We need to talk about quartzite…now!
By Mark Ortiz, Stone Restoration Specialist
Quartzite is one of the most sought after natural stones in the industry because of it’s variations of gray colors mixed with other beautiful minerals, and having the reputation of a stone that may look like marble but performs like granite.
Even though this may be true for many Quartzites, it’s not for all, and we need to talk about this, now, before you become one of the sellers or buyers who have to find this out the hard way. Let me give you my experience with this amazing stone, called Quartzite.
My First Experience with Quartzite
I first started to see Quartzite around 2008 in Anaheim California, when customers were wanting me to take a polished slab of stone and make it less reflective, called, a Honed Finish. And because of my ability to hone granite and marble, I, of course said, “Absolutely!” That first slab was so difficult to hone I was embarrassed to say to them, “I could barely remove the finish.” We were using 700 pounds of weight and a 25 grit abrasive and I could swear the veining in the stone was smiling, or more likely, laughing at me. That day I discovered and confirmed, Quartzite is one of the hardest stones I’ve dealt with.
What Makes It So Special?
Not only was this a very hard material, I also poured hydrochloric acid on the slabs to see if I could etch it. Etching is when an acidic liquid reacts with the minerals in the stone and dulls it (like marble). After trying several acids, I concluded, Quartzite is impervious to common acids. The last test was to see if it would absorb oil and liquids. I tested several household oils and liquids and my conclusion was, it had very little to no staining.
The design world went crazy. Here’s a stone that looks like marble yet doesn’t scratch, etch or stain! Winner, winner, chicken dinner. Off to the races and here came the abundance of Quartzite in our homes.
The sales pitch went like this, “Hear ye, hear ye, read all about it. Quartzite is here, the greatest stone for your counter tops! It looks like marble but performs like granite! It doesn’t scratch, doesn’t etch and doesn’t stain. You will be happy forever!” Well, something like that. Most of that was true….until…it wasn’t.
The Unfortunate Truth
At this part of the newsletter, I may get tomato’s thrown at me, receive hate mail or be ‘unfollowed’. Why? Because it could hurt someone’s bottom line. if you are concerned about my take on the characteristics of “some” Quartzites, then you are the most important person to hear this. We are about speaking the truth as best as possible so it will HELP the industry and INFORM the end users about it.
We are a stone repair and restoration company, therefore we get dozens of calls a day on stone and quartz issues. And the most challenging ‘natural stone’ issue we receive is about Quartzite staining. The first issue we saw years ago about Quartzite was how easily it scratched. Yes, scratched! As I examined these scratches, I discovered that these particular stones could scratch with a rough bottomed plate and that was not good. The industry dubbed these as “Soft” Quartzites. Quickly these were addressed in the factory by identifying them and then brushing or leathering them. This helped for sure, but not completely. I do not see as many soft quartzite issues these days.
But I heard you say Mark that you get calls on Quartzites that stain. I thought Quartzite doesn’t stain easily. Well, you are right, most don’t stain easily, but a small percentage do. Let me explain this thoroughly.
Porous Quartzite…the unfortunate truth.
Not all marble, granites, nor quartzites have the same exact natural properties in them. Therefore all stones vary in the amount of liquid it allows in the pores. In every category of stone, each have one or more types that absorb water and oil easily.
And Porous Quartzite is no different. If it’s porous, then its’ porous. It is what it is. I can also say confidently, that it’s mostly the lighter colored Quartzites that are most porous. There is one distinct difference of porous quartzite that is causing problems; and that is, stains may not come out completely and may get worse if you use stain removal products. For years many professionals have applied chemicals and poultices on stone with some successful results, but when applied to Quartzite, it often got worse or didn’t remove it at all. And that my friends, is the unfortunate truth.
Can we remove the stains?
I wish I had the magic wand, but that would be like having the magic pill to lose 10 pounds overnight. It just doesn’t exist. If you ask Alexa, she will tell you to apply a poultice. (You ever wonder why they never ask “Alex”? Because guys can never find anything. Haha) A poultice is a powder that holds a chemical that is set on the stain with the intention of drawing it out. It’s the most recommended stain remover on the market.
Truth: It doesn’t always work, and on porous quartzite, it can become worse! Therefore, ask yourself if you can live with the present staining, but if it's bothering you, then maybe poultice is your only option.
What do we do now Mr. Knowitall?
At this point, no one is smiling and some of you have experienced what I just described. So what do we do now? Test the stone before selling or cutting the stone.
All you who are selling stone, do your own test. It’s easy. Put a wet sponge on the corner of the slab and let it set for about 5 minutes. If it absorbs, then you probably have a porous quartzite. If you are a fabricator and the slab is absorbing high amounts of water when you are cutting it, then you have a porous quartzite. Homeowner, if you see wet spots and rings occurring on your slab quickly, then you have a porous quartzite. Most of the quartzites on the market are not porous, but you sure want to know which ones are.
Can I prevent stains?
I‘ve got good news and bad news. The good news is there are penetrating sealers that can help prevent or minimize these stains from occurring. The bad news is that many sealers are not effective against staining. The question is, which ones work and which ones don’t?
The other bad news is that any staining you have, may be permanent. If anyone is going to attempt stain removal on porous quartzite, everyone needs to be aware that it may not remove it
completely or not at all, and sometimes it can become worse! Think about this before YouTubing a solution. Here's a video how to seal and test stone:
If you know me by now, I am all about perfect granite “solutions”. Here are my solutions to addressing porous Quartzite.
1. Check it before buying or cutting. Do the sponge or water test, and if it is porous and your OCD will not accept some discoloration on your stone, then don’t buy it. Try a different type of stone, because there are hundreds of beautiful natural stones out there to use.
2. Right after installation, have it professionally sealed. There are many experts, such as installers, contractors, and suppliers in the stone industry that are very knowledgeable and may be able to seal it well. And if they want to be responsible to minimize stains and educate you about the stone care then I support them. The more the merrier. But those people are far and few between, therefore, contact the nearest stone sealing company in your area. I recommend you get a referral. They are more invested in stone sealing and stain prevention. Also, they will maintain the stone for you on future visits.
3. Tuffskin Surface Protection - Tuffskin is a film, similar to your screen protector on your phone. It is applied on top of the stone and prevents any liquid or oil from penetrating the stone. It was made primarily for marbles to prevent etching and staining, but I have found it to be great option to prevent stains on porous quartzite. It's not as resistant to scratching as natural quartzite, but it is an option I can personally back up. Go to... (click here) tuff-skin for more information.
I really love all kinds of natural stones, and quartzite is one of them. I’m one of your greatest supporters of using natural stone. If you want more information about your stone options, give me and our team a call. (714)999-2961.
If you have already purchased quartzite and are having no issues, then it’s all you hoped for and more. If you are experiencing stains that are bothering you, then please call us and see how we can help. If you are selling or installing Quartzite, then test the stone and let your customer know it’s more susceptible to staining than most quartzite and you should talk to a stone sealing professional to explain the care and maintenance.
I hope you learned something new about one of the most popular stones on the market. I want you to really love your natural stone surfaces and educating yourself is the first step to a satisfying experience.
CALL US SOON IF YOU NEED YOUR NEW OR EXISTING COUNTERTOPS SEALED FOR MAXIMUM PROTECTION.
Stone Repair Expert
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