- Q: Is soapstone too soft to use for a countertop?
This is always the number one question that homeowners have. It is probably the word "soap" that throws everyone off. The answer is "no," soapstone is not too soft—however, it must be noted that there are harder materials available.
Soapstone is often used for carving and sculpture, and this may throw people off, too. But this is a different, softer type of soapstone, not the countertop material soapstone.
- Q: So, why is it called soapstone?
Mainly because it has a high degree of talc in it. The talc gives soapstone a warm, soft feeling—a feeling that cold, hard granite certainly does not have.
- Q: So, soapstone vs. granite—which to choose?
It depends on your needs, but let's mention one chief feature of soapstone counters: it is nearly impervious to staining. See, granite has the reputation of being the best type of kitchen or bathroom countertop material available. This reputation is largely unfounded because, amazingly enough, granite can stain quite easily. Soapstone is very dense and resists staining. Few other countertop materials can claim this.
- Q: Does soapstone scratch and dent?
Yes, but not as easily as you might imagine. You have to be comfortable with a kitchen counter surface with a slight bit of patina. That's why soapstone counters tend to be installed in kitchens that have more of a traditional, classic feel, rather than a sleek contemporary feel. Eventually, scratches may smooth out. Owners of soapstone counters are divided on the issue. Some think that soapstone dents and scratches too much; others think it dents just enough. But no owner will ever claim that soapstone doesn't scratch and dent! That's pretty much a given.
- Q: Do you need to seal soapstone?
No. But you do need to initially apply mineral oil and then follow up with mineral oil treatments about once a month for a year. This is not sealing, since soapstone does not absorb the mineral oil (granite does require sealing). The mineral oil helps the stone oxidize.
- Q: What color is soapstone?
Soapstone counters are light-gray at first. After application of mineral oil, they take on a charcoal-gray color. So, if you're looking for pistachio-colored counters, you'll need to go for Corian!
- Q: So…should I get soapstone countertops or not?
Again, if you have a more traditional house, you are a good candidate for soapstone counters. If you like the look of old things (rather than pristine, sterile things), you are a good candidate, as well. You're not going to find giant, uninterrupted slabs of soapstone, either. You may get slabs that are 30 inches deep by 6 feet long—plenty big, in my opinion—but nothing larger because no larger slabs are quarried.
- Q: Are soapstone countertops hard to install?
No. No more difficult than granite.
- Q: Where can I find more information about soapstone counters?
We have found Vermont Soapstone (see link on this page) to be one of the better sources of information on the Web about soapstone countertops.