The biggest difference between quartzite and quartz is that quartzite is a natural stone, whilst quartz is a man-made material. A quartz worktop is engineered with the same quartz crystals found in quartzite, but the crystals are then bound with resins, pigments and other materials, such as glass. This process results in a very durable, non-porous worktop material that comes in a wide variety of colours and designs. In this article, we’ve taken a look at the main pros and cons between the two.
Because quartz is an engineered stone, there are a huge range of colours and visual styles available. Quartzite typically comes in shades of white or light grey, but minerals in the stone can lend pink, gold, or reddish-brown hues. Shades of blue, green, yellow and black are also available, depending on the presence of other minerals or substances in the ground. The beauty of quartzite is that as it’s a natural stone, every slab is different, resulting in a truly one-of-a-kind look!
In terms of feel, quartzite slabs retain the granular texture of quartz-rich sandstone, so have a slightly coarser feel. On the other hand, the resin that binds ground quartz gives the slabs a smooth finish that imparts a somewhat manufactured look.
Consisting of 90 – 99 percent quartz grains bound by the mineral silica, quartzite is a fully natural stone. Conversely, quartz, being an engineered stone, consists of quartz grains bound with man-made polymer resins and pigments, which is moulded and baked into slabs in a factory.
Quartzite countertops need sealing to protect them from damage, and they generally need resealing 1-2 times per year. Here at Stonegate, we supply a range of sealers for this task! Quartz countertops, on the other hand, do not require sealing.
In terms of scratch resistance, you wouldn’t want to chop directly onto quartz as the interaction between food acids and the resins in the worktop make it more prone to etching (a form of acid erosion that results in dull white spots). Light knifework directly onto a quartzite countertop will not cause etching, however, note that some retailers sell a material called ‘soft quartzite’, which is actually more like marble and is highly susceptible to etching. Always check that you’re getting the real deal from the retailer!
Even though quartzite worktops need to be sealed, it’s still recommended to clean up any spills as soon as possible as the sealant does soak into the capillaries in the stone over time. Quartz, on the other hand, is nonporous so won’t soak up liquids. They can still stain, though, so it’s good practice to clean up spills as quickly as possible. Both can be wiped with a damp rag, or with a gentle store-bought surface cleaner.
Quartzite stands up to heat, but prolonged heat exposure can result in stress to the worktop, which in turn can lead to cracking. We’d recommend always using a trivet, or something to protect the worktop, if you’re likely to have hot pots and pans on there for a while. The resin used to bind quartz, however, melts at around 148 degrees Celsius, so it’s important to ensure you’re not placing hot items directly onto the worktop. Scorch marks are caused when the resin in quartz melts, and there’s no easy way of getting these out!
Overall, quartz is less expensive than quartzite. Quartzite is also more expensive to install, partly because it’s extremely fragile, so extra precautions have to be taken when cutting and installing, such as mesh backing, support bars etc. Also, because quartzite is a natural stone, more complex worktop installations (waterfall worktops for example) require custom cutting, which drastically increases costs.