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Quartzite: Just the Facts

 

“I’ve heard that quartzite is a great choice for my kitchen countertop, but that it’s prone to etching. Is this true?” A visitor to our Milford, CT showroom recently posed this question. In short, quartzite is not bullet-proof, but it is considered an exceptional material for use as countertops. Here’s why…

Super White QuartziteSuper White Quartzite island by Sarah Baron Design; photo via Houzz

First off…what is etching? Basically, it’s surface damage in the form of a dull mark on natural stone. It happens when acidic substances come into contact with countertops, floors, walls, or anywhere you may have natural stone that contains calcium carbonate. Some common household items are notorious for etching, including lemons, colas, red wine, ketchup, and even some cleaning products. 

To understand why quartzite may etch, it’s important to understand its origins.

Starting its life as sandstone, quartzite forms when sandstone and quartz are together, under tremendous amounts of heat and pressure. This causes the empty grains of sandstone to become filled with quartz—a process that actually makes the quartzite harder than quartz. Quartzite is a very strong and durable material that possesses a high resistance to heat and stains. Since it’s made primarily of silica, quartzite actually has a very high resistance to anything acidic (which is the culprit of etching).

But, in some quartzite slabs, there can be traces of calcium carbonate—a substance that reacts very easily to acid. If these areas come into contact with acids, this can cause localized etching. Mild etching still feels smooth and can be removed with a polishing powder. Deeper etches feel rough and may be cloudy looking. You’ll want to contact a stone restoration professional to address these etches.

Supreme White Quartzite Counters

Supreme White counters by Heartwood Kitchens; photo via Houzz

Keep in mind that quartzite also offers a resistance to absorption and a high hardness rating. On the Mohs scale of hardness (1 to 10, with 10 being the hardest), granite measures between 6 and 6.5 whereas Quartzite, on the other hand, measures around 7. So even if quartzite does come into contact with acidic materials, it will give you more time to clean up before it starts to etch.

Quartzite is extremely popular not only because of its durability, hardness, resistance to heat, scratches, and water absorption, but also because it looks a lot like marble and has granite like properties. Many quartzite colors come in shades of light grey and white, which are stylistically very popular today.

With just a few protective measures, such as choosing a honed finish over a polished finish or adding a stone sealant for an extra layer of protection, quartzite can be a beautiful countertop that offers style, practicality, and longevity.

Have more questions about quartzite, or any other surface, feel free to contact us, click Helpful Resurces or visit one of our two showroom locations.

 

Comments

good article - concise , accurate, easy to read..  
but Granites are quite different 
depending on their origin , e.g Black Absolute and Galaxy Black 
and the tan South Amreicans..!
Posted @ Tuesday, October 29, 2013 10:41 AM by mike pavilon
Our granite in Toronto is mixed with this material, and the effect is awesome!
Posted @ Tuesday, October 29, 2013 3:29 PM by Thiago
Gian Luca, thank you for this article. We are often faced with clients that have received so much inaccurate information on the internet, that it becomes challenging to re-educate them with correct information. Your article is clear and concise, using basic reference to geology that the layman can understand and apply to practical use. We will be sure to share with our sales team and clients!
Posted @ Thursday, October 31, 2013 11:30 AM by Brie Pfannenbecker
First let me say thank you for your responses on quartzite, they have been extremely helpful with my decision on new countertops! I decided to go with the Super White Quartzite, however I was "advised" by the place that I bought the slabs that the Marble Institute has deemed it Marble. Now I'm nervous about my new counter tops and their durability with everyday use. Have you heard of this? Should I have them sealed again, now that they have been installed? Any info would be greatly appreciated!
Posted @ Wednesday, November 12, 2014 2:48 AM by Beverly
I'm glad you have found our info helpful. According to the vendors we buy Super White from, it is classified as a quartzite. Quartzite is a siliceous metamorphic stone. All quartzite was once a sandstone that went through a change of intense pressure, heat and movement. Sandstone commonly contains calcium carbonate, which is the basic chemistry of marble. Therefore it is possible for some calcium carbonate to remain in the quartzite which could lead to etching. The difficulty is we don't know if it is present or not. Sealing your counters will only assist in repelling stains but does not protect from etching. Be sure to wipe up spills quickly, especially if the spill has a higher acid content such as lemon juice, pickle juice, mustard etc... 
Posted @ Thursday, November 13, 2014 7:42 AM by Maureen Duffy
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