Understanding the Difference
Planning a new kitchen can be an intimidating process. Choosing the right countertops ranks high on the list of stressful decisions homeowners must make when planning their space. The most frequently used materials are granite, marble, soapstone, quartz, and quartzite. A common misconception is that quartz and quartzite countertops are one in the same product. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! While the two countertop substrates do have some similarities, they are quite different in nature, each having pros and cons.
Both quartz and quartzite countertops are high quality, durable choices that come in a variety of colors. Either option would make a fantastic choice for a kitchen or bathroom. It is best to look at the individual characteristics of each to evaluate their nuances. Then determine which material is best for the individual design.
Quartz countertops are a man-made product named after the naturally occurring mineral: quartz. The quartz found in the earth is not mined into slabs, but instead crushed and bound using a resin or cement. The created material is called “engineered stone” or “engineered quartz”.
Approximately 93% of the final engineered product is crushed stone and the other 7% is binder. In a manufactured product, colors can be added to create patterns and hues . People are drawn to quartz due to its simpler look and consistent patterns; this makes it a great choice for people that want a solid color or aren’t keen on the variation in marble or granite.
Another benefit to quartz countertops is their non-porous surfaces. A non-porous surface means the substrate does not need to be sealed. Quartz is highly resistant to stains, wipes clean needing only a damp cloth, and is less prone to denting and chipping. One major drawback found in quartz countertops is their sensitivity to heat. Unfortunately, quartz is not very heat resistant because of the resin used in the manufacturing process. Resin is a plastic and is prone to melting in temperatures over 300°F. Hot cookware will damage the surface of the counter if not properly protected.
Contrary to quartz, quartzite is a 100% naturally occurring material. Quartzite is a metamorphic stone, formed in the same manner as marble and even has a similar appearance. It commonly has streaks of color, which are the results of the varying degrees of pressure within the earth’s surface. This striation in color is the key to knowing if it is natural stone or not.
The popularity of quartzite is due in part to it’s resemblance of marble. Quartzite is much harder, allowing it to hold up better as a kitchen countertop. Marble is prone to scratches and chips making it not suitable for all kitchens. One downside to quartzite is its porous surface. The surface must be sealed periodically to protect it from wine, citrus, coffee, and other substances that stain. Once sealed, the surface is easy to keep clean and wipes clean with a damp cloth.
Consumers sometimes think the two products are the same because of their similar names, but that certainly isn’t the case. As discussed above, quartz is a manufactured product that is available in a wide range of colors. It is incredibly low maintenance since it is a non-porous material. Quartzite is a naturally occurring stone that comes in shades of white and gray, making it popular in current design schemes. Both are high-quality products so it comes down to personal preference when choosing between the two.