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Marble vs Quartzite: A Comparison

Two types of stone that form naturally, but are not the same. Marble and quartzite each have very appealing traits that make them sought after materials for countertop surfaces. Additionally, the characteristics each of these beautiful natural stone materials offers can be somewhat tricky to identify for reasons we will get into in this article. What types of parallels are there when it comes to marble vs quartzite? A comparison of these materials reveals some interesting insights.

Why Compare Quartzite and Marble?

It's good to get an understanding of the reason comparing one material against another. We find that talking about properties of materials in a comparative manner is a great way to highlight the strengths of each material. It allows for making distinctions. Compare this with simply creating information about a single material. Talking about a single material allows for an explanation of all its pros. But when you are comparing it with another material, there is an implied context all the time. That's why we are constantly adding to our collection of material comparison articles. By doing a "this vs that" type discussion about two materials, each one has an opportunity to shine. At the same time, each one provides context for the material to which it is being compared. So, let's on with it. Are you ready to explore marble vs quartzite?

A Hard Look at Both Materials

To most of us, all rock is hard. However, when it comes to looking at one material vs another more detail is needed. This is because the surfaces that the materials will end up becoming must be able to withstand normal wear and tear. Scratch resistance might be one property that is sought after. On the other hand, if the item requires that it be scuptable, then you want the stone to be hard enough to endure, but soft enough to shape. So, depending on how you are using the materials being compared, one may be more appealing than the other.

Quartzite is Hard

Natural quartzite is a very hard natural stone. It is composed nearly entirely of the mineral quartz. This mineral is very hard; registering at around 7 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. The Mohs scale goes from 1-10 with ten being the hardest. That's right, quartzite lives on the upper end of the scale. As a result, quartzite is scratch resistant and requires diamond blades made for cutting hard stone. Blades such as those are sharp and designed to dissipate heat while cutting.

Marble is Hardly Scratch Proof

Unlike its counterpart, marble could hardly be called scratch proof. This material registers at a 3-4 on the Mohs scale; so it resides at the low end. That is not to say that it is "soft". After all, it is rock. It's just that it is not as hard as natural quartzite. In fact, marble's ability to be easily carved, cut, and shaped has made it a popular material for sculptors. There are numerous sculptures and statues carved out of marble. This material also takes specific blades designed for cutting softer stone when working with them.

Shining a Light On Marble and Quartzite

How a particular material interacts with light affects its appearance. If the mineral of which it is composed is crystalline, it will most likely have a shiny or glossy look. This sheen is a trait that many consumers prefer. A shiny surface evokes thoughts of cleanliness. So, a material that shines leaves a good impression.

Quartzite and Its Primary Mineral

As mentioned above, quartzite contains a lot of quartz. One of the properties of the mineral is its "vitreous luster". describes that term as:

Specimens that have a vitreous luster have a reflective appearance that is similar to glass. This luster is sometimes called "glassy." Many specimens of apatite, beryl, fluorite, and quartz have a vitreous luster. Some specimens of calcite have a vitreous luster on their cleavage surfaces.

Notice that quartz is mentioned as one of the minerals that have vitreous luster. So, the primary mineral in quartzite is, as the quote above says "glassy". This translates into a material that not only gives off a shine, but when polished, really sparkles.

Putting Marble in the Spotlight

But what about marble? Is it shiny? Well, the primary mineral making up marble is calcite. Now look at that quote about the minerals having a vitreous luster. See the last sentence? Calcite is sometimes vitreous. When it is not, it has a "pearly" luster which is also reflective. That's right, natural marble also offers a sheen-looking appearance. Its reflective look is particularly noticeable up close if it has reflective calcite in it. Thus, marble too sports that shiny, glassy visual appeal that stems from the vitreous mineral content.

Care and Maintenance Comparisons

So how do the materials quartzite and marble stack up in a comparison of care and maintenance? Well, let's start with how these materials are similar. Both quartzite and marble are natural stone materials. That means that they are porous and will absorb liquids. The degree to which a material will absorb varies with each stone. The more dense the stone, the less absorbent it will be.

Natural stone usually gets sealed periodically using an impregnating stone sealer. For kitchen countertops, food safe stone sealer might be a good choice. In fact there are a number of penetrating stone sealers that will work very well for repelling water and oil-based liquids. how often a sealer needs to be applied is usually determined by what the material has been cleaned with. Using a pH neutral cleaner is a must so that the sealer is not removed. Using the wrong cleaning product will strip the sealer right of the surface. So be sure you use a cleaner designed for natural stone

Don't Etch It In Stone

In the case of marble, there is one more need. Depending on the usage, marble can become etched. Remember that main mineral of which marble is composed, calcite? Well, it reacts with acid. In fact, calcite (or calcium carbonate) neutralizes acid. When this happens, it is dissolved. The result on a finished surface is a dull spot on polished finishes or a dark spot on honed finishes.

As we have seen in this article pitting marble vs quartzite, there are some similarities between the two materials. Yet there are differences as well. The mineral content affects the hardness and the luster of each material and the traits are a result of them as well. No matter which material a person selects, there will be the need to care for it properly. Knowing what care products to choose and when to use them contributes to the continuous beauty these materials possess.