The key difference between quartz and quartzite is that quartz used in countertop preparation is engineered stone that is molded and baked into slabs in a factory, whereas quartzite is about 90 – 99% natural.
Quartz and quartzite are important mineral substances that we can use to prepare countertops. These are two high-end countertop materials made from quartz and are often confused with each other so some people tend to use them interchangeably.
What is Quartz?
Quartz is a mineral compound composed of silicon and oxygen atoms. It contains silicon dioxide (SiO2) molecules. It is the most abundant mineral on Earth’s crust. Though it contains SiO2, the repeating unit of this mineral is SiO4. This is because the chemical structure of quartz contains one silicon atom bonded to four oxygen atoms surrounding it. Hence, the geometry around one silicon atom is tetrahedral. However, one oxygen atom is shared between two tetrahedral structures. Therefore, the crystal system of the mineral is hexagonal.
Furthermore, quartz crystals are chiral. That means quartz exists in two forms; the normal α-quartz and the high-temperature β-quartz. The alpha form can transform into the beta form at around 573 °C. Some quartz types are colorless and transparent, while other forms are colorful and translucent. The most common colors of this mineral are white, grey, purple, and yellow.
Quartz is very important in preparing countertops. The type of quartz used in countertops is engineered stone that is not natural. These are molded and baked into slabs in the factory. It has 90 – 94% of ground quartz with 6 – 10% of man-made polymer resins and pigments that bind to the group quartz. Because of this binding process, engineered stone has a non-porous surface that does not require sealing. It also serves as an effective barrier against moisture and microbes.
What is Quartzite?
Quartzite is a mineral that was originally pure quartz sandstone. It is a hard, non-foliated metamorphic rock. Sandstone converts into quartzite via heating and pressure that is related to tectonic compression within orogenic belts. In its pure form, quartzite appears in white to grey color though it often occurs in various shades of pink and red due to varying amounts of hematite. However, there can be other colors, such as yellow, green, blue, and orange that come due to the presence of other minerals.
Quartzite is very resistant to chemical weathering and often forms ridges and resistant hilltops. It has nearly pure silica content that provides the rock with little material for soil, so quartzite ridges are often bare or covered with a very thin layer of soil and little vegetation. Moreover, some quartzite is composed of weather-susceptible nutrient-bearing minerals, including carbonates and chlorite, to form a loamy, fairly fertile, shallow, and stony soil.
Quartzite is a decorative stone and can be used to cover walls as roofing tile, as flooring, and as stairsteps. The use of this material for countertops in kitchens also expands rapidly. Moreover, quartzite is harder and more resistant to stains compared to granite. Sometimes, a crushed form of quartzite is useful in road construction. The highly pure form is useful in producing ferrosilicon, industrial silica sand, silicon, and silicon carbide.
What is the Difference Between Quartz and Quartzite?
Quartz and quartzite are important mineral substances that can be used in preparing countertops. The key difference between quartz and quartzite is that quartz used in countertop preparation is engineered stone that is molded and baked into slabs in a factory, whereas quartzite is about 90 – 99% natural.
The below infographic presents the differences between quartz and quartzite in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
Summary – Quartz vs Quartzite
Quartz is a mineral compound composed of silicon and oxygen atoms, while quartzite is a mineral that was originally pure quartz sandstone. The key difference between quartz and quartzite is that quartz used in countertop preparation is engineered stone that is molded and baked into slabs in a factory, whereas quartzite is about 90 – 99% natural.
1. “Quartzite.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.