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4 Key Differences Between Quartz and Quartzite

When it comes to kitchen remodeling projects, few produce such drastic effects as investing in stone countertops. Not only do stone countertops boast incredibly long lifespans when properly cared for, but they also bring an aesthetic splendor that most other materials cannot match.  
Those who have decided to invest in a stone countertop still have to make the huge decision about what type of stone they select. One common source of confusion has to do with the differences between quartz and quartzite countertops.
If you would like to learn more about your stone countertop options, keep reading. This article takes a closer look at four key differences between quartz and quartzite.

1. Source

While quartz and quartzite may both sound like natural materials, only one of them actually is - quartzite. Quartzite comes from sandstone that has experienced massive amounts of heat and pressure as the result of tectonic compression. This compression forces the small grains of quartz found in sandstone into larger quartz crystals cemented together by silica.

The material commonly referred to simply as quartz, by contrast, comes from a man-made manufacturing process. Also known as engineered quartz, this material consists of roughly 93% natural stone aggregates. Manufacturers then bind these bits of loose quartz together using epoxy or polyester resins. Additives meant to stabilize the resin and grant UV protection may also be added.

2. Appearance

Another key difference between quartz and quartzite lies in their appearance - and specifically their range of colors. As a naturally occurring stone, quartzite possesses a more limited color palate. The majority of quartzite has a color falling somewhere on the white-grey spectrum.
That said, some quartzite has a pink or reddish tint as the result of iron oxides present in the stone. Other minerals may also lend quartzite blue or green tints as well, although these colors tend to be harder to find - a fact that usually makes them somewhat more expensive.
Quartz countertops come in a vastly wider range of colors, since pigments can be added during the manufacturing process. These pigments make it easy to integrate a quartz countertop with the overall aesthetic constitution of your kitchen. By distributing the pigment unevenly, manufacturers can even mimic the natural color variations that occur in natural quartzite.

3. Durability

Quartzite possesses a highly durable nature, being even harder and more stain resistant than granite. Quartz countertops share much of this durability, thanks to the high percentage of natural stone used in their composition. Yet the resins added to bind together the quartz reduce the harness somewhat, making a quartz counter slightly more susceptible to scratching and gouging.
That said, the resins used in engineered quartz give it a more flexible nature, allowing it to more easily resist forms of damage like dents and chips. However, those resins also make quartz less heat-tolerant than quartzite. Temperatures above 300 degrees Fahrenheit must be strictly avoided, otherwise they may partially melt the resin.

4. Maintenance

Quartzite countertops have a clear disadvantage where long-term maintenance is concerned. In order to protect the stone from staining and damage, a quartzite countertop must be periodically sealed. Certain experts even recommend resealing a quartzite countertop as regularly as twice a year. The sealing process can be both difficult and intensive for homeowners to undertake on their own.
Quartz countertops, by contrast, need little long-term maintenance. Daily spills can be easily removed using a mixture of mild soap and water. Try to avoid the use of especially acidic or alkaline cleaners, however. The extreme pH of such substances may inadvertently end up damaging the resin holding the quartz together.
Quartz and quartzite both make excellent choices for kitchen countertops. For more information about how to decide what type of stone countertop would best suit your kitchen, please contact the experts at Natural Stoneworks, LLC.