There is a reason soapstone has been used for centuries and in more ways than just countertops.
Soapstone is one of the most beautiful alternatives to granite, marble, and quartzite, and it is becoming increasingly popular for use as a countertop material. That’s right, soapstone is only recently being used for modern countertops- though, throughout time, soapstone has been found to be one of the most widely used natural stones in all corners of the world.
History has shown that the Native Americans, Inuits, Vikings, and even tribal people of Nigeria among others, have used soapstone for centuries. With it they sculpted statues, cooktops, grave markers, weapons, and most especially- for surrounding fires. Even today, soapstone is commonly used for fireplace surroundings because of the density of the stone. It is more dense than granite, marble, or quartzite, and is one of the most heat resistant stones available.
What other facts make soapstone so great for countertops?
As mentioned, the density of soapstone is greater than marble, granite, or quartzite. This means that soapstone doesn’t actually need to be sealed- which saves you money! But it also means that soapstone is more sanitary, requires less- maintenance, and is easier to clean. Most natural stones have pores in which food and bacteria have a possibility of building up, creating an unsanitary surface, but you won’t encounter that with soapstone.
So already, because of it’s density you get a more sanitary surface, that doesn’t require sealing and is low-maintenance.
It is also a heat resistant surface, more so than any other stone. So putting a hot pan directly on the counter is no problem.
What kind of maintenance does soapstone require?
Soap stone is low- maintenance, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do things to protect it. Soap stone is largely made of talc, and because of this, it is considered a soft stone. Actually, it is considered to be about the same hardness as marble.
This means that it is more susceptible to scratches or chips than granite or quartzite is. It is recommended to not cut directly on the countertop, using a cutting board is always advised.
Soap stone will darken over time because of oxidation, and the minerals it is composed of. Using mineral oil on the surface regularly will help keep the integrity of the color, and will aid in maintaining or restoring sheen and luster to the stone.
Oil and grease will discolor new soapstone, so wipe up spills promptly as they occur. (Once your stone reaches full patina, or color aging, oil discoloration won’t be a problem).
To cleanse, use a mild soap and regular cloth rag.
How does soapstone compare to other countertop materials?
Few things separate soapstone from other materials, and many of them have been mentioned. But we’ll lay it all out here.
Soap stone is softer than most other countertop materials, but it is far denser than any other. This means that it doesn’t need to be sealed, and is more heat resistant than other stones. It’s more sanitary as well… But it is more susceptible to scratches and chips- along the same susceptibility as marble.
Colors are often soft white, levels of grey, or dark charcoal, and typically show veining like marble, except that the veining can also be white. You may also see bluish or green tinged soapstone slabs, which typically are softer colors of either.
Soap stone also gives you more options when it comes to installation. Since soap stone is more easily installed than other countertop materials. This may lead to DIY installations, and a large savings on your renovation!