The growth of quartzite as a popular natural stone for kitchens and bathrooms and its similarity to marble has raised some confusion among consumers who are often uncertain about the specific differences between the two and which one to choose.
Quartzite v Marble: Origin and Chemical Differences
Both marble and quartzite are metamorphic rocks. Their composition does change with pressure and heat but the stones do not melt. Marble, a mineral, originates from dolomite or limestone while quartzite, which is not a mineral, comes from quartz sandstone. It is formed when the sandstone’s quartz grains are fused from heat and pressure.
Additionally, marble is soft while quartzite is hard and durable.
Chemically, marble is composed of calcite while quartzite is not. This is significant because when any liquid with a high concentration of acid accidentally spills on marble – such as lemon juice or tomato sauce, it can alter the surface by leaving spots known as etches.
Why Quartzite Has Becomes a Popular Natural Stone
The rise of quartzite in recent years as a popular natural stone among designers and homeowners is due to a number of factors. They include:
- Quartzite, also a natural stone, is aesthetically similar to marble
- It’s more durable than marble
- It’s a harder stone so it is difficult to damage and wears very well over time
- Like marble, it comes in a wide array of colors
Marble Remains the Most Prized Natural Stone
Despite the dramatic rise in the popularity of quartzite, marble remains the most prestigious natural stone. If it were cars, marble is the top-of-the-line luxury vehicle. Marble remains the standard for a number of reasons, including:
- Its beauty is unparalleled.
- Certain colors of marble, white in particular, are breathtaking and elevate the beauty and richness of any room they are in
- Other less known marble colors, such as green, amber and gray are equally beautiful
- Its reputation as fragile and prone to staining is overblown. Proper care will ensure a long life for this precious natural stone
- Certain types of marble, such as Calacatta and Statuario, are unmatched in their stunning appearance and remain hugely popular.
Marble or Quartzite: Which is More Expensive?
Although most people assume marble is more expensive than quartzite that is not always the case. One of the most popular types of marble – Carrara – is very affordable and this a popular choice for budget-minded homeowners who would like marble in their kitchen or bathroom.
Other types of marble, in particular the increasingly popular Statuario, also are affordable and can be cheaper than quartzite. At the other end of the spectrum, Calacatta marble is one of the most expensive natural stones on the market. Quartzite is more moderately priced but still might be considered a luxury for some homeowners.
Buyer Beware: Is It Marble or Quartzite?
One interesting but unfortunate development that has emerged in recent years with the rise of quartzite as a viable competitor to marble is that some dealers are passing off marble for quartzite. [Their remarkable similarity makes it possible.]
So how do you know for sure you are getting what you ordered? The easiest way is to do an etch or scratch test on the slab of quartzite you want to buy. Just ask the dealer if you can apply an acidic substance like lemon juice to the stone or take something like a nail or a car key to the surface to see if it scratches. If they refuse, you should consider shopping elsewhere. As a matter of fact any reputable dealer will have a test kit consisting of acid and Moh’s hardness picks to test all of their stones.
The best solution is to make sure you find a reputable and experienced dealer to buy your marble or quartzite countertops. Do your homework both on the Internet and by asking friends. This will save you a lot of trouble and ensure that you will end up with the natural stone that works best for your home.