Just looking at the name of this natural stone, one could get an idea about this material's composition. However, if that was the complete extent to which one looked, it would really limit understanding of what this amazing material is and why many seek out quartzite for many projects. In this article we will take a look at natural quartzite. As we delve into the information about this material, we will talk about some misunderstandings that people have regarding it.
What is Quartzite?
Quartzite is one of the materials that we find to be somewhat misunderstood for those that are unfamiliar with differences between man made and natural stone materials. Additionally, even experienced professionals sometimes mix quartzite up with other material. So what is quartzite?
Natural quartzite is a stone that is used for a variety of purposes. Classified as a metamorphic rock, quartzite has a very interesting composition that yields very specific characterisitcs. Notice what UseNaturalStone.org says regarding quartzite:
Quartzite is a metamorphic rock made almost entirely of the mineral quartz. Quartzite begins its geologic life as sand grains, perhaps on a beach, desert dune, or riverbed. Over time, the sand grains become compressed and stuck together to form sandstone. If the sandstone gets buried ever more deeply underneath layers of rocks, it gets hotter and more compressed. With enough heat and pressure, the sand grains lose their original shape and fuse to their neighbors, forming a dense, durable rock. The process is similar to individual snowflakes merging into solid, glacial ice.
That authoritative definition (the author is a geologist) of what quartzite is reveals some very interesting information about this material. First, we learn that quartzite is composed almost entirely of the mineral quartz. Second, we see that quartzite begins its life as sandstone and through metamorphasis becomes a different stone altogether. These facts translate into some very fascinating properties.
Properties of Quartzite
Since quartzite is composed almost entirely of quartz, it is a very hard material; registering a 7 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. The hardness of quartzite means that it is scratch resistant and resists chipping. This is a property that is desirable for surfaces like countertops or flooring.
Even though it is nearly 100% quartz, quartzite is a material that shows off a variety of colors and visual patterns. Because it was sandstone before it became what it is, quartzite is often times very light in color. White, cream, beige, and light brown are all colors in which you will find quartzite. As you can imagine, quartzite would look great as a kitchen countertop. But how does quartzite do as a coutnertop material?
Kitchen countertops made from natural quartzite continue to grow in popularity. Because of their durability and beauty, quartzite countertops are the choice of many that prefer natural stone over man made materials. Quartzite offers an appearance that resembles marble, but it doesn't contain any calcium carbonate. Since there is no calcium carbonate in quartzite, it will not etch. The combination of the durability of granite and a look that resembles marble is what makes quartzite so desirable.
Confusion From Quartzite
Quartzite is one of those materials that people occasionally get confused about. Why? For a couple of reasons. First, the name sounds a lot like the engineered stone material known as quartz. This could lead some people to conclude that quartzite is also an engineered material. However, as we mentioned above, quartzite is a natural stone that used to be sandstone.
The second reason people become confused about quartzite is because it looks like marble. Because quartzite looks similar to marble, marble slabs often get mismarked and are labeled as quartzite when they in fact are not. You might be wondering why it matters what it is called. Sometimes a "label" is not that important. However, in this case it matters a lot.
The care and maintenance for marble is different from quartzite. Quartzite contains no calcite. It is nearly 100% quartz and the remainder of the minerals contain no calcite. However, marble is primarily calcite. Why does this matter? Because acidic liquids dissolve calcite. This means that a person that got a marble slab thinking that it is quartzite could end up with a stone that develops a patina unexpectedly. For someone that does not prefer a patina, this could be a negative result.
As hard as quartzite is and the fact that people continue to select it as the material for their countertops mean there are many fabrication shops that work with it. Are ther special requirements needed for quartzite? For the most part fabricating quartzite is similar to working with granite because of its hardness. However, it is a bit harder than natural granite is. Often times, natural granite and natural quartzite can be worked using the same diamond tools. There are some tools though that excel in performance when used on quartzite. One such tool is the Grey Leopard diamond bridge saw blade. In fact, it works so well, we refer to it as a quartzite diamond bridge saw blade.
Quartzite Care & Maintenance
So how is quartzite cared for and maintained? Since it is a natural stone, it is a porous material. Porous material is susceptible to staining. So it is possible that a quartzite surface could stain and need to be treated to remove the stain. Oil based and water based liquids can penetrate the pores of the stone and discolor it. A key to reducing and perhaps even eliminating stains is to use the following proven 3 part stone care routine:
- Applying sealer periodically - sealing quartzite when it is "thirsty" creates a barrier that repels oil and water based liquids that increase the amount of time it takes for the stone to absorb liquids.
- Daily cleaning with the proper cleaner - after sealing quartzite surfaces, the proper cleaning products are required in order to preserve the barrier created by the sealer.
- Use of the appropriate stain removing products - there are a number of substances that cause staining on quartzite and using a stain remover for stains that occur will prove to be most effective. Additionally, if a stone stained easily, it might be an idication that step 1 needs to be performed.
As we have seen, quartzite is a natural stone material that is very durable and practical when used for countertop fabrication. Yet it is also a material that gets confused with others. So be sure that you (or your customer) verfiy that the stone is actually what it is supposed to be. Fabricating with quartzite results in a surface that is durable and relatively easy to care for. It also is an outstanding material for creating visual impact in many design styles.