As a homeowner, do you feel weary of all the maintenance you need to do to keep your home in good repair? No matter how often you clean your California home, age will eventually start to show. Carpets wear down, wood floors get scratched and dull, cabinets start to look mucked up, and paint colors fade. If you have a whole herd of dogs or a house full of kids, those signs of wear will show even faster. If ever there was a surefire way to have a home that shows its age, all you need to do is live in it for a little while for it to lose all its shine.
Keeping Your Home in Great Shape Starts With Better Materials
On the plus side, it doesn’t take much to make a house look like new again. A fresh coat of paint, new carpeting, freshly sanded and stained wood floors — these can all help your home look and feel like you just moved in. But one of the biggest things most homeowners overlook when taking on home projects is the value of quality materials. Want carpets that last longer? Pay the extra $2 per square foot. Want paint that doesn’t fade? Splurge on the higher quality paint-and-primer combination product. The upfront price may be a bit higher, but you’ll be surprised at how much more you save when those home projects don’t come around again for a while.
This is, in essence, what is so wonderful about soapstone. Whether you’re looking for new countertops or floor tiles, soapstone is a durable, beautiful option that will last for decades to come. But soapstone is more than just its good looks!
What is Soapstone?
Soapstone is a type of stone, as the name implies. You’ve probably seen it before, as it’s often used for kitchen countertops, farmhouse sinks, fireplace surrounds, and even floor tiles. This type of stone generally has a higher talc content, which is the mineral that gives such a distinctively “soapy” texture when smooth and polished. This stone isn’t quite as hard as granite or quartz, but it’s still durable enough that it will hold up to years of wear and tear. Soapstone is the fine balance between a stone that is easily cut and shaped, thanks to its relative level of softness, and durable enough to handle hard use. Here’s the full scoop of soapstone’s amazing benefits:
As we already mentioned, soapstone isn’t quite as hard as quartz or granite. That doesn’t mean it’s soft, by any means! And, in this case, the fact that soapstone is a “softer” stone actually works in your favor. Soapstone is a metamorphic rock, which means it is a composite of multiple minerals that were fused together over millennia through high heat and pressure. This means that the mineral makeup of soapstone will vary from one slab to the next. Architectural-grade soapstone, which is what you’ll see used in homes, is typically 50–70% talc content. This means it’s going to be soft enough to cut easily, but it is still hard enough that you can chop veggies directly on the surface without worry — well, you may need to worry about blunting your knife.
Have you ever watched a friend scramble to sop up a red wine spill on their granite countertops? You don’t need to worry about that with soapstone counters. It’s a non-porous rock, which means that liquids won’t absorb into it and leave stains. It may darken just slightly when wet, but that color change will lighten right back up with the liquid dries or gets cleaned off.
The other side of this that most folks don’t know? It’s pretty amazing. Since soapstone is non-porous, that means there aren’t little nooks and crannies that might harbor bacteria like you might find with other stone countertops. Use that bacteria-fighting cleaner and just wipe your soapstone counters to keep them impressively germ-free.
Most folks don’t worry about the chemical properties of their home finishes, and why would you? In this case, though, soapstone’s chemical properties are pretty helpful. Where granite and quartz require special cleaners and sealants, that’s not the case with soapstone. It’s a chemically inert stone, meaning it is neither acidic nor alkaline. It’s actually used for chemistry lab work tables for this reason. What this means for homeowners is that acidic substances like lemon juice or certain cleaners aren’t going to do any damage.
Now, this is one you may know about already. If you’re like us, you might get a bit forgetful when cooking. With soapstone countertops, however, that’s really not a big deal. It’s a highly heat-resistant stone, so you can pull a dish out of the oven and safely put it straight onto a soapstone counter without damage.
This is actually what makes soapstone such a great option for fireplace surrounds and masonry stoves. Not only is soapstone heat resistant, but it also retains heat well. This means it will continue to slowly emit heat after the fire in the fireplace goes out. It’s a great way to heat living areas in your home without high heating costs.
Quartz and granite are porous stones. This means they need to be sealed in order to work effectively as countertops. They also need to be polished and resealed every so often to keep them protected. Not so with soapstone! Since it’s non-porous, as we mentioned above, your soapstone counters will look great with basically no maintenance. There’s no need to worry about sealing, stains, or most ongoing care. You may occasionally need to buff out small scratches, but that can typically be done with some fine-grit sandpaper or steel wool.
As we touched on already, soapstone is a metamorphic rock, meaning it’s comprised of a variety of minerals. This means that no two soapstone slabs will look exactly alike. You’ll find a variety of colors and veining throughout each soapstone slab, which gives a uniquely beautiful appearance. It also makes it easier to find a soapstone slab that best matches your home’s decor. You can even adjust the appearance of your soapstone by oiling it to bring out the rich variety in tones — though you’ll have to re-oil your counters every so often since the stone is non-porous.
Soapstone is easier to cut. That goes hand-in-hand with the relative level of softness that we discussed above. But what this means is that it takes less work to cut a soapstone slab. The nature of the stone also makes it less likely to chip or break, meaning fewer materials get wasted than, say, what happens when cutting granite (which is a more brittle stone). Since it’s easier to work with, that savings gets passed along to you, the customer, in the form of a beautiful result for a lower cost.
What you may not expect about soapstone is that it’s recyclable, but it is! Since it’s non-porous and won’t absorb chemicals, it can safely be recycled — not that you’d need to, since it’ll last for ages and keep looking great. But hey, if you decide you need a change of color, you can recycle that old soapstone counter and it can find a new life easily.
Get Started on Your Custom Home Renovations
Soapstone offers an impressive variety of varied uses throughout the home — it’s not just soapstone counters! Explore all that soapstone can do, and get started on your home remodel project for amazing results that will last for years to come! The team here at Dorado Soapstone is happy to answer any questions you might have, and help you find the perfect soapstone slab for whatever project you have in mind. Connect with Dorado Soapstone of California to learn more today!