While quartz grows in popularity for high-end countertops, it has a few drawbacks that you may not realize. The engineered stone seems to rise to the top with durability and color variation. However, soapstone shares many of those favorite qualities and, in fact, out-performs in some elements.
Similarities between Soapstone & Quartz
If you’ve been looking into quartz, you may not realize that soapstone has many of the same characteristics. Both are non-porous, low maintenance, and durable for use in a high-traffic area like your kitchen.
Unlike granite or marble, both soapstone and quartz are non-porous, making them an excellent choice for kitchens and bathrooms. Quartzite is a natural stone, but quartz countertops are engineered from pieces of quartzite mixed with resin making it non-porous. Soapstone is simply a denser natural stone that naturally remains non-porous and anti-bacterial.
No Need for Sealing
Both quartz and soapstone do not require sealing to maintain their appearance. Many homeowners consider quartz easy to maintain, requiring only soap and water to clean. But quartz is only stain-resistant, so if you choose a light color, you’ll still want to wipe up messes quickly. The engineered stone is not naturally anti-bacterial, but some high-end manufacturers have added a layer of sealant to ensure a sanitary surface.
While quartz is considered one of the most durable stones, it will be nearly impossible to repair if it does chip. However, because of the talc content in soapstone, homeowners can sand any chips or scratches to look like new.
Differences: Why Choose Soapstone over Quartz
Engineered stone is not inherently better than natural stone. The resins holding together the quartzite pieces take away some of the most durable properties, and you might reconsider quartz depending on the way you use your kitchen.
Quartz Can’t Take the Heat
Heat-resistance varies between manufacturers of quartz countertops. Although quartz contains natural stone quartzite, the resin holding together the pieces causes the heat problems. While some only say resistant up to 150 degrees, others say 300. Either way, a dish out of the oven will need a trivet to protect the resin from the heat. Several homeowners reported damage caused simply by removing dishes from the dishwasher and placing them on the countertop for a few minutes.
If you tend to forget a trivet and don’t want to worry about possibly damaging your counter while busy in the kitchen, consider soapstone instead.
Manufacturers have only one size of quartz slab, which can lead to seams on larger islands and countertops. Visibility of seams comes up time and again has a possible problem with quartz, particularly the lighter shades. Because the engineered countertop can have repeating patterns, some fabricators match up the design to hide seam lines better. Oversized counters will still be a problem.
While all countertops will have a seam somewhere, natural stones like soapstone can be cut in a variety of sizes to avoid seams where possible. The naturally-occurring color variations and how soapstone is seamed, hide the seams better than on the engineered stone.
Natural Stone vs. Engineered Design
The engineered color variations make a popular choice for homeowners since it can mimic the appearance of marble without the maintenance. However, the repeating patterns over a large space may appear fake when compared with natural stone.
The engineered colors, patterns, and high gloss also give a modern look. In contrast, soapstone is known for its warmth and luxurious texture. Some designers consider soapstone more rustic, while others use its charcoal or black colors in modern, high-contrast kitchen designs.
UV Light Damage
Some people don’t realize that quartz will become discolored when exposed to too much UV light over time, mainly when one portion of the counter receives more light than the rest of the surface. If you have high-quality UV-blocking windows, you should not experience this problem, but you may reconsider quartz if your kitchen has bright spots throughout.
While the color options of quartz appeal to different homeowners’ tastes, the resin falls short in its durability claims when compared to soapstone. High-end quartz manufacturers have started to address these downsides, but nothing can replace the warmth and character of natural stone.
If quartz has been the only countertop on your kitchen-renovation dream list, scroll through our photos of modern kitchens and bathrooms. You’ll fall in love with the unique veining and customization options only available with soapstone.