What Exactly is Soapstone?
Soapstone is a natural quarried stone that is renowned for its smooth, soft touch and natural beauty. Traditional soapstone is softer than most other naturally occurring minerals because of its high levels of talc, which gives the material its lovely soapy feel—hence, where it’s gets its name. However there is harder soapstone with less talc, which is twice as hard as traditional soapstone.
Despite its soft touch, soapstone is extremely durable and very dense—denser than marble, limestone, slate, and granite—making it ideal for surfaces in the home.
What are the Most Common Applications for Soapstone?
Soapstone is widely used for both modern and retro-inspired kitchen and bathroom countertops, offering a range of styles including a clean, minimalistic aesthetic to a traditional farmhouse style. Other popular applications for soapstone include custom apron farm sinks, fireplace surrounds, masonry heaters, and floor tiles.
Why is Soapstone So Popular Today?
The secret’s out: Soapstone is the fastest-growing choice for all-natural stone countertops, flooring, grilling stones, cookware, and heaters in the United States. While soapstone has been used for centuries in New England and outside of the US, demand for authentic soapstone countertops and sinks is higher than ever. As neutral palette kitchens and bathrooms have become one of the biggest home trends today and with consumers now on the hunt for natural, environmentally-friendly, maintenance-free, durable alternatives to synthetic, concrete, and semi-natural products, soapstone has become front and center.
Top 6 Benefits of Soapstone
- It’s doesn’t stain: Soapstone is a non-porous stone that is impervious to liquids. Because it is impenetrable, it cannot absorb liquids, such as wine or a curry sauce, that could otherwise create stains. Other stones, including granite and marble are prone to staining.
- It’s heat safe: Soapstone possesses unparalleled heat-resistant properties that other stone countertops can’t hold a match to. When heated, soapstone slowly and evenly radiates, preventing scarring and heat stains that other untreated materials are susceptible to. Because of these thermal properties, soapstones are actually used for pizza stones, oven floors, fireplace liners, and cookware.
- It’s naturally antibacterial: Because soapstone is nonporous, it doesn’t harbor germs or allow bacteria to live on its surface.
- It’s easy maintenance and consumer-friendly: While no countertop material is completely scratch-resistant, soapstone is very consumer-friendly. It’s important to first mention that there are generally two types of soapstone used for home applications: a harder soapstone that will not scratch, ding or age and softer traditional soapstone that will age gracefully over time, producing dings and scratches that are easily sanded out with 120 grit sandpaper. Traditional soapstone is incredibly consumer-friendly and does not require any professional repair or special equipment as is necessary with granite kitchen countertops.
- It doesn’t require a chemical sealer: Soapstone is quite possibly the greenest option when it comes to stone countertops and sinks. Most others require a chemical sealant that resists dirt and spills, and therefore the potential for scratches and stains. Because soapstone is organically nonporous and is either too hard to be scratched or is easily rid of scratches (as explained in the point above), it does not require a sealer or protective coating.
- It ages beautifully: Over time, soapstone naturally oxidizes from it's original light grey-blue color to a dark charcoal or black patina. The best part of all, however, is that the homeowner controls the aging process. Applying a soapstone wax or soapstone oil increases the aging process toward a dark, rich color. Alternatively, if the homeowner prefers a lighter stone, refraining from applying oil or soapstone wax prolongs the soapstone’s original state.
Is Soapstone Right for Me?
As you can see, soapstone offers many great advantages, which has caused it to skyrocket in popularity. If any of the above mentioned characteristics are important to you, we recommend you speaking to a professional to see if soapstone makes sense in your home.
In our next blog, we will explore which hardness of soapstone fits your lifestyle best. So stay tuned!