All About Soapstone Fireplace Hearths & Surrounds

With winter quickly approaching and the days getting darker, you might be using your fireplace more often than usual. Whether wood burning or electric, fireplaces add a cozy element to a living space and encourages late night chats with hot chocolate.

Many homeowners think of brick or facades for the surround on their fireplace, or they use the one included with the insert. But you have more options than you realize, and one of them is soapstone.

Code Requirements for Hearths

The first thing to note for a fireplace are the home building code requirements. These are typically at least 20 inches extending in front of the fireplace and at least eight inches to the sides

No matter which stone or tile you choose (a hearth must be made of non-combustible material), you’ll need to meet those dimensions.

For the fireplace surround, you only need to keep combustible building materials (such as framing wood) two inches away from the fireplace. Other factors and combustible design elements may be subject to building codes, so be sure to check with your architect and builder before installing your fireplace.

Why Soapstone?

Soapstone has been a popular fireplace hearth material for hundreds of years. Not only is it a natural stone and permittable by building codes, but it also retains heat after the fire goes out to keep your space warm longer.

From the design side, the dark colors of soapstone often look modern in a home, but the soft, “soapy” texture brings a cozy, traditional element. The stone manages to be sleek and soft at the same time.

The color also makes a bold contrast to white contemporary style rooms, while blending in well with a darker more traditional style. 


Soapstone maintenance in a low-traffic area like a fireplace is very simple. Because it will rarely be scratched, we recommend oiling or treating regularly to keep the natural patina or darkening even. Without oiling or treating, the soapstone most likely will lighten up or patina/darken inconsistently across the surface.

The Garden State Soapstone Original Oil™️ makes oiling simple and ensures your stone looks great for years.

Building or Refinishing a Fireplace

If you’re renovating your living room, then building a new fireplace may be on your list. Obviously, this would be the easiest option for installing the stone. 

However, you may choose to replace your existing hearth with soapstone instead. Just like any other natural stone hearth, soapstone can be measured and cut to the dimensions you need and in line with the building code requirements for your state. 

If you’re The fireplace surround is similar, but may require more demolition if the existing surround is brick or stone.

Soapstone for Outdoor Firepits

Not only is soapstone a great choice for indoor fireplace hearths and surrounds, it also works well for outdoor firepits! Because soapstone is waterproof and stain-resistant, it will look great year after year despite the elements. You won’t need to cover it in the winter or add any maintenance to your routine. Some homeowners also choose soapstone for an outdoor pizza oven, since it works so well as pizza stones.

If you think your fireplace could be cozier, consider adding a soapstone hearth and surround. Contact Garden State Soapstone today to walk through our showroom and see all the options available for your home and order your dream fireplace.

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November, 2022

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