Soapstone is a natural quarried stone. It’s a metamorphic rock that is called soapstone because of the soft, or soapy, feel of its surface, which is thanks to the presence of talc in the stone. Most American soapstone is sourced from the Appalachian mountain range, or imported from Brazil and Finland. There are two varieties: artistic and architectural that are differentiated by talc contact. Artistic-grade soapstone has a high talc content and is soft and easy to carve. Architectural-grade soapstone has a lower talc content (usually between 50% and 75%), which makes it harder—and more suitable for countertop use. It’s not as hard as granite or marble, however, and can be easily cut, shaped, and installed. Unlike granite and marble, however, it’s typically quarried in smaller slabs, meaning that for counters longer than 7 feet, several pieces (and visible seams) are necessary.
- Soapstone does not stain.
- Soapstone counters are not harmed by hot pots, citrus, wine, acids or chemicals.
- The only maintenance (recommended not required) is the mineral oil treatment to enhance the natural darkening process the stone goes through and to ensure the soapstone darkens evenly. Note that this is not to protect the soapstone, which doesn’t require protection since it is naturally non-porous.
- Cleaning your soapstone tops can be done with any of the common household cleaners, no need to buy special sealants or other “hard to find” often harsh chemicals.
- The cost of soapstone is comparable to other natural stones.
- Soapstone can be offered in a variety of different textures, unlike most other natural stones that are only available with a high polished finish. Some clients like the stone to feel rougher to the touch, others like it a little smoother and some like it in between, we can please all tastes by re-finishing the top of the slabs, at no additional cost.
- Soapstone is available in a range of shades on a sliding gray scale, some with blue or green undertones. Each slab is unique and varies from quarry to quarry. The widest variation in soapstone is in the quartz fleck and veining patterns. Some slabs have large but few veins; others have dense veining.
- Because of its resilience and adaptability, soapstone can be used for much more than countertops; it works well as sinks, fireplace surrounds (thanks to its heat resistance), flooring, and throughout the bathroom. It’s also a great choice for outdoor counters and sinks as it’s impervious to weather and bacteria.