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Serpentine vs Quartzite

One is a stone that is composed of minerals that give it the unique trait of being a green tone. The other is a hard material that offers unique characteristics and gets misrepresented sometimes. Both are used as a countertop material and both are natural stone and thus share some properties albeit to varying degrees. Since they are different materials, there are some differences. In this article, we will look at these two materials and consider their similarities and differences.

Overview of Serpentine

Let's first look at the material that is known by many as serpentine. This term actually is the name of a group of minerals of which serpentinite is composed. Like several materials in the stone industry, serpentinite is known by the term "serpentine". This is the term we will use when talking about the stone that is officially called serpentinite.

"A rock composed predominantly of one or more serpentine group minerals." That is one of the definitions of this material. Serpentine is, as explained above, composed of various minerals. Because of this, the resulting stone has variances in some of its properties. For example, the hardness of natural stone that goes by the name serpentine varies based on the particular group of minerals of which each slab is made up. So, slab "A" may be a bit harder (or softer) than slab "B" is since the combination of minerals won't be exactly the same. Serpentine though ranges in hardness between 3 and 6 on the Mohs scale. The porosity of serpentine has a bit of variance too. All of the minerals in the group though will contribute to the green hue that is the mark of a serpentine stone. If you would like to get more information about serpentine, you can read our article about this material entitled: Natural Serpentine which explains the material in more detail.

Quartzite Summary

As its name implies, natural quartzite is a material that is made up of the mineral quartz. In fact, true quartzite is composed almost entirely of the mineral quartz. Since the mineral quartz forms in various colors, quartzite slabs will have variations in their color. Another trait that stems from the material being made up entirely of quartz is that it is hard. At 7, natural quartzite resides on the high end of the Mohs scale of mineral hardness.

When "Quartzite" is not Actually Quartzite

It's worth noting that natural quartzite, like several other materials in the stone industry, has some naming practices that make identifying the material challenging. So, there may be cases where a stone that is labeled as being "quartzite" doesn't actually fit the geological definition of quartzite. There are, for example, some slabs that get labeled as "soft quartzite". In reality (geologically speaking), there is no such thing as quartzite that is soft. This is because of what we mentioned earlier. Namely, that quartzite consists almost completely of quartz. So, quartzite is not soft because the mineral quartz is very hard.

Nonetheless, there will be slabs that have a label that says they are quartzite and in reality they are actually composed of minerals that define them as more like marble than quartzite. And since genuine quartzite looks a lot like marble, it can be very difficult to distinguish one from the other visually. We have written an article than speaks more about how quartzite compares to marble, so we won't get into that here. Rather, we will stay on our current topic of looking at the camparisons between quartzite and serpentine.

Similarities Between Serpentine and Quartzite

While it is true that serpentine and quartzite are different materials, they are both natural stone and this fact means they have some similarities. Let's look at some of these now.

Serpentine and Quartzite Have Porosity

Virtually all natural stone has pores with the exception of very few types. For example, natural soapstone is non porous. Since natural stone is porous, both quartzite and serpentine have pores. Additionally, serpentine and quartzite are similar in that the porosity will vary from one stone to the next. This means that both of these stones will need to be sealed using a sealer for natural stone. The porosity of the material will determine how often it will need to be done and how much sealer it will take to treat the slab. An absorbency will give you an indication of when a particular slab needs to be sealed.

Both Materials Can Chip

Natural stone is tough and durable, but when met with enough force it can chip. But that doesn't mean that these materials will chip easily. But if hit hard enough on an edge or in just the right way, these materials will chip like any other stone material. However, chip repair kits exist for filling in the missing material to drastically reduce how noticeable the chip is.

Cleaning Similarities Between Quartzite and Serpentine

Cleaning serpentine is similar to cleaning quartzite in that each of these materials benefit from being cleaned using a cleaner designed for natural stone surfaces. Additionally, each of these materials will stain if the right substance gets into the pores of an unsealed stone slab. But again, there are products that are designed to remove stains from stone.

How Serpentine and Quartzite Differ

For all the similarities there are between serpentine and quartzite, these are materials that are different from one another. You may have already inferred some of the differences between these materials as you read the summaries about each above. But we will mention them specifically here for clarity.

Serpentine Differs from Quartzite in Hardness

As stated above, quartzite has a Mohs hardness measure of 7. Serpentine's hardness varies from 3 to 6. This information is intriguing. Why? Because it means there will be cases where a serpentine slab and a quartzite slab have close to the same hardness. And there will be cases where two of these slabs are very different. Since serpentine can have a hardness of as low as 3 and true quartzite has a consistent hardness of 7, the difference could be as great as 4 points on the Mohs scale. In fact, comparing two different serpentine slabs could vary up to 3 points. The best way to know the hardness of any given slab is to perform a scratch test on the material in several places. The hardness of a material affects which blades to use. For more about this check out What Are the Best Diamond Saw Blades?

Differences in Color

When it comes to color comparison between serpentine and quartzite, there is a similar situation. Namely, one material has a consistent color and the other varies in color. In this case though, the material that is consistent is the serpentine and quartzite is the one that varies in color. As its name implies, serpentine forms in various green hues and shades. Conversely, quartzite forms in a variety of colors. So, even though each may be use seamlessly in virtually any design style, Quartzite will probably be more diverse in its compatibility. On the other hand though, green hues work really well in some design styles; rustic design for example.

As we have seen in this article serpentine vs quartzite, there are similarities between these materials and there are differences. Yet, being aware of how they compare will allow you to select the material that is right for the application in which it is being used.

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