The Difference Between Quartz and Quartzite

You’d be forgiven for thinking quartz stone and quartzite are the same material. They have similar names, but while both are used in the kitchen there is a big difference between the two types of material.

When planning to use one of these materials it is important to understand exactly what you are getting.

Quartzite is a terminology given to a type of natural stone.  It is a metamorphic rock, which is the result of countless years of geologic pressures transforming rocks into what we see today. Quartzite benchtops are natural stone so offer a wide variety of colour, pattern and variation. The name quartzite is given because these types of stone have a higher amount of naturally occurring quartz in their composition resulting in slabs that are often harder and denser than other marbles.

Quartz stone is a term given to a man-made product. Quartz stones are engineered in a factory using a mix of quartz, silica, industrial resins and other additives.  Quartz slabs are usually always the same size where Quartzite (being a natural material) will come in varying size slabs. 

What is Quartz

The term quartz is derived from the Polish word “kwardy” meaning “hard”. It is one of the most abundant materials on Earth and can be found in almost all parts of the world.

Where Quartz Comes From

As an igneous rock, quartz is formed by heat and pressure. Deep within the Earth’s crust, near active tectonic plates, various rocks and minerals such as oxygen and silicon are heated to the point of becoming molten. This rock is then pushed toward the surface and undergoes a cooling process. As it cools, this molten rock crystallises, forming what we call quartz.

How Quartz is Used

Quartz is used for an abundance of purposes. Its unique properties mean it is prized not just as an architectural material, but also for its appearance and utility.

It’s also used extensively in manufacturing and other industries. Glassmakers rely on quartz for precise lens-making and general glasswork. Some quartz is also considered a semi-precious gemstone. Cut and polished, quartz makes for a durable and pretty accessory in jewellery pieces.

Quartz is also a useful abrasive, and metal casting material, and can be used in electronics due to its conductive nature.

Types of Quartz

Depending on the incorporated minerals and geology, quartz can vary in colour and crystal structure. The most common forms of quartz are called rose quartz, carnelian, onyx, jasper, amethysts, and agate.

Properties of Quartz Countertops

Quartz kitchen countertops are made through an engineering process. These use varying percentages of quartz added to a mix of poly-resin and pigments to form a semi-liquid solution that is then poured into a countertop mould, pressed, cured and heated. After this, the countertop is polished and finished ready for installation.

How good are Quartz countertops?

Because quartz countertops are made by a number of different companies, each brand uses a different mix of raw materials so there is no single type that is the same,  so the quality of the slab is dependant on the product.  Some Quartz slabs  are very resistant to marks and stains while others can stain much more easily. 

Quartz slabs don’t have any inherent pattern, veining or texture and all this is added to the surface of the material with various patterns and colours available.  The veining and patterns in natural stone go all the way through so you won’t notice chips in the surface as easily as quartz slabs because the pattern is through the stone.

One area where most Quartz slabs cannot be used in external settings because of the resin used to bind the materials.  These resins will discolour and may warp in areas where they are exposed to direct sunlight. The resin content is also the reason Quartz slabs cannot handle hot pans and can burn easily. 

What is Quartzite

Quartzite is a naturally occurring stone material with a similar structure to granite. Like granite, quartzite is siliceous. This means it consists of large quantities  of silica rock rather than calcium carbonate like marble. 

Appearance-wise, pure quartzite is white or grey in tone. Impurities in the stone, however, give it unique patterns and tints.

Like marble, quartzite is quarried in blocks that are then slabbed and prepared.

How Quartzite is Made

Unlike granite, however, quartzite is a metamorphic stone, not igneous. Metamorphic rock differs from igneous in that it is originally a different kind of stone. 

Quartzite begins life as sandstone with grains of quartz within. Over the process of many thousands of years, this stone is transformed by immense pressure and heat. This process crystallises the sandstone and fuses this new stone structure together. The new structure is packed with quartz elements as well as other inclusions, giving it a pleasing aesthetic. This makes quartzite surprisingly hardy, with a tightly fused structure. 

Despite being primarily silica, quartzite stone can still be porous. For this reason, most slabs of quartzite are sealed like marbles to to further protect them from stains.

How Quartzite is Used

Pure quartzite is made primarily of silica, a valuable material for a variety of industries such as ceramics, glass, and paints. Quartzite itself has been used over the centuries as an impact tool due to its hard structure. It is also used as a building material to form bricks and roof tiles for the same purpose.

Modern applications see quartzite used as a decorative stone for wall cladding, paving, and kitchen countertops. As a kitchen worktop, the internal structure of the quartzite is showcased, allowing patterns and different tones to be seen.

Properties of Quartzite

For both commercial and domestic use, quartzite is a good choice. While quartzite and granite often get confused, the two do differ in some considerable ways:

No Two Pieces of Quartzite Are The Same

Like granite, quartzite is a natural material. Throughout the world, it is quarried in large blocks and removed from the Earth and celebrated as a luxury material.

 This quarrying method means that each block exhibits unique, intricate patterns, tones, and structural differences. Even sliced into slabs you will find quartzite differs as the impurities and forces of nature work differently on each section.

In this way, the aesthetic of quartzite is often compared to marble. Like marble, the veining and base colour of the stone will depend on the impurities caught up in the geologic processes.

Higher Scratch and Acid Resistance

As a natural stone, quartzite has been subjected to extreme conditions during its formation. This makes the stone extremely durable and able to withstand the wear and tear of everyday use in a home. 

This makes quartzite a good material choice for kitchen worktops as it is more scratch resistant due to the hardened quartz present. 

Due to the large amount of silica present, quartzite surfaces are also more resistant to acids. When preparing food such as tomatoes quartzitic stone are more resilient and do not etch as easily as some marbles.

Quartzite Can Handle The Heat

Strongly formed and dense, quartzite is also able to withstand high temperatures. This is a useful property for kitchen use and is a reason it is often used as a countertop.

While it is not recommended, placing an occasional hotdish on a quartzitic countertop will usually not present problems.

The Main Differences Between Quartz and Quartzite

The main difference between Quartz slabs and Quartzitic stones is that one is manufactured in a factory, the other manufactured by nature.

Natural Vs Man-made

While quartzite is a natural stone, quartz is a man-made product.

For some people, mother nature knows best and quartzite serves as a good choice between the two materials. Rather than being bound by resin, quartz grains are instead fused by silica with the process undertaken by the Earth itself. This gives each slab an organic feel that works well with certain decor and sensibilities.

Quartz, however, enjoys some of the benefits of both nature and artificial production. The uniform size and pattern of quartz makes it easy to use and reproduce the same design in every setting where each natural Quartzite slab must be checked to see if the pattern and size fits any given design.

Quartz is Less Expensive Than Quartzite

Quartz is on cheaper than quartzite per square square meter when installed. This makes quartz a more affordable option than quartzite.

The price difference is due to the way each is made into countertops and other forms.

Whereas quartz is formed using moulds, pressure, and artificial heat, quartzite blocks must be cut. This involves precise diamond cutting blades with some slabs failing. This means the production yield of quartzite is lower.

Quartzite requires more skill to install 

Installing quartzite is a more delicate process and can take specialist skills. This is because, as a natural stone, it is liable to crack and fracture if mishandled and will require sealing once installed. Slabs must be cut exactly to size prior to installation as adjustments are more difficult.

Quartz, however, is easier to install, despite being a little heavier. With a higher amount of polymer resin present, quartz countertops are not as fragile and their size can be adjusted easier using commercially-available tools if necessary.