Granite vs. Quartzite

What Is The Difference?

Granite and quartzite have very similar performance statistics. Quartzite is generally harder/denser and the pattern is more like marble which is appealing to many homeowners. Supply and demand have driven the price of quartzite up, so expect to pay a little more and have fewer color options than with granite. Don’t confuse quartzite with manufactured Quartz Surfacing.

Granite is a whole separate category of rocks that form from liquid magma. Visually, granite has distinct flecks of darker colors in it, while quartzite has either no dark colors at all or has subtle, flowing areas of different colors.

Sometimes quartzite is mislabeled as granite, which is not the worst mistake because they have similar properties. Granite and quartzite are both harder than glass, and neither will be etched by acids. Geologically, they are different classes of rocks, but that is less important than how they will behave on a countertop or as floor tile.

What is 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.

Quartzite is usually white or light-colored because quartz sand is light-colored. Additional minerals carried by groundwater can impart hues of green, blue, or iron-red. Van Gogh and Azul Macaubas quartzites are examples of vivid coloring.

Regardless of color, quartzite is made of one thing: quartz. That’s helpful because quartz has distinct properties that make it easy to tell apart from other minerals. (Note we’re talking about the mineral quartz, not the composite countertop material that is also named quartz.)

What is Granite?

Granite is but one of many types of igneous rocks. Like most scientists, geologist loves to organize and classify things, and there are all kinds of important meanings behind the mineral contents and textures of igneous rocks. But for commercial use, the minerals and colors are mostly a matter of aesthetics. Thanks to the variations of melted rock, we can choose from igneous rocks that are pale grey, creamy tan, warm bronze, dark green, or stark black. Granite is the most common type of natural stone in the trade.

There’s a reason why granite is so well known and widely used. It’s basically bulletproof. Walk around any city in the US, and you are likely to see granite used in building stone, monuments, landscaping, and even curbing. Step inside many kitchens and baths, and you’ll see even more granite. Granite is a trouble-free and easygoing choice, with enough variations in color and pattern to compliment almost any aesthetic.

As with most stones, there are a few caveats when designing with and using this durable stone.

Some light-colored granites and granulites can be porous, which means they can stain. A basic test for porosity is to put a splash of water on the stone. If the water beads up and remains in a bead, the stone does not need sealing. If the water eventually soaks in and leaves a darker area, the stone needs to be sealed.