Soapstone vs. honed granite?

loves2bakeMarch 11, 2011

I've read many posts about soapstone...I love it soft and warm. But the cost can break the bank and it seems very soft. Has anyone compared soapstone to dark honed granite? They look similar in pics, but I've never seen both closeup. Honed granite is bound to be cheaper in most cases, right? What about function and upkeep? Any insight would be appreciated.

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I'm interested to see responses to this. We decided against soapstone b/c we wanted something lighter, but I've been debating honed granite. I was thinking it would be MORE than soapstone, but it probably depends on where you live. We are in NJ, close to several soapstone places and the price isn't that much higher than some granites. Honed granite is an upcharge, so I'm thinking it would actually end up being more than soapstone.

Does honing granite impact staining? Wondering if the duller finish shows smudges, scratches, etc... more readily.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 10:50AM
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@kngwd...good questions, hopefully we'll get some good answers :0)

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 11:16AM
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I can share that we were down to jet mist honed granite vs. soapstone after reading all the posts about this very issue (if you do a search, a bunch will come up). We ended up going with the soapstone, I was able to find a fabricator who would give it to me for the same cash price as the granite fabricator (I'm in MA). I'm really happy with my decision, although I really did like the jet mist honed, and would also have been happy with that. There are definitely pros and cons to each, so read all the links and get some samples before you make your choice. good luck!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 11:35AM
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The two stones most commonly substituted for soapstone by those who can't take the plunge are Jet Mist (also called Virginia Mist) granite, as well as a stone available in the midwest called Aqua Grantique or something like that. I've seen Jet Mist up front and it looks pretty indestructible.

With soapstone, are dings ok? Scratches? The possibility of water marks, until you figure out your sanding grit and oiling techniques? If you want a perpetually pristine, perfect, new-looking counter for years and years, you don't want soapstone. If you like a little bit of patina and a sense of age and history, then maybe you do.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 11:53AM
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Great insight, folks...we are in the process of redoing the kitchen in our historic home, so perhaps soapstone would look more appropriate. I did look at many past posts, just wanted to see if there were newer experiences since those. Thx for your answers!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 1:14PM
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This morning, as I was wiping down my soapstone, I realized one of the reasons I like it so much. It's like me. I get dressed up nice every day before I go to work. I look acceptable, although I am not the skinny brunette I used to be. I slap on makeup and matching clothes. I don't think that my friends would out me on "What Not to Wear". My everyday soapstone is like that. I wipe it down with dishwater and enjoy the twinkles of the inclusions and the little talc lines every day. The scratches I don't worry about, because they truly disappear the next day (unlike my new wrinkles). Dings can be hidden with a black sharpie (like concealer on my dings, appearing faster than I care to admit).

But I can put on the pearls and the heels and pfoof the hair and put on the fancy clothes for a special occasion. My soapstone is like that. For those special times I'll put on a coat of wax/oil and my counters REALLY pop. I love that ability to transform my soapstone. I just wish my fancy hair and make-up would last as long as the wax/mineral oil treatment.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 1:18PM
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Great insight, folks...we are in the process of redoing the kitchen in our historic home, so perhaps soapstone would look more appropriate.

I saw a soapstone counter once in a B&B in an 1840-ish home. The owners were serious cooks, and served food everyday to guests. It also seemed to be a pretty soft variety--some versions are harder and scratch less. Anyway, it was pretty banged up, but it looked terrific. Even with unusual abuse and wear, it just seemed cool, and really fit the house. Like it had always been there.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 2:04PM
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@rjr220...ha, ha! You sound a a lot like me! And like this's been around since 1837 and there is dirt and dust in every corner, walls aren't plumb, floors sag....but its bones hold so much beauty I fell in love with it 7 yrs ago while visiting relatives and just had to live here (we moved to NE Ohio from a lovely new home in Park City, UT, mostly because of our love of this house). So soapstone seems like a perfect choice to enhance her beauty...and it would indeed get dings, scratches, etc., as our 3 small kids will grow up here.

@marcolo, love your observations and think "cool" is a great way to describe how it would look. We are on a fairly tight budget with
this reno, but I really want to do it right. Hopefully we can find something within our budget close by.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 4:32PM
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I'm most likely going to get soapstone; I love the feel and look of it. But two of my best friends who are super serious cooks recently got honed absolute black granite. It is a very consistent and has a lovely, low key, quiet look. It looks great and seems tough as nails. They are very happy with it and I can see why. Honed absolute black hasn't always gotten very good press on Gardenweb. But my super foodie, TKO friends love theirs. I'm following this post with interest because a part of me thinks I should chose honed granite for its toughness and longevity.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 7:05PM
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Before I found GW I was set on Absolute Black honed and then I started reading all of the posts here about fingerprints and ruled it out. Now I'm back to soapstone. I'd love to know if your friends are having any fingerprint issues w/their granite. Also do you know if it's just honed or honed and enhanced?

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 7:45PM
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I have both soapstone and honed granite. My perimeter is honed White Princess and I love the feel and ease of care. My buffet is Brazilian Back Soapstone and I love love the texture of that too. Both are super easy to take care of--I do beeswax the soapstone from time to time (maybe every 3 mos?). I place hot things on both counters and I use granite Method cleaner for both too.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2011 at 12:27AM
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A few years ago when the Science building at my school was being renovated, I got an old lab table for my classroom. The top was a mess with initials carved and dents and dings. I read about soapstone then, brought my sander to school, sanded the heck out of that top, and it was beautiful again just like when first installed over 50 years ago.

I'm not really sure where the idea that soapstone is too soft or lacks longevity comes from - it's not granite or quartz to be sure, but soapstone "takes a licking and keeps on ticking." That's the kind of material I want in my kitchen too.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2011 at 12:53AM
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I put honed Verde Fontaine in the kitchen of my previous home. It looked a lot like soapstone: a darkish gray with green overtones. In my new home I have Julia soapstone. I like the look and feel of the soapstone a lot better; it is far less "cold and hard." Here are a few pics.
Honed Verde Fontaine

Julia Soapstone

    Bookmark   March 12, 2011 at 6:02AM
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I just saw a renovation my architect is doing on a circa 1860 mansion in our area. He used honed granite in the kitchen and it's just spectacular! What am I saying, the entire house is something out of "This Old House"...absolutely jaw-dropping. The dark granite is dull-looking and very warm and soft, like soapstone, but without the risk of scratching. He got it at builder's cost for about $35/SF. If I can get the same deal, I'm sold!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 4:15PM
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I was asking myself the same question. Thought I'd love soapstone but was sure it was out of my budget. Had it priced, and it was not too high. Brought home samples of honed and patina'd granites and four soapstones. Went to work trying to stain them. No issues at all with soapstone. Then pretended I was washing a medium pot in my future undermount sink and grazed the edges of all samples. All the soapstones EASILY chipped. Dropped a dinner knife handle first, and another significant ding. So bring home samples and play with them. The soapstones are beautiful, but are definitely too delicate for me.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 7:52PM
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When I first saw soapstone at the slab yard, I fell in
love. I kept returning to the soapstone aile, touching it,
feeling it, and even mistaking some slabs thinking they
were granite. DH kept steering me back to the granites. He
loved the color, swirly patterns, veining, movement of SS
but he hated the feel. He is a very polished man. The
salesperson told us this would require maintenance, upkeep,
oiling, time...
(This not a 100% true and ask any SS owner)

On our own I found a graphite colored granite with white
soft swirls that looked like powdered sugar blown by the
wind. In fact it looks like the jet mist you get from
clouds in the sky when an airplane has passed. DH was
thrilled it was a granite.

Would I have loved SS too?

I believe so, However reading RJR220, I realize this is
exactly why I did not get SS. I am not a Patina girl. If
you showed up at my door right now, you would discover a
clean home. 99% of the time I have make up on. Very few have
ever seen me not put together. I tend to be that girl with
pearls, high heels and lipstick on.

Virginia Jet Mist Honed granite has been a fantastic counter
for me. But, it is not a substitute for Soapstone. I would
do it all over again.

I do not want to sway you to granite if you are truly a
SS person. Do you mind if there is a mark on your counter?
(It can go away later) Do you mind having to oil the
counter for the first month of it's newborn life? Are you a
girl (Or guy) who can leave the house with sweats on and
unwashed hair? Do you care if someone shows up at your
door and the house is a bit lived in?

I have friends who went from Granite to SS and have loved
their choice. There are very few who have SS that don't love
it. I can only recall one on GW who was disappointed.
Those are excellent odds that you will love SS.

(Do a search for Remodelfl's kitchen and you will see
her beautiful SS, and she had doubts back in 2009)

Remodelfl: Torn over soapstone... HELP!

VA pictures

To all owners of Jet Mist/ Virginia Mist counter tops

Let's see your honed granite or soapstone countertops! Help!

Granite's In! (jet mist honed)

Ok here is a little test.....................

Can you tell which are SS and which are Granite?
answers will come later.

Here is a link that might be useful: GW link of Jet mist pics

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 8:21AM
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Can I try??? The island in the 1st is SS, perimeter is granite? 2nd pix is soapstone, 3rd SS, 4th granite.

I definitely leave my house in sweats & no makeup (more times than I care to admit!!!) and my house is, shall we say, well-loved???? but what worries me most about soapstone is it will make the room too dark with my cinammon stained cabs and natural oak floor.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 9:54AM
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I won't tell you the answer yet. I want others to guess
too. Kngwd is NOT the winner.

; )
I wish I had a prize.
Keep those guesses coming.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 9:59AM
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Hi boxerpups:

#1 What ever the first kitchen picture has: I want it! (That is my answer.)

#2 The second one is not soapstone; looks like Virginia Mist.

#3 Looks like granite

#4 Is soapstone for sure

#5 Could be a dark and consistent soapstone like Cobra or even Beliza or Barocca. But I think more likely it is an antique granite

Do I win the first kitchen if I get them all right?!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 10:27AM
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At the risk of digging a deeper hole - I messed up!!! There are 5 pix, not 4!! 4 & 5 are soapstone????? #4 is what I want, if you know exactly what it is!

My self-esteem is shot. :)

And boxer - how's the dog? Hope I didn't miss the update? My little shih tzu has had a remarkable recovery from her congestive heart failure - she is back to her old self!! Amazing!!! HOpe you faired as well!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 11:56AM
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Oh Kngwd,
I could never be a teacher I just want to shout
out the answer for you. Now Cheer up you are close.

And I realize now ( I am a fool) that these images
have been posted before and so anyone could probably
find them in the links above saying what they are...


    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 12:46PM
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I was tempted to cheat by I promise that I didn't! You should have made us sign an honors pledge.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 12:48PM
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Clarification: if you walked into my house right now, you would also find that it is clean. I'm not a sloppy housekeeper or slovenly. I'm sorry if my post insinuated that I was.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 3:58PM
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1: soapstone
2. jet mist
3. jet mist
4. soapstone
5. slate

P.S. I may have had a little help :)

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 5:12PM
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Not at all. I just understood you are relaxed about the
patina of the SS. I wanted to let the OP know that for me
this was an issue. And this was why I went with Jet Mist.

Okay here are the answers (Lax practice ran late)

Senator was right!
The slate was the trick.
And the beauty of the second image shows how pretty a
granite can be.
Loves2bake whatever you do decide either is going to be
really pretty!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 5:26PM
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Where is a good place to go to get soapstone, a reliable installer, and a fair price?? We are in Maryland. Any advice? Thanks!!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 5:30PM
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Hi all, thanks for all of the feedback and education! I loved trying to guess the pics, really made me look at the details...although the slate threw me off :0). I honestly can't tell the difference in a pic, will have to find some soapstone to compare to the HG I've already seen. Our kitchen will be very similar to kitchen #1...only a painted island with a butcher block top. Thx again to everyone, this has been fun!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 9:31PM
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I have only looked at these pictures 2 million times. I love soapstone, and someday, when my two little ones are out of the house, and I have time to wax it, soapstone I will have. I also love the look of slate, and if that was more feasible, it would be my choice. Alas, the beauty of the honed jet mist and the practically wins for now. Although, I think I am still tempted to do a different surface for our built-in buffet. That is about as crazy as I get!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 9:51PM
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I don't know where you live in MD, but a friend used Designer Surfaces Unlimited in Frederick, and was very happy with them.

Here is a link that might be useful: DSU

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 9:59PM
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Thanks! I'll call them. The other places I've found from the web are in VA and NJ, so Frederick isn't bad at all- about an hour. I keep hearing that the honed granite shows oil spots, finger prints, and that some companies won't use the dark colors of honed granite or silestone because of unhappy customers. There is a leather look treatment of granite that is matte, durable, and has a cool texture though. This is a good option. I'm still leaning toward the soapstone, although the one quote I received was about $1300 more than the granite. :(

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 10:16PM
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I'll give the standard advice: get a sample of honed dark granite and a sample of soapstone and play around with both of them. You may find that the reports of finger prints and oil spots on the granite are greatly exaggerated. Also, keep in mind that honed granite and honed Silestone are two very different materials and that some varieties of soapstone are much harder than others.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 10:21PM
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Francoise47 and ca-mom: good advice, that's what I'll do.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 5:47AM
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I haven't visited in a long time, and it's not because I have been caring for my soapstone! I didn't use it in my entire small kitchen or pantry. My remaining counters are cherry. I'll have to check when I registered, but it's been years since we did our kitchen. Both countertops are low maintenance and I cook, really cook, almost everyday. We have a sink undermounted in soapstone. I'm not sure all soapston is created equal, but ours from Bucks County Soapstone has been everything we had hoped for. Whatever you choose, love it and don't look back!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 6:03AM
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I am definitely a faded jeans kind of gal, but would worry about major show-stopping chops and dings; do those ever happen with soapstone?

Once at a granite showroom, I saw a butterscotch-swirl granite (can't remember the name) that was honed. It was placed atop walnut-stained wood cabinets, and was breathtakingly beautiful. I don't know how the finish on that particular kind would hold up vs. show fingerprints, etc. but it was soft and airy!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 7:23AM
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We went with soapstone, specifically python, which is grey with lots of thin, straight-ish dark "creases" (like scrunched up paper) along with the occasional streak of white "marbling." Generally a much subtler stone than what you see in picture #4, but not the straight black. We love the lightness of python's natural (unoiled) color, but haven't completely made peace with the dark splotches left by anything oily, so we will probably end up oiling or waxing it at some point. But I like that there's no rush on this, stains are never a concern (since soapstone is simply too dense to allow anything to penetrate), and if and when we do oil it, we can always sand it back to the original grey at any point in the future.

Tiny dings are EVERYWHERE after just two months. This was no surprise; our sample gave us fair warning. But we had already decided we wanted every surface of our new kitchen to look lived in, and the soapstone fits the heck out of that bill. And again, if I ever want to "renovate" the surface in the future, I understand I can fill in the chips with stone dust and epoxy, and smooth it out with a rotary sander and fine grit paper. (I haven't done or even researched this yet, so somebody correct me if I'm wrong.)

Another thing I like is that I can put hot pots directly on the soapstone without discoloring or "lifting" the seal, since there is no seal. (Oil does not count as a seal as I understand it, since it simply oxidizes the stone, darkens it, then basically disappears. Am I right?) And obviously the stone itself is heatproof; I've got a woodstove made of soapstone...

Basically, soapstone feels to me like a living, breathing, ever-evolving surface that is timeless in its beauty and durability, rather than timeless in the sense looking new for years and years the way granite probably would. I completely get the appeal of the latter, just wasn't as compelling for me personally.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 10:59AM
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scootermom asked "I (...) would worry about major show stopping chops and dings; do those ever happen with soapstone?"

Um, yes.

Some soapstones are very soft, some are harder. I carried around a sample of (soft) barroca in a thick cushioned wool sock in my purse and the corners all chipped off. Another sample of a stronger stone in a thick cushioned wood sock had nary a mark. Some stronger stones to consider are Julia, Belvedere, Beleza and Original P.A.

Aside from breakage there is also the oil spots if you don't oil or the oil can be lifted from counters if you do oil. I've been on this forum for a few years now and while by and large this forum is pro soapstone there have been many more than a few who have posted that they've had trouble with their stones being softer than they realized or who'd regretted getting them.

I read this a long time ago: there is no one perfect counter. (I have been in countertop heck for at least a year and wish there was!) It's just a matter of what you can live with and what you can't.

I am a faded jeans/patina/antique loving gal living in a 1913 Colonial house that screams for soapstone. But between watching piles of talc fall at my feet when I easily scratched some soapstones with my fingernail--since I've seen two kitchens with soapstone in use and their grease spots and gouges---I am now rethinking using an antiqued black granite myself...

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 2:57PM
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I went into another stone showroom today, and they pretty much talked me into leathered ubatuba(don't know the spelling) granite. It is matte black, with leather-like texture. It seems warmer than the soapstone- which I was originally going in for. It seems like it will give me the casual, rustic look I want, without the possible trouble of soapstone or the cost. This is for a lower level walkout basement bar/kitchen/entertainment area. I too am going for the look in the photos above with the white cabinets, dark wood floor, and some type of black counter. We are in a beachy neighborhood of Annapolis, MD.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 4:29PM
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For me, the cost is similar. I've spent the past 6 months looking at granites, and have brought many samples home - polished, honed, and leathered. There are beautiful stones out there, and beautiful kitchens on this blog. However, a light bulb went off for me - I'm having so much trouble picking a granite because it is just not right for me, in our house, right now. Just today we picked out our slab of a mother of pearl quartzite for the perimeter, and a piece of soapstone for a buffet/pantry piece. And I am excited. Whenever I tried to decide on a specific granite, none ever felt quite right. Folks are right when they say you will know it when you see it! Bring enough samples home and live with them a little - who said the phrase I love, "go with what makes your heart sing."

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 6:50PM
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I think you're right. What is quartzite? I always felt the same about granite when we were doing our main kitchen 11 years ago, but went with granite anyway because it was all the rage then, and it went well with the wood floors and the ivory cabinets. I would like a cool, casual look for this basement project, but I also need it to be low maintenance and not too costly since we won't be down there too much. It is more for the kids. I'm torn between doing something I will love, and doing something ( leathered black granite) that will be practical and still give me the look I want- I think :)

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 9:26AM
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I think if I were into the jet black type of soapstone, I would go for something else. Something that looks similar -- and there are tons of things that do -- which would obviate the whole softness/oiling issue. Especially if it's for a space I don't plan to be in much.

Sometimes it's a fine line between patinaed and wrecked, and I see myself walking that line for years to come, oil rag and/or sandpaper in hand, with my soft, grey python soapstone. I am okay with that (so far), even kind of perversely excited by it (and I am NOT a fastidious person, just a touch OCD about certain things), but I can really REALLY see how this is not for everybody. I don't think that can be overstated for anyone who's on the fence.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 11:16AM
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Krisall, you can google "What is quartzite?" for a detailed technical explanation, but it a natural stone, more durable than marble, but I think less so than granite, and it has pieces of quartz in it. If it's for the kids' basement, and you want inexpensive and low maintenance, go looking with that in mind. But also think about how long you plan on living there, and what the space will be used for sans kids. If you plan on spending more time there at some point, then you would care more about getting something you really like.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 12:20PM
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