If you are interested in Soapstone, This is a good read. Here is a pic of a Soapstone counter on a outdoor kitchen. Looks amazing with the decorative stone to achieve that natural look!
My husband asked what I would write as the subject for my next post. I
decided the topic would have to be about our choice for soapstone
counters. It was the first decision I made in the design process, so
it's only appropriate that this be one of my first posts as well.
have been mentally blogging about my kitchen for months now. We are
completely through the design phase of the project and in fact are well
into rough-in, so I have quite a bit of catchup posting to do!)
upon a time, I thought that soapstone was a poor choice for counters. I
had read all sorts of information about how it scratches and chips so
easily. I even had friends who considered putting soapstone into their
kitchen, and I spoke vocally against it. Since that time I have
continued learning about different counter choices and have realized
that there is a lot of misunderstanding about soapstone out there. In
fact, it can be a wonderful countertop surface -- for certain people.
There is no one countertop material that is perfect for everyone.
Some myths about soapstone:
- it scratches too easily
- it chips
- it stains
- it doesn't take heat well
- it doesn't react well to humidity
- it can't be repaired
are many different varieties of soapstone. These range from very soft
soapstones which are used for purposes like carvings, to quite hard
soapstones that are suitable for counters. Just about all soapstone IS
scratchable, or chippable, but it is not nearly as prone to this damage
if you select a harder variety. Scratches and chips definitely do not
happen as often as some extreme opinions would suggest.
definitely does not stain. Soapstone is non porous. It is also inert.
Consider: there is a reason that soapstone is often used as counters
for science labs!
- Soapstone does not need sealing of any sort,
because it does not stain. You can oil or otherwise treat the surface,
but that is purely for cosmetic reasons. Oiling has nothing to do with
sealing or protecting the stone.
- Soapstone is absolutely
fine with both heat and water/humidity. That is why you find 100+ year
old soapstone sinks in salvage yards! That is also why you find
soapstone in fireplaces and stoves. It is not damaged by heat.
can be repaired more easily by the average homeowner than most other
counter surfaces. Minor scratches will wear away on their own over a
few days. Most deep scratches or dings (which ARE more frequent with
soapstone than mainstream counters) can easily be repaired by sanding.
That said, part of the allure/character of soapstone, for some owners, are the scratches and dings.
Here are some of the reasons we selected soapstone for our kitchen:
- The main reason, really, is that it's just beautiful in our eyes. I didn't choose soapstone. Soapstone chose me.
second biggest reason, is that soapstone is the only truly "organic"
countertop that I know of (other than wood). I was happiest choosing a
kitchen counter that did not require any level of synthetic material.
Granites and other stones require sealers. Quartz composite and other
man-made counters have resins/binders/etc. Soapstone is a completely
natural product and the only typical treatment is oil (mineral oil, bees
oil, being popular choices).
- I don't like hunting for trivets
or pads for hot pots. Of the organic counter choices (soapstone and
wood), soapstone is the only one that can take a hot pot set directly on
the counter without burning or cracking.
- I want the kitchen to
feel used and well loved. We are an active family and I am sure as the
kids get older that they will not be careful with the counters. I don't
want a kitchen that makes me get upset when I see a scratch, so my
approach is to expect and plan for scratches. So in that sense, a few
chips and dings here and there, are very welcome in the right setting.
Chips and dings go with soapstone.
- With the same counter, we
can get the unfinished lighter natural stone look, or the oiled darker
stone look. It's kind of nice to have that choice, at least at the
beginning. (Not so much a choice later on when the stone has naturally
- I'm tired of the glossy look. I love the calm
matte of soapstone. I also hear some people fall in love with the
"soapy" texture of the counter (how the stone got its name). I don't
know if that will happen to me- I'm not a touch person. We'll see.
is easy to clean and maintain. Because it is non porous and doesn't
stain, you don't have to wipe up a spill of red wine right away. It
does not harbor bacteria. You don't have to reapply sealer once every
year or two. If you choose to have the oiled look, you DO have to oil
it frequently in the first few weeks and then consistently in the first
couple years, but eventually your stone will naturally darken and you
don't even need to oil it. But really, if you choose not to oil, then
your counters are zero-maintenance.
I definitely would not
recommend soapstone to everyone. If you don't want patina, it's a bad
choice. If you like the oiled look but don't like the thought of oiling
weekly right off the bat, it's a bad choice. If you want gloss, go to
almost any other counter choice. Soapstone is also an expensive choice
(comparable to higher end granite). Soapstone also varies so much by
variety that if you are not willing to get samples and test, then you
could easily end up with a soft stone that you hate. Another negative
is that soapstone is highly misunderstood and therefore I think could
lower the resale value of a house, if the potential buyer is wary.
only real regret with choosing soapstone is that it has to be shipped
from Brazil. There are some options within the US but they are all (as
far as I know) on the east coast, so still a considerable shipping
effort. As I am trying to be conscious of making green choices, knowing
that my counter material requires shipping from South America is
The soapstone variety that I eventually selected
is Duro Minas. I tested a few different varieties and Minas (not Duro
Minas) came out on top. Once I had decided on Minas then I had to
choose a slab. The available slabs in the warehouse at that particular
time however left me completely apathetic on emotion. The owner emailed
me some pictures of the next shipment of Duro Minas, expected to arrive
in a month. When I opened the email, my heart skipped a beat (see
photo at the top). I love the veining of this slab and what looks to be
the caramel inclusions. I tagged the slab immediately. My only
concern - which is minor -- is that I have never tested Duro Minas and
am relying on the owner's very confident statement that Duro Minas is
just like Minas, only harder. I hope that is indeed the case.
courtesy of The Conscious Kitchen Blog