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Quartz & Quartzite

Comparing Quartzite With Quartz

Each of these materials has a significant contribution to make in the way of desirability factors. The names sound alike and in some ways these materials are similar. Yet, they are very different in other ways. We provide a number of comparison type articles that compare materials. In this article we will explore some of the similarities and differences between the two popular countertop materials quartz and quartzite. We will also look at some of the properties offered by these materials. As we consider the information, we will discuss some the distinguishing features each of these materials posesses.

Why Compare Quartzite With Quartz?

One of the first questions that people may ask is "Why?" That is a fair question and there is a pretty good reason for looking at these materials and thinking about the similarities and differences between them. One of the biggest reasons (if not the biggest) is that the names are so similar. It is logical to conclude that some would reason that these are just two different names for the same material. However, that is not the case. Quartz and quartzite are two distinct materials that fall under very different classifications.

Comparing materials allows us to highlight the differences and similarities between these materials. Thus, the advantages and disadvantages to each material become clear. As a result, that knowledge helps fabricators and consumers make informed decisions about which surface material each person prefers.

Characteristics of Quartz and Quartzite

Even though quartz and quartzite have nearly identical names (one just containing the 'ite' at the end) they are very different. One of them is a naturally occuring metomorphic rock and the other is a man made material that is composed of various substances; the largest portion of which is the mineral quartz. The 'ite' at the end of the one called quartzite can actually be a memory aid to help with being able to keep them straight. Note what the website Geology Page article entitled How Do Minerals & Rocks Get Their Names? says regarding the 'ite' suffix:

The Rock and Mineral names can be traced quite often to Greek and to Latin. It is common practice to add an “ite” to a mineral name. The suffix “ite” is derived from the Greek word lithos (from its adjectival form -ites), meaning rock or stone.

This makes it very easy to remember which on of the two is the natural "stone" or "rock" and which one simply contains the mineral quartz. We are going to look closer at how these materials are similar and how they differ. But first, let's consider the properties of each one to lay the groundwork for those differences and commonalities.

Properties of Quartz

As mentioned above, quartz is an engineered material. Engineers have developed a process through which they can produce quartz surfaces. We won't go into detail about the process. However, we will give a simple overview of quartz's composition and then look at the properties.

Engineered quartz contains the following:

  • Natural Quartz (Normally More Than 90%)
  • Polymer Resins and Coloring Pigments (Usually Less Than 10%)

The end result of the manufacturing process is a hard material that is primarily natural quartz (by weight). The surface is very hard and resists scratching. It also is non-porous and does not need to be sealed like other materials. Cleaning quartz is easy if the guidelines provided by the manufacturer are followed. Quartz contains man made materials. Because of this, some chemicals will react with the surface and mar it.

Additionally, manufacturers almost invariably recommend that any liquid on the surface be wiped up quickly and not be allowed to dry on the surface. Even water can leave lime deposits if allowed to dry. For this reason we offer limescale remover for distributors to equip professionals with a solution to the white-ish, cloudy spots on a quartz countertop.

Quartzite's Attributes

Quartzite on the other hand, is a completely natural stone (remember, the "ite" is derived from the Greek word that means rock or stone). It too is very hard and resistant to scratching. And it too is relatively easy to care for if the fabricator's guidelines are followed. Quartzite, being a natural stone is porous. Therefore, it needs to be sealed. This is usually done by the fabricator at the time of purchase or prior to installation. It is also recommended that the stone's owner periodically re-seal quartzite countertops with a quality impregnating sealer for quartzite.

Additionally, quartzite needs to be cleaned with a properly formulated cleaner made specifically for use on sealed natural stone. Some cleaners contain acids that will breakdown the sealer and expose the stone to potential stain-causers. And in the unfortunate case where a person has purchased a marble slab that has been mislabeled as 'quartzite' the problems can be even more damaging. (See why this happens in our article entitled Comparing Quartzite With Marble.) The ease of cleaning and maintenance is directly related to the type of care routine instituted by the owner of the stone.

We have now gotten to the main topic of this article. How do these materials compare to one another? First, we'll look at the similarities. Then, we'll compare the differences.

Similarities Between Quartzite and Quartz

Even though quartz is man made and quartzite a natural material, they are both very hard. In fact, both of these materials are harder than some granite. Quartz is a 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness and quartzite is a 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Both of which are harder than at least some granite. Granite is a 6 or 7 on the Mohs scale. This common property shared by all three of these materials yields some benefits.

Since natural quartzite and engineered quartz are both a hardness of about 7, they are both scratch resistant. The hardness also means that they are very durable and can take the wear and tear of normal household use. Additionally, each of these materials is available in a variety of colors. This means that they would work well with many different design styles. So, both materials share the benefits of durability and color availability.

Differences Between Quartz and Quartzite

These two seemingly similar materials are actually different in some important respects. We have already alluded to some of them in this article. But, let's talk about them specifically here. First, as mentioned previously, quartz is a manufactured material and quartzite is natural. This, in and of itself is not a big difference. However, the materials of which the materials consist are inherently different.

Next, quartz is non-porous and does not absorb liquids. This means it is highly stain resistant. Any liquid that get on the surface of engineered quartz stay right there until it evaporates. Since the liquid never makes its way into the stone, the owner never has to worry about getting the stain out; they merely need to get the stain off the surface. This is not the case for quartzite. Since it is a natural stone, it will absorb liquid to one degree or another. Furthermore, quartzite relies heavily on sealer to reduce its absorption rate. Rest easy though, if a quartzite stone gets stained, the stain can almost always be removed.

Another difference between these materials is that a quartz surface is not as heat resistant as a natural quartzite slab. Engineered quartz will burn if it gets too hot. In fact, quartz surfaces have gotten burned during the fabrication process. If a polishing pad or a diamond blade gets too hot, it can discolor the quartz. On the other hand, quartzite is formed under tremendously high temperatures and is not as likely to get overheated during the fabrication process.

In the end, it is important to realize the differences between quartz and quartzite. Even though there are similarities in the name, these are two distinct materials that have their own advantages and disadvantages. Each material will have specific care requirements, but both are popular solutions for kitchen countertops.