Quartz vs. Quartzite: What’s the difference?

If you’re looking for new countertops, you’ve definitely come across both quartz and quartzite as alternatives. You might be thinking that if they sound so similar, they must be the same, right?

Not quite and here’s why:

Quartz is a manufactured countertop material made from 90-95% ground quartz and 5-10% resins, polymers, and pigments.

Quartzite is a natural stone that forms when sandstone is subjected to heat and pressure over time. Both quartz and quartzite are predominantly made of quartz, which gives them similar durability and hardness.

However, there are a few key differences that you should take into account when making your decision. Before we delve any further, let’s clarify a point that most people get confused about.

The term “quartz” refers to two distinct things in the countertop industry.

First, there are engineered quartz countertops. These are manmade countertops that are made from a combination of quartz minerals and resins.

Second, the term “quartz” can also refer to the quartz minerals that go into making engineered quartz countertops.

You may already know that, but we had to clear that up before going any further! Now let’s dive a little deeper into our main topic: quartz vs. quartzite.

What is Quartz?

Quartz is a man-made or engineered countertop. It’s made from a combination of quartz minerals and resins.

samples of quartz agglomerate for kitchen countertops
samples of quartz agglomerate for kitchen countertops

The percentage of each can vary, but most engineered quartz countertops are made of around 90% or more quartz minerals and with the remaining 10% made up of pigments, resins, and other polymers.

Quartz is a very hard material, ranking a 7 out of 10 on the Mohs hardness scale. For reference, diamonds are a 10 on the Mohs hardness scale. This makes quartz a very durable countertop option that is resistant to scratches and stains.

That said the hardness of a quartz countertop isn’t exactly the same as the hardness of the quartz minerals that make it up.

The resins used to bind the quartz together are a little bit softer, which reduces the overall hardness of the countertop.

However, the additional resins also give quartz countertops more flexural strength, which is the ability to resist bending. This makes quartz a good choice for areas where a countertop might be more likely to flex.

The resin also makes engineered quartz less likely to chip than natural quartzite. Quartz countertops aren’t completely chip-resistant, but it’s more forgiving than quartzite if you accidentally scratch or chip it.

Any scratches that do occur will likely be less visible because the resins used in engineered quartz fill in any voids in the surface.

The resin binders used in quartz countertops are also what gives them their non-porous quality. This means that quartz countertops won’t absorb spills or stains the way that other materials, like granite, can.

Quartz is also a low-maintenance countertop material. It does not require sealing like granite or quartzite, and it is naturally resistant to bacteria and mold.

It is also a non-porous material, which means it won’t absorb spills or stains as other countertop materials can. This makes quartz a hygienic option for countertops since bacteria and mold won’t be able to penetrate the surface.

Quartz comes in a wide range of colors and patterns. It can be designed to look like granite, marble, or other natural stone countertops. Quartz, as a manufactured product, can be made in virtually any color or pattern imaginable.

What is Quartzite?

Quartzite is a natural stone that forms when sandstone is subjected to heat and pressure over time. This metamorphosis fuses the quartz grains together, making quartzite a very hard and durable material.

quartzite natural stone
sample of quartzite

Quartzite ranks a 7 to 8 out of 10 on the Mohs hardness scale. This makes it just as hard, or even harder than quartz. Like quartz, quartzite is also a very scratch and stain-resistant material.

However, because quartzite is a natural stone, it is more porous than quartz. This means that it will absorb spills and stains more easily than quartz. It is also more likely to chip than quartz.

Quartzite is a low-maintenance material, but it must be sealed on a regular basis to prevent staining. It’s also worth noting that quartzite is a harder stone than quartz.

Although this makes it more durable, hardness does not directly translate to durability.

The composition of quartzite also makes it more susceptible to chipping and breaking than quartz.

Quartzite is a natural stone and therefore has more inconsistent bond strengths within the stone. This means that quartzite isn’t uniformly strong like quartz and is more vulnerable to breaking or chipping if it’s subject to a hard hit.

Quartzite is also a non-porous material, making it resistant to stains and bacteria. However, because it is a natural stone, it is more porous than engineered quartz it requires sealing to maintain its non-porous quality.

Quartzite is available in a wide range of colors, but it is most commonly found in white, gray, or beige tones. It can also have veining or marbling that gives it the appearance of granite or marble.

Quartzite requires a little more maintenance than quartz, but it is still a durable and low-maintenance option for countertops. For example, you will need to seal your quartzite countertops every 6 to 12 months to prevent staining.

When it comes to sealing quartzite, you can use topical stone sealers which are made up of polyurethanes, natural wax, or acrylics that sit on the surface of the stone and form a barrier.

Or, you can use impregnating stone sealers which penetrate below the surface of the stone to form a barrier against stains and spills. These are typically made of siliconates or siloxanes.

The latter is a better option for sealing quartzite since it will provide better protection against staining.

Quartzite is UV resistant, making it a good choice for outdoor countertops. This also means that it won’t fade over time as some other materials can.

What’s the difference between Quartz and Quartzite?

Though they share some similarities, there are a few key differences between quartz and quartzite.

Formation

The main difference between the two lies in their formation. Quartz is a man-made material manufactured using resins and natural quartz crystals, while quartzite is a 100% natural stone that forms when sandstone is metamorphosed by heat and pressure.

To work with quartz, manufacturers must first harvest ground quartz. After the ground quartz is harvested, it is combined with a small amount of resins and pigments to form a slurry.

This slurry is then poured into molds and allowed to harden into the desired shape.

Quartzite, on the other hand, does not require any manufacturing. It is simply harvested from natural sources and then cut and polished into the desired shape.

A quartz countertop is manufactured from the same quartz crystals that are found in quartzite.

However, the quartz crystals in quartzite are combined with other minerals such as feldspar and mica in addition to organic materials. On the other hand, the quartz crystals in a quartz countertop are combined with just resins and pigments.

Durability

Quartz and quartzite are both incredibly durable countertop materials. However, because quartzite is a natural stone, it is slightly more susceptible to chipping and cracking than quartz.

The reason behind this is that quartz contains resins and pigments that help to bind the quartz crystals together and fill in any gaps. This makes for a stronger overall countertop that is less likely to chip or crack.

That said, quartzite is still an incredibly durable countertop material. When properly sealed, it will resist staining and scratching just as well as quartz.

While quartz is non-porous and resistant to stains, quartzite must be sealed in order to resist staining.

Proper sealing not only helps in preventing chipping and cracking but also helps to prevent the absorption of water and other liquids.

UV-resistance

Another key difference between quartz and quartzite is their resistance to UV rays.

Quartzite is a naturally occurring stone that is formed when sandstone is exposed to heat and pressure over time. This process gives quartzite the ability to resist UV rays, making it an ideal choice for outdoor countertops.

On the other hand, quartz is a man-made material that does not have this inherent ability. Constant exposure to UV rays can cause the color of a quartz countertop to fade over time.

While manufacturers can add UV-resistant resins to quartz, it is not as effective at resisting UV rays as quartzite.

Heat Resistance

Quartz and quartzite are both heat-resistant countertop materials. That said, it is never recommended to place hot pots or pans directly on any countertop, regardless of the material.

While quartz and quartzite can resist high temperatures, they can still be damaged by sudden changes in temperature.

For example, if you were to place a hot pot on a quartz countertop and then quickly pour cold water over it, the sudden change in temperature could cause the countertop to crack.

The resins and pigments that are used to bind the quartz crystals together in a quartz countertop help to fill in any gaps and make for a stronger overall countertop.

This allows a more even distribution of heat, making quartz a more heat-resistant countertop material.

Porosity

One of the main differences between quartz and quartzite is that quartz is non-porous, while quartzite is slightly porous.

This means that quartz is more resistant to staining and does not need to be sealed, while quartzite should be sealed regularly in order to prevent staining.

Fabrication & Insulation

Quartzite is a natural stone that is quarried, cut, and polished into the desired shape. Quartz, on the other hand, is a man-made material that is manufactured by combining ground quartz crystals with resins and pigments.

Quartzite requires special tools and equipment for fabrication in order to avoid chipping and cracking.

Modern CNC machines have made the process of fabricating quartzite much easier and more precise. This fabrication process is also one of the reasons why quartzite is more expensive than quartz.

Quartz, on the other hand, doesn’t require any special tools or equipment and is typically manufactured about the size where it will be used.

Color selection

When it comes to color selection, quartz offers more options than quartzite. Because it is a man-made material, manufacturers can add pigments and other materials to create a wide range of colors and patterns.

Quartzite, on the other hand, is only available in a limited number of colors because it is a natural stone. That said because it is available in both light and dark shades, you can easily find a style that fits your taste.

Style

The style of your countertop is one of the most important factors to consider when making a decision. If you are looking for a countertop that has a more natural look, then quartzite is the better option.

Quartzite countertops often have a veiny or mottled appearance that adds character and interest to the space. Exactly, for this reason, they are often confused with marble countertops.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a countertop with a more uniform appearance, then quartz is the better option.

Because it is a man-made material, manufacturers can create a wide range of colors and patterns. This means that you can easily find a style that fits your taste.

Cost

Generally speaking, quartzite is more expensive than quartz. This is because it is a natural stone that must be mined, cut, and polished.

Quartz, on the other hand, is a man-made material that is composed of approximately 90% ground quartz and 10% resins and pigments.

This makes quartz a more affordable option for those who are looking for a beautiful and durable countertop on a budget.

Environmental Impact

When it comes to environmental impact, quartz is the more sustainable option. This is because it is made with approximately 90% ground quartz, which is a waste product from the mining of other stone materials.

Quartzite, on the other hand, is a natural stone that must be mined in order to be used as a countertop material. This mining process can have a negative impact on the environment.

Especially if you are looking for a more specific quartzite design with certain colors or patterns, you might need to buy from a quarry that is located far away.

This means that the environmental impact of your countertop will be even greater.

Final thoughts

Both quartz and quartzite are beautiful and durable countertop materials that are perfect for any kitchen or bathroom.

When making a decision, it is important to consider your budget, style preferences, and needs. If you are looking for a more affordable countertop with a wide range of color and style options, then quartz is the better option.

However, if you are looking for a countertop with a more natural look, then quartzite is the better option. Whichever material you choose, you can be sure that you are getting a high-quality countertop that will last for years to come.

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