Soapstone is a rare stone. This makes it relatively more expensive compared to man-made countertop materials.
Soapstone offers three major benefits: heat resistance/retention, acid resistance and absorption resistance/non-porosity. These properties enable soapstone to be used as sinks, countertops, floors, hearths, stoves and more.
Soapstone counters can scratch easily, and they require routine oiling to maintain their appearance. They also come in limited color options and are more expensive than other countertop materials.
Soapstone is a little more expensive than granite, although not by much. The prices can be comparable, depending on the stone. A high-end soapstone may be very expensive but also improves property values significantly.
Disadvantages: Architectural-grade, made-to-order soapstone sinks can cost much more than other sinks. This material's soft nature means it can accumulate nicks and scratches over time too, although those can add to the patina.
Soapstone is both chemical resistant and heat resistant, so you can set hot pots and pans directly on soapstone without risk of cracking or scorching. Soapstone is much softer and more prone to scratching than granite or quartz however, so preparing food directly on your soapstone counters could easily scratch it.
Soapstone does not crack easily
While it may appear soft, soapstone countertops do not crack easily. This is however a problem when it comes to scratches. The softness makes it easily susceptible to scratches but protects it from cracking.
Soapstone is used because it's heat resistant and needs little maintenance.
Soapstone also is low-maintenance, which is one reason it's used in places like chemistry labs. Soapstone ranks soft on the Mohs Hardness Scale, which makes it ideal for carving sinks directly into counter slabs.
Soapstone surfaces need not be sealed, but we recommend treatment with mineral oil if consistent surface darkening is desired. Without treatment, soapstone will darken in uneven regions around surface areas most frequently used. Leaving the soapstone untreated will develop a patina of age that many people enjoy.
The nonporous, stain-resistant properties of soapstone make it ideal for kitchen surfaces. This dense material doesn't harbor bacteria, so you can easily wipe germs and contaminants from your countertop, sink, and backsplash.
Talc and soapstone may contain asbestos. In a longitudinal study in Germany samples of materials used have been taken over a periode of 10 years. Only very small quantities of asbestos have been detected.
Soapstone does not emit radon. This make it desirable as a building material for homes because it does not release a toxic gas into the living environment of human beings. It is advantageous in that regard to granite which does emit radon.
Soapstone is dense, without pores, does not stain, and repels water.
Soapstone is on the high end of countertop materials and is significantly more expensive than granite and on par with quartz for the most part (the high end of the range for soapstone is more expensive than quartz).
Because soapstone is comprised primarily of talc, it has an extremely high resistance to chemicals and acids. It is a hydrophobic stone with an absorbency of near zero, meaning that it does not absorb water.
You should apply it with a clean cloth, then wipe the excess away—it's that simple. Although soapstone is naturally nonporous, it will benefit from a beautifying sealer like SimpleCoat to make the colors pop and protect it from staining. Water, oil and greasy substances can cause it to become discolored and stained.
In general, soapstone offers a good balance between cost, durability, and aesthetic appeal. For homeowners who don't want to pay the cost of quartz countertops but who are interested in the look of soapstone and the benefits of quartz, a soapstone-quartz hybrid may be an option worth considering.
Soapstone is a gorgeous natural surface. When left as-is, it's a light gray slate-like shade. And while soapstone will gradually darken over time, some prefer to have the darker look straight out of the starting gate. By adding oil or wax, the result is a shiny onyx-hued black with a bit more richness.
Quartz is one of the strongest materials you can use, making it one of the best-value countertops available. Both scratch- and stain-resistant, quartz countertops can look brand new for years even after withstanding heavy usage.
Over the years we have tried many different products on soapstone. Our recommendation is not to seal soapstone because sealers are inherently designed to penetrate and seal a surface. Soapstone is a nonporous stone and sealers will not penetrate it and therefore will not bond as effectively.
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.
To preserve the color of your soapstone, it should be resealed every three or four years. The frequency may depend on the amount of stress the sealant is exposed to; however, scratches on the surface of the sealant usually only require application to the affected area.
If you leave it untreated, in time, the soapstone will darken around the surface areas most frequently used, particularly in a kitchen or food service environment. Leaving the soapstone untreated will develop a veneer of aging that many of our customers appreciate.
It is a surface phenomenon and is not related to absorption, but mineral oil adsorption! This explains why soapstone is non-porous and therefore does not absorb any liquid, but it is darkened by mineral oil as it adsorbs it on its surface.