Generally, when talking to friends or clients, the conversation is about marble vs. quartz. This conversation is rooted in a mutual agreement that marble is so beautiful, but then it tends to devolve to two particular camps:
People who love the look of marble but won't buy marble.
These people are generally discouraged by one of two reasons:
1. They think quartz is less expensive. This is not necessarily true. The cost of any stone is contingent on the availability of that stone. In fact, in some instances, quartz varieties are more expensive than marble. In many instances, they're comparable and then others, they're less. (More on pricing near end of post).
2. They think that quartz is more durable. It is. No doubt about it. It is not, however, stain or scratch proof, but rather, just resistant. It's important to note that. (Further tips on necessary care, below).
So, at the end of the day, if you boil down their thought process and final decision- these buyers ultimately want fresh bright white and durable counters more than the marble look, specifically. Engineered quartz products are a great alternative for them. (more on these below).
The second group of people are:
People who cannot turn away from the beauty of marble and must have the real thing, despite the inevitable consequences.
For those whose scales tip in favor of the look of marble, they are choosing to endure the wear and tear that comes with lived-in marble and/or accept what price that comes with, too. Because the question isn't whether or not you can avoid wear and tear on your marble it's just a question of when it will begin to happen. I've read food bloggers tales of being a year in to owning new marble counters and examining them to reveal very little wear and this is their endorsement of going for marble. But if there is very little wear after a year's time, they are likely hyper concerned about it and careful. Because commonly even just water is the culprit. Not just the wine or acids that are most notable. So, they are choosing the look of marble but then either accepting the inevitability of distress and not worrying about it or they worry about it quite a bit.
QUARTZ -natural or engineered?
So, let's take a closer look at quartz/quartzite:
Quartzite is a natural stone and Engineered quartz is not. Quartzite comes in various colors and is (though not always) available in a light/white marble look. It is very dense and durable so it is good in a kitchen application and is becoming more obtainable through discoveries of more quarries. The latter essentially takes actual quartzite and resin/synthetic materials and mixes them together like making a cake...you stir all the ingredients together then place into a big pan and bake. (Thanks, Julie at Mont for the helpful analogy!). The result is a very durable product that can come in lots of different colors.
You need to use a cutting board with either but particularly quartzite as it is prone to scratches. quartzite is more heat resistant. Because there is essentially plastic in quartz you always want to be sure to use hot plates and pot holders underneath anything hot to avoid burning or scorching. Things like coffee, red wine, spaghetti sauce, beet juice etc. could leave a stain on an engineered countertop. You want to make sure you wipe any of those things up right away. Though there are products out there to help lift difficult stains and that plastic ingredient also makes it more durable and less susceptible to chips.
Quartzite would require the sealing and resealing treatments recommended to marble. Engineered quartz does not but it does require your swift removal of the types of staining elements listed above. You essentially still need to be careful and be sure to wipe your counters.
If you're weighing marble, then the white and gray varieties of quartz would be what you're more commonly looking at. Common examples include:
Below is Carrara marble and below that, a white engineered quartz and below that natural quartzite. There is obviously a difference, but all still lovely.