Soapstone and granite are both popular countertop materials, but which is better? What are the key differences?
In this comparison of soapstone vs. granite countertops, you’ll learn how they differ in appearance, durability, maintenance, price, and more.
I’ll also share advice from countertop experts.
Use the links below to navigate the comparison:
- Soapstone vs. Granite: Comparison Chart
- Difference 1: Appearance
- Difference 2: Finishes
- Difference 3: Scratch Resistance
- Difference 4: Patina
- Difference 5: Maintenance
- Difference 6: Porous vs. Non-Porous
- Difference 7: Stain Resistance
- Difference 8: Repairs
- Difference 9: Availability
- Difference 10: Popularity
- Difference 11: Cost
- What Countertops Experts Say
- Bottom Line: Is Soapstone Better Than Granite?
If you’re in a hurry, here is a quick side-by-side comparison of soapstone vs. granite countertops.
|Color Range||Gray||White, gray, black, pink/red, green|
|Most Common Finish||Smooth and leathery||Smooth and polished|
|Patina||Faster patina||Minimal patina|
|Porous vs. Non-Porous||Non-Porous||Porous|
|Stain Resistance||Low risk of staining||Stains if not sealed|
|Installation||No special tools||Specialty blades needed|
|Maintenance||Regular oiling||Regular sealant|
|Repairs||Sand and oil to remove||Epoxy and seal to patch|
|Lifespan||10-100 years||10-100 years|
|Popularity||Less popular||More popular|
|Cost||$20 to $70 per square foot||$15-140 per square foot|
Soapstone comes in a more limited color palette than granite. It’s only available in shades of gray, with blue or green undertones options.
Soapstone countertops have a warm, rustic look that many homeowners find appealing.
Although soapstone features gentle veining (usually white or light gray), the appearance is much more uniform and understated than most granite.
On the other hand, Granite comes in a wide range of colors, including white, black, shades of gray, pink, red, yellow, gold, green, and brown.
Granite also has much more variety in terms of design. Some slabs have long, smooth veins, while others have shiny speckles and grains.
Granite is an igneous rock, meaning it is formed when hot magma crystallizes and solidifies. It’s composed of quartz, feldspar, and other minerals such as mica and amphiboles.
The overall look of each slab depends on the ratio of these minerals and how they form together.
Here’s how the presence of these minerals changes the color of granite:
|Mineral||How It Impacts Granite’s Color|
|Biotite||Dark brown or black|
|Amphibole||Dark green or black|
|Muscovite||Yellow or gold|
Granite comes in a variety of finishes. You can choose from:
- Bush hammered
As you go down the list above, the finishes become less shiny and more weathered or softer-looking. Polished is the shiniest, and bush hammered is the softest and most weathered-looking.
Soapstone typically has a soft, smooth, leathery texture that you can maintain with regular maintenance and oiling.
Difference 3: Scratch Resistance
Mineral hardness is measured on the Mohs scale, which Friedrich Mohs developed in 1822. The scale indicates a mineral’s resistance to scratching or gouging, with lower numbers indicating a softer surface.
Soapstone ranges between 1-4 on the Mohs scale, depending on the percentage of talc in the rock. Granite, on the other hand, is usually a 6 or 7, indicating it’s harder than soapstone and more resistant to scratches.
It’s important to note that while soapstone is softer and scratches more easily than granite (you could scratch it with your fingernail), it’s also more forgiving under stress. Soapstone is more likely to dent than chip or crack if you accidentally hit it with a hard, sharp object.
A patina is a thin layer or finish that forms on the surface of certain materials as they oxidize. The gloss or sheen darkens and creates a weathered look over time.
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All natural stones develop a patina over time. However, you can slow the process on certain types of stone, including granite, with regular cleaning and sealing.
Soapstone counters aren’t sealed, so they develop a patina and darken more rapidly. High-use and high-moisture areas (ex., around the sink) are more likely to patina first, leading to an uneven appearance. Additionally, harder soapstones tend to patina more quickly.
While you can’t seal a soapstone countertop, you can oil the stone, which helps protect it and ensure a uniform patina/darkening.
Both soapstone and granite require care and maintenance.
As mentioned, soapstone needs to be oiled from time to time. The first time you oil your soapstone counters will be the most intensive.
Apply mineral oil to the counter and rub it with a clean, dry cloth. Spread the oil to create an even coat over the counter. Let the oil rest for about a half hour, and then wipe away any excess with another clean, dry rag.
You’ll need to repeat this process once a month for 12 months. After the first year, you will need to oil the counters every six to eight months, or when you notice they start to lighten.
Granite counters are porous and must be sealed to protect them from staining and moisture damage. The sealing process is simple. In most cases, you need an impregnating sealer for granite. This sealant gets into the stone’s pores and repels all liquids.
To do this, first, read the instructions for the sealant. Generally, you’ll need to apply an even coat of the sealer to clean and dry countertops. Allow it to dry before applying a second coat. You should wait at least 24 hours before using your counters after sealing.
Most granite countertops need to be resealed annually. You can use the water test to determine if your counter needs to be treated. Apply a small amount of water to the counter and time how long it takes for it to absorb the water.
Generally, each minute needed for absorption indicates how long you can go between sealing treatments. You should reseal your counters if the water is absorbed within a minute or two.
Learn more in this guide to maintaining granite counters.
Stone porosity indicates how easily a stone can absorb liquid. It is measured by the volume of pores (empty spaces or voids) compared to the stone’s total weight.
Soapstone is non-porous, which means it doesn’t have any pores. Granite ranges between 0.4 and 1.5% porous. However, when treated with a quality sealant, granite becomes non-porous.
A non-porous surface is preferable for kitchen countertops as it is less likely to absorb liquid and harbor bacteria.
Since granite is porous, it’s more likely to stain if it isn’t well sealed. Although the darker the color of your counter, the less visible any stains will be.
You don’t have to worry about soapstone staining, but when it’s exposed to water or oil, it will darken.
Regardless of the material or how well it’s sealed, you should always clean up any spills immediately to avoid water marks or stains.
If any damage occurs to the countertop, soapstone is easier to repair than granite.
If your soapstone counter has a scratch or small dent, you can sand it out easily. Watch this video to learn how.
You can repair scratches and dents with epoxy. However, it only restores the smooth surface — the damage will still be visible.
If you prefer a seamless counter surface, large slabs of granite are easier to find.
It’s more challenging to find a long slab of soapstone at all. So you may end up with a seam in your countertop if you have a long space to fill.
Based on current Google search trends, the popularity of granite countertops has remained steady in the last two decades.
Soapstone countertops peaked in popularity in 2014 but have declined since. In other words, fewer people are searching for “soapstone countertops” than in the past.
If you’re looking for the most trending countertop materials, quartz and marble have recently increased in popularity.
The cost of granite and soapstone counters is comparable. However, granite has a wider price range depending on the specific characteristics you want. You also need to factor in installation costs.
According to Angie (formerly Angie’s List), installation ranges from $2000-4500 for granite and $2700-4200 for soapstone.
The price per square foot of granite ranges from $15-140 for whole slabs and $10-35 for prefabricated pieces. Soapstone varies from $20-70 per square foot.
I contacted Metropolitan Cabinets & Countertops, a manufacturer and fabricator based in Norwood, Massachusetts, to get a broader perspective on this topic.
When I spoke to the product specialist, I asked:
What’s the difference between soapstone and granite countertops? What are the pros and cons of each?
She told me, “Soapstone is a higher-maintenance material. It’s a softer material that scratches easier. It’ll show dark spots where water or oil splatters. Because of that, you need to wax or oil it regularly to darken the stone evenly.”
I asked about repairing soapstone, and she said, “It’s easy to buff out minor scratches with the rough side of a sponge. You might need a sander for deeper scratches, or you can hire a company like us to take care of it.”
She said, “Granite comes in all sorts of designs, won’t stain, and doesn’t need to be oiled. You can find granite that looks just like soapstone. So you can get a darker look without the maintenance.”
She warned me, saying, “The downside of granite is that it’s porous and requires sealing. But you can seal granite with a simple spray bottle — it only takes a minute or two.”
She also said, “Both soapstone and granite can handle high heat, but you need to be a little more careful with granite. We don’t recommend putting hot pans on granite. It won’t scorch the stone, but extremely high temperatures could cause it to crack.”
Bottom Line: Is Soapstone Better Than Granite?
Now that you know the key differences between soapstone and granite, it’s time to determine which material is the best for the countertops in your home.
Before I share my opinion, let’s recap the main points:
- Granite comes in a wider range of colors and designs (i.e., veining and speckles) than soapstone.
- Granite has a wider variety of finishes than soapstone.
- Granite is harder than soapstone and more resistant to scratches.
- Granite and soapstone both develop patina, but the process is slower with granite.
- Granite needs to be sealed to create a non-porous surface.
- Soapstone needs to be oiled to ensure a uniform patina.
- Soapstone is non-porous, and granite can be made non-porous with a sealant.
- Soapstone is more stain resistant than granite.
- Soapstone is easier to repair than granite.
- Granite is more accessible than soapstone.
- Granite and soapstone have comparable prices, but granite has a broader price range due to the greater variety of colors, finishes, and sizes.
Bottom line — appearance and maintenance are the most significant differences between soapstone and granite. If you prefer a darker, more rustic-looking material with subtle veining and don’t mind oiling it, go with soapstone. If you want a low-maintenance material with brighter colors and more intricate veining and speckles, go with granite.
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