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Soapstone is one of the most beautiful stones available for home decor. Homeowners looking to add a more rustic touch to their kitchen often look to this stone. Soapstone counters can look beautiful in a variety of styles, from farmhouse to even more industrial style homes.
It has a distinct look that is hard to replicate in other materials, however, it is not impossible. While soapstone is gorgeous, you may find yourself wishing that you had a hardier stone with a similar appearance.
Although you may think that the soapstone look is too unique to replicate, that is not the case. There are options in quartz, however, as a man-made stone, it comes with its own issues, like not being heat resistant. Luckily, the gorgeous and strong naturally sourced stone granite also has options available that look like soapstone. Granite, one of the top choices for countertops in terms of durability, has a few options available that match the aesthetic of soapstone. These options include the gorgeous Virginia Mist Honed, the sleek Jet Mist Honed, the stylish Costa Esmeralda, and even the more bold Green Ocean.
Both soapstone and granite are two of the most popular high-quality countertops on the market, but some individuals may find themselves asking for one over the other. Soapstone has a gorgeous, distinct look, but granite offers some alternative options.
What is soapstone?
Soapstone, also known as steatite or soaprock, is a naturally occurring stone, mostly comprised of talc and other minerals such as chlorite and carbonates. It is considered a metamorphic rock, meaning that it was altered through high pressure or temperature over time. The stone can be found worldwide, with the United States having most of its soapstone mined in Virginia.
The appearance of talc in this stone makes it have its sought-after smooth surface. The amount of talc varies. Generally, stones with high amounts of talc are softer and thus used for carving. Its rank on the Mohs hardness scale varies based on how much talc is in the stone, but it will fall low on the scale. At low levels of hardness, soapstone can feel like soap when touched, hence its name.
The most famous example of soapstone carving is Christ the Redeemer, found in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The statue is faced with soapstone. This stone is also used in a variety of other applications outside of home decor, including being used as whiskey stones or as molds for casting objects.
With lower talc amounts, this stone can also be used as countertops. This stone is unique in that, unlike other stones, it will darken with age and develop a dark patina. This process can be sped up with mineral oil treatments.
The stone is also remarkably easy to care for; it does not require sealing and can handle most household cleaners. If mineral oil treatment is on the soapstone surface, we recommend only utilizing soap and water.
Soapstone is both heat and stain-resistant. It is also widely used in chemically extraneous places such as laboratories as they cannot be damaged by acids or alkaline solutions spilled on its surface. The stone is not, however, scratch or chip resistant. It is recommended that activities using sharp objects, like chopping food for cooking, not take place on its surface as it can easily cause marks. Minor scratches can be sanded out.
The stone is available in easily recognizable grey shades, some with hints of green, blue or black. It is not usually found in very large quantities, so slab sizes are limited. Soapstone typically goes for $55 to $100 per square foot.
This stone is a popular choice for homeowners all over the world. This stone is perfect for a variety of styles as most designs of soapstone are relatively neutral. Many soapstone patterns are blue or green in tone, making it great for rooms that have similarly toned decor. Some of the most popular soapstone options on Marble.com include Smoke Soapstone, Green Soapstone and Barroca Soapstone.
What is granite?
Granite is a naturally occurring stone found in various places throughout the world. It is an igneous rock, meaning it is formed through the cooling of lava over millions of years.
This stone is found throughout the world, including Brazil, India, Italy, and China. Granite has a wide variety of colors and patterns available, with different quarry locations producing different kinds and colors of stone.
Granite is a combination of a number of other minerals, including quartz, feldspar, and subtle amounts of other minerals. This combination can create a stone that has specks of different colored and different styled sediments.
Granite is typically found at a 6 or 7 on the Mohs hardness scale, meaning it is considered a relatively hard stone. For example, a knife blade will not be able to scratch the surface of the granite. It is still recommended that homeowners not chop directly on top of this stone.
This stone is typically used in home decor, as countertops, vanity tops, backsplashes, fireplace surrounds, bar tops, or outdoor living areas. Outside of home uses, granite is typically used in places such as gravestones or memorials.
Granite is considered one of the most durable materials as it is stain, scratch, and heat resistant. The stone requires minimal care, with just soapy water. Abrasive cleaners, like bleach or ammonia, should be avoided as they can damage the surface. The stone requires sealant, which should be reapplied every six months to a year. This process can be easily done by the homeowner.
Granite can be finished in multiple textures, including polished, which has undergone a polishing process that makes the stone shiny and reflective, or honed, which has not gone through the entire process and instead has a more matte appearance.
Many assume that as a natural stone, there is an extremely limited amount of colors and patterns, but that is not the case. There are just about every color and pattern imaginable. Everything from black to beige to pink to gold is available. This stone is perfect for rooms of just about any decor style or color scheme.
Marble.com has over 600 granite variations available for purchase, with the most popular granites being Sea Pearl, Snow White, and Everest. With the wide variety of colors available, this stone is perfect for just about any home decor style. Granite typically goes for $35 to $100, per square foot.
Why choose granite over soapstone?
Both soapstone and granite seem to be excellent choices for home decor. So why would someone choose granite over soapstone?
One of the biggest factors for choosing granite over soapstone is granite’s remarkable durability. Soapstone is one of the softest stones available for countertops and thus can be easily damaged by harder materials. For example, dropping a heavy object on the surface of this stone, or even hitting the surface with a knife blade, can cause noticeable damage. While it is one of the most durable stones in terms of resistance towards chemicals or acidic liquids, in a typical home environment, scratch resistance is more relevant.
Soapstone will change its appearance over time. The surface of this stone will darken and form a patina. Many homeowners view this change in appearance as part of the stone’s charm, however, others can view it as an annoyance. Homeowners looking to have soapstone look like it did on the first day of installation should instead purchase a granite stone of a similar design.
While granite and soapstone are of similar prices, granite is slightly cheaper. On the lower end, granite can be $35 per square foot installed, while soapstone at its cheapest will be around $55.
What are the best soapstone alternatives?
Homeowners choosing a granite material rather than soapstone may still want the classic appearance of soapstone. Here are five alternatives available on Marble.com, all of which replicate the distinct appearance of soapstone but with the durability of granite.
Virginia Mist Honed
This is a gorgeous blue-grey-toned stone with extremely light subtle white veining. This is a striking stone both on its own merits but also for its similarity in appearance to soapstone. This stone could easily be mistaken for soapstone but is much, much more durable.
This is a mystical and striking stone with wisps of white. This is the perfect stone for those looking to get as close to actual soapstone as possible as the two can be indistinguishable. For example, compare Virginia Mist Honed to Smoke Soapstone. Both look slightly aged allowing it to look natural in any home.
Virginia Mist Honed can add something special to just about any space. In an all-white kitchen, this stone will add a contrast when used as a countertop, but the slight white veining will help it look more natural than a standard black granite. This stone can also help to bring a professional aesthetic to an area. Similar colored soapstones are typically used in laboratory environments, so including this in your space can help the room feel more utilitarian.
Jet Mist Honed
Elegant and stylish, this is a dark grey stone with fine white speckles and veining. Similar to Virginia Mist, this stone is extremely similar to manoky soapstone designs. This one is more traditionally grey, while Virginia Mist is more blue-toned. This stone is honed, meaning that it is not polished and has a more matte appearance.
This stone’s design is smooth and consistent. There are very minimal white lines on this stone. Compare this stone to Green Soapstone. While Jet Mist Honed is more neutral, it can still be a great alternative in terms of pattern.
Jet Mist Honed’s versatility allows it to be used in just about any home decor style. For example, this stone would look modern and trendy next to stainless steel features and white or grey cabinetry. In a kitchen with more farmhouse-style decor, this stone would also fit right in.
Costa Esmeralda is a light green stone with white and grey veining. This stone is extremely close in appearance to soapstone designs, with its subtle patterning and green-toned coloring. Even outside of proximity in appearance to soapstone, this granite is remarkably beautiful.
The stone has a green color with an illusion of cracks that are actually white thin veining throughout the stone. This can easily be compared to a variety of soapstone styles, but its most similar stone is Barroca, which features a similar sage coloring. The two also have veins that look like cracking.
This stone would fit right in with multiple home styles. Its sage coloring can add an almost tropical feel to a space with white cabinetry, especially when paired with plants or woven features. This can also be used in a more traditional space like a dark wood kitchen as a way of adding a subtle pop of color.
This is a dark green stone with sporadic grey and white veining. This stone mirrors the similar grey coloring with a hint of green that is well-known in soapstone slabs. The white veining is a bit bolder than traditional soapstone designs, however, it is still a great alternative to the stone.
This stone’s design mimics the flow of water. Typically, soapstone is thought of as a plain slab with minimal design, however, more intricately patterned soapstone does exist. For example, compare Green Ocean to Fumaca Soapstone.
The beauty of Green Ocean would work beautifully as a statement piece in a variety of home decor styles. For example, it can be a breath of fresh air next to white cabinets in an open concept kitchen. It can also be used next to dark wood. For example, in a more traditional and elegant style bathroom, this stone would look perfect.
Don’t see anything you like? There are many other options available at Marble.com, including other granites, marbles, quartzites, quartz, onyx and much more.