Quartzite may be one of the most confusing natural stones out there.

One of the professional groups we belong to is MIA/BSI which advocates the use of natural stone material through their website known as “Use Natural Stone”.  The information and education provided to both professionals and the public is excellent.  Our company has been interviewed for one of their blogs on cobblestone and sandstone. But this article, which focuses on quartzite and its properties, is so full of great information, we wanted to share a part of it here. (Follow this link to read Karen Kirks blog.)

A quick internet search on quartzite will reveal an unsettling disparity of information. Some people say it etches. Some say it doesn’t. Sometimes you hear it’s a hybrid between marble and granite. Yet, others report that it’s harder than granite. Which is it? Why are there such conflicting reports about 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 ion-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.

What’s the difference between quartzite and granite?

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.

Difference between quartzite and marble:

The confusion surrounding quartzite and marble is understandable. The stones look alike, and the abundance of conflicting information further muddies the water. Thankfully, the properties of quartzite make it easy to distinguish from other stones. Try the tests and see what you find. Exploring the properties of different stones can inspire confidence if you’re uncertain about a stone, or it can eliminate one from contention if it fails to meet your needs. Either way, being informed about your stone is the way to go.

If you’d like to discuss quartzite, marble or any of your other natural stone requirements, give us a call today – we’d be happy to help you navigate the stone selection process!