Quartzite is a metamorphic rock formed when quartz-rich sandstone or chert gets exposed to high temperatures and pressures. The unique sedimentary texture and structures of the sandstone are erased during the metamorphism. They undergo recrystallization forming a bond between silica and quartz resulting in a cluster of interlocking quartz grains with great strength. Quartzite worktops share a similar veining pattern with marbles and colour scheme with granites hence are often confused for them. Quartzite is a durable material but less dense than quartz, therefore, staining can pose a threat to the work surface.
Quartzite, the name itself says that it is entirely made of quartz. However, there are presence of other minerals in smaller quantities which are listed as under
SiO2 – Min. 97%
AL2O3 – Max. 1%
Na2O + K2O – Max. 0.02%
Size – 10 – 40 MM
Moisture – Max 2%
Orthoquartzite is the name given when the percentage of quartz is about 99% . Besides well-rounded quartz grains cemented by silica, orthoquartzite also shows traces of iron oxide, zircon, rutile, and magnetite. This type of quartzite is found in Cambrian Stiperstones hill in Shropshire, UK. The composition is dominated by quartz, but the stone contains some clay minerals and other minerals such as feldspar, fragments of rock that invade the stone in the form of impurities.
Colour and pattern of Quartzite
A quartzite shows irregular and inconsistent veining and pattern. Quartzite worktops are commonly found in shades of grey and white, but can be available in a wide range of colors to choose from, like grey, white, beige, pink, yellow, blue, purple, orange, and brown. Some quartzite stones appear to have pinkish or reddish hues due to the presence of iron oxide.
Origin of Quartzite
The natural stone quartzite was initially found and mined from places like the United States of America, United Kingdom, Germany, Czech Republic, Canada. Currently, it is also mined in Brazil for use as Quartzite countertops.
Characteristics of Quartzite
Durability: quartzite is a durable material with capability to withstand wear and tear to quite a degree.
Hardness: The presence of about 90-99% quartz makes the stone tough, giving it a hardness of 7 on the Mohs hardness scale. Due to this characteristic, it is preferred for construction of railway ballast.
Resistance: It is completely resistant to acidic substances, and does not etch on coming in contact with citric liquids like lemon juice or vinegar. Though quartzite is resistant to scratching, careful handling of the surface is recommended. Being relatively heat resistant, quartzite worktops do not crack on being exposed to heat.
Porosity: Quartzites display varying levels of porosity. This is because the more porous areas like the parent stone and rest of the stone may not have been metamorphosed to the same extent. When exposed to lower pressure, the stone may retain the porous nature. For example Taj Mahal quartzite and more porous Calacatta Macaubas Quartzite. If properly sealed, quartzite surfaces can last for a long time.
For lucrative and cost-effective worktops, this material is a good choice. If you are a marble enthusiast but find it a little expensive, then quartzite is a readily available alternative as they come in prices less expensive with designs and beauty similar to it.
Uses of Quartzite
In the Paleolithic age, humans made tools out of quartzite, as they were sturdier when compared to flint or obsidian. Quartzite has been widely used in making building materials and other design applications like exterior cladding, exterior flooring, exterior wall, feature wall, façade, fireplace, garden, interior classing, kitchen flooring, interior wall, pavement, and swimming pool. The rough and hard texture of the natural stone makes it an ideal choice for paving garden pathways, patios, balconies. Due to its durable property, Quartzite makes the best kitchen worktops and kitchen islands. The crushed form of quartzite is also used for laying railroad track ballast due to this nature. It is possible to keep the worktops in an outdoor setting where there is ample sunlight because they are resistant to UV rays, so there is no risk of discolouration or fading on the surface.
Advantages of Quartzite Countertops
Aesthetics: the stylish appearance, color and luster of quartzite makes it ideal for kitchen countertops and even feature walls. Its elegance and appeal makes it an all-time favorite among homeowners. If you want to evade the cost and maintenance of marble, then you can choose quartzite countertops. It comes in different shades, unique veining and colour scheme.
Strength: It is an exceptionally strong and durable stone, even on a heavy-duty surface the polish of the stone will not tone down or cause any problem thereafter.
Protection from Ultraviolet rays: Quartzite is UV resistant; it will not dull down when exposed to direct sunlight. They are suitable for outdoor kitchens and rooms with sunlight.
Heat Resistant: The natural stone can withstand high temperatures. Hot pans will not tamper the surface of the stone worktops.
Care practice: Quartzite countertops are easy to clean. One can use a mild soap solution and damp cloth to wipe the countertops. Remember to quickly wipe any spillage to prevent staining.
Although quartzite is strong, it is susceptible to scratching by sharp and pointy edged objects and knives, so it is to be protected from them.
Textures/ Finishes of quartzite worktop
This is the most common finish for a quartzite slab created by sanding the surface with finer grit sandpaper until the surface has a glossy appearance. The qualities of the stone are highlighted well on a polished surface to make the colours and texture stand out vibrantly. These surfaces are easy to clean as they are sealed to keep any liquid from seeping in and moisture out of the marble kitchen worktops. A polished quartzite countertop offers a better reflection of light than other finishes. If you are looking out for a pristine look, a polished finish does justice to it.
Honed Finish: If you want a finish that mitigates the effect of scratching and etching, a honed finish is recommended. Sanding the quartzite surface until it gives a smooth and satin appearance, creates a honed finish.
Despite the finish option, you can reduce the risk of scratching by using a chopping board, and by never sliding heavy items across the countertop. The risk of etching can be reduced using a quartzite sealer.
Cleaning and Maintenance of Quartzite countertops
Quartzite kitchen tops are low-cost maintenance material. Since they have different degrees of porosity, they need to be properly sealed to avoid staining and bacterial and fungal contaminations. Sealing is recommended once a year if the quartzite slab is dense and less porous. Though they are scratch-resistant, avoid using abrasive cleaners on the surface which pose a risk of wearing out the polish. After the counters are wiped with soap solution, dry the surface clean to avoid any moisture from settling down. Avoid using Citrus based cleaners like vinegar and lemon or abrasives that can damage the work surface of the countertop. The acidic properties in these cleaners can deteriorate the sealer, causing your countertop to lose polish and be vulnerable to stains.
If a stain occurs, make a paste of baking soda and water or use a commercial stain removing poultice. Apply a thick layer of paste to the stain and cover the area with plastic wrap. Allow the paste to sit overnight. Wipe the paste away and rinse using a damp cloth. If any trace of the stain remains, repeat the application until it is gone.
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