If you’re looking into replacing your countertops, you may have struggles deciding what you want. As a homeowner, you want to choose a material that can hold up to years of use and look great. With the many choices out there, it can be hard for you to make a decision.
One of the most underrated countertop materials out there is quartzite. However, it may be the most confusing natural stone out there. Some say it etches, while some say it doesn’t. Some say it’s a hybrid between granite and marble, but others claim it’s harder than granite. The point is that quartzite is commonly mislabeled. Some countertops sold as “quartzite” can be the real deal, while some are actually made of marble or dolomitic marble.
What is Quartzite?
Quartzite is a metamorphic rock made mostly of the mineral quartz. Originally, it started as sand grains. Over time, the sand grains become compressed and stuck together to form sandstone. Once the sandstone gets buried deeply underneath layers of rocks, it becomes hotter and more compressed. With enough pressure and heat, these sand grains lose their original shape and fuse with their neighbors, forming a dense and durable rock. The metamorphic process makes it harder than granite or glass.
Quartzite is usually white or light-colored because quartz sand is light in color. Featuring natural veining patterns, quartzite looks like marble, which goes through a similar production process. Quartzite has a marvelous sense of movement across the slab with a very pronounced veining.
Properties of a Quartzite Countertop
Granite often gets all the credit for being a durable countertop material, but just because it’s durable doesn’t mean that other countertops aren’t. Quartzite is actually stronger than granite. On the Mohs hardness scale, granite is generally at 6.5 to 7, while quartzite is between 7 and 8. Marble is generally around 3 or 4 on the same scale, while quartz is a 7. That makes quartzite the hardest of all countertop materials.
If a rock that is labeled as quartzite is soft, then it’s mislabeled. The term “soft quartzite” has emerged in the market to explain why a quartzite rock is not hard and durable as the real quartzite. But there’s no such thing as soft quartzite – these rocks are most likely made of marble.
Density is another crucial factor in countertops, and though both granite and quartzite are porous, quartzite is denser. That makes it less likely to etch and chip than granite, marble, and quartz. It also means that quartzite has fewer pores, and it rarely needs to be sealed. Some contractors may say that it doesn’t need any sealing, but the occasional application of a sealer can help prevent any potential damage. Staining is also less likely with quartzite.
Quartzite looks like marble, minus the darker flecks found in many granite options. Quartzite doesn’t usually have if any, dark spots. It’s mostly found in gray and white tones, but other color variations can be possible because of the presence of other minerals like iron. It can even come in blue, purple, brown, and emerald.
Quartzite is an excellent option for those who like the appearance of marble but don’t want to pay much for a beautiful countertop. When compared to laminate, quartzite countertops may be more expensive, but compared to other stone options, it’s cheaper and on the same level as granite and quartz. However, the more exotic the quartzite is, the more expensive it will become. The thicker the slab, the pricier it will be.
As far as stone countertops go, quartzite is one of the easiest to maintain. Different kinds of quartzite require slightly different maintenance and care, depending on how porous the material is. The rule of thumb is that all stone countertops must be sealed to protect them against spill damage.
For daily care, you must immediately wipe your countertop once there are spills. Cleaners must also be non-abrasive to prevent stripping off the sealant. Once the sealant wears off, you may notice that the countertops won’t look as polished as they used to.
Difference Between Quartz and Quartzite Countertops
It’s easy to confuse the two materials, but they are pretty different. Quartz is an engineered material, which means it’s manmade. Manufacturers combine ground quartz with resins to create the slabs. On the other hand, quartzite is an entirely natural stone quarried from the earth.
Difference Between Granite and Quartzite Countertops
While not as popular as granite, quartzite provides the same strength and durability as the beauty of marble. But unlike marble, it doesn’t etch or scratch easily.
Granite is a whole separate category of rocks that form from liquid magma. Granite comes with distinct dark-colored flecks, while quartzite has no dark color or has subtle, flowing areas with different colors.
Quartzite is sometimes labeled as granite because they have similar properties. Both of them are harder than glass, and acids can etch neither. But when comparing equivalent grades of stone, quartzite will be a more expensive choice. However, a more common quartzite is cheaper than a rare granite. It depends on the type of stone chosen and its availability.
How to Test if it’s a Real Quartzite
Since quartzite can sometimes be mislabeled, you can try an easy test to see if it’s legit. It’s called the glass test. People selling quartzite must be able to do this to see if their rock is correctly labeled so they can change the label if needed. But if the seller doesn’t do this (or doesn’t know about this), you can try it yourself.
Here’s how you can do the glass test:
- Use a glass tile.
- Find a rough section of the stone, preferably a pointy edge.
- Place the glass tile on the table and try to scratch the tile with stone. Press it hard.
- Check out the scratch you made. Is it really a scratch, or is it a powdered trail of crumbled rock?
If the glass is scratched, heard a grind, and felt a bite into the mirror, then it’s actual quartzite. Non-quartzite will either leave no scratch or a faint scratch. If the rock feels slippery against the glass and doesn’t make quite a noise, it’s not quartzite.