Quartzite and Granite Compared
Choosing a material for your kitchen countertops is not a matter of simply picking the one you like the
best. The material you choose for your countertop surfaces could be the difference between a successful
project and a failed one. In the case of the two materials we are looking at in this article (granite and
quartzite), the materials are fundamentally different yet they have striking similarities. As we compare
quartzite surfaces with granite surfaces, you will see that there are many details on which to base your
decisions regarding countertops.
Granite has been used as a countertop material for decades. People have often times listed granite
countertops as a requirement when shopping for a new home. In fact, it was listed as one of the benefits of
choosing it as a countertop surface by realtor.com. The following quote is taken from a
home improvement article entitled: Types of Kitchen Countertops: Which
One's Best for You?
"Granite countertops are one of the most popular kitchen features, and they often make top 10 lists of
desirable features among builders surveyed by the National Home Builders Association."
True, granite is not for everyone. Some home buyers look for other countertop materials. Yet, as that quote
highlights, a large portion of buyers prefer granite - according to the builders that were surveyed.
The Alternatives to Granite Grow
Although granite is a tried and true option (and will most likely stay popular), it has met with several
alternative surface materials in recent times. Some of the newer options are natural stone materials and
others are man made surfaces. Still, there are those that prefer natural solutions when it comes to
selecting a kitchen countertop material. For those, some of the granite alternatives (the man made options)
simply won't do.
So in short, natural granite remains a reliable choice for those that prefer to have a beautiful, long
lasting, and obtainable material for countertop surfaces.
In contrast with tried and true granite, quartzite is a "younger" option in the sense that it does not have
the long history that granite has. However, natural quartzite fills the role as a kitchen countertop
material very well. Even though it is relatively new as far as countertop materials go, our comparison will
highlight benefits it offers.
Quartzite's Undeserved Crticism
One of the things you may find when you begin researching quartzite countertops is articles or quotes that
mention quartzite and "etching". We won't go into what etching is since that is not the focus of this
article. Suffice it to say, it is the result of a characteristic that is not inherent in natural quartzite.
However, you can find information on the Internet that implies or makes direct statements regarding etching
of quartzite stone. So, what is the reason for these statements?
The reason quartzite has been portrayed as a material that etches comes, not from the fact that quartzite
etches, but from mistakes made during the buying and selling process. We won't delve into this topic either.
But if you would like to get the scoop, you can check out this article written by a geologist entitled:
The Definitive Guide to Quartzite. That article details the truth
about quartzite geologically and highlights the difference between geology and marketing messages.
Simply stated, although quartzite has not been around as long as granite and is perhaps misrepresented
through the mislabeling mentioned in the article above, it remains a durable and beautiful option for use as
a countertop material.
Similarities Between Granite & Quartzite
Now that we have taken a look at both granite and quartzite briefly, let's get into comparing each of these
materials. We will start by considering the similarities.
Granite and quartzite are similar in a number of ways. The similarities between these materials translate
into very specific and necessary requirements in the way of care, maintenance, and working with the stones
themselves. Let's look at 3 similarities between quartzite and granite.
Both Materials Are Very Hard
The first similarity between granite and quartzite that we will consider is their hardness. Granite comes in
at anywhere from 5.5 to 7 in hardness as measured by the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. Similarly,
quartzite comes in at around 7. the scale ranges from 1 to 10 with 1 being "soft" and 10 being "hard". So,
both materials are on the hard end of the scale.
The hardness of a material has a direct bearing on its ability to resist scratching. In fact, the test used
to determine the hardness of a stone is the "scratch test". By using a material with a known hardness to try
to scratch a particular stone you can tell if the stone is harder or softer than the test material. So, both
granite and quartzite are hard and scratch resistant.
Natural Stone is Porous
The second similarity between these two natural stone materials is their porosity. All natural stone is
porous to one degree or another; granite and quartzite are no different. Like all natural stone, these
materials have pores. The porosity of natural stone means that it will absorb liquid. If that liquid has
color or is chemically reactive to minerals in the stone, it can discolor the stone. How is natural stone
protected against stains?
In the case of natural stone that does not contain calcite, the material can be protected by using an
impregnating sealer for stone. These
products penetrate the stone, causing the material to repel water based and oil based liquids. By keeping
the stain causing liquid on the surface, these products afford the owner time to wipe up the stain-causing
liquid before it can act. So, the porosity of a material affects the way that material must be cared for.
Periodically sealing the stone is not all though. Cleaning the stone with a pH neutral
cleaner designed for natural stone is
also important. Acidic cleaners break down impregnating sealers. This defeats the whole purpose of applying
them in the first place. After all, why put a sealer on a stone and then just remove it by using an acidic
Granite and Quartzite Are Unique
As natural stones, both granite and quartzite are 100% unique. Not just from one another, but also from one
stone to another. The variety that exists in the world of natural stone is limitless in the sense that the
colors vary and the patterns are never completely the same. This means that when you go to select your
granite or quartzite slab, you will be picking the actual material from which your actual countertop will be
Because the slab you select in the slab yard is the actual stone that will be used in your countertop, you
will no doubt want to be mindful of how it will look once it is cut and shaped for your countertop. Working
with the fabricator and letting the professional know which features you like about the slab you are
choosing can help them determine how best to cut the stone. The professional may be able to cut the sink
form an area that perhaps you would not mind losing and keep the section of stone to which you are drawn.
As we have seen, granite and quartzite are very similar in that each is very hard, both are porous, and they
are completely unique. However, granite and quartzite are not the same thing. Let's see how they differ.
How Granite and Quartzite Differ
As we have seen, granite and quartzite are similar in several ways. And it can be very tempting to conclude
that since two materials are very similar, there really is no difference between them; that they are in
fact, the same thing. Is that really so?
Similar Is Different from Being the Same
Similarity is different from sameness. Just because two things are similar does not make one of them the
same as the other. This applies to granite and quartzite just as it does many other things. Let's see why we
cannot say that granite and quartzite are the same material.
The first difference between these materials that we will explore is in their composition. Granite and
quartzite are composed of different minerals. This has a bearing on the resulting stone. So, what are the
differences between these materials? Let's take a look. The following table shows what minerals are commonly
found in natural granite and quartzite.
Comparative Look at Granite and Quartzite
Granite typically contains a combination of quartz, mica, feldspar and hornblende. Biotite,
magnetite, garnet, zircon and apatite may also be involved in the formation of granite if
the materials are present.
Quartzite is made out of sandstone, silica, iron oxide, carbonate, clay and a very large
percentage of quartz.
Reference for the information regarding the composition taken from
As you can see from the table above, these materials are different in composition. Incidentally, they also
are classed differently. And even though they have some similar characteristics, compositionally, they are
very different. The difference in composition results also in another difference. Let's see what that is
Different In Appearance
Quartzite and granite may have similarities, but the second area of difference is seen in the visible
appearance of them. Notice the images below:
The image on the left is a close up of a quartzite sample and the image on the right is a sample of granite.
As you can see, both of these stones are appealing. Yet the difference between them is noticeable. In fact,
the images above are indicative of the visual differences between granite and quartzite.
The quartzite image (on left) is a gray color. And in fact, quartzite usually is colored from white to gray
or beige in color. The color variations are subtle and gradual but the material can have som contrasting
spots or streaks caused by "impurities" in the material. Since quartzite is metamorphosed sandstone it makes
perfect sense that it would be light colored and not vary a whole lot in color. Granite, on the other hand,
is a different story.
Looking at the photo on the right, you can see that it is different in that it is not as light and that the
color variations are much more contrasting. This is because of the minerals that make up a granite slab. One
of the main minerals that is in granite is feldspar. This substance forms in a variety of colors. Therefore,
granite slabs that contain it are apt to have color variety like the granite in the photo above.
In conclusion, there are a number of similarities and differences between quartzite and granite. We have
only briefly touched on how these natural stone materials compare regarding the benefits and how they
differ. As we have seen, both materials share a lot of function similarities and they are different in how
they look. This means that if you vlaue the performance of a natural stone that is very hard and resists
scratching and heat, you have mnay looks from which to choose. So it really isn't a case of "granite vs
quartzite". Rather, it is more like, which would you prefer, granite or quartzite?