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Granite vs Soapstone

In the realm of natural stone there are many materials from which to choose. Add to that the options that exist in the area of engineered materials and the choice becomes even harder. Getting to know what materials offer helps with the decision of which material(s) to offer. Of course, the material that consumers buy plays a role in what materials fabricators choose to work with. In this article we will compare two natural stone materials. They are natural granite and soapstone. As we explore the comparison of granite vs soapstone, we will explain some of the characters of each material. So let's get right to the the comparison of soapstone and granite.

Granite Recognizable By Many

The fact that granite is so popular as a material for kitchen countertops among other applications is no surprise. For years consumers have seen granite featured on home improvement shows and home remodeling programs. As a result, viewers have come to recognize natural granite. Additionally, they have learned about it to one degree or another. As people become familiar something, they have a tendency to be more comfortable with it. This makes purchasing the item easier for the consumer. As th demand for a material grows, the need for fabricators increases. The more fabricators there are recommending a material, the more the material gains recognition. The more recognition, the more people ask for the material. And thus the cycle is completed.

Since granite is so well-known, it is not uncommon for it to be used as a baseline for comparing other materials. So we will use it in this comparison with soapstone. Just in case you are not as familiar with granite as others, here is an extremely brief synopsis. Granite is an igneous rock that is made up various hard minerals and it is used for many applications. (I said it would extremely brief.) With that in mind, let's take a look at soapstone to get better acquainted with it.

Getting to Know Soapstone

Natural soapstone is an intriguing rock. Why do we say that? Well for a number of reasons. But to sum it up briefly, soapstone is pretty much set in its ways, you might say. On the other hand, if you were looking for a material that rolls with the punches so-to-speak, soapstone would be it.

Soapstone is a natural stone that is made up largely of talc. Even though it is a "rock", it is a soft one. And it is used for worktop surfaces and is available in primarily one color. Now that we have set the stage for our breakdown of property comparisons, let's get to it.

Comparing Soapstone and Granite

For the task of comparing granite and soapstone we will look at some basic characteristics of each and see how they relate to one another. The areas we will look at include the following:

  • Hardness
  • Color Selection
  • Porosity

So with the parameters lined up, we'll look at the first one.

Hardness Comparison

Comparing the hardness of natural granite is pretty simple. Granite is a hard material and soapstone is soft. This is primarily due to the composition of each of the materials. Granite is made up of various minerals but it often includes quartz, feldspar, and plagioclase. These substances are hard in terms of stone. That is not to say that there won't be other minerals in granite - especially when it comes to the commercial stone industry. This is because many materials get classified and labeled by their functional characteristics rather than their geological classification.

Soapstone in contrast to granite is a soft stone. Again, this is due to the minerals in its composition. Soapstone is composed largely of talc, which is a magnesium rich substance that is relatively soft as far as rock goes.

The Role of Hardness

In plain terms hardness translates into scratch resistance. The harder the stone is, the harder it is to scratch. There is a scale used to measure hardness of minerals. The scale is called the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. On the Mohs scale, granite registers at about 5-7. So, it is on the hard end of the scale since the scale goes from 1 to 10. On the other hand, soapstone counters usually rank between 2.5-3.5 on the Mohs scale. This is because talc is the most abundant mineral in the stone.

Color Choices

The next aspect of our look at granite vs. soapstone, will deal with color. The color selection of granite is broad. Since the minerals that make up natural granite are found in various colors, it is not uncommon to find granite in virtually any color. In fact, one slab might contain several colors.

On the other hand, soapstone is somewhat limited in color selection. Nearly all soapstone is a grayish color and some even have a hint of hue that is usually green. Additionally, you may see soapstone in various shades.

Why Color Matters

The color of the stone makes a difference because it plays a role in the design selection. Having a wide range of colors from which to choose means flexibility and adaptability in the design. Conversely, if the material has few colors, it may limit its use somewhat.

Porosity

At this point, you may be thinking that the choice is simple and that everyone should be drawn to granite over soapstone. However, that is not the case; for a couple of reasons. The first of which is porosity. Nearly all natural stone is porous to some extent. Soapstone though is non-porous. The pores of a stone absorb liquid and can make the stone susceptible to staining. Granite on the other hand is porous to varying degrees. Because of this, natural granite is regularly treated using a natural stone sealer such as proseal nano stone sealer. Treating granite with a sealer help it resist staining that can occur from water and oil based liquids.

As we have considered in this article, natural granite and soapstone are very different materials. Many of the characteristics are very different. Yet, each is used for countertops. And while you might think that granite is more durable, there are benefits to using soapstone that we have not covered in this discussion. It all boils down to this: what does the project call for? One thing is for sure, the more materials a fabricator works with and can install, the more projects the fabricator will be able to perform. In the end, the demand is what drives the industry.

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