Before we talk the pros and cons of quartzite countertops to granite countertops, it is important to emphasize that this discussion is about two of Nature’s own designs, the natural stones quartzite and granite – not quartz and granite. Quartzite and quartz are two different things in the world of countertops, one “Nature Made” and one created through a fusion of Nature and technology, and they are often confused by name alone. (See our blog “Quartz vs. Quartzite: Are they the same?”) for specific differences between quartzite and quartz.
To make things more confusing, quartzite and granite have one important raw material in common – the mineral quartz! The mineral quartz (known in the gemstone world in a variety of colors, the most well-known of which is amethyst) is not the same as the engineered stone called quartz. Quartzite is a very hard metamorphic rock that began as sandstone and was transformed into an extremely strong and durable natural stone when the empty spaces between the sandstone were filled with the mineral quartz and fused together under heat and pressure. Granite, too, is from the Earth’s crust. It is an igneous rock that was created by lava beneath the Earth’s surface but cooled very slowly over time to make a heavy and extremely hard mass. As it cooled, gases were trapped and the lava mixed with the natural mineral quartz, forming rocks with large crystals.
Though quartzite and granite were technically formed in different ways, they share the mineral quartz in their origin, so it is difficult to compare or contrast their appearance as they can sometimes look similar (and can be passed off as each other incorrectly by an inexperienced salesperson). They are not the same, and yet, they are not vastly different, as both sparkle and have flecks and veins in them from recrystallized quartz. However, quartzite does have one edge, or PRO, when it comes to look – it is more commonly found in lighter colors, and it is notably found in very light colors and patterns that closely resemble marble. Granite, on the other hand, usually only contains shades of white with other, bolder colors dominating the overall color of the stone. For those who love the clean look of white, but who prefer a more durable stone than traditional marble, quartzite is a beautiful, natural alternative.
Here quartzite and granite are also evenly matched. Both are extremely hard and resistant to chemicals, extreme temperatures, and etching; both must also be properly sealed regularly for ultimate protection against damaging foods like wine, juices, and coffee as well as against common culprits that will scratch the surface, like wire racks or kitchen tools. With proper care and maintenance, however, both quartzite and granite are highly durable and certainly on the PRO side for durability. Further, the necessary sealing itself can be found in the plus column, as a good seal not only protects these natural stones but enhances their rich flecks and veins of color.
It is important to note when making these comparisons that, overall, quartzite and granite are quite durable and are lower maintenance than marble, though higher maintenance than engineered quartz. It is equally important to note that slabs of natural stones are unique; therefore, depending on their ages, regional origins and compositions, they can vary in terms of both appearance and durability. Some quartzite selections, for example, can be softer than others – the best way to determine the stone that is the right fit for you is to visit a stone yard or showroom and test a sample piece at home (scratch test, stain test, and etch test). Quartzite stones will pass your tests easily if they are 100% pure, as quartzite is generally harder than glass, and quartzite samples that are not will demonstrate for you the limitations of your piece. It is critical to understand the limitations of the specific slab you will be bringing into your home prior to installation. Cost
When it comes to pros and cons on cost, granite may have a slight edge. Typically, quartzite is more expensive than granite if it is a pure quartzite. However, as you price out slabs for your next project, be aware that price comparisons will depend on which granite and which quartzite, as both natural stones tend to have both rarer and more common options that will affect pricing. (Some quartzite, too, can be mixed with other natural stones which will change both its durability and price point.) I.e., a rarer granite will be more expensive than a common quartzite and vice versa. When measured against one another within the same tier, granite tends to be less costly, lending a CON to quartzite and a PRO to granite.
Additionally, be aware that individual sellers sometimes lump terms together and use them interchangeably, thus confusing buyers who believe they are comparing apples to apples. What you might think is a beautiful Super White quartzite could in fact be a dolomitic marble, which are materials easy enough to confuse in the showroom but distinctly different when tested by the rigors of your busy kitchen and its common acidic foods. There you will find the apple to apple comparison is indeed an apple to orange one – a lesson best not learned after the countertop has been installed, and in fact, etched by an orange.
Quartzite to granite can be a difficult comparison to make, because they are both natural stones that are equally gorgeous as countertops. If you’re struggling to make the decision between these two stones, visit a stone yard or showroom near you to see them side by side. Each has its own unique spectrum of colors, patterns, and finishes available – one of them is sure to catch your eye and decide the battle for you between these naturally stunning competitors.
MSI is the leading importer and distributor of natural stone surfaces in North America. Visit www.msistone.com to view hundreds of premium granites and quartzite. Don’t miss the featured New Products for 2014, which includes 15 new granite options with whites, golds, greys, browns and pinks!