If you’re considering quartzite for your kitchen countertops, you’re probably wondering how it compares to the other materials available, especially other stones. You should definitely take the time to find out all you can about this great material, but luckily you won’t have to look too far. Here’s everything you need to know to make an informed decision before you buy.
Quartzite vs. Granite
1. It’s More Durable Than Granite
One of the first things most people want to know about quartzite is how it compares to granite. The two are both natural stones, both are hard, and both are very beautiful, but you have to look a little deeper to see if one is a better fit for you than the other. The next 3 paragraphs are a good overview, but if you want an in-depth comparison I have one here for you.
The similarities between the two stones abound. Both are formed deep within the earth from heat and pressure, so both stones are hard and sturdy. At a 7 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, quartzite is actually harder than granite. It’s harder than all the other popular stones used in countertops.
The differences between the two are what makes quartzite countertops stand out. Many people love the look because some types can look very much like marble. Granite tends to have darker flecks in it (an effect of it being formed from molten lava), while quartzite usually has little or no dark spots.
Another difference between the two stones is the fact that most quartzite is denser and less porous than granite. Both are naturally porous to some extent, although you can find quartzite that may require little or no sealing at all. Most retailers will suggest that you seal it just in case because it’s better safe than sorry when dealing with and natural kitchen work surfaces.
White Quartzites That Look Like Marble
2. It Can Look Like Marble But Won’t Etch
For anyone who loves the look of marble but who hates the thought of paying a premium for their countertops, quartzite can be a great alternative. Some look so much like marble, it’s hard to tell the difference.
As you shop around you may find some quartzite slabs have than have been labeled as “soft”. They will look and wear like marble because that’s more than likely exactly what they are. There is no such thing as a “soft quartzite”. Marble chips and etches fairly easily, so you probably want to steer clear of these if performance is important to you. You might see these labeled as Super White or Gray Goose.
White Dallas seems to be a popular choice for those looking for something similar to Calacatta marble. The white stone has grey veins that really resemble marble, but the tough stone is far more durable than its marble counterpart.
White Macaubas is another you may want to consider. Macaubas looks a lot like Carrara marble but is resistant to scratches and chips. It also won’t etch like marble does. It’s a popular alternative for anyone who wants a lighter stone in their kitchen, but who wants less worry, especially if the kitchen sees a lot of use.
Another Carrara lookalike, White Princess, has soft grey veining against a soft white background. It’s got the character of the marble, but without its’ drawbacks.
How To Tell The Difference Between Quartzite And Marble
At just a four on the Hardness Scale, marble is pretty but nowhere near as durable. You can test the hardness of the stone by bringing a glass tile to the stone yard with you. Quartzite is harder than glass so if you rub your tile on the edge of the slab you should be able to scratch the glass.
Another thing you can do it test a sample to see if it will etch. Most stone yards will be happy to give you a small sample to take home. All you have to do is put a piece of lemon on it overnight. In the morning, if the surface has discolored it’s marble.
Quartzite vs. Quartz
3. Despite The Similar Name It’s Very Different From Quartz
If you’re confused by the similar-sounding quartz that’s available, you’re not alone. They may sound a lot alike, but the truth is that they are very different materials altogether. Quartzite is a natural metamorphic stone formed when sand is heated and compressed within the earth. Quartz contains pieces of ground quartz combined with resin and polymers to create a man-made material that’s pretty and strong.
Because quartz is man-made, it can be a less expensive option than quartzite for large, complicated jobs. However, it is not as heat or scratch resistant, and this makes a big difference in how the material performs in the kitchen. Quartz is more flexible, so it does tend to chip less than the natural stone.
Quartz does have more color options. This is because pretty much any color pigment you want can be added in when the material is being made, so you can find quartz that looks fairly natural, like a real piece of stone would, or some that looks colorful and trendy, with obviously unnatural coloring designed to make a statement.
Because quartz is completely non-porous, it is less prone to stains and bacterial growth. Quartzite countertops are less porous than some other stones, but it may still require a sealant to prevent stains. This gives quartz a slight edge where maintenance is concerned, but if you are very rough on your countertops, quartzite is probably going to be a better choice for you.
4. It’s Not Expensive And It’s Getting Cheaper
Compared to materials other than stone, quartzite may seem expensive. It’s more expensive wood or plastic laminate countertops, but it can be less expensive than most marble. When comparing the price to either granite or quartz, you’ll find they fall in a similar range. It’s possible to find them starting at around $60 per sq. ft. and going up to well over $100. I have a buying guide here for you that that will help you get the lowest price possible on your new counters.
Generally, the more ‘exotic’ i.e. rare, the higher the price. Quartzites that look like marble (but with none of the scratching and etching problems) can fetch higher prices because of demand. Also, the thicker the slab, the higher the price, and you may see higher prices with special fabrication demands or ornate edges.
The good news is that as even though demand is increasing it’s becoming more readily available as well. As long as the supply continues to keep up with the demand, the prices will stay the same. But as more quarries open, and existing ones increase production, the amount available on the market will increase and that will to drive prices lower.
Where to Buy
5. You Can Purchase Them At Any Stone Yard
With quartzite countertops, you can’t really take a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Because it comes in slabs, it will need to be cut down and fabricated to fit your kitchen design. This means you’ll need to find a reliable stone yard that preferably does their own design, fabrication, and installation ‘in-house.’ Using one place for every service makes things much simpler and reduces the likelihood that mistakes will be made.
You’ll need to find a reputable stone retailer, preferably one that shows you the actual slab of stone that will be used in your countertops. Because quartzite is a natural stone, the actual look of your finished countertops can vary greatly, but you’ll have a better idea of what to expect if you can see the actual stone that will be used.
Another reason to use a local stone retailer, besides being able to see the product in person before you buy it, is the fact that you’ll save a little money by using someone close to you. Every little bit helps, and it pays to go local when doing any renovation work, and that includes having new kitchen countertops installed.
If you can, visit multiple stone yards before you choose your quartzite. Be sure to do a scratch test (and a lemon juice/etching test, if possible) to make sure you’re getting the real deal (and not a dolomite marble). You’ll be glad you did the first time you spill a drink or drop a knife on your new counters and don’t have to face repairs.
How To Care for Quartzite Countertops
6. They Require Very Little Maintenance
It’s fairly low-maintenance material for kitchen countertops. Different types do have varying degrees of porousness, so some will require a little more care and attention. As a rule, you should probably seal it simply because it is a natural stone and it is porous. That being said, you may only have to seal your countertops once per year if the slab you choose is dense and less porous.
Regular, daily care of your quartzite counters should include cleaning up spills immediately (even sealed countertops can stain if the sealant has worn thin). Also, wipe them down with a damp rag and a drop of pH balanced dish soap. This will keep them clean without damaging the finish.
Although it’s super hard to scratch, you should avoid using abrasive cleaners because they could strip them of any sealant you use. Also, abrasive cleaners can make the surface appear less polished. You should be safe from the occasional dropped pan or knife slip, and of course they’re heat resistant, so you can set those hot pans right on the countertop and you won’t have to worry about damaging them.
7. They Come In Naturally Occurring Shades Of Red And Blue
As a natural stone, quartzite countertops are more limited in its color choices than man-made materials like quartz or solid surface countertops. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of really pretty color choices to choose from.
Because of the way the stone is formed–from sand that is heated to form a solid slab–the base color of quartzite is typically white or cream, though it can also look more beige. Aside from the greys and browns, you can also find hues of green, blue, and even red. These colors are imparted from the minerals in the earth where the stone is formed. Nature’s paintbrush can make slabs that are stunning and vivid in color.
Van Gogh macaubas has streaks of blue and yellow against a creamy white background, while Azul macaubas is a sea of blues with hints of white and cream. Amanzonite quartzite is a blend of soft greens and whites, and there are even shades of pink for fans of the color.
If you’re looking at quartzite for your kitchen countertops, look at more than just the price. Look at the benefits like super durable surface for your hardworking kitchen, a great selection of color choices, and the fact that it’s the hardest material you can get. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great stone for kitchens that get a lot of use and it will look great for years to come.