For years now, it has probably felt like granite has reigned supreme as the king of countertop options. Given the durability and aesthetic appeal, it’s understandable that granite is such a popular choice. But did you know there’s a better alternative? Soapstone offers a great many of the benefits of granite countertops — with a few additions you might not know about! If you’re looking for the perfect countertop option, here’s why you should be looking for a soapstone slab:
Let’s Talk Function
Who doesn’t want a kitchen that looks like it’s straight out of a high-end magazine? There’s no question that the kitchen is one of the most important rooms in any house. Savvy homeowners know that a well-done kitchen can do more than just look great — when your kitchen has top-of-the-line appliances and finishes, it goes a long way toward increasing the overall value of your home. But even more importantly, you want a kitchen that will actually work for everything you do!
The good news is that soapstone is pretty much the ideal option for kitchen countertops, whether you’re a novice cook or an experienced culinary whiz. Of the many soapstone uses out there, it’s extraordinarily popular for kitchen counters in particular because soapstone is:
- Chemically inert
So what does all that mean? Some of those benefits are probably pretty straightforward, but here’s the breakdown:
When it comes to any countertop, you want to know it will last for years and years so you can enjoy a better return on your investment. This doesn’t matter as much in the bathrooms, where the toughest thing a countertop sees is a toddler’s exuberant imagination and spilled toothpaste. In the kitchen, however, your counters have to contend with sharp objects. Soapstone is considered a “softer” stone compared to granite, but don’t let that fool you. It’s still plenty strong! Soapstone counters are generally made from slabs with a lower talc content, which provides better durability. That “softer” quality just means soapstone is less brittle, which means less likelihood that it will break during cutting and installation. It’s also durable enough that you can chop veg directly on a soapstone counter — though you may still want a cutting board to keep your knives sharp.
Are you a bit of an absent-minded cook? That’s not a problem with this stone. Soapstone counters are heat-resistant enough that you can pull dishes out of the oven and put them straight onto the countertop without worrying that your counters will melt or discolor. Your soapstone counters will simply absorb that heat and slowly release it back to the surrounding air. This is also what makes soapstone great for fireplaces and masonry stoves.
At the other end of the spectrum, soapstone is also a great option if you love to bake. The cooler ambient temperature of soapstone countertops is great for rolling out pie crusts, working with puff pastry, and handling any other dough that needs to keep cool until baking. It’s a big factor in what makes soapstone counters such a great option for anyone who loves to cook.
Have you ever seen someone with granite counters frantically work to clean up a red wine spill? Despite their popularity, countertop materials like granite, quartz, and marble have a big flaw that soapstone doesn’t: they’re porous. Even though those three options are typically sealed for protection, they stain pretty easily. Soapstone is non-porous, which means it doesn’t have all of those little nooks and crannies for liquids to seep into. Which means something pretty fantastic for a space as messy as a kitchen: it won’t stain! So when your toddler gets really excited about their red juice drink or their finger paints, it’s no big deal. Just spritz on a bit of household cleaner and wipe the mess away.
Not only does the porosity affect how easily your stone counters stain, but it’s also a health concern. All the little pores in granite, marble, and quartz are perfect spaces to harbor germs and bacteria. Not so with soapstone! Soapstone counters are the ideal option for both kitchen and bathroom use because the lack of porousness means no little nooks for illness-causing bacteria. There’s a reason soapstone farmhouse sinks are so popular, and this is a big part of it.
Most folks don’t consider the chemical properties of their stone counters, and why would you? As long as they’re durable and can handle your day-to-day life, it doesn’t really matter. However, as odd as this bit of knowledge is, you should definitely know because it affects how you’ll clean and care for your stone countertops. Soapstone is chemically inert, which means it is neither acidic or alkaline. In household terms, it means you don’t have worry about whether foods or cleaners are acidic because soapstone counters won’t react. Use whichever cleaners you want, and don’t worry if you slosh lemon juice; your counters will be just fine. It’s also more eco-friendly since soapstone counters don’t need to be sealed to provide protection against bacteria and other substances.
Let’s Talk Design
So, we know that usefulness is an important factor for any new countertop material. But what about appearance? Soapstone gets a bad reputation for being dark, but there’s actually an impressive variety of color. Soapstone is a metamorphic material, meaning it’s comprised of a collection of minerals that come together over millennia thanks to high heat and pressure. Basically, this means that each deposit of soapstone is different. Actually, you’ll see a lot of variation even within a single deposit; it’s not like the minerals get mixed until smooth before becoming soapstone.
Each slab is going to have a range of color. The overarching color scheme of soapstone is a scale of greys, but you can also expect to see some veins of greens, blues, and white. Even the darkest shades of soapstone tend to have veins and flecks of other colors. If you’re interested in showing off all of those variances, you can apply a thin layer of soapstone-specific oil. So, while darker shades are more common, if you want light, bright soapstone counters, that is a possibility! Just work with your local soapstone company to find the right slab for your soapstone uses and space.
Over time, you may notice that the gentle wear-and-tear creates a patina on your soapstone counters. This is perfectly normal! It shouldn’t affect the color at all — unless you’re using a mineral oil, of course. There are no sealants to worry about, and ongoing care is minimal at most. Simply use a fine-grit sandpaper or steel wool to gently buff out any scratches, and that’s it! Otherwise, what you see is what you get, in terms of aesthetics.
Create Your Perfect Design
Of all the many soapstone uses out there, countertops are one of the most popular for a reason. Between the durability, versatility, and the beautiful color options, soapstone makes an ideal option for long-lasting countertops that will keep looking amazing for years to come. Learn more about custom countertops and all of the soapstone uses out there. Connect with Dorado Soapstone today to start planning your project!