What's The Difference Between Quartz and Quartzite Countertops?

Two of the most popular choices for countertops today are quartz and quartzite. Learn how they are different.

Today, you have a tremendous choice when it comes to kitchen countertop materials. From natural stone like granite and marble to the rainbow of colors found in solid surface countertops, or stainless steel and beautiful woods like bamboo and butcher block, there are materials to fit every taste and décor.

If you're researching countertops, you're probably seeing quartz and quartzite countertops popping up on sites like Pinterest and Houzz. They've become favorites for both designers and homeowners in recent years. While you may believe that they are the same material, they are actually completely different, offering a difference in look, durability, care and price that you should be aware of before making a final decision.

Let's explore the differences, pros, and cons of each of these materials so you can make a more informed decision for your own home and needs.

The Differences Between Quartz and Quartzite

Both quartz and quartzite offer different strengths and weaknesses. Quartz is often referred to as a “man-made” or engineered material. It's fabricated from natural silicon dioxide and synthetic materials like resin and coloring. About 93% of the material is natural loose quartz with the remainder being binding agents and pigment. It's the formed or molded into slabs that are ready to be cut into countertops.

Like marble, quartzite is a naturally occurring metamorphic rock. It's created when sandstone is subjected to extreme heat and pressure within the Earth's crust. The stone is mined, sawed into slabs, custom cut into countertops and then polished and sealed for beauty and durability. Quartzite is harder than granite, naturally strong, hard to stain and resists heat.

Both materials offer differences when it comes to appearance, durability and maintenance requirements.

Countertop appearance and durability

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and both of these materials are beautiful in their own way.

Quartzite is a natural stone so no two slabs are going to be exactly alike. Typically found in whites and grays, the color can vary depending upon the mineral composition of the individual slab. Pink and red hues are the result of iron oxides in the stone, with yellows, blues, greens and oranges being the result of other minerals present. Regardless of the color, quartzite features streaking or veining caused by the varying pressure during its formation. Quartzite is harder than granite so it is durable and resists heat. But because it is stone, quartzite can chip and scratch, so care needs to be taken when cutting on the surface.

Because quartz is an engineered product, it is available in any color to fit your décor. It is engineered and formulated to give the appearance of natural stone, but is composed of plastic resins along with natural materials. As a result, it can be prone to melting at temperatures over 300 degrees so you'll need to use trivets before placing hot pots or pans on the surface. While quartz is a hard surface, it's not quite as hard as quartzite and is less prone to chipping and denting. Quartz can also scratch so you will need to be careful when cutting on your countertop.

If you are looking for a naturally beautiful material consider quartzite. If you are more interested in designer colors quartz offers you the rainbow!

Maintenance of quartz and quartzite

Because it's an engineered product, quartz is nonporous and requires very little maintenance. It wipes clean with a damp cloth. Abrasive cleaners should be avoided as they can scratch the surface. Ease of maintenance and the wide variety of custom colors are the two main advantages offered by quartz over quartzite.

Quartzite does require a little more TLC. In order to truly resist staining, it must be sealed before use and resealed a couple of times a year. This is true of all natural stone surfaces including granite and marble. If it's properly sealed, quartzite is easy to keep clean. No matter what surface you choose, the best option is to clean it with products specifically designed for that surface.

Quartz and Quartzite are great options for your kitchen countertops. Both are priced in a similar range, but if the job is complicated, quartzite will cost more. Quartz can be poured into a mold in virtually any shape, while quartzite must be skillfully cut using diamond blades and takes time to properly prepare. Speak with your designer or contractor to understand your options and what surface may be the best choice for your lifestyle. But rest assured, whichever material you choose, your kitchen will look elegant and luxurious for many years to come!

About Toulmin Kitchen & Bath Design - We're West Alabama's award-winning, premier kitchen and bath showroom. We're experts who are known for a design-build process that makes the construction process stress-free. Contact us to schedule an appointment for a design consultation.