What is the Difference Between Quartz and Quartzite
The key difference between quartz and quartzite is that quartz used in countertop preparation is engineered stone that is molded and baked into slabs in a factory, whereas quartzite is about 90 – 99% natural.
Quartz and quartzite are important mineral substances that we can use to prepare countertops. These are two high-end countertop materials made from quartz and are often confused with each other so some people tend to use them interchangeably.
What is Quartz?
Quartz is a mineral compound composed of silicon and oxygen atoms. It contains silicon dioxide (SiO2) molecules. It is the most abundant mineral on Earth’s crust. Though it contains SiO2, the repeating unit of this mineral is SiO4. This is because the chemical structure of quartz contains one silicon atom bonded to four oxygen atoms surrounding it. Hence, the geometry around one silicon atom is tetrahedral. However, one oxygen atom is shared between two tetrahedral structures. Therefore, the crystal system of the mineral is hexagonal.
Furthermore, quartz crystals are chiral. That means quartz exists in two forms; the normal α-quartz and the high-temperature β-quartz. The alpha form can transform into the beta form at around 573 °C. Some quartz types are colorless and transparent, while other forms are colorful and translucent. The most common colors of this mineral are white, grey, purple, and yellow.
Quartz is very important in preparing countertops. The type of quartz used in countertops is engineered stone that is not natural. These are molded and baked into slabs in the factory. It has 90 – 94% of ground quartz with 6 – 10% of man-made polymer resins and pigments that bind to the group quartz. Because of this binding process, engineered stone has a non-porous surface that does not require sealing. It also serves as an effective barrier against moisture and microbes.
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