Granite, slate, and soapstone are the common types of slab stone.
Slab stone, especially granite, is cold to the touch, heavy, hard to work with, and expensive. It’s so popular that it’s now going into spec houses selling for less than $200,000. Granite comes from all over the world, in a variety of colors and patterns.
Granite: Sold in two thicknesses (3/4″ and 1 1/4″), granite is resistant to heat and scratches. Most countertop material is polished, but it also is available in a honed (matte) finish. Requires resealing with penetrating sealer every couple of years to prevent stains. Try sealers containing fluoropolymers (the chemical used in Scotchguard).
Soapstone: Both slate and soapstone come in smaller slab sizes than granite and is not nearly the variety of colors. Blue-gray and lightly variegated when newly installed, soapstone oxidizes and darkens with time to rich charcoal. It is extremely dense, and with better stain resistance than granite. But soapstone is also soft. Soapstone is usually treated with mineral oil. Scratches in soapstone can be sanded out.
Slate: Slate runs in a wider but still limited color palette than soapstone—blacks, greens, reds, grays, and muted purples. Like soapstone, slate is relatively soft, although scratch marks can be buffed out with fine steel wool. Vermont slate needs no sealers and no maintenance. Slate mined in different regions may be more absorptive. It will occasionally delaminate because slate is formed in layers.
PROS: Wide variety of colors and textures, high resistant, very durable.
CONS: High cost, some types may stain, slab size may be limited. Can delaminate.