Sipping my morning coffee, I gaze out the window at the city coming to life. The warm hues of the rising sun dance across the granite countertops, reminding me of my journey from cramped studio apartments to this cozy prewar condo.
If these counters could talk, they’d tell stories of late-night baking sessions, lively dinner parties, and one too many red wine spills. They’ve lived through renovations, trends, and the joyous chaos of life.
But even hard-working granite has its limits. Lately, I’ve noticed some cracks and stains that stubbornly refuse to budge. And if I’m being honest, the color feels a bit dated for my evolving taste.
So, I’ve been researching options for a kitchen update. And the hottest materials right now seem to be quartz and quartzite. They’re everywhere on design shows and blogs, praised for their durability and visual appeal. But which one is best for a home like mine?
As an interior designer, I’ve used quartz and quartzite in client projects. Each material has its unique charm and drawbacks. Let’s take a deeper look at what sets these coveted counters apart.
A Study in Stone: The Geologic Backstory
Before we compare, it helps to understand what quartz and quartzite are. Both originate from the abundant mineral quartz, but they undergo very different processes to become the slabs we install in our homes.
Quartz naturally occurs in veins and chunks throughout granite, sandstone, and slate. Manufacturers take bits of natural quartz and combine them with resin, pigments, and polymers to make engineered quartz. This mixture is heat-cured into slabs, replicating the look of natural stone.
Quartzite begins its life as quartz sandstone. Over millions of years underground, heat and pressure slowly transform the sandstone into solid quartzite. Quartzite slabs maintain the natural lines, colors, and patterns formed during this metamorphic process.
Each material has a long history of use in home design. Ancient Greek and Roman architects used quartzite to construct monuments and buildings. Centuries later, quartz aggregates emerged as an affordable way to mimic pricey natural stone.
So, in a way, quartz and quartzite bring ancient elegance and modern innovation to today’s counters!
Quartz Counters—Pros and Cons
As an engineered product, quartz offers some clear advantages:
Uniform appearance: While natural stone has random patterns, quartz has a more consistent, predictable look since manufacturers control the fabrication process. This makes it easy to match pieces during installation.
Durable: Quartz is very resilient against scratches, cracks, and heat. It’s ideal for active kitchens prone to chopping, spills, and baking misadventures (like mine!).
Low maintenance: Quartz counters never need to be sealed or polished. Simple soap and water keep them looking fresh.
Affordable: Quartz costs $40–$100 per square foot installed. It’s more budget-friendly than natural stone but still adds value.
Variety: Quartz comes in endless colors and styles, from sparkling aggregates to swirling marble looks. There’s a pattern for every taste.
But quartz isn’t flawless:
The resins used in manufacturing attract fingerprints, which show up in darker quartz colors. Frequent wiping keeps it smudge-free.
Avoid extreme heat: While quartz can withstand the heat of pans and dishes, prolonged exposure to temperatures over 300°F could damage it.
Seams may be more visible: The manufacturing process can make seams between quartz slabs more apparent. Professional installation is a must.
Resale value: Quartz probably won’t boost value like rare natural stone. But it likely won’t reduce value either.
Quartzite Counters—Pros and Cons
On the other end of the spectrum, quartzite slabs reveal the complex artistry of nature:
Unmatched beauty: With mesmerizing veining and tones, no two pieces of quartzite are the same. Quartzite exudes the depth, movement, and intrigue of natural stone.
Extremely hard: Quartzite scores at least a seven on the Mohs hardness scale. It resists scratches better than granite or marble, ideal for busy kitchens and outdoor spaces.
It doesn’t need sealing. When highly polished, quartzite is non-porous and will not absorb stains like other natural stones. Little maintenance is required.
Heat resistant: You don’t have to panic over hot pans on quartzite. It stands up to heat better than many materials.
Increases home value: Due to its limited supply and high demand, quartzite is usually a luxury material that increases a home’s worth.
But quartzite isn’t without flaws:
Possible surface pits: Natural cavities can occur during the stone’s formation. Most are filled during fabrication, but some deep holes may remain.
Price: With price tags starting at $70 per square foot installed, quartzite costs more than quartz or granite. Availability also impacts cost.
Prone to scratches: Though very hard, quartzite can get minor surface scratches from metal utensils or accessories. Using cutting boards helps prevent damage.
Sealing: Quartzite may need occasional sealing depending on porosity. Annual sealing maintains the surface.
Brittle: While quartzite is extremely hard, it’s also relatively brittle. The slabs require extra structural support, especially for wide spans.
When it comes to durability, quartzite has a slight leg up over quartz:
Scratch resistance: Quartzite is harder than quartz, so it better withstands nicks from knives or metals over time. But quartz isn’t a slouch—it still resists scratches well.
Heat tolerance: Both materials have good heat resistance. But quartzite edges out quartz with extremely high heat tolerance thanks to its natural composition.
Impact resistance: Dropped pots, pans, or appliances differ from quartzite! Its toughness exceeds that of quartz when subjected to impact.
Both quartz and quartzite will withstand years of kitchen duty. But for busy cooks prone to spills, impacts, and high heat, quartzite offers unbeatable natural strength.
Deciding Between Natural and Engineered Stone
Choosing between quartz and quartzite comes down to the appeal of engineered vs. natural stone.
Since manufacturers craft quartz, the color and pattern options are nearly limitless—trendy are sparkling speckled designs that mimic granite. The overall look tends to be uniform.
With quartzite, nature reins create unique earth-made marvels of mesmerizing movement and variety. No two stones have the exact artistic details.
Both offer durability and low maintenance. But quartzite achieves this with indestructible natural strength, while quartz relies on carefully engineered resins and binders.
Before deciding, view large in-store samples and visualize entire countertops in each material. Which you prefer comes down to personal taste. For me, nothing surpasses nature’s artistry, but uniformity also appeals.
How Budget Impacts the Decision
Assuming your contractor will install both materials for a similar price, quartz almost always costs less than quartzite. Let’s break it down:
Quartz price range: $40–$100 per square foot, installed
Quartzite price range: $70–$150 per square foot, installed
Yes, you can find bargain quartzite and ultra-premium quartz. But on average, expect to spend 35–50% more for quartzite. Some factors impacting quartzite pricing:
- The rarity of the color/pattern
- Imported vs. domestic stone
- Thickness and structural needs
- Amount of handwork needed for the edges and cutouts
- Overhead of suppliers
For home cooks open to either material, quartz provides the best value. It allows you to stretch your budget and still get a durable countertop.
But the splurge is usually worthwhile for design lovers with their hearts set on quartzite. Its captivating beauty and bragging rights make the extra cost easier for most.
How to Pick the Perfect Countertop
Choosing between quartz vs. quartzite involves both objective and subjective considerations. Follow these steps to pick the perfect countertop:
Determine your budget: Set a countertop budget beforehand to choose affordable options. Remember to account for demolition, disposal, installation, and accessories like backsplashes.
Consider your lifestyle: Make a list of how you use your kitchen. Do you mainly reheat leftovers or prepare elaborate feasts? Quartzite suits avid home chefs, while occasional cooks can enjoy quartz.
Visualize the look: Browse photos of each material online and in home design magazines. Create a vision board if it helps. Decide which aesthetic fits your style best.
View large in-person samples: Order 3″ x 6″ or larger samples to see each material’s authentic look and how it pairs with your cabinets and flooring.
Ask for professional opinions: Talk to local contractors, kitchen designers, and home stores. Ask for their views on durability, maintenance needs, and resale value.
Compare warranties: Read warranty terms carefully, especially coverage for defects and quality. Quartzite tends to have more limited warranties.
Trust your gut: Technical facts matter, but so do your emotions. Which material makes you smile more? Go with the one that speaks to your heart and personality.
Transforming My Kitchen with Quartzite
After much deliberation, I knew quartzite was suitable for my new kitchen counters. Its organic elegance, durability, and luxurious feel aligned with my vision.
By selecting a locally mined quartzite in a warmer tone, I got a one-of-a-kind natural surface that complements the charm of my older home. The ombré veins remind me of cinnamon and coffee—two kitchen staples!
Since installation, I’ve been utterly smitten with my quartzite counters. The visual interest inspires me to cook more. And any messes wipe away easily.
My only regret is not having done this kitchen upgrade sooner. But the joy these counters spark convinces me it was worth the wait.