Do you have soapstone countertops or want to get them? When we bought our house I had never heard of soapstone. I thought it was some kind of granite until I saw the owner’s remodeling receipt.
I have a love-hate relationship with my soapstone after three years. I’ve learned all of the pros and cons of having soapstone. I’ve also discovered how to care for my countertops. If you’re on the fence about getting soapstone for your kitchen I think this information will help you. If you already have them and you want tips for maintaining the beauty of your soapstone, this will help you too.
What Is Soapstone?
You’ve heard of granite, marble and quartz, but do you know about Soapstone? Soapstone is a natural material; it’s a metamorphic rock called steatite. Steatite rock has several minerals, including talc and magnesium. The talc is what makes the stone softer than other materials. The higher the level of talc, the softer the stone. Higher talk amounts also make the surface more susceptible to scratching.
You see soapstone in lots of laboratories because it is impenetrable and non-porous even when there is acid (like lemon juice). Soapstone is also heat tolerant. You don’t need to use a trivet. These two things make it ideal for use in a kitchen.
Soapstone is only available in grey and black tones. If you want a white countertop, this isn’t the material for you. If you decide to choose soapstone for your countertops you look at slabs that are from a quarry, just like you would granite or marble.
Soapstone is not just used for countertops. Soapstone can be used to make sinks, fireplace surrounds (tiles) and sculptures.
Where to Get Soapstone?
The soapstone we get in North America comes from quarries in Brazil. Most countertop distributors where you go to look at slabs don’t make the slabs. You can find soapstone in most places where you find granite. It’s a less common stone, so call to check before you go.
If you want to get samples so you can see what it feels like you can order samples here. This is a good idea so you can see how the counters look and feel.
How to Care for Soapstone?
When you search for cleaners you won’t find one that says it’s for Soapstone. Actually, if you look at a manufacturer’s website they say you don’t have to use ANY special cleaners. You can use cleaners with citric acid (a no-no for marble).
I clean my countertops with dish soap, like you would any counter. Weekly I use a daily granite cleaner and when I have guests coming I use this polish. None of these take a long time, you just wipe the counters down. Granite cleaner and polish work best when applied with a microfiber towel.
Mineral oil is not required to protect soapstone, but it can be applied to darken the counters. It’s also useful for scrathes (see below).
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Do You Have to Seal Soapstone?
There is no sealing required for soapstone, unlike granite. These countertops take a licking and keep on ticking. You can spill wine, lemon, or any type of acid and there is no discoloration. You can leave water on them and it doesn’t do anything.
How to Remove Scratches In Your Soapstone
There are two methods to remove scratches from soapstone counters. For minor scratches, just rub mineral oil into the scratch. That’s it!
For deeper scratches sand the scratch with medium-grit sandpaper in a circular motion. Follow that with a fine-grit sandpaper. Once you can’t feel the scratch, wipe the spot clean with a wet cloth. Apply mineral oil to the area. This video shows you both methods of removing scratches in practice.
Are There Different Types of Soapstone?
There are different types of soapstone, just like there are different types of marble. A “natural” soapstone is untreated and has a lighter color and a duller look and feel.
Oiled soapstone is treated with mineral oils and has a darker color. If you have oiled soapstone, you will reapply the oil periodically until the counters get a natural patina. You never have to apply the mineral oil again at this point. This type of soapstone is the shiniest.
Aged soapstone is oiled once or twice and then never again. This makes the surface fade a little over time, you want it to darken, just treat it with mineral oil.
Why Is It Called Soapstone?
Soapstone got its name because it has a softer feel like soap due to the talc. Is it really soft? No. It is not really soft but if you knock on it feels softer than marble or granite.
Did you know there is a hardness scale called Mohs? Soapstone has a value of 1 on the Mohs hardness scale. For reference, marble is 2 or 3, granite is a 5 or 6 and quartz is a 7.
Pros and Cons of Soapstone Countertops
The cons of soapstone are that you can’t have a light color. I really loved my white quartz countertops because they were easier to keep clean (or look clean). The other con is that they are expensive.
The pros are that it is SUPER durable, impossible to damage and heat tolerant.
I hope this helps you with your soapstone countertops.