Quartz or Quartzite: Let’s Talk About Tops

By Andi Claus

If you have recently built a new home, remodeled a kitchen, turned on HGTV, or even just been to your local home renovation store – you are probably familiar with engineered quartz for countertops. It’s everywhere, and with good reason.

Let’s break down the positive qualities of engineered quartz and why it has become so popular.

Engineered quartz is a manufactured product that is a mix of natural quartz sand, and a resin binder, therefore, it is non-porous. This makes it stain resistant and durable. Engineered quartz is consistent. Being a man-made product, it will not change from slab-to-slab.

Last, but definitely not least is the aesthetic of engineered quartz. You can get the traditional look of a calacutta or carrara marble with their white background and grey or gold veins, but without the maintenance required of marble countertops.

However, it’s not the only option. Some people prefer the idea of using more natural elements in their homes. Mother nature also provides us with other countertop options, each slab with their own unique character and personality.

Today biophilic design has become a conscious choice in our homes and workplaces.

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Biophilic design encompasses more than just plants and natural lighting. According to the 2001 National Human Activity Pattern Survey, the average American in today’s society spends 90% of their time indoors. There have been countless studies done in the last several years that indicate that the introduction of natural elements to our indoor living spaces promotes positive mental health, reduces anxiety, and increases productivity. What better way to embrace biophilia in our homes than to utilize natural stone for our countertops, fireplaces, and bathroom vanities? We can choose to surround ourselves with the gifts of the earth rather than synthetic versions of her bounty.

What is the alternative to engineered quartz? Let’s introduce you to engineered quartz’s natural counterpart – quartzite.

This stone’s name is a bit deceptive. Though the name may seem like it implies imitation, it is indeed a natural stone.

Quartzite, much like granite, is created by the earth. It is a metamorphic rock consisting almost entirely of the mineral quartz, which is also what is used to manufacture slabs of engineered quartz. Quartzite’s formation process gives it a unique crystalline quality not often found in other surface options.

Often you will find quartzite slabs with pale tones of cream, ivory, or grey; and occasionally with bright and bold colors like red, green, and blue. It’s soft and subtle vein patterns lend to its timeless elegance and sophistication. Commonly available in high-shine polished as well as textured matte finishes, it has an organic allure that cannot be compared to any manufactured surfaces. Each and every slab of quartzite is its very own work of art. Like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike.

This stunning natural stone has been gaining popularity in the kitchen design world over the last several years, and is seen more and more frequently in architectural digests and interior design publications. Its characteristics are quite similar to those of traditional granite or Engineered Quartz in many ways, yet it has a unique appeal all of its own. Quartzite is extremely difficult to scratch due to its hardness, which is even greater than that of granite. It is superior to both granite and quartz in heat resistance.

Quartzite can also have a look that echoes that of classic marble while being significantly more resistant to etching caused by the acids in common household products like lemon juice or vinegar. When properly sealed, quartzite will also resist staining quite well.

For many years, people have leaned toward manufactured surfaces due to the common misconception that there is significant maintenance required on natural stone countertops. Ten years ago, that was absolutely true. Today, it simply is no longer the case.

Technology being used in the quarries and factories that process slabs has advanced. Also, the sealers that are produced today will last much longer than those that were commonly applied to stone a decade ago. Though each installer has their own preference for how often your stone should be sealed, you will find that the vast majority of them will suggest no more frequently than every few years. It is also not a complicated or expensive process and for most people is a quick DIY.

So, when you begin planning your new home, your dream kitchen remodel, or just an update to your existing space, look beyond the status quo. The kitchen is often referred to as the heart of the home, so explore your options and imagine how your personality can be expressed through your home’s heart.

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