Quartz vs Quartzite Countertops
If you’re looking to install or upgrade countertops in your home or business, your first thought may be to go with marble or granite - classic natural stone elegance. But recently, quartz and quartzite countertops have risen to the top in preferred luxury surfaces.
Many people don’t know the difference between quartz and quartzite - and some will mistakenly assume that quartzite is a product made from quartz, just based on the sound of the names.
What is quartzite?
Actually, quartzite is a natural stone, and like sandstone, quartzite starts out as sand. Then science does its magic. The metamorphosis into solid stone is caused by pressure from the earth’s tectonic plates shifting and squeezing together like gigantic puzzle pieces. The color striations in quartzite come from minerals trapped in the white or gray stone.
The stone is quarried like granite and sliced into quartzite slabs. Then professional stone workers carve the quartzite into custom shapes and polish it to create a beautiful, shiny surface.
The elegance of natural stone enhances the value and beauty of the home. While marble and granite are popular stone choices for kitchen countertops, quartzite is an excellent natural stone choice for white countertops due to its hard surface and low maintenance requirements.
Pros of quartzite countertops
- Quartzite has that natural stone elegance - it looks like marble but it’s easier to care for.
- Quartzite is harder than granite and quite durable.
- Quartzite is UV resistant, so it won’t fade in natural light, like in outdoor kitchens.
- Quartzite is easy to clean with regular soap and water, so there’s no need for fancy chemicals.
Cons of quartzite countertops
- It can be damaged by hot pans or sharp knives - so be sure to use cutting boards, and place a pad under your hot pans!
- Natural stone is porous and can absorb water, grease, and pigments. It needs to be sealed annually or more frequently to stay sanitary and to avoid stains.
- As a natural stone, the common color range is limited to mostly white and shades of gray, with some natural mineral striations.
What is quartz?
You won’t find a natural stone quartz slab in a quarry like quartzite, because quartz countertops are made from engineered stone, produced from quartz crystals. So how do we get from crystals to countertops? Are these crystals rare and likely to run out? Do we have many choices in quartz colors?
Quartz crystals are the most common mineral on earth, made of the two most abundant elements: oxygen and silicon. A quartz slab is made from about 94 percent ground-up quartz crystals, then blended with resins and pigments to create a wide variety of colors and blends. Some people request a specific type of metallic flecks or colors to match their interior design. You can find outstanding patterns in some quartz, and of course, there are distinctive colors available - like black countertops or even purple.
Pros of quartz countertops
- Quartz is as hard as granite and is quite durable.
- Quartz is antimicrobial, stain-resistant, and nonporous, so it’s easy to clean with soap and water.
- Quartz comes in a wide range of patterns and color options.
- Quartz can be made to look like marble counters, with the advantage of being stronger and more flexible, so it’s much less likely to chip, scratch or stain.
Cons of quartz countertops
- Because it’s made with resin blended into the stone, quartz is prone to melting in heat above 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to place a hot pad under any pans or baking dishes!
- Sunshine is not kind to quartz, so areas that receive lots of direct light may fade in color.
- You may see seams in a quartz countertop. These will be less visible with a darker color of quartz.
Things to Know About Quartz & Quartzite Counterops
The Cost Range - Per Square Foot
Prices for quartz will vary based on the brand and specific piece you choose, considering the quartz thickness and quality rating. Average quality quartz countertops range between $70 to $80/SF (without installation) and higher quality can cost $100/SF and higher.
Quartzite prices actually fluctuate based more on labor costs, and savings may be found by purchasing in late fall or winter. Because it’s such a heavy stone, few people are inclined or able to DIY a quartzite counter. Uninstalled costs range from $80 to $210/SF.
Use our handy Countertops Calculator below to know how many square feet you should consider for your countertops budget.
We work with our clients to determine the total costs for each surface installed and overall remodeling considerations.
What about the sink
Most people replace the sink when they upgrade their counters, and it is essential to have the most accurate measurements before designing new counters and cabinets. Will you choose the traditional two-sink, the single extra-deep sink, or even multiple sinks? This will point you toward the mounting, whether it’s a traditional top-mount or a more sleek under-mount that allows your new countertop to flow as an uninterrupted smooth surface.
Colors, and Textures, and Finishes - oh my!
As an engineered stone, quartz can have variable colors, consistent patterns, and sparkling add-ins to create a customized appearance. The natural stone quartzite slabs most commonly look like marble, with white stone and grey lines. There are many types of quartzite, and less common slabs can have different colors like emerald green and azure blue due to other minerals in the stone. Each slab is unique.
As a natural stone, quartzite retains a more granular and organic feel than quartz has. The resin in quartz creates a smoother, less natural surface, and it would seem like in a perfect world the whole quartz countertop would always be made of one solid piece. The actual logistics in countertop installation make this nearly impossible. Professional installers are careful to align and smooth the stones for the best match on the tops and sides, and even add pigment to the epoxy to minimize visible differences.
Beveled edges add interest to quartzite and quartz surfaces, and the classic ogee edge can be perfect for subtle elegance.
How to choose your slab, with so many great options
Take a look at the whole house when it’s time to install your counters and consider the colors and contours of the cabinets, walls, and flooring. This can influence your decisions on which colors and patterns will complement and contrast nicely. You may want to take a few samples home, even - to see how they look in the actual room lighting. Consider whether you prefer a smooth or brushed texture, and rounded, beveled, or square edges. And finally, it’s important (but not as much fun) to consider your budget.
Repair and maintenance of your quartzite and quartz countertops
Both quartzite and quartz are hard stones that clean easily with regular dish soap in water, so basic maintenance is a breeze. Natural stone like quartzite needs to be sealed fairly often, but that’s simple to do. Simply apply a natural stone sealer that’s available in stores for $10 to $30, and leave the sealer on for 10 to 15 minutes. Wipe the sealer off the countertop with a cloth, and let the sealer cure for 24 to 72 hours.
If your counters get damaged, chips and cracks can be fixed with simple repair kits that include epoxy or lacquer. There are videos online that demonstrate the process.
Counter surfaces can be located throughout the house - in the kitchen, bath, laundry room, bar, and more, and you’ve got the savvy to make them great! If you’re looking to install or upgrade countertops in your home or business, The Good Guys will be glad to help you with your countertop options. We look forward to serving you and making you a satisfied customer!