Natural Stone: Soapstone
Classic and timeless, soapstone countertops remain popular for their versatility, stylish looks, and easy-care nature. Hooking homeowners with their soft, velvety feel, soapstone slabs inspire many impulse purchases. However, soapstone is different from other natural stone countertop options, requiring careful selection.
The talc content of soapstone gives slabs a soft, smooth feel, reminiscent of a dry bar of soap. The prominence of this mineral makes soapstone softer than other natural stone countertop options. Depending on the amount of talc in the slab, soapstone is graded into high talc (artistic grade) and low talc (architectural grade) varieties. If you are purchasing soapstone for your house, it is essential to purchasing architectural grade soapstone, which is best for kitchen and bath countertop purposes.
Though soapstone counters are fairly resistant to wear, the talc content of soapstone slabs makes them softer than quartz and granite countertops. Ranked on the Mohs scale, a 10-point ranking system developed by a geologist, soapstone is similar in hardness to marble slabs. Soapstone in general has a ranking between 1 and 5. Most soapstone counters rank between 2.5-3.5 depending on talc content, with a similar hardness to marble countertops. Quartz counters, comparatively, have a Mohs ranking of 7.
Though hardness imparts structural stability, what soapstone lacks in hardness it makes up for in density. It is an extremely compact stone – more compact than marble, granite, and quartz. Smooth and non-porous, it does not collect bacteria and is highly resistant to staining. It is even impervious to acidic liquids such as vinegar and lemon juice. Soapstone is also incredibly heat resistant and does not burn. (No wonder it was featured in your high school chemistry lab!)
Assessing samples from your area countertop retailer can help you gain a better understanding of soapstone. Attempting to scratch soapstone samples can yield interesting results. Some may scratch with a fingernail, others a pocketknife. Results will vary based on talc content, with even a single stone showcasing a different hardness in different places.
Testing soapstone samples with vinegar or a 10% hydrochloric acid solution may show a subtle reaction to these acids if the slab has calcite veins or contains magnesite. However, when washed away, high-quality soapstone should remain unaffected.
Soapstone is sourced worldwide. Shipping costs affect pricing, as does soapstone pattern and thickness. Countertops with dramatic veining and flecking cost more than plain options. Slab size and thickness also impact price.
Because soapstone’s grey hues are already dark, and further darken with time, soapstone countertops are best paired with lighter colored cabinetry.
Is your mind set on soapstone countertops? Ensure a lasting countertop investment. Shop the premium soapstone selection at the Granite Imports Denver showroom, located on S Platte River Drive just north of Overland Pond Park.
1301 S. Platte River Drive
Denver, CO 80223
2378 Leland Ave.
Grand Junction, CO 81505
1833 E. Mullberry St. #B
Ft. Collins, CO 80524