Soapstone countertops have been gaining popularity in recent years thanks to their natural beauty and durability.
As you explore different options for your kitchen, weighing the pros and cons of soapstone is essential.
This unique material is crafted from 100% natural stone, primarily made of talc, giving it a charming appearance ranging from almost pure white to charcoal gray with beautiful marbling.
Keep reading to learn more about the unique characteristics of this natural material and see if soapstone is the right fit for your space.
1. Understanding Soapstone Countertops
Soapstone countertops are an excellent choice for those seeking a natural stone countertop with a unique look and feel.
As a metamorphic rock, soapstone is primarily composed of talc, which gives it a soft, smooth texture. It is also known as steatite due to its high talc content.
Two main types of soapstone are used for countertops: architectural and artistic.
Architectural soapstone has lower talc content and is more suitable for everyday use due to its increased durability.
Artistic soapstone has a higher talc content, making it softer and comparatively less durable, ideal for carving and sculptural applications.
When choosing a soapstone countertop, bear in mind that the cost can vary depending on factors like the thickness of the slab, the complexity of your design, and whether you opt for professional installation.
2. The Pros of Soapstone Countertops
Natural and Non-porous
Soapstone countertops are made from a natural stone that uniquely charms your home. The material is non-porous, which means it does not absorb liquids, making it less likely to stain or harbor bacteria.
This feature ensures that your countertop remains clean and sanitary for everyday use.
Additionally, the density of soapstone makes it highly resilient to cracks and chips, giving you a durable surface for years to come.
Heat and Acid Resistance
One of the significant advantages of choosing soapstone for your countertops is its remarkable resistance to heat and acids.
You can place hot pots and pans directly on the surface without fear of damage, as they can withstand high temperatures without cracking, discoloration, or other forms of harm.
Moreover, the countertop material does not react with acidic substances, such as lemon juice, vinegar, or tomato sauce, which helps maintain the surface’s integrity and longevity.
Soapstone countertops offer a sophisticated, timeless look that appeals to various design styles.
The stone comes in various colors, from nearly pure white to charcoal gray, including various grays and off-whites with rich marbling patterns.
This versatility allows you to choose the perfect shade that complements your kitchen or bathroom design while adding a touch of organic beauty to the space.
The smooth finish and unique appearance of soapstone countertops can elevate the overall aesthetic of your home.
3. The Cons of Soapstone Countertops
Softness and Tendency to Scratch
One drawback of soapstone countertops is their softness. Although soapstone has a charming, natural appearance, it is susceptible to scratching due to its soft nature.
The material might be perfect for adding character to your kitchen, but it can easily scratch or dent if you accidentally hit it with a heavy object or knife.
You should always use cutting boards to avoid accidentally scratching the surface when preparing food.
Price and Installation Cost
Soapstone countertops can be expensive and often require professional installation, which adds to the initial cost. There may be better options for homeowners with a tight budget.
Moreover, due to the weight and delicate nature of soapstone, it’s essential to have it installed by an experienced contractor, which can further increase the overall cost.
While soapstone is resistant to staining and bacteria growth, it requires maintenance to keep it in top shape.
Soapstone countertops need periodic oiling with mineral oil to maintain their beautiful appearance.
This process will help darken the stone and bring out its natural beauty, but it will also require some effort.
Additionally, if the countertops get scratched, you must sand and re-oil the affected areas to restore their original appearance.
4. Soapstone vs Other Countertop Materials
Soapstone vs Marble
Soapstone and marble are natural stones but have some key differences. Here are a few points to consider:
- Durability: Soapstone is more durable than marble, as it is less prone to staining and scratching. Marble countertops can easily get stained by acidic substances, while soapstone is more resistant.
- Maintenance: Marble requires regular sealing to prevent stains, while soapstone only needs occasional oiling to maintain its beautiful appearance.
- Color options: Marble offers a wider range of color choices and patterns, while soapstone typically comes in shades of gray and green.
Soapstone vs Granite
Granite is another popular countertop material; let’s see how it compares to soapstone:
- Durability: Granite and soapstone share similar levels of durability. Both materials resist scratches and stains, but granite may require sealing to prevent moisture penetration, while soapstone does not.
- Heat resistance: Both countertop options are heat resistant, making them suitable for kitchen use. However, soapstone has a slight edge as it can handle higher temperatures than granite without being damaged.
- Appearance: Granite offers more color and pattern variety compared to soapstone’s limited gray and green shades.
Soapstone vs Quartz
Quartz is a popular choice for kitchen countertops, and it has its own set of pros and cons in comparison to soapstone:
- Durability: Quartz countertops are made from a combination of minerals and resins, giving them substantial durability. However, soapstone can naturally absorb and disperse heat, making it slightly more heat-resistant than quartz.
- Maintenance: Quartz countertops are low maintenance and do not need sealing, similar to soapstone. Both materials can be easily cleaned using mild soap and water.
- Color options: Quartz countertops offer many colors and patterns, while soapstone color options are limited.
As you explore your options, consider the specific needs of your kitchen and lifestyle.
Each countertop material offers unique advantages and disadvantages, so weigh the pros and cons carefully before deciding.
5. Maintenance and Upkeep of Soapstone Countertops
The Role of Mineral Oil
When it comes to maintaining your soapstone countertops, one essential aspect is regular oiling with mineral oil. Mineral oil enhances the countertop’s natural beauty and protects it from stains.
For the first few months, apply mineral oil to your countertop about once a week. After that, the frequency will depend on your usage and cleaning habits.
Oiling will ensure that your soapstone maintains its rich, dark appearance and stays well-protected.
Dealing with Scratches and Chips
Soapstone countertops are known for being durable; however, they are prone to scratches and chips.
Don’t worry! Repairing these minor imperfections is simple and can be done by:
- Sanding the scratches or chips using a piece of fine-grit sandpaper (ensure you work in the direction of the scratch).
- Wipe away the sanding dust with a clean, damp cloth.
- Apply mineral oil to the repaired area, blending well with the rest of the countertop.
Following these steps, you can easily keep your soapstone countertop flawless and smooth.
Cleaning and Periodic Maintenance
Proper cleaning and maintenance are crucial to prolonging the life of your soapstone countertops. Here’s how to keep your countertop in top shape:
- Clean the surface using a mild soap and warm water. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that can damage the soapstone.
- Regularly check the countertop for water absorption. If water droplets are not beading up, it’s time to apply a new coat of mineral oil.
- Periodically inspect the surface for deep scratches, chips, or stains. If necessary, follow the above-mentioned steps for dealing with these imperfections.
In summary, maintaining soapstone countertops involves regular oiling with mineral oil, addressing scratches and chips, and cleaning with a mild soap solution.
By following these maintenance tips, you can enjoy the beauty and functionality of your soapstone countertops for a long time.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the maintenance requirements for soapstone countertops?
Soapstone countertops require minimal maintenance. You should clean them with mild soap and water to avoid any dirt and bacteria buildup. Applying mineral oil periodically is also recommended to maintain the stone’s natural beauty and enhance its patina. If scratches or dents occur, you can easily sand them out and reapply mineral oil to restore the surface.
How do soapstone countertops compare in cost to other options?
The soapstone countertops cost is usually comparable to other natural stone options such as granite and marble. It can be more expensive than some engineered materials like quartz, but overall, the price varies depending on the specific type of soapstone, your location, and the customization required for your project.
How durable is soapstone compared to other countertop materials?
Soapstone is a soft and dense natural stone, making it quite durable in the long run. Although it’s more susceptible to scratches and dents than some other countertop materials like granite, it can be easily repaired by sanding and reoiling the surface. Its dense nature also makes it highly resistant to bacteria, making it a hygienic choice for kitchens.
Are soapstone countertops heat-resistant?
Yes, soapstone countertops are highly heat resistant. Due to their dense nature and high heat tolerance, you can place hot pots and pans directly on the surface without causing damage or discoloration. This makes them an excellent choice for those who cook frequently or require a material that can withstand high temperatures.
Can soapstone countertops be stained easily?
Soapstone countertops are resistant to staining due to their non-porous nature. Unlike granite and marble, which can stain easily, soapstone is nearly impervious to liquids and stains, even when not sealed. This makes them a practical choice for busy kitchens and households with inevitable spills.
What is the typical color range for soapstone countertops?
Soapstone is available in various shades of gray, ranging from light to dark, with subtle veining patterns that add character and depth to the material. Over time, the mineral oil application will deepen the color and enhance the stone’s natural patina, giving it a unique and well-loved appearance.