Quartzite Countertops May be Gorgeous, But There’s Something Your Stone Dealer Isn’t Telling You

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Figure 1: Author’s Anatardite Calcite, mislabeled as Quartzite from IMC

This story has since been updated here, here and here. Please read.

By Jon Anderson
Special Contributor

There are many options for countertops, ranging from bog-standard Formica and tile to stainless steel, slab glass, concrete, marble, granite, manufactured quartz and now natural quartzite.

The minimum one expects from a countertop is durability. Many would think durability, along with stone rarity, should increase with price. I think we all know that marble, especially the lighter colored varieties, can be fussy and prone to staining. It requires regular sealing to protect from stains, which is why it’s more often used in bathrooms versus kitchens. Sealing doesn’t protect against etching.

Quartz is a very hard and durable mineral that’s imprecisely used to describe two types of stone. There is manufactured quartz like Silestone and Caesarstone that take quartz aggregate and mix it with resin under extreme heat and pressure to form slabs. Quartzite is an all-natural stone mined the same way as marble and granite.

Quartzite’s appearance varies greatly but has distinct veining and can have a look anywhere from crisp solid coloring to very crystalline in appearance (like crushed ice). I’ve seen quartz so perfectly colored, I’d swear it was fake. While some patterns are brilliantly crazy, it’s generally a more subtle stone group that definitely causes as much “WOW” for viewers as it does owner’s wallets.

But quartzite has a dirty little secret. There’s a high likelihood it’s been mislabeled which may lead to problems.

Figure 2: Quartzite you’d swear was painted.

Etching: SOME Quartzite’s (and Onyx’s and Marble’s) Dirty Secret

According to the Marble Institute of America some quartzite etches because in slab preparation, resins are infused into the slab that enhance slab stability and make it shine. But when acidic liquids – wine, tomatoes, citrus, etc. – aren’t wiped up immediately, you’re left with a ghosted etch mark. Etching can also occur when cleaners that contain hydrofluoric acid are used. The resins are used before it gets to the distributor/fabricator so it’s not a “local” treatment.

Resins are natural or synthetic compounds generally originating from tree or plant sap. In the past, some stone slabs were rejected at the quarry because of brittleness. Resins can turn these previously unsellable stones into marketable slabs. I can’t help wonder if this is one reason why quartzite has only recently become popular.

Note: Most quartzite’s that etch are mislabeled. Actual quartzite is quite durable. The trick is to know if you’re being lied to.

Figure 3: Etching. The reflection should be square

Etching is especially apparent on light/white colored stone, but the dulling appearance of etching will be visible on any colored quartzite.

Reading across multiple message boards, it seems that because the etching is resin-related, etching is not universal. It’s dependent on the stone supplier (quarry) and what resin was used – some resins apparently don’t etch. While some suggest not all stones have been treated with resin, they seem to be outnumbered by stone experts saying that un-resined quartzite is next to impossible to buy.

Resin ingredients literally vary by country and even quarry which makes it hard to track what ingredient in the resin reacts to acids on the countertop.

Note: Some dispute that there are resins in the stone. Regardless, etching will occur if the stone isn’t a true quartzite.

Why doesn’t this problem occur with granite? Granites are formed via volcanic processes (igneous rocks) and are stable enough in slab form not to need impregnation of resins. Quartzite is a metamorphic rock that’s formed when sandstone-based rock is “morphed” from sand to glassy crystalline with heat and pressure. The crystalline structure creates a more brittle stone that is stabilized by resins.

All this I learned AFTER I’d installed quartzite (Actually Calcite) in my kitchen, started cooking and began to notice the un-cleanable etching. Recently I spoke with IMC, my stone supplier, and they were surprised to hear that no one had warned me. Nope, not once in the dozen-ish trips I made to IMC nor at any of the other stone yards in Dallas I visited, (including Allied Stone). Had I known, I NEVER would have purchased the stone, let alone pay extra over granite.

My neighbor has the exact same stone and is having the same problem. I recently saw it being installed at a remodel on Hanover Street in University Park and wonder how long before a new owner hears the ticking time bomb.

Basically, in my experience, the ONLY 100 percent safe, durable and un-etchable natural stone is granite. But unfortunately, I don’t have granite, so what are the options to minimize the problem?

Figure 4: Another “etcher” Onyx

Etch Fixes

Bad news. It’s likely unavoidable and not reversible. How quickly can it happen? I was told by one fabricator that in the time it took to grab a towel to wipe up a spot of lemon juice, one owner’s stone had etched. In the eighteen months I’ve had the countertops, I’d estimate that 10% of the surface is noticeably etched. There suggestions ranging from re-polishing to clear-coating it.

Re-polishing the stone would cost me $1,200 and the result would be just as susceptible to etching (requiring future re-polishing) and the resulting shine may not match the original finish. Either way, it’s an expensive, never-ending short-term fix.

Another option is a product called Clearstone that was developed in Australia. It’s a 1-2 mm thick overcoat resin that’s professionally applied. It comes with a 10-year warranty against etching (staining, etc.). However it has mixed reviews. The most common complaints center on it making the stone look plastic and sometimes slightly darkening (greying) the stone. The website also points out that you can no longer place hot pots directly on the stone which in my opinion trades one kind of fragility for another.

I met with the Clearstone rep in Dallas and his sample stone looks fine. I also found out that it’s true, hot pots aren’t recommended, but that after the four-month cure, while still not recommended, it’s kinda-sorta-maybe-OK. Which is a nice way of saying it’s not covered by their warranty so if you damage the countertop, it’s your problem.

…and then there’s the price! The stone cost me $6,500 installed. The Clearstone treatment would cost $4,200! In other words, the same cost to throw these finicky counters off the roof and install carefree un-etchable granite!

A third suggestion I’ve read is the most specious. Don’t buy high-gloss quartzite, buy a leather or honed finish instead. Well, DUH! If the whole slab already looks etched and imperfect, post-installation etching won’t show as badly. But equally, the stone’s beauty won’t show through either.

Learn from Me

Some posters suggest getting a chunk of stone you’re considering and taking it home for a literal acid test – leaving lemon juice, wine, etc. overnight to see what happens. But I’ve also read that etching can occur at differing rates on the same slab because some areas will have more/deeper resin than others. For this reason, the chunk test may not reflect the whole slab.

Eighteen months ago, I spent BIG to get the “cool” quartzite (mislabeled Calcite) that gets new etches with every party and made-from-scratch pot of spaghetti sauce. I’ve taken to covering the counters with clear plastic tablecloth sheeting sold by Jo-Ann Fabrics to protect the counters during parties. When cooking with acidic ingredients (like tomatoes or citrus) I cover my work area with silicone Silpats.

At the end of the day, I feel deceived and ripped-off, wondering if Formica would have been a better choice.

It’s criminal that consumers are being bilked by their stone suppliers into purchasing quartzite that is in fact something else … something more fragile.  At the very least, if (fake) quartzite continues to be sold, it should include the cost of a sealer like Clearstone as part of the deal.

Having lost trust in labeling, I still say … Go Granite or Go Home.

Remember: Do you have an HOA story to tell? A little high-rise history? Realtors, want to feature a listing in need of renovation or one that’s complete with flying colors? How about hosting a Candy’s Dirt Staff Meeting? Shoot Jon an email. Marriage proposals accepted (now that they’re legal in Texas)! sharewithjon@candysdirt.com


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Jon Anderson

Jon Anderson is CandysDirt.com's condo/HOA and developer columnist, but also covers second home trends on SecondShelters.com. An award-winning columnist, Jon has earned silver and bronze awards for his columns from the National Association of Real Estate Editors in both 2016, 2017 and 2018. When he isn't in Hawaii, Jon enjoys life in the sky in Dallas.

Reader Interactions


    • mmJoanna England says

      I have heard of Caesarstone etching. It is especially a problem with citrus. You absolutely have to layer your cutting boards or else you risk screwing up your counters.

  1. Jon Anderson says

    I have heard varying opinions on the manufactured quartz products. I’ve not personally used them.

    • Karen says

      Hi. I really appreciate your article about quartzite as I too have a big issue. Staining and the backsplash isn’t even installed. My question is, does the buyer have any legal recourse for the product being mislabeled / misrepresented?

  2. Julie says

    Jon, thanks for the article. We’ll be replacing our 33-year old formica countertops soon, and had been weighing the pros/cons of each kind. We’re leaning toward the manufactured quartz, like Silestone, because of the cost, maintenance, looks, and you don’t have to blow up a mountain to get it. What do you think about that?

    • Jon Anderson says

      Julie, I think I’d be careful. See Joanna’s comment above. For me, I’ll never stray from granite again for a surface that’s going to be used. My biggest problem is that I was not told. Had someone said, “it will etch,” I could have made a decision that was right for me (in the case of my kitchen counters, I would have never installed it in a million years). There’s another wrinkle to this also. I recently replaced my windowsills with black granite – because nearly every other stone and color would be discolored by the sun. I even told one granite guy who suggested white marble that, “Sure, as long as you come out and replace it whenever it discolors…for free!” Suddenly, he thought black was dandy. So sun exposure is another issue for all light colored materials (natural stone and engineered) and some darker ones too.

      • Marianne Erace says

        Jon , your article was great , very informative . I also have a beautiful quartzite countertop , Terra Bianca , which was exactly what I was looking for , I replaced the granite that I had which was so much more durable , but I hated the color from day one , I was not told of the etching either and it’s not that shiny but I was told that it just isn’t as shiny as granite . I’m careful and I hate that it doesn’t look like a new shiny stone but I could not find one piece of granite that I loved , most are browns and rust or black or grey so I’m dealing with the fact that this is what it is because I just love it and it looks beautiful , the etching only shows at certain angles but I agree , we should have been told about this because I would have had a choice , now I have none .

  3. Kmc says

    Consumer reports and several other testing groups rank Quartz as more durable than granite, although CR suggests that both are good choices. Quartz should not etch and is resistant to heat.

  4. Kmac says

    Consumer reports and other testing organizations rank Quartz higher than Granite for durability, although both are typically suggested as good choices overall. Quartz should not etch and is heat resistant.
    As a side note, our favorite granite when we were looking was a leather granite. Didn’t get it bc of the cost, but not everyone wants shiny, glossy etc.

  5. Mrs Pope says

    Great article!

    2 questions:

    1. Quartzite is naturally occurring and Quartz is man made?

    2. Curious- what is the name of the Quartzite that you chose?

  6. JB says

    I recently purchased sea pearl quartzite from a Dallas company and haven’t had any problems with etching. Perhaps it’s the specific color of quartz used for the installation? I had a fairly large sample beforehand to test the propensity for etching and couldn’t get anything to phase it. I used spaghetti and lemon juice all over it for two days and nothing. I’ve had them installed now for 2.5 years and still nothing. I frequently use lemon and lime for cooking and drinks and it’s been fine. I know for sure lemon juice has sat many times on it for at least 30 minutes before its wiped up after cooking. I just don’t want to blatantly turn away from using it right off because of a few bad stories. I was told it shouldn’t etch at all and so far that’s been true, and it’s a gorgeous stone that gets complimented every time someone sees my kitchen.

    • Heather Lawrence says

      I’ve been researching and looking at slabs (particularly quartzite) for months (for a wet bar project – I have two small boys that can destroy anything). The learning process has been interesting. At the end of the day, I’ve learned that it’s really the industry that confuses consumers. True Quartzite (minimal calcite which is what causes etching) is rock solid, does not etch, does not scratch – it is bullet proof. After being so frustrated with being told different things (and reps and stone yards not being familiar with what I easily encountered on the internet), I found a rep who referred to quartzite as “hard” and “soft.” If you get hard quartzite (sea pearl is one, mother of pearle and luce di luna are two more examples) – they will not scratch, etch, stain. Soft quartzite (which many dealers refer to as just quartzite, or marble) is more like marble. So if you want quartzite – look for a hard variety. As an example, after being told a sample of super white (also referred to as Brazilian Calcutta by one dealer) did not scratch as badly as a marble sample, but it scratched. And red wine etched it within 5 minutes! I initially decided maybe quartz would be the best option until I continued to research and finally found a reputable place with a great sales rep who knew what he was talking about. I took home 2 samples of “hard quartzite” (sea pearl and mother of pearle) and they held up. Red wine, cola, oil, citrus for over an hour (unsealed) and not a mark – no etching at all. The gentleman helping me knew his stuff – pulled out a razor blade to the slabs (showed me at a corner of the soft quartzite – scratched horribly) and then took it and went the whole surface of a piece of sea pearl (I had to close my eyes). Not a mark. He knew his quartzite – he knew the durability of this “hard” variety and wasn’t afraid to SHOW me. And give me a sample. This is key when shopping for this stone – other yards would not give me a sample (they said they didn’t have one) and they certainly wouldn’t offer to take a razor to the slab and demonstrate. Frankly, most reps didn’t know enough about this very pricey and beautiful stone. If you are looking for quartzite – do your research, stick to picking a “hard” quartzite, and find a good dealer and you will be amazed with this stone – beauty and softness of marble which is bullet proof – better than granite.

    • DIY-Her says

      I just got back from a stone fabricator looking for options for my kitchen countertops.
      After showing my color scheme and cabinet doors, one of the options shown me was Sea Pearl Quartzite. It did look very nice. In fact the sales person told me it was the counter she chose for her own kitchen.
      Doing a Google search is when this article same up, so I started to worry.
      Now that I see JB’s comment, I’m wondering if I wouldn’t have to worry about etching at all. Trying to make choices for any home redo to be less maintenance.
      I was told that for about $185, they can seal it before install and it will last 15 years.

    • Christina Allen says

      May I ask how your Sea Pearl Quartzite is holding up now after a few years? I’m starting to look at slabs and am mortified about purchasing a stone that is thought or touted to be something else. I’m considering Granite for the cost but REALLY am NOT crazy about the whole speckled look of granites so I’m leaning towards Quartzite. May I ask where you got your slabs as well too please? Thanks!!

        • Amy Lease says

          Hi Candy, Have you published the article yet on your alternative to Quartz/Quartzite that will not etch or discolor? Anxious to know what it is, as we are choosing countertops very soon.

    • Carolyn says

      Mine is madre perla also. I think they are the same. I love it, but have had etching since day one! So disappointed. Was never told it would etch or that I shouldn’t put hot things on it. Now that it is installed, they are saying both of these things! My samples were fine with acids, heat, and didn’t etch, but they were small.

  7. Mark says

    IMC should be ashamed of themselves. This company has quartz site slabs in their store and brands it as granite. The only way we found out was to ask them and they finally came clean. Bad on you IMC in Fort Worth! They are under new ownership and are lying to their customers.

  8. Debora Murphy says

    Finally someone has revealed the truth behind the difference between Quartz ( Caesar and Silestone ) and QuartZITE . People use the terms interchangeably but as the author points out Quartzite is a ” natural ” stone. I installed it without being told about the etching as it had been sold as ” durable as granite “. I would never have purchased it, had I known, as I did not purchase Marble because of the etching . Quartzite should be sold with a warning , not suitable for kitchens with real cooks or families !! Total waste of money.

    • mmJon Anderson says

      And apparently some quartzites are actually calcites and even more prone to etching. Some quartzites don’t etch, furthering the confusion and misinformation.

    • Jenny Gruber says

      We had a very similar experience. We knew marble etched and did not even consider it, but we were told by our contractor’s designer that quartzite is harder than granite and performs like granite instead of marble. We paid the extra money for quartzite and purchased something called “platinum pearl quartzite” from KLZ in Dallas for our kitchen island. The salesperson at KLZ even told us that some of the “super white quartzite” is not actually quartzite and is really marble, but assured us that the “platinum pearl” we were buying is quartzite. Of course, there was no sample available (shame on us for not being suspicious then), but we trusted our designer. The slab is beautiful, but soon after installation we noticed that everything (even if wiped up immediately) causes it to etch. We have had the fabricator and the supplier out who both acknowledged it is etching. The fabricator says it is a “soft quartzite” and behaves more like marble. Of course this is the first we are hearing of a “soft quartzite.” I suspect it is actually a calcite being marketed as a quartzite, but I am not a geologist. The supplier is claiming that the fabricator did not seal it properly, which does not make sense to me because if it was really quartzite it would not etch regardless of sealing.

      We are fighting with our contractor, but will have it replaced one way or the other. I really doubt that I will find a granite that I like that will compliment the soapstone perimeter countertops (which we love!), but I suppose that is the only option since it does not appear that we can trust suppliers when it comes to quartzite. Someone mentioned “sea pearl” quartzite. According to the fabricator, “sea pearl” is a “hard quartzite.”

  9. Glen Harry says

    Many stone suppliers are classifying dolomite marbles as natural quartzites, but this is an incorrect classification of the stone. Most marbles are calcites, which will etch when it comes in contact with household acids. Dolomites are harder and denser than calcites, but still a marble – these will hold up better than calcites, but will etch and should not be classified as a quartzite. Natuaral quartzites are actually harder than granite and will not etch.

  10. Adam LeClair says

    Great read, but the root cause of this article isn’t accurate, as figures 1 and 3 aren’t actually quartzite at all. The fact that your supplier tried to pass off the problem as an unknowable, uncontrollable manufacturing problem makes me suspicious on many levels. Were they really that uninformed on a material that should be within their core competency to know, or were they just trying to avoid admitting that they’d either knowingly or accidentally sold you a product that was fundamentally inappropriate for its intended use?

    Quartzite is a very specific material made predominantly of silicon dioxide. Unless you’re cooking with scalding potassium hydroxide or hydrofluoric acid, it’s practically indestructible. Those beautiful swirls of color you see in some sheets come from other chemical impurities which may be prone to etching, but I have yet to see an actual quartzite slab that ever contained what looked like the large, shattered quartz crystals that you can see in Figure 1, because real quartzite is made when tectonic pressures and temperatures transforms quartz sandstone in to metamorphic rock.

    Those crystals are actually characteristic of calcite, which is highly reactive (relatively speaking) to the most common feature of every kitchen – water. This is well known, making the fact that they told you your problem was due to a resin issue quite troubling. Water fresh from the tap is usually OK as most municipal supplies arrive with a pH in the 7-8 range, but as soon as it’s exposed to air it starts absorbing CO2, which can drop the pH to ~5.6 in minutes to hours, depending on the water’s starting alkalinity. That’s low enough to start actively dissolving calcite, which means that regular old tap water will for sure etch your counter if it’s left on long enough.

    And that’s just tap water. Pretty much every fruit & vegetable out there has a pH low enough to dissolve calcite – tomato sauce alone has a pH between 3 and 4, while lemon juice is 2, so good luck finding a ‘safe’ meal to prepare on your very expensive, beautiful, but exceptionally delicate counters.

    People toss around the name ‘quartzite’ pretty loosely, particularly if the slab has what looks like large quartz crystals in it (a solid indication that it may in fact contain NO quartzite). Since calcite is utterly inappropriate for a kitchen, or really anywhere you can expect it to get wet regularly, you’d do yourself a favor bringing a sample home and leaving a towel soaked in lemon juice on it for several hours. All that should do to real quartzite is clean it.

  11. Jeff Handley says

    I am curious to know more details of your interaction with the Marble Institute of America.
    I work there and our organization is an authority on natural stone, not resin.
    We also have documentation on this phenomena and none of it points to resin as the culprit.

    Basically, what you said we said, doesn’t sound like us.

  12. Christine Paulino says

    I would say if you are keeping these counters, the color is beautiful by the way why don’t you invest in some custom cut sheets of tempered glass? i know this won’t be the same but it could be the saving grace. You would preserve the look but protect the finish. even if you don’t use them every day it could protect the counters against the high traffic days and the cooking. I feel for you.

  13. Toni says

    Great info especially Adam’s piece. I have just installed what I thought and was told was Tajh Mahal quartzite. I asked ten times as I am aware of all the look alike stones. It was a 66 inch remnant and cost 1200 to install. Things went down hill quickly and after two weeks it is literally turning into one giant etching. I can’t even believe my eyes and it is obviously not quartzite of any kind. Tomorrow I will make an attempt at trying to have this resolved but from what you are saying this may not be easy. This is a reputable stone yard that just finished the new Nassau Colosseum.

    • Joyce P says

      I’m surprised at this. I’ve been shopping at many stone yards, and have seen Taj Mahal frequently. No one ever said it was “soft” quartzite or calcite. I’m not really surprised that it is,now that you bthinknsbout it, since it is pretty translucent, even without having the large crystals.

  14. DC says

    This article is misleading. True “quartzite” as the term is properly used is close to 99% pure quartz. In comparison granite contain from about 20% to 60% quartz with the rest mostly feldspar and some other minerals in minor amounts. Quartz is a 7 on the Mohs scale, whereas feldspar is a 6-6.5. Therefore , true “quartzite” is a little harder that any granite. Also, true “quartzite” does not etch for the simple reason that it effectively contains no calcite. The author’s understanding that quartzite etches comes from the fact that most slabs labelled “quartzite” are NOT true quartzite. There is no regulation as to what distributors call their slabs so something having only 70% quartz might be labelled quartzite, even though it is not really quartzite. Some will label granites as “quartzite.” Some will even label marbles which contain calcite and etch as Quartzite. Quartzite generally does not have the speckled granite look and is much harder than marble. If the edge of the slab scratches the flat surface of the glass tile, you know it is not marble/calcite. And if it is speckled, there is a decent chance it is a granite and not quartzite. Short of that there is little reassurance that you are getting anything close to true quartzite.

      • Chess says

        It would be appropriate to re-title this article and clarify the true issue in it. It is a bit misleading as it stands.

        • Carol Hoffman says

          As someone who has worked with natural stone countertops for over 15 years, I completely agree with Chess’s comment. You are giving quartzite a bad name because your salesperson was dishonest and sold you calcite. Personally, I arm every customer with the knowledge to allow them to be an educated consumer. The highest compliment you can pay me is, “I learned a lot from you!” Frequently I advise folks to search online to read up on other people’s experience with quartzite, calcite, marble, etc. They are going to find your article, as I did. And they’re not going to bother to check out where you mention that the article has been “updated” three times. (You could at least say “corrected.”) Then suddenly I become the one they don’t trust, because they “saw something online” that says that quartzite etches. I’m sure you could figure out how to edit the post. Won’t you do that for those of us who make our living educating folks and selling the correct stone to folks for their needs?

          • mmJon Anderson says

            You seem to think that mislabeling and misleading consumers are the exceptions rather than the rule. I will tell you that except for one stone yard in Dallas, none of the others knew a thing about calcite and were selling it as quartzite. You will note that even recent commenters to this 2-year old column are saying the same thing from all over. As of a month ago, the same place that sold me calcite as quartzite has simply removed labeling and places it alongside granite and quartzite.
            This column still stands as a cautionary tale. However, I will add a few notes for those whose cursory research ends with this column.

  15. Anna Kuzminsky says

    I am having huge issues with the quartzite counters where the cut edges let in moisture, discoloring the edge and increasing areas on the top surface. Moisture is also following along the veins, which are now (after about 2 years) showing signs of cracking and separating. The warehouse is refusing to take any responsibility for the fault stone. Could it be that my particular stone is soft vs hard quartzite or that after fabrication there is no resin to seal the edges?

    • mmJon Anderson says

      With no idea what your stone looks like, I can’t say why you’re having your problems. I’d make friends with a reputable stone dealer and email them a picture to get a second opinion.

    • nancy says

      I also am having problems with cut edges darling i have sea pearl quartile only 6 months old ! have u found out why this is happening?

  16. Katie says

    After reading your article and having my heart set on a Cielo Quartzite, I was reluctant to purchase! I went to 5 different stone dealers/warehouses here in Dallas and relayed your story and all but one told me that some places will sell you a marble and call it either a “soft quartzite” or just “quartzite” and you are really getting a marble. Marble is notorious for etching and staining and cannnot have hot pots on top. Quartzite, however is actually harder than granite and therefore less susceptible to stains and etching.. The 4 out of 5 places that stated this said that any dealer that will sell you a “soft” or “hard” quartzite is hiding the truth from you and you really need to do your research before purchasing your particular quartzite (as to whether or not it is a true quartzite) OR simply shop with a reputable dealer. The one dealer who said there was a soft and a hard quartzite was the one I did not do business with. Of course, I didn’t do business with all 4 of the others, but went to the one dealer who had the 3 slabs I needed for my project with the movement and veining I wanted. I hope that others will read my post to your excellent article and take heart. You CAN get quartzite and it won’t etch if it is true quartzite. I am sorry that your dealer sold you stuff that etches. These are huge investments and nothing is worse than looking at etched counter tops every morning. My fabricator confirmed this as well. He has been in the business for over 25 years and said that stone yards will name slabs various names/colors and types depending on what is the hot ticket item at the time. So it is up to us , the people spending our money, to do our research and find out whether or not we are getting what we want.

    • mmJon Anderson says

      Check out my two updated columns on countertops. One from today (with a link to part one from last week). I’ve also included those links in the beginning of this article.

  17. Sandy malanga says

    Thank you for this. I was considering quartzite for a kitchen counter. Shortly after installing a emperador brown marble vanity top, I placed a bottle of liquid toilet cleaner on the counter and it leaked – creating a white etched spot the size of a tennis ball. Of course, I was sick. We used a VERY fine sandpaper and lightly smoothed the area. Then, we buffed it with shoe polish. That was 5 years ago and the spot is still no longer visible.

    • mmJon Anderson says

      Good for you! The darker the stone the better you are able to mask things. You can always repolish an etch (any color stone) but there is no permanent protection, so be careful. Hopefully you’ve read the updated pieces listed at the top of this article.

  18. Joyce says

    I just moved into our new home and had my heart set on a new gorgeous Quartzite called Blazing Pearl. It looks like sea pearl without all the green. The marble yard assured me it was the highest premium quality. The fabricator got me a sample and I took it home and did the “Google” tests on it. It scratched with a key, it etched from lemon juice, and it didn’t scratch glass like it’s supposed to. I also had a sample of White macabus that did not scratch, did not etch, and DID scratch the glass backsplash sample I have. I called and said I was duped into believing them, and they continued to say it was premium quality from Italy. Luckily I have not installed it, but the rest of my kitchen is chosen based on that countertop. I cannot believe they would risk their reputation and sell me something that is not the quality they claim. Does anyone have experience with this color (Blazing Pearl)? What about the White Macabus? I guess I need to rethink granite, even though I dislike the spotted look of it. UGH

    • mmJon Anderson says

      Please read the newer columns that have new information. They are listed in the first line of this story.

  19. Donna Leake says

    I had etching 2 days after my fantasy brown quartzite counters were installed. My fabricator came and literally sanded it down and it looked beautiful again. I was told that once the counters are sealed, I’ll be okay…but I’m hearing so many stories that my quartzite will never be okay with lemon, sauces, ketchup spills, wine, etc. ugh! I’m in love with my stone choice, however, I’m constantly wiping it clean. I have to just breathe and enjoy my counters, and the patina that’s inevitable.

  20. Clifford Bradley says

    I’m a professional stone restoration tech. Quartzite is a very hard stone (the hardest I’ve polished) and can only be polished with diamond discs finishing off the polish, depending on if you want a matte/satin/polished hone, with either a higher grit diamond or a combination of high grit diamonds and polishing powder.
    The polish can only be restored to a close finish but not to the degree of the factory finish because the factory process involves over 20,000 lbs/ft pressure in obtaining a high shine. It’s true, it’s very costly to restore the stone but still much cheaper than an entire overhaul of new stone being installed which can be upwards of $15-25K. An average Kitchen for me runs around $1000 on quartzite and cheaper for marble or limestone as they’re softer and much easier to work with.

    • Clifford Bradley says

      Also two coats of impregnating sealer has prevented etching in my experience. Use a pH neutral cleaner at all times and it will neutralize the acid in the spill. That’s what causes the damage. It isn’t the immediate spill, it’s the acid being left active post cleanup without a neutralizing cleaner.

      • Carolyn Kibby says

        I have madre perla – about 2 months old, that is honed and sealed with a product they wiped on, let sit for 10 mins., and wiped off.
        I was told it was durable like granite. It etches with even water! They have come back once to sand and re-seal. Doesn’t seem to be any better. Very disappointed. Can we add coats of sealer ourselves? Will extra sealer help? They used MAPEI penetrating plus, ultracare, stone, tile and grout sealer. Can I add another coat since they just did this yesterday? Thank you!

        • Clifford Bradley says

          Hi, Carolyn. Sorry for the late response. Sealer can always be applied as long as it’s impregnating and the surface is clean. NEVER use a topical/high-gloss sealer on natural stone. It pits the stone and can cause a stone ailment called “spalling” that you DO NOT want. It’s irreversible. A stone’s shine should be honed into it, not topically applied. Ensure that you clean the surface. Rubbing alcohol is a great cleaner that won’t etch and will almost guarantee the pores are cleaned as it can break down oils from cooking, etc. Madre Perla can come in either a granite, quartzite, or a marble. Madre Perla quarried from South America, specifically Argentina and Brazil will more than likely be a Quartzite or granite. Italian Madre Perla is more than likely a marble or high calcite-based stone. Stone sourcing regions make a huge difference in the features of the stone. For instance, you can have an EXTREMELY strong stone in flexural & compressive strength but it’s water absorption rate is absolutely morbid.

  21. ramona says

    My beautiful blue “quarzite” is a hot hot mess, etching since day one, no matter how quick I clean or how cautious I am. Obviously not the real deal. Word to anyone, while it might take your breath away DON’T DO IT! Keep looking and you will find granite that will make you happy. Trust me a 6000 dollar counter that never looks clean is NO FUN

  22. Linda says

    Wonderful article, I too, purchased the exact stone for its beauty; the look and the option over Carrara marble. I’m feeling the same way you are; deceived.

    I’ve already had it polished once in the 16 months in my new home. At dinner parties I hate going behind my guest and making sure their glass is sitting on a coaster. I would have been very happy with a granite.

  23. Laurie says

    Our quartzite is only 15 months old and has etch marks all over…PLUS chips, at least in 7 different places….we paid a great deal of money for this gorgeous stone and it’s a hot mess and as others have stated, we we’re not told by the dealer.

  24. Kirk Wilson says

    Articles like these are so misleading. First you say quartzite is a problem and has a dirty secret. Then you say its calcite that is the issue. You compare both to granite. Which granite? All natural stones are different compositions. That’s why they look different from each other. Quartzite is a great counter top material. No material natural or man made is impervious or indestructible.
    You also try to infer that cost is relative to durability. WHY? That’s poor logic at best. Cost is due to where the stone was mined, how to transport it from it’s location to you, difficulty in working the stone and it’s current popularity among other factors.

    In your comments you also state stone will fade in the sun. Quit publishing utter nonsense. Think of how many buildings use natural stone on the exteriors. They don’t fade in the sun. Sure they wear. Sure they get dirty. Duh. Do they discolor from sun? No. I’m glad you got stuck with black granite! Haha. GOD made the granite and you asked a human to warranty it. And then when he refused you accepted that as proof that stone fades in the sun. LOL. I can think of many adjectives I’d like to use to describe you, but I will refrain.

    • mmJon Anderson says

      Feeling better? Vanity bolstered?
      The point was to educate that what is often called quartzite isn’t. The industry is rife with bad or misleading labeling (the secret). If I’m such a putz, read the other commentors who report the same problem.
      Granite is a class of stone that was formed by the same geologic (not godly) process. It doesn’t describe the ingredients (colors).
      Cookies are a class of baked good that contain many ingredients, but they’re all cookies.
      Likewise, marble is another class of stone formed by another geologic process, and yes, many will discolor when exposed to various elements, be they wine or sunlight.
      Had you bothered to Google “marble, granite, fade, sunlight” we could have been spared your note.

  25. Laura says

    I had quartzite installed 1 1/2 yrs ago. It looks similar to carera marble with more a bush grey veining and a lot of crystal even in the graining. So far, knock wood I have not had a problem. I live on Long Island and went to the largest importer in NJ. One time ink/magic marker came off of a wet bag and on to the counter. It came right off. I read so much about etching before I bought our counters I was so paranoid.. I did notice a lot of quartzite slabs had mesh on the back. You could also see chips or larger pieces had broken off the slab. Clearly this was a very delicate brittle stone. The quartzite I got had many different names depending on the yard you went to. Most included blue in the name.

    I have been looking for something to seal my stone and I haven’t tried it yet. Numerous places I have heard that bulletproof sealer by Dupont is the way to go.

    I am sorry you are having so much trouble with your counters. We installed the centers in our kitchen and every bath. we had one piece of marble installed on a ledge at the insistence of the contractor and for less than a day the wet bottle left a ring that can not be removed In my opinion the quartzite sure beats marble. We have also had granite but if you chose the right stone quartzite is such a refreshing change and if you like crystal and the colors blue and white so much more beautiful.

  26. Laura says


    Again because of all of the articles I am so afraid of putting the wrong polish on the quartzite. I am sure the right polish would give some extra protection. Does anyone have a suggestion on a polish that I can use on my quartzite?

    After reading about all the etching I was so paranoid and shopped all yards on Long Island and went to an area in NJ where there are a lot of yards that is very close to the ship yards. We went back twice to the largest distributor/yard and I found the owner who told me no don’t get that one and then the stone I fell in love with and finally chose he said was a very strong one and I would not have problems. As I previously stated knock wood so far so good. We love our quartzite. Everyone that sees it comments on how beautiful it is.

  27. Kareen says

    We are using the quartzite Taj Mahal leathered sealed for our new outdoor bbq/bar with no overhang so it will be exposed to all elements in southern california. Every stone place highly recommends this. My friend has this stone in her kitchen leathered and sealed and doesn’t have any etching or stains on it. Its just over 1 year old. My friend had spilled red wine on it lemon juice etc. She uses Method spray on it.
    Has anyone used the leathered sealed finish outside?

  28. Jason Grothjan says

    I think it is important that you distinguish the difference between Quartzite and Engineered stone like Cambria Zodiac and what we use here at Granite Transformations. Engineered stone is 95% stone with a 5% resin incorporated through out the material. It is MUCH more durable than granite. The only time I have seen our product etch would be if someone left something acidic over night or a chemical like CLR or major harsh cleaner. Granite will etch as well though….lemon juice can eat through the paint on a car if given enough time.

  29. Doug says

    We’re going through something very similar with a stone that was sold to us as “Polar Vortex Granite” which actually turns out to be a Brazilian dolomitic marble. We had a 4×8′ island with a sink installed in a new house build after being reassured it would be kid-proof, sink-proof, scratch-proof, etc. because of course it’s granite. During the walkthrough we notice scratches and rings. The builder gave us a special cleaner and told us it would take care of it. Of course, no amount of cleaner would fix it. Finally, after eight months the stone yard sent someone to look at it and they told us they couldn’t fix it on-site and everyone who installed this product was having the same issues. They offered to remove it, take it back and repolish it and then reinstall it — like we can go weeks/months without a sink and island. We are having it replaced and despite admitting it was their issue mislabeling the stone they aren’t giving us one red cent of help. Luckily the builder is helping out with some of it. Of course, we designed the entire space around the island countertop so finding a suitable non-white/non-marble looking replacement has been difficult at best.

    So, it’s not just quartzite that’s being mislabeled. There’s also people selling granite that’s actually marble. What we’ve learned is for the most part if it has white in it, it’s not granite and it’s going to etch. There’s no free lunch.

  30. Jane says

    I am debating between honed quartzite and Matt granite in a fairly light color. I also have been told that some quartzite are stronger then others and the whitish ones have the most problems associated with them. Is that true?
    Also if a product isn’t factory honed but honed by fabricator is that ok such in the case of quartzite

  31. Candy Haberkorn says

    Your post regarding quartzite etching really scared me as I currently have two Quartzite slabs on hold for my kitchen. With further research I discovered that “quartzite” slabs that etch are not really quartzite. They are marble or dolomitic marble, which is soft. Real quartzite is harder than granite. You may be interested in reading more about this on the following link which provides information on how to test the slabs for hardness. http://usenaturalstone.org/definitive-guide-quartzite/

  32. Jim says

    i am in the process of new kitchen and am looking into the Quartzite here in Australia. i carry a piece of glass with me and go to the corners of the slab and try and scratch the glass as i don’t trust what people tell me. looking in the leathered or brushed finish and colour so far is infinity or Negresco which is a black stone with a touch of white in it. Has anyone had any experience with it? so far have not had a sample piece given to me but have done the scatch test and it did scratch the glass so i guess must be true quartzite. if anyone has had any experience with this colour of stone any info would be handy.


  33. Christina says

    I feel the need to write a review on Calcite after reading this post when I was making my decision. It is an absolutely beautiful stone and looks wonderful in our kitchen. The first thing people say when they see our kitchen is how much they live the countertops. As far as staining, I have had 2 rings by the sink(took of the finish), but honestly you would never notice unless I pointed it out. Yes, you do have to keep the wiped down and be careful but not obsessive. I find it helpful that my husband and kids(boys 5 &7) don’t leave behind a mess, they know to clean up after themselves. I have had the counters for 6 months and do not regret my decision what-so-ever!

  34. Janet Seidl says

    Do not use Monte Blanc quartzite. It etches very easily. We have well water and I wonder if that could be part of the problem. Leaving a glass on the countertop which sweats left a ring which will NOT come out. Looking at the counter sideways show tons of spots that won’t come out. Stay away from this one.

  35. jan hicks says

    As a stone fabricator, I always educate my customers…probably overdo it but dont wont them to worry or have bad situations later. Calcite is even more particular than other marbles.

  36. Melinda says

    Just purchased River Blue quartzite for my kitchen counter top. Does anyone know why the counter top looks like it has water spots and stains under the polished finish. No matter how much I wipe it off the spots are still there. The dealer suggested it is part of the natural stone, I should wipe it down with acetone and then seal it. I did this on an area and it made no difference.

    • mmJon Anderson says

      I’m going to guess you have etching. The only fix (temporary) would be to have it repolished, but it will reoccur.

  37. Bri says

    As a stone supplier; I can tell you that a true quartzite should not etch nearly as easily as some of these comments make it out to be. Quartzite can resemble some Marbles so it is possible that the Quartzite you thought you were getting was indeed in fact a Marble. As far as strength and durability; Quartzite actually ranks higher on the Mohs scale for hardness than what a Granite does. No material is going to 100% bulletproof, but I don’t feel as though it should stop you from using whichever material that you want in any particular area of your home. I say do your research on each material, paired with how the space in which you are putting the material in will be utilized, and go from there.

    • M Mulcahey says

      Yes – research but the challenge with that is exactly the author’s point. I Purchased my honed quartzite counter from a stone dealer through whom I had done business for 10 years with highly satisfied results of three different kitchen and bath granite installations. They either truly did not understand the risks or were purposely deceptive. I made this choice in lieue of granite or marble, both of which were biable options, because they guided me that this stone would not etch. The industry needs clearer more consistent information available to consumers and better oversight to protect us from unscrupulous supply chain practices.

  38. M Mulcahey says

    Same experience plus tons of cracking and edge chipping. Clearly this was a subpar slab made saleable. And I also was not told and in fact, when I called three weeks after installation, my dealer assured me etching was simply a surface stain. So disappointed and I refuse to pay twice (and i can’t afford to) so i live with it for the foreseeable future – definitely a detraction from my long-saved for, otherwise lovely, $35K custom kitchen.

  39. MR says

    I have the exact same problem. I have managed to get out some etching with acetone, very fine wool and resealing. But it gets tiring. It’s all over. What sealant have u used? My stone is matte, but I can still see the etching. Also it is soft and scratches pretty easily around sink. Total lie.

  40. Molly says

    Your posts on this subject have been very helpful. Now I know to go back with a piece of glass before I make my final selection to determine where my preferred stones lie on the mohs hardness scale, to look out for mesh-backed slabs, and to be glad I’m not attracted to the slabs that look like clusters of crystals.

    One piece of feedback I’d like to give is that I’ve seen the need for a cutting board used as a complaint against many types of stone and other surface options. The thing about that is the surface will always be either lower on the mohs hardness scale than the knife – in which case it will show scratches – or the surface will be harder than the knife – in which case the knife will be damaged or at least dulled by the counter top. In either case, a cutting board should always be used, especially by serious chefs.

  41. Janet Seidl says

    Beware of Monte Blanc. This quartzite was sold to us with no info about scratching or etching. $15,000.00 later, I want to cry. Like one other said, there is etching over the entire countertop. This quartzite seems to be more of a marble. I swear, even waterdrops will etch this stone. Don’t even think about putting down a glass without a coaster. I used to have Mother of Pearl in my other house which I loved. It was no longer available when I bought this countertop one year ago.

  42. Noella Hernandez says

    The same thing is happening to me! I bought a beautiful slab which was labeled “Quartzite”. It really is beautiful, but, after just 1 week and 3 assurances that it has been sealed, nothing beads off. Water soaks in and dries, but, anything else has left a permanent “etching”. I have heard this word before and thought it meant something like scratching it and leaving a scar. But, now, I see that oils, face cream, soap, ect are leaving a shadow! Its horrible! Believe me, my quarry: Granix in San Marcos, Ca. Will get an earful from me! Im so mad!

  43. Linda Champlin says

    Just bought 3 slabs of Quartzite for our new home. It hasn’t been fabricated yet but I can’t get my money back, just a credit toward something else. After reading your article I’m very seriously considering trading it for granite. I was told the Quartzite was more durable, yada , yada, etc. …the usual spill going around. Thank you for providing balanced information! I read this just in time it seems!

    • mmJon Anderson says

      As I’ve said in future articles, make sure it’s really quartzite (and not mislabeled) and get a chunk and try to stain it. It might be fine.

  44. jay says

    I truly wish I read all this before. We just had 3 slabs installed a week ago, it looks like there’s water spots and there seems to be a grit on the surface every other day…

    We had cheap laminate countertops before, I’m afraid I’m going to miss that cheap stuff 🙁

  45. Suzy Stephens says

    This is a very informative column. I noticed that while some people have warned about certain stones, the person who asked if there were a glossary of hard and soft “quartzite” was never answered. Most people have experience only with one stone, but even they can be helpful by posting the name of their own and how it has performed. And if there’s an expert out there, please share with us a list of safe and unsafe stones. I’m searching for stone countertops right now and really wish I knew of a good one. Unfortunately I am drawn to the stone slabs that look “crystally” and I’d like to know if that’s an automatic disqualifier. I want something with green or blue in it that isn’t too dark and doesn’t etch! I have Verde Vecchio in my kitchen. It looks the same as Golden Lightning. I love it but after several years I noticed it has etched in one area from lime juice (I think). I believe if we had been more careful this wouldn’t have happened. I’m hoping to try to remove it with fine sand paper or steel wool, as suggested by previous posters.

    • mmJon Anderson says

      There is no way to develop a list as the same stone often has a different name at each stone yard.

  46. Elijah says

    I have my own company refinishing granite and marble as well as addressing shine issues scratches and stain poltice

    Quartzite or calcite is garbage

    The way these granite dealers take advantage of people is disgusting I use the best products on the market and I cannot even offer a warranty on this stone because is quality so low

    Leather honed to a matte finish or mirror gloss still perfume on a pig

    Quartz is not quartzite

    This is the equivalent of trying to write an entire book on toilet paper

  47. Linda says

    Thank you! I am enlarging my master bath and completely remodeling it. I was considering quartzite but I will stick with granite. You saved me from a very costly mistake!

  48. Carolyn says

    We are experiencing the same thing! Never, in all of our shopping, did anyone say that quartzite would etch. This is why we didn’t go with marble! $6,500 later, it etches every time water gets on it. They came back and cleaned and sealed it, but it still happens. The worker said to try to keep it dry!! It’s a kitchen!! We had granite for 19 years, never resealed it, and it was fine!!

  49. Elizabeth Skinner says

    Great, informative article. Four years ago, we decided on granite ciuntertops, having researched quartz, caesarstone, corian and the like and discovering potential for problems with etching, staining alike. So happy with my decision. The reality is, as residential product consumers, we purchase through suppliers who sell to stores, contractors, builders etc. They in turn, order from distributors, and the true country of product origin remains a big mystery, unless the consumers digs and digs for the true answers. The middle man will tell us what we want to hear, to make the sale. The consumer might be informed it’s Canadian or American, when in actual fact, the supplier or distributing company, in reality, is simply an importer itself which might be a CDN or USA company, but the actual product is from China, India, or some other foreign entity. Currently, I have begun an exhaustive search for fireplace materials: stone or tile surfaces. I have been warned not to purchase thru big box stores, due to product poor quality &/or glues and toxins dispersing VOCs when the wall, and attached product heats up via absorbed high gas fireplace temperatures, and tile grout dries up, cracks, falls out. Try to buy product from Canada or USA. Doing my homework, they all import from external countries. Even the pricey landscaping/building suppliers & distributors import from elsewhere, but we are being duped into believing we are buying our own “natural” resources. Perhaps, not so.
    Thoroughly enjoyed learning some differences between quartz and quartzite. I’ll be eager to hear my neighbour’s comments on her new quartz countertop as it “ages” with ‘mis’information. She thought quarts was a more modern product, than granite. Perhaps, but at what cost? Performance, durability, and environmentally healthier is my choice.

  50. Rachel says

    I’m interested in quartzite counters for my new kitchen remodel, but I am trying to figure out what the right pricing should be so I don’t get taken advantage of. Can someone help or point me in the right direction of someone who can help?

  51. di says

    recently purchased meridian quartzite countertops. we tested and they didn’t etch and also passed our glass scratch test.
    the problem- the sealing company that uses a covalent bond coating refuses to seal it as the man said our counters are not compatible- that they are more porous than marble! he applied denatured alcohol and found this out.
    he said we needed a solvent based sealer.
    does this mean we purchased false quartzite?

  52. Cliff says

    Etching is actually reversible on softer stones such as marble, limestone, calcite, and travertine. Currently, I restore countertops and floors within the metroplex. This is years past but I figure someone may stumble upon this thread in need of some help. Ebenezer.stoneworx@gmail.com. I’m more than happy to supply pics of past work.

  53. Jim Baxter says

    FYI I believe the quartzite in figure 2 is called Fusion and is from Italy. I installed this in my kitchen about 8 years ago. It is polished and I have not treated it with anything. It does not mark, stain or scratch. My 11.5ft island had to be book matched due its length and the resulting pattern is a show stopper! The kitchen gets heavy use, as I love to cook and do big batches to freeze.

    As a general contractor, I suppose I had an advantage, as my old Italian fabricators told me to keep looking every time I came with something they knew I wouldn’t be happy with. In Toronto 2 book-matched slabs cost me $8k “wholesale” and cutting and installations, another $8k…not a straight forward layout. Worth every penny!

    My advise is to find a reputable dealer, check feedback and ask the questions about marking, etching, staining and scatching and get them to put it in writing. And check the country of orgin. Some countries will sell anything as exactly what you want it to be. The white “marble” that my neighbour bought from Brazil was ruined the first weekend after installation from beer bottle stains, where as the almost identical marble from Italy would not have been. There is a reason some stone costs more than others. A counter top is an investment. The cost of good stone is spread over very many years.

  54. Matt Smith says

    FYI nearly 90% of granite and quartzites are resin treated to speed in the polishing process since they fill voids within the stone and densify soft areas of the stone. (Not just dolimitic quartzites) . These resins are mostly petroleum based materials such as polyester, vinyl ester, and some epoxies. You can usually tell if the full slabs have been resined just by looking at the edges of the slabs…you should see spillover resin along the clefted edges and sometimes a drip down from the polished edge. Resin helps protect the stone to a degree but if the stone is in fact calcitic it will still react with acids and etch.

  55. Lou J Gulley says

    I have quartzite and love it…I didn’t want a shiny blingy counter yet my had a perfect shine a color for me. Sorry so many are unhappy with such a product that many can’t afford. I guess I’m blessed and wouldn’t complain.

  56. zac brass says

    So the thing about honed quartzite is that while it may hide etching more, the process of honing it opens the pores and makes the material more prone to staining. Id recommend just doing a little outside research when you look at quartzite. You’ll be able to discover online pretty easily if it’s a real quartzite or a mislabeled marble most of the time.

  57. Daniel Berlin says

    I’m really not sure who convinced you granite would not etch. It will. In fact, that’s the real difference between quartzite and granite – real granite is susceptible to acids due to containing calcite (which will dissolve), and quartzite is not.

    So while everything  you write about resins is true, granite will not solve anyone’s problem – in fact, it’s pretty much *guaranteed* to etch in any form, while un-resin’d quartzite will not.


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