If you’re shopping for new countertops, you’ve probably seen both quartz and quartzite mentioned quite a lot. Although they sound similar, the two are actually quite different materials, with varying degrees of durability and maintenance required. Here’s the scoop, including information about durability, so you can make an informed choice when you buy your countertops.

What’s the difference between quartzite and quartz?

Quartzite is naturally occurring and is formed from highly compressed and heated sandstone through natural metamorphic processes. It’s mined out of the earth (just like granite) and polished on one side to create slabs that can be fabricated into countertops.

Quartz is created by combining a mixture of 93% ground rock with 7% resin and dyes. This man-made countertop material is slightly more flexible than its natural counterparts.

Both are very attractive materials with subtle differences in their patterns, thought quartzite is available in far fewer color choices simply because it’s a natural stone. The designs and colors vary by the level of iron oxides in it. Generally, colors range from whites to greys with some having a pink or reddish hue to them.

Quartz can be almost any color, depending on the dyes added to the mixture while it’s being manufactured. Its’ patterns are produced during the manufacturing process, so they can appear a little artificial. If you prefer a more natural look, quartzite is likely to be a better option for you. But consider granite as well.

Durability

When compared to other options, it can hold its own in the durability department. It’s harder than granite, making it more durable than this popular choice. It’s also harder than quartz and can withstand much higher temperatures because the resin can warp and melt at high temperatures.

It’s hardness unfortunately means that it is prone to chips and dents from dropped items and rough use. You definitely want to use a chopping block or you could end up chipping its surface through daily use. (The flexibility of quartz means that it has an advantage in this regard as well.)

Maintenance

It’s slightly porous and needs to be coated with a sealant to prevent stains from occurring. The sealant must be applied before use of the countertop, then one to two times again throughout the year to keep the surface from becoming susceptible to stains. Quartz, on the other hand, does not require a sealant.

Ultimately, the durability of your countertops is going to depend on how often you seal them and how likely you are to drop or bash solid items into them. Accidents do happen. If you really want natural stone and you don’t mind sealing them regularly, they quartzite is a great choice that could last you a very long time.

Where to buy it

It’s not an easy stone to find because it’s only available locally and it’s not terribly popular. You’re going to have to call the local stoneyards and ask around. Something as simple as the yellow pages or maybe Angie’s list if you want more in depth reviews will be helpful.