Quartzite Countertops: All You Need to Know
Make way for nature’s masterpiece. Quartzite is loud, opulent, and a crowd favorite in high-end design. As we’ve witnessed design shifting towards saturated palettes and maximalist motifs, we’ve also watched the demand for this stone creep up alongside it. There’s a lot to love about quartzite, so let’s get educated on what it is (and isn’t) and whether or not it’s the right material for you.
Honed Wicked White quartzite. Photo by Joyelle West.
What is it?
Quartzite is a metamorphic rock made almost entirely of quartz. It’s an evolved form of sandstone that’s been recrystallized by heat, pressure and chemical change, also known as metamorphism. It’s one of the most physically durable and chemically resistant rocks on the earth’s surface, often found on mountain faces where tectonic plates converge.
Quartz vs. Quartzite: What's the difference?
While the two sound similar, they are far from the same.
Quartz, geologically, is a crystallized mineral found in abundance in the Earth’s crust. But when we’re talking about countertops, quartz refers to engineered quartz, also called engineered stone.
Quartzite comprises raw quartz minerals, sandstone or chet, and silica. Through metamorphism, it develops an interlocking crystalline structure that is responsible for the stone’s hardness, which falls around a 7 or 8 on the Mohs hardness scale. When we use the word quartzite, we’re referring to the metamorphosed natural stone.
What are the benefits?
It’s durable. Quartzite is more resistant to cracks, chips, and scratches than marble or granite, making it an excellent choice for heavy-traffic areas.
It’s heat resistant. Hot pans welcome! As always, we still recommend you use a trivet for maximum protection.
It can be translucent. Its crystalline appearance makes quartzite a popular stone for dramatic applications. In some cases, owners can opt to backlight their quartzite for added luxury and intrigue.
It’s natural and beautiful. Quartzite comes in a variety of colors, from neutrals to shades of green, blue and red or a combination thereof. The appearance of a particular quartzite comes down to the different mineral deposits found within the slab,
It etches less. It’s less prone to chemical abrasion than other natural stones, making it a popular choice for kitchens. (Notice: we didn’t say etch-proof!)
What are the drawbacks?
It can still stain and etch. Quartzite is less porous than marble or lighter granites, but there is still a possibility of staining and etching. We recommend sealing at least once a year.
It can be expensive. As a natural stone that’s often dramatic and intricate, quartzite tends to be within the upper price range of countertop materials.
Limits on fabrication. Certain varieties of quartzite are more crystalline than others. This can pose issues with fabricating more elaborate edge profiles that require a lot of curvature, as edges are more susceptible to chipping and unevenness during polishing. For this reason, we advise clients to choose their material with this in mind if they are considering something other than an eased or radius edge for their project.
Care & Maintenance
Since it is a natural stone, quartzite still needs to be sealed. We recommend doing this at least once a year, though more porous varieties may require it more frequently. Wipe up spills immediately to prevent any staining or etching and clean your quartzite once a week with warm water and mild dish soap using a microfiber cloth.
As always, stay away from harsh or abrasive cleaning agents. Even if they don’t visibly damage the stone right away, they will wear away at both its sealant and finish, leaving your counters dull and more vulnerable to stains.
Super White / Wicked White
Antarctica quartzite. Photo by Greg Premru.
Quartzite is a superb option for those who are looking for a resilient natural stone with a big personality. We’ve seen a surge in its popularity in recent years as many homeowners are shifting towards incorporating personal touches past just decor. Rather, it’s become common (especially since the pandemic) to let one’s unique style saturate the entirety of the home’s design, down to daring cabinetry, countertops, lighting, and hardware. As quartzite has been known to make dramatic statements, it’s no surprise that homeowners and designers are utilizing it to execute bold color schemes or as an art piece. If you don’t mind a higher price tag and you’re okay with some light routine maintenance, quartzite is a worthwhile investment that’s sure to turn heads in any space in your home.