The Durability of Quartzite Surfaces
Not yet as popular as marble or granite, but offering both the glamorous look of marble and the practical advantages of granite, quartzite has been gaining greater and greater appreciation among homeowners and interior designers in recent years. Its stylish appearance combined with unsurpassed durability and resistance to wear-and-tear make it suitable for all kinds of construction and decoration projects – from outdoor paving and feature walls to kitchen countertops and bathroom vanities. Quartzite has the inherent charm and timeless appeal of all natural stones, but it is much stronger and longer-lasting than any of them.
What is quartzite?
Often confused with quartz (because of the similarity of names), quartzite is a natural stone, not an engineered one. It is a metamorphic rock, created when sandstone is subjected to extreme heat and pressure deep within the earth’s crust. The peculiarities of its formation make quartzite extremely hard and highly resistant to heat and water. It comes in various textures and colors and easily withstands heavy foot traffic and harsh weather conditions.
Due to this exceptional durability and versatility, quartzite can be used in all kinds of exterior and interior applications.
Benefits of Quartzite
Quartzite has many advantageous properties, but its gorgeous look and unparalleled durability are, undoubtedly, the most notable ones:
As already mentioned, quartzite is a naturally occurring metamorphic rock. It is formed when intense heat and strong pressure caused by tectonic plate compression in the crust of the earth cause the individual grains within pure quartz sandstone to recrystallize and form an interlocking mosaic of quartz crystals. The resulting metamorphosed stone loses most (or all) of the original texture and sedimentary structures of the sandstone and becomes extremely hard and resistant to harsh chemical attacks, abrupt temperature changes, and general wear and tear. As a matter of fact, quartzite has been given a hardness reading of eight out of ten on the Mohs Hardness Test (the scale that measures the hardness of a material). This means that it is harder than glass and must be cut with diamond blades when necessary.
The incredible strength of quartzite makes it one of the most durable natural stones available on the market. It resists heat and cold without cracking or sustaining other damage when exposed to extreme temperatures. Quartzite surfaces withstand wear and tear very well and can be used in high traffic areas and harsh environments. They are easy to clean and stay beautiful for many years of heavy use.
Quartzite has a soft, elegant look that adds natural charm and high aesthetic appeal to the ambience.
In its’ pure form quartzite is white to gray in color, but small amounts of former cementing materials (iron oxide, silica, carbonate and clay) usually remain in the stone after the metamorphic process and create an incredible variety of patterns and color – from subtle earth-toned hues to dramatic blues or blacks, with veins like marble or flecks reminiscent of granite. Yellow, orange, blue, and green tones typically result from the presence of other minerals in the metamorphosed stone, while pink and red hues signify the presence of iron oxide. The color variation depends on the amount of iron oxide in the stone, the region where the quartzite slabs come from, and the age of the stone. The veining in the stone varies from slab to slab, so that no two pieces of quartzite are exactly the same.
The stone surface is glossy and allows for different finishes – honed, polished, sand blasted, or flamed. This versatility is very useful for decoration and landscaping purposes, as well as for custom designs and unique interior solutions. Besides, you can easily find a quartzite option that fits your existing home décor and your personal aesthetic taste.
In addition to the above-listed advantages, quartzite surfaces are water-resistant, non-skid, and very easy to clean. (Quartzite looks like marble, but requires much less maintenance, so it is the perfect choice for homeowners who like the appearance of marble but want a sturdier material for their household surfaces).
Like all natural stones, however, quartzite is porous and should be properly sealed to help protect the surface from etching and staining. To ensure their good looks and optimal performance, you’re advised to have quartzite surfaces resealed at least once a year.
The high cost of the material (usually over $100 per square foot) and the complexity of the installation process are considered the main disadvantages of quartzite.
Applications of Quartzite
The great durability of quartzite makes it suitable for a variety of indoor and outdoor applications:
1) Kitchen countertops
Unparalleled in its durability and elegance, quartzite stands out as the best choice among the overwhelming variety of countertop options available on the market. Quartzite countertops are easy to clean, luxurious in appearance and tougher than any other natural stone countertops:
- Ease of maintenance – Quartzite surfaces do not accumulate dust and dirt, so wiping them with a damp cloth once in a while is enough to keep them in excellent condition. What’s more, quartzite easily resists chemicals and therefore, cannot be damaged by spilled foods and liquids (regardless of their acidity, temperature, and pigmenting properties) or by harsh cleaning products;
- Attractive look – Quartzite is highly praised for its gorgeous appearance. The delicate veining of the slabs creates a graceful movement that imparts a lot of charm and character to the room. The variety of colors and textures allows for great creativity and personalization, while the subtlety of the hues results in upscale-elegance that is only matched by marble;
- Great durability – The sturdiness of the material guarantees that quartzite countertops will remain serviceable for many years of heavy use without sustaining noticeable damage or losing their attractive look. Quartzite is heat-resistant (so it won’t be damaged if you accidentally put a hot pan or plate on the counter) and stain- and scratch-resistant when properly sealed (so it won’t be damaged by spilled sauces and juices, or by cutting something directly on the surface).
All in all, quartzite kitchen countertops provide all the practicality and appeal you can wish for – they become the centerpiece of the room due to their gorgeous appearance and last for many years of daily use due to their incredible durability.
2) Shower surrounds and flooring
Quartzite is widely used in various bathroom applications as it is not water-soluble and can be easily cleaned from dirt, mildew, and lime scale. Even more importantly, it is an extremely hard stone that lacks tiny orifices, which makes is very suitable for shower floors and other bathroom surfaces (the texture of the stone will prevent people from slipping even if there is water spilled on the surface).
3) Fireplace surrounds
Due to its timeless appeal and great resistance to heat, quartzite is ideal for surrounding a fireplace – it provides a practical and aesthetic solution for your interior décor that is unmatched by any other material.
4) Outdoor paving
Quartzite tiles, flagstones, and mosaics present the best option for paving outdoor areas. The durability of the stone allows it to withstand heavy foot traffic and harsh weather conditions without losing its inviting and attractive look over the years. The material is easy to clean and provides water-resistant, non-skid surfaces that are perfect for the construction of pool decks, patio flooring, stair treads, and entrances.
Quartzite is also often used for wall claddings and roofing tiles.
The beauty, versatility, and durability of quartzite make it one of the best choices for any construction or decoration project. It is a worthy investment that will greatly increase the value and appeal of your home and will last for many years to come.