Quartzite-covered counters

Back in 2015, I wrote a pair of columns on countertops and specifically issues I’d been having with mine.  Based on new information, I thought a revisit was in order.

Here in Part One, I’ll talk about the various choices along with my thoughts on quartzites and calcites.  In Part Two, I’ll talk about the rest of the stone spectrum, including marble, onyx, granite, soapstone, and manufactured quartz.

There are myriad of options for kitchen and bath countertops.  Some of them are better than others for certain jobs.  Most of the better or worse comes from durability and their ability to resist staining, fading, yellowing, chipping, and my favorite, etching.

Before we dive into the stone options, there are a lot of other options available.

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Quartzite

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.

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Fraun Delafield of Allied Stone shows off a slab in the warehouse of the Design District location. The business plans to expand its warehouse, more than doubling its existing footprint.

Fraun Delafield of Allied Stone shows off a slab of quartzite in the warehouse of the Design District location. The business plans to expand its warehouse, more than doubling its existing footprint.

You may not think of a slab of granite as a work of art, but when you visit Allied Stone, it’s hard to not draw that parallel. Arranged like a sleek gallery space, the showroom of Allied Stone’s Dallas Design District location has gigantic swaths of granite, marble, onyx, and many other exotic varieties of natural and composite stones draping the walls, floors, just everywhere.

But it’s Fraun Delafield, a design consultant at Allied Stone, who really conveys both the business side and passion she has for the beautiful ways that natural stone enhances a home’s character.

“I’ve always loved design, and I just get excited when people call with interesting projects, ways we can incorporate natural stone into their home in unique, unexpected ways,” Delafield said.

It’s a way to add color and texture to a project, whether a kitchen, a bathroom, an entryway, a fireplace, a bar, or one of the many outdoor projects that Delafield has worked on, she said. Each of these projects was an intense process in which the vision of a client, an architect, a designer, or a builder was realized with expert craftsmanship and attention to detail. Allied Stone, while it remains a distributor to large-scale homebuilders and contractors, is also a retailer, a place where high-end designers can shop for their clients and find unique materials that take projects to the next level.

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