Soapstone looks naturally beautiful and is therefore a preferred material for countertops. Soapstone, as the name suggests, feels smooth and waxy to the touch, just like you touch dry soap. However, it is very durable and ideal for countertops. It is a metamorphic rock and is formed below the earth’s surface. It takes millions of years to reach its texture and durability, and it must be worked like any other natural stone.
Soapstone is characterized by naturally formed specks and veins that give it a varied pattern, making each soapstone countertop look unique.
The soapstone countertops have a smooth, shiny and non-porous surface; therefore they do not collect bacteria, they are not absorbent and they do not stain if wine or other liquids are spilled on them. They are also not etched with acidic liquids. So they can last a lifetime without much maintenance.
Soapstone is very heat resistant and is preferred for baking areas and fireplaces. Therefore placing hot pots directly from the stove on them will not affect them.
Soapstone can be carved into various shapes, so round or square sinks can also be made using them. This gives uniformity and continuity to your countertop.
In terms of color variety, soapstone has its limits as it is only available in various shades of grey.
Pricing of soapstone countertops
Soapstone is quarried from various parts of the world, so it varies in pricing. Soapstone countertops that show color, along with attractive veins and flecking are on the costlier side. In addition, the company, size and thickness also determine the price.
Soapstone can be as expensive as marble and granite or it can cost less depending on its quality and color variation. You may consider a rate that is more or less than $50 per square foot of soapstone, which may include installation costs. Some contractors may charge you extra for installation.
If you are low on finances, soapstone tiles can be a nice alternative at a cheaper price. Soapstone-laminate combination reduces your costs even more. These are laminated countertops that use soapstone only in the areas of rugged use such as the cooking and washing area.
Buying tips for soapstone countertops
1. Before choosing the color and style of your soapstone, you need to do your homework on how you can use it to complement your kitchen cabinets and color scheme.
2. Check out any interior design magazine that can educate you on the latest trends. If you still feel uncertain about the color shade and style, you can consult an interior designer.
3. Soapstone countertops are generally on the darker side so are best suited to light colored cabinets.
4. Soapstone blends well with shiny utensils, especially stainless steel. As well as with the sink, faucets and various other stainless steel appliances in the kitchen.
Installation of soapstone countertops
Never attempt to install soapstone countertops on your own. The skilled hand of a professional installer is a he has if you want your countertop to be well cut and level. A professional knows how to take measurements and make the necessary models. The slab will be cut exactly according to the patterns to accommodate electrical and plumbing equipment.
In order to obtain a strong base, the installer can use metal rods, plywood and adhesives. If the base is strong, the countertop will not crack during installation or later. Once your countertop is attached to this base, the installer gets to work giving a quality finish to the seams and edges, something you’ll find difficult to achieve on your own.
Keeping soapstone countertops
Although your soapstone countertop requires minimal maintenance, be sure to ask your installer for exact maintenance instructions.
Whether or not to seal the soapstone is a choice you will have to make. Some people prefer the weathered look so they don’t seal soapstone countertops.
You can choose to coat it regularly with mineral oil to give depth and richness to the color. This is easy and can be done by yourself.
Although soapstone is strong, it is best not to take it for granted. It can be scratched and chipped if you drag heavy pots or appliances over its surface, or hit it with heavy objects. In addition, the scratches can be removed by light sanding and reapplication of mineral oil on the surface.
Soapstone is impervious to lemon juice, vinegar and chemicals. So some all-purpose cleaning liquids can be used for cleaning soapstone countertops, but avoid abrasive liquid and steel wool. Again, never take your countertop for granted and always use warm, lukewarm water to clean your countertop.