I may have found my quartzite...anyone have Antarctica?

soibeanNovember 28, 2012

Having given up on finding a white granite that works with white cabinets, I have moved on to quartzites, which are unfortunately way more expensive.

I would love to get White Macaubas (luce de luna), but can't swing it financially. Looked at White Arabesque, which is beautiful, but closer to marble. Other quartzites like White Pearl, Symphony, and Taj Mahal are even more expensive.

I saw something called Antarctica (or Antartide) which seems perfect. Not too pricey, maybe harder than some of the marble-like quartzites. I still need to do the glass test on it since none of the showrooms will give me a sample. Anyone have Antarctica quartzite installed? I haven't been able to find much info about it so I don't know how it holds up in a working kitchen. Would love to hear from others who have it.

Meanwhile, here's a pic of the slab I chose. My daughter assigned herself the job of rating the slabs we looked at. As you can see, she takes her job very seriously and came prepared.

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Hmm, I like the name, the looks of it and your adorable TKO-in-training daughter!

The glass test will tell you what you need to know in terms of differentiating quartzite from marble; you are on the right track.

Just as a clarification and a PSA, there is no such thing as a marble-like quartzite, nor a quartzite-like marble. These two rocks are worlds apart in terms of their composition and there is no grey area between them. The glass test will tell you which one you've got. I'm not saying this to be critical or picky but just to further the overall understanding so that folks can make informed decisions when shopping and planning. :)

1 Like    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 1:12PM
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Thanks, karin. Your knowledge has been so valuable to me in looking at different stones. For stones like Super White and White Arabesque, would you classify these as marbles or quartzites? I have seen places that classify White Arabesque as marble, and others classify the same stone as quartzite. Are some stones a combination of marble and quartzite?

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 1:19PM
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Debbi Branka

Would someone please explain the glass test? Thanks!

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 1:54PM
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Soibean - well, you've asked the $10,000 question (is that about the price of a countertop?) about Super White and White Arabesque. The bottom line is there are multiple rocks going by the same name. Some Super Whites are marble. Some are quartzite. So it's not that any of them are a mixture of both marble and quartzite (though I see how one could get that impression).

The important thing is to only use the name as a very rough guide to what the stone looks like, and then to use your own skills to determine what it actually is. This is where the glass test comes in. Quartzite will easily scratch glass with a clear grinding noise and biting feeling as you drag it across. Marble will slide across the glass surface with a quiet sound and a slippery feel. This test tells you what mineral the rock is made of and therefore what rock type it is.

All the details are in the original thread below. I am happy to see some folks adopting the glass test because it is a sure-fire answer to this confusing question!

Here is a link that might be useful: the low down on Super White

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 2:18PM
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I loved Antartide when I was looking. The only slab yard where I could find it called it granite, and it was expensive. (More expensive than the Carrara I ended up choosing.) They only had two slabs, which were already sold. They said they had some coming, but after checking back for a couple of months with no actual ship date, I gave up.

I hope you decide to go for it! That's a gorgeous slab!

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 3:39PM
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Is it kind of a grey/green? It looks like mine. Here in Utah they call it fantasy brown granite.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 4:29PM
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Here's a closer pic.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 4:31PM
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Soibean, if I could pick any counter, it would be your slab. I hope it works for you. I would get it in a heartbeat. Your daughter is adorable.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 4:31PM
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vsalz, it is not Fantasy Brown. I've seen some really lovely slabs of Fantasy Brown as well - they are more striated, with alternating waves of brown and white (at least the ones I saw). I considered those as well, but just didn't want to introduce that much brown to my kitchen. It's not really clear from the picture, but this slab has a background that is really white-white. Here is a closeup. The picture doesn't really do it justice. It has depth to it, with crystals beneath the surface, and makes all the other light colored slabs look creamy.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 4:40PM
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I like that photo! I should know better than to try to differentiate quartz from calcite via a photo, but that looks very much like quartz to me. (I mean quartz in the mineral sense not in the Ceasarstone sense) Quartz has a glassy translucence to it that very few other minerals have. That sounds like what you are describing here, and that's part of what lends a purity and coolness to it. It's totally great!

(I'm thinking of total harmony when paired with a glass backsplash, but that's just me!)

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 5:48PM
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Yes, that is exactly it. It has that glassy translucence, just like you describe. The marbles are completely opaque. I just wish I could find someone who has it in their kitchen and could tell me what their experience has been. Although given the loose naming standards for these things, it might be something completely different. I'm going to go visit it on Saturday with a bottle to scratch. Can't wait!

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 6:21PM
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Well, DH went today and did the scratch test.Turns out, it's probably marble after all.Which would explain why some places classify it as a marble. I am inclined to get it anyway - so tired of this search and I know I can't afford the real quartzites; DH is against it - he's an engineering type, all about practicality, looks are unimportant (when I met him, he drove a Geo Prism and was very proud that it was the same car as a Toyota Corolla but cost less.I think that pretty much tells you everything you need to know.)

This post was edited by soibean on Thu, Nov 29, 12 at 14:31

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 11:53AM
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Update: turns out that my husband was able to scratch glass with the Antarctica after all. He said it was difficult to do and he had to find a sharp edge, but in the end it did scratch the glass. By contrast, he had no trouble scratching the glass with granite or White Macaubas quartzite. If you're out there Karin, what does that mean? How should we interpret the results? Are there harder and softer quartzites?

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 7:26PM
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Yes, you do need to use a sharp edge to scratch the glass. Most of the slabs will have a spot on the edge where you can try this. But yeah if it's a polished surface, or a smooth surface, or a rounded surface it won't work. It has to be a sharp edge. My guess is that the granites had more jagged edges that were sharper and scratched the glass more easily.

I think you are fine - if it were marble it would not scratch the glass under any circumstances.

If in doubt the other thing you can do is ask the fabricator if the stone is time-consuming to cut. The fabricators (not necessarily the sales people) will readily tell you all about what a pain it is to cut quartzite.

As for harder quartzites vs softer quartzites, the short answer is no. They are all made of quartz and quartz has a hardness of 7 (compared to 3 for calcite or dolomite which is what marble is made of).

The slightly longer answer depends on how well the quartz grains are stuck together. Each quartz grain still has a hardness of 7, but if they are poorly stuck together, then the rock as a whole will be soft and weak because you can break the grains apart.

But in either case the rock will still scratch glass.

I hope that helps!


    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 9:01PM
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I have heard from several people that this stone is hard to cut, especially because it flakes easily. That sounds a lot like the type of quartzite you describe where the grains aren't stuck together very well. At least one fabricator I spoke to was not eager to work with it due to issues with flaking.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 8:58AM
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Hmm, that's interesting. I could picture that with a rock like this.

So, what are your thoughts? Are you going to give it a go? It sure is beautiful. Most stone countertops are much too busy for my contemporary tastes but I love this one.

I like how thorough you've been in your search. No doubt this will pay off for you.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 10:09AM
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Hi Karin.
I am soibean's DH and quite guilty of being "the engineering type". Following up on the comments you made "...where the grains aren't stuck together very well". Besides making it more difficult to cut for the fabricators (flaking), are there other issues we should be aware of? For example, if a heavy object fell on the counter top or some other type of impact - could it crack? any other issues?
thanks in advance

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 10:36AM
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We are almost definitely going with the Antarctica. I am with you on the contemporary look and feel. Part of me is excited that it's not like every other white kitchen out there, and part of me worries that there's a reason why people aren't using it much. I definitely tend to overthink things!

P.S. speaking of overthinking, my DH wants to know if a ""flaky"" quartzite is more likely to chip once installed.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 10:37AM
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Hmm, this is a tough question, and now with higher stakes because DH is here! Let me hedge my bets by giving you two possible answers.

1. Let's assume the rock is not well-cemented (i.e., not well stuck together). If this is true it will be tricky to fabricate but of course most of that responsibility falls on the fabricator. It's true though that in this case it might be prone to flaking once installed, like on a corner or an overhang.

In this case, I would inspect the edges of the slabs. Do you see flakes or cracks that seem to undermine the integrity of the slab? That would be worrisome.

2. It's also possible that this rock is extremely well-cemented. So firmly stuck together in fact, that rather than individual grains cutting during the fabrication process, instead big chunks break off. The rock just does not want to come apart. This is common in pure quartz because the molecular structure is equally strong in all directions. There are no easy planes of weakness, so the mineral breaks in curving flakes. Look at the edge of broken glass and you will see that it always breaks in curving flakes. Glass shares the same molecular structure as quartz.

If this is the case, all the trouble will be in the fabricator's hands. Once you get it, it will be bombproof.

The problem of course is that I can't think of any way for you to tell the difference. In geology it's really easy: grab your rock hammer, pound on the rock and watch what happens (oh how I love doing this!). Even the way the hammer springs back in your hand tells you a lot about the strength of the rock. Sadly, I don't think the dealer will abide by this idea. :)

So there is a lot of information which ultimately is not that helpful! I guess my best advice is to 1)inspect the edges of the slab and see what you can observe about the way it responds to cutting and breaking, and 2) talk to the fabricator to see what their impression is. They actually will know the answer to this question, so if you could talk to someone who has worked with this stone before, that would be a huge help.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 12:38PM
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I wanted to provide my experience with Antartide Quartzite. I had it installed in my kitchen this past December. I am now in the process of exchanging it out for something else. The fabricator had never worked with it before and it chipped and popped the entire time he was cutting it. Mine has a lot of crystal formation which makes it extremely beautiful to look at, but terrible and brittle to work with. It had to be filled with epoxy/resin to fill in the chips, and the color was difficult to match. So, now I can see all the discolored epoxy on the side edge of the counters. It doesn't look good, and seems to attract dirt because the epoxy has a tacky finish as compared to the stone. I am really unhappy with the way it turned out, and frankly so was the fabricator. Therefore, this is why I am changing it out. The Antartide quartzite is a STUNNING stone and mine is white with some light green and grey veining. The other parts of the stone are all crystally and really glow in the light, but I can't live with the discolored epoxy that I can see everyday. Nobody informed me of the difficulty in fabricating the stone, so I didn't know any better. I am not trying to discourage anyone from choosing it, but please research it with your fabricator. They need to work VERY slowly with the stone. It is a nice alternative to marble (which i have in my bathroom that etches) This quartzite does not stain or etch. I am talking not even with red wine. It is tough. It does chip fairly easily though depending on the level of crystals you can see in the stone. I am now getting Brown Fantasy, which some call a marble and some a quartzite. I am hoping it cuts well. The slab that I chose today is gorgeous, and to me may even be prettier than the Antartide. Some Brown Fantasy has a lot of brown in it, but the slab I saw has a lot of white, grey and even some green. I even could see some flecks of this beautiful light purple color in it. I have dark reddish walnut stained cabinets and I think it is going to really go well. I also recommend this stone to anyone wanting an alternative to marble. Hope this helps anyone choosing a Quartzite. I wish I had been more informed before I purchased it. I think with any stone it will be hard to get perfection. Each person has to decide what they can tolerate: chips, etching, discolored resin, or whatever, when choosing their stone. I would love any information on Brown Fantasy, or if the original posting person did in fact get the Antartide quartzite.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 5:00PM
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sweetcheetah - thanks for posting your experience. We ended up not getting the Antarctica/Antartide, although I definitely lusted after it. We actually went to purchase it and found that someone else had reserved our slabs. We would have been able to get one slab only (we needed two), and I still almost purchased it, but at the last second we saw a granite called Snowflakes and decided to go with that. Cheaper and we could get two slabs. It does seem quite absorbent, so I already resealed it myself, which seems to be working for now.

I guess I'm not surprised to hear about the chipping - when I was looking, I ran into a guy who said, "don't get the Antarctica, I got it and it basically crumbled while it was being shipped to the fabricator." I had a feeling we might run into trouble, but it was so beautiful, I didn't want to think about it. Maybe it's for the best. Who knows, if you are in Eastern Mass, maybe you got my slab!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 10:57AM
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can you post a photo of the granite Snowflakes. Thanks

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 5:40PM
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Here is a photo of the snowflakes installed, plus a closeup. As you can see, much busier than the Antarctica.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 9:47AM
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I am in Central Ma! LOL, but only needed one slab. Anyway, I love your granite. True, it is much busier than the quartzite, but lovely just the same. I think I have learned that the slabs that look busy when standing on their sides in the yard tend to have a calmer appearance when laying flat on the counter. Your counters look fabulous, and I have to say that snowflakes appears to be another nice alternative to marble in the kitchen. Well, I am glad you didn't get the Antartide.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 7:43PM
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Soibean your countertops look great! I too want a white non-marble stone to go with white cabs and have been looking at quartzites, but so far haven't seen any in person that are white enough. All beautiful though.

I've never seen snowflakes. Can you post more pictures of it installed? Sweetcheetah is right, it does look less busy installed compared to looking at the slab upright.

This weekend saw a new one (for me) called white ice. It was like a less busy white delicatus with a whiter background. Couldn't get an idea of cost because that company only sells slabs they fabricate and install. I don't know any other yards that do that. I'm just starting to think about my remodel and not in the market just yet so maybe I'll see it elsewhere so I can at least get a sample.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 8:58PM
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Well, the behavior of the rock makes sense. Knowing what we know now, thanks to Sweetcheetah, is that the rock is extremely well-bonded, pure quartz. This rock went through a lot of metamorphism to the point where the quartz grains grew into each other. The degree to which this happens with quartzites depends on how much metamorphism it undergoes. Some quartzites aren't much different from the sandstone they started out as. But others get much more heat and pressure and approach melting, but don't melt. Instead they recrystallize where the grains all grow into each other. It looks like in this rock the crystals are fairly large, which probably makes it more challenging to work with.

So yeah, cutting this rock would be a lot like cutting glass. Extremely difficult and prone to breaking. As I described above, quartz (and glass) tends to break unevenly so it's hard to make a clean cut in that case.

Too bad, Antarctica is a stunner. But the Snowflakes is cool too! Soilbean's example is fantastic (and those pendants - swoon!).

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 9:30PM
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island, did the white ice look anything like this? White ice was my first love and I really wanted to get it, but the slabs I found always felt just a little too creamy next to my white cabinets. If it had been just a little whiter, I definitely would have taken it.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 8:41AM
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My husband and I are looking for a quartzite granite to us in our new home we are building. All our cabinets are going to be really white. We would like neutral tones with a little white in the stone. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 2:17PM
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