“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…
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.
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.