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Comparing Quartzite and Granite

Granite has long been a a favorable material for use in kitchens all over the globe. Kitchen countertops fashioned from granite have long been in demand and have rightly been sought after for their practicality and visual appeal. On the other hand, quartzite continues to make its way onto the countertop scene as a formidable contender. Join us as we briefly consider the similarities and differences between these popular kitchen countertop surface materials. We will look at what granite and quartzite are made of. We will also consider the durability of these materials, and we will explore what goes into caring for them and what fabricators should know about working with them. So let's begin comparing quartzite and granite.

Composition of Granite vs. Quartzite

The area in which we will begin comparing quartzite and granite is composition. "What is quartzite made of?", "What is natural granite?" These are probably questions that you have either asked at one time or seen on the Internet while browsing around. We'll take them one at a time.

What Is Quartzite Composed Of?

Quartzite is a metamorphic rock that has been transformed from sandstone. It is made up entirely of the mineral quartz. As a result it is largely composed of silica (one of the primary materials in sand that is found in many parts of the world). Due to intense heat and pressure in the Earth, the particles of sand that comprise sandstone are changed into a different material. The result is quartzite. So at one time, quartzite used to be sand, then sandstone, and then ultimately, quartzite.

Granite's Composition

Unlike quartzite, granite is an igneous rock that is the product of volcanic activity. So there is also heat involved its formation; but it is produced in a different manner than quartzite is. Granite contains a high amount of quartz, feldspar, and other hard materials. Like quartzite, granite also contains silica. In fact, a large portion of all stone like materials contain silica in one form or another. However, the fact that a stone contains a particular compound or mineral does not necessarily mean that it is the same as another stone composed of that substance. Other factors play a role. Yet, the mineral content of a material does have a bearing on the traits of the resulting stone. And the fact that both quartzite and granite contain a lot of quartz, means they share some properties.

Comparing Durability

When you consider the durability of these natural stones you find some fundamental similarities. For example, both are scratch resistant. Additionally, each is heat resistant. And finally, they both are cared for in much the same way. We will get into the role of natural stone care and maintenance shortly, but for now let's discuss what makes both granite and quartzite durable.

One of the biggest reasons granite and quartzite are so durable is the fact that these natural stones are so hard. The hardness of a material will play a role in its scratch resistance. Scratches might not destroy a slab, but they can sure hinder the appearance of an otherwise beautiful stone. The scratch resistance of both quartzite and granite make these materials durable choices for kitchen countertops.

So to put it plainly, comparing quartzite with granite regarding durability shows that they are very similar in this aspect. Both materials are scratch resistant.

Porosity and Stain-ability

Another aspect of durability is the stain-ability of the material. Porosity is a basic characteristic of any natural stone. Therefore, countertops constructed from either quartzite or granite will be porous to one degree or another. Each particular stone will vary in porosity from slab to slab; but all natural stone is porous. The porosity of a stone impacts its ability to be stained. Materials that are porous are absorbent. Liquids that are spilled on the surface make their way into the pores where the stain takes up residence. Then, stain removers are required to lift the discoloration from the material. As a result, care and maintenance plays a significant role in the durability of a stone countertop in the sense that stains are detrimental to the usefulness of the stone. The secret lies in the regular care and maintenance of the countertop or other surface.

Regular Care and Maintenance

The old saying, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is true when it comes to stains on natural stone surfaces. Regardless of whether you are talking about granite or quartzite, having a good routine of maintenance goes a long way in getting the most out of a slab. A combination of sealing, cleaning and polishing natural stone surfaces produces a system in which many problems are prevented. Later on, we'll take a look at one maintenance routine that many find effective. But for now let's consider the fabrication aspect of comparing quartzite and granite.

Fabricating Quartzite & Granite

Perhaps you are thinking that fabricating quartzite is very similar to working with granite. If so, then you are correct. The tooling that is required for both materials must be designed for very hard stone. Often times, you will find that "granite" tools are also compatible for use on quartzite. As a result, it is not at all abnormal to see products like granite diamond blades described as being useful for cutting quartzite as well.

Blades aren't the only stone fabrication tools made for granite that can also be effectively used on quartzite. Diamond core bits, cupwheels, edge profiles, and even polishing pads are examples of other tooling that is cross performant.

Care & Maintenance of Natural Granite & Quartzite Stone

Caring for and maintaining natural stone surfaces is not an enormous undertaking. In fact, it can be pretty simple if a regular routine is followed. One recommended program for keeping natural stone surfaces looking in top shape boils down to the folowing three simple practices:

  • Periodic Sealing
  • Daily Cleaning
  • Occasional Polishing

These practices work together to produce a routine that not only keeps granite and quartzite surfaces in great shape. Let's look at each of these aspects of stone care to see the benefits.

Periodic Sealing

Sealing natural stone countertops periodically helps keep stain causing water and oil based liquids from getting into the pores of the stone. This gives owners of the countertop time to clean up any spills that could discolor the surface. So testing a stone periodically to see if it is "thirsty" will give you a good idea of how often sealer needs to be applied. Simply pour some water on the surface of the stone and let it sit for a few minutes. If the stone absorbs the water, that means that it could benefit from sealer. If it does not absorb any of the water, then sealer is not yet needed. As mentioned above, each stone (both quartzite and granite) will vary.

Cleaner for Daily Use

Sealing granite and quartzite is not worth the effort if this part of the routine is not applied. Both quartzite and granite benefit from being cleaned with a pH neutral cleaner. Stone sealers are dissolved by acidic cleaners and all the effort of sealing a granite or quartzite surface can be completely nullified by using the incorrect cleaner on the stone after sealing it.

Polishing to Maintain the Gloss

In addition to sealing and using the proper cleaning solution, occasional polishing will not only keep the surface of granite and quartzite looking great, but if you use a fortified polish it will actually help protect the surface too.

As we have seen, comparing quartzite and granite is not that complicated in practical terms. In fact they are very much alike in way that they are worked, cared for and in the durability. Although they are different materials, which one a home owner chooses will ultimately boil down to which one they like better. Whatever the decision though one thing is for sure; the result will be a durable and quality kitchen countertop or other surface.