Natural Stone: Soapstone
Soft and touchable, it’s difficult to bypass a slab of soapstone without petting it. With a cult fan base, it’s like the flannel shirt of natural stone countertops: Warm, comfortable, and oh-so-easy to cozy up to. Is the sensory appeal of this stone calling out to you? Uncover the pros and cons of approachable soapstone counters.
Soapstone is formed from a series of chemical reactions deep within the earth. Formed as hot groundwater carries minerals from one rock to another, the result is a broad variety of soapstone slabs, with varying hardness. Talc is a primary component of soapstone, giving it its characteristic slippery feel. Most hold a 30-50% talc composition, the lower the talc content, the greater the hardness. This makes the careful investigation of soapstone slabs from trusted dealers a necessity to ensure lasting countertops.
Though soapstone is loved for its organic appeal, its trademark softness comes with a few characteristics that give homeowners reason for pause. Because it is a softer stone, it scratches more easily than harder granite and quartzite surfaces. If you’re the type to obsess over every blemish, this stone may not be for you. If you look at breaking in your countertops as you would a comfortable pair of jeans, however, you may have found your perfect match.
Despite its propensity for scratches, the density of soapstone’s surface makes it practically impervious. It is remarkably resistant to staining and etching from acids, thanks to its chemically inert high-talc composition. Naturally hydrophobic, talc also repels water. Readily able to absorb heat, hot pot and pans are no match for this stone. As an added bonus, soapstone's dense, water-resistant surface will not absorb liquids or harbor bacteria – a plus for germiphobes.
Despite this soapstone's propensity to scratch, the surface of this natural stone can be easily restored with a bit of DIY maintenance. The regular application of mineral oil quickly renders small surface scratches invisible. 120-200 grit sandpaper can make quick work of larger marks, followed up by a 400-500 grit sandpaper polish and a quick re-oiling. Larger imperfections can be handled with the right epoxy mix, applied by a professional fabricator or seasoned do-it-yourselfer.
Depending on your preferred finish, you can achieve multiple looks with the same stone. Oil or wax to darken the color of soapstone, or leave the stone untreated for s soft, matte grey finish. Whatever you decide, the effects are reversible, and easily changed to suit your mood.
Though the neutral gray tones and matte surface of soapstone is on-trend today, it remains a classic choice. Soapstone is versatile, fitting well from new, modern homes to traditional, historic buildings, the stone’s soft, comfortable façade a welcome presence.
Ready to invite soapstone into your home? Cozy up to the softness of soapstone slabs at your area Granite Imports today.