When you hear the word “quartz,” you might picture one of the earth’s most abundant minerals, a crystalline igneous rock composed of one part silicon and two parts oxygen. At the very least, you picture a natural stone mined from a quarry. This might cause some confusion when you hear that quartz countertops are manmade. Once you know more about quartz and its cousin, quartzite, you’ll understand how this can be.
Quartz is a popular type of engineered stone countertop. It’s comprised of approximately 94 percent natural ground quartz, plus pigments for color and polymer resin binders to hold it all together. Manufacturers also sometimes add metallic flecks or recycled glass for a unique appearance. The intense heat and pressure used in the manufacturing process combine all of these materials into a solid, durable slab.
Since the manufacturer has complete control over the product’s colors and patterns, quartz countertops have a more uniform appearance than pure, natural stone. This predictability may be ideal if you have a specific look in mind that can’t be achieved with natural stone. The design options are also virtually limitless, with slabs available that mimic the look of glossy granite, textured slate, matte limestone, and veined marble.
Quartz counters gain additional benefits from the manufacturing process, including nonporous and chip-resistant qualities that make it more durable than granite. You never have to reseal this engineered stone either, minimizing maintenance requirements so you can enjoy your beautiful countertops without any extra work.
Be aware that because quartz countertops contain resins, they are not suitable for outdoor use. Direct sunlight may cause the engineered stone to yellow and crack over time. If UV-resistance is a quality you need, it’s best to install natural stone counters.
While their names are similar, quartz and quartzite countertops are not the same thing. Quartzite is a natural stone quarried from the earth in one-of-a-kind slabs. This metamorphic rock forms deep underground, where high heat and pressure fuse sandstone particles together into a dense, durable stone.
The coloring and veining of quartzite vary depending on where the stone is mined, but it often closely resembles marble, another natural stone. However, quartzite is a much harder material than marble, which could make it a superior choice if you’re worried about scratching, chipping, and etching.
In the end, both engineered quartz and natural quartzite are both highly desirable countertop materials. Either choice is sure to improve the aesthetics and functionality of your Virginia, Maryland, DC, or New Jersey home.
If you’re having trouble deciding between these two materials, or you want to compare other natural and engineered stone products, speak with a representative at United Granite today. Our showroom is packed with an extensive inventory of high-quality stone countertops. We can present you with your options and help you make the right choice for your needs and budget. To get started, please send us an email or contact us in Alexandria, Chantilly, or Fredericksburg, VA.