest for the perfect countertop, you've probably come across quartz and quartzite, which are both popular kitchen countertop material options.
The two materials have many things in common, but they also have key differences when it comes to their composition, appearance, cost, durability, and maintenance. Knowing the differences between the two can help you choose the very best material for your kitchen and needs.
How Do Quartz and Quartzite Differ in Appearance?
Even though they look similar at first blush, one of the major differences between quartz and quartzite is the different colors that they can come in.
A metamorphic rock, quartzite naturally occurs below the Earth's surface when chert or sandstone with abundant quartz in it experiences high pressure and heat. Typically, quartzite comprises 90-99% quartz grains. These grains are bonded together by the mineral silica, making quartzite an entirely natural material.
Quartzite slabs have a more raw, natural-looking appearance than quartz because they retain the granular texture of the rocks from which they were formed. And because quartzite is completely made of natural materials, there aren't as many variations in color as you'll find in quartz. Quartzite typically comes in colors ranging from white to gray, with some slabs having pink and red veins due to iron oxide found in the stone.
Quartz countertops are made from a combination of synthetic materials and natural stone, so they are also known as engineered countertops. Quartz slabs usually comprise around 90-94% of ground quartz and 6-10% of pigments and resins, which are used to bind and color the quartz grounds.
Because it's easy to add pigments to these slabs, quartz countertops can come in virtually any color, making them ideal for anyone looking for a precise hue to elevate their aesthetic.
Which Material Is Easier to Maintain?
Between hot pans and messy spills, kitchen countertops tend to take a beating, so overall maintenance is a key factor to consider when choosing between quartz and quartzite.
Quartzite in its raw form is a highly porous material, which will absorb liquids, microbes, and stains unless it's sealed with wax, acrylic, or polyurethanes. And while this sealant is fairly effective in preventing stains, it typically needs to be replaced one or two times per year. If you go too long without adding more sealant, then your quartzite countertops can be easily stained, especially if you don't clean countertop messes quickly.
One of the main advantages of quartz countertops is how easy they are to maintain. Unlike quartzite, quartz countertops are nonporous without sealant, so they're much more resistant to stains, moisture, and microbes. However, this material can still stain a bit, so it's important to clean up spills as they happen.
Is Quartz or Quartzite More Durable?
The Mohs Hardness Scale is used to measure how resistant a mineral is to being scratched. The scale ranges from 1-10, with 10 being the hardest. Quartzite typically falls between seven and eight on the scale, while quartz is usually a seven, making quartzite slightly more scratch-resistant than quartz. Both materials are fairly hard, though, so you don't have to worry too much about accidentally nicking them with a sharp object.
However, the resin used to bind quartz can interact with food acids, so if you try to chop vegetables on it or let food sit on it for too long, you may see acid erosion that looks like permanent dull white spots. Quartzite doesn't have this issue.
Is Quartz or Quartzite More Heat-Resistant?
Quartzite is more heat-resistant than quartz. Quartzite is so heat-resistant, in fact, that you can put hot pans and dishes directly on the countertop without damaging it. Resin, which is used in the binding process of quartz, usually melts at around 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, if you put a hot pan or dish on it, you run the risk of permanently damaging your countertop.
How Much Does Quartz and Quartzite Cost?
The cost to install countertops can vary quite a bit by material. However, quartz and quartzite are similar in price, with quartzite being just slightly more expensive. You can expect to pay around $60 to $150 per square foot for quartz countertops and $70 to $200 per square foot for quartzite countertops.
Quartzite must be custom cut into usable slabs with a diamond blade, which is a more expensive process. In contrast, quartz can simply be poured into a mold and baked into any size slab that's needed.
Pros and Cons of Quartz and Quartzite at a Glance
Slightly less expensive than quartzite
Comes in virtually any color
Easier to maintain and more stain-resistant than quartzite
Less heat-resistant than quartzite
Composed of synthetic material, making it less sustainable than quartzite
Made with 100% natural material, making it more sustainable than quartz
Slightly harder and more durable than quartz
More heat-resistant than quartz
Slightly more expensive than quartz
Limited color options
Higher maintenance than quartz