Natural stone is a luxurious material for kitchen countertops. When you think of natural stone countertops, though, you probably imagine granite or maybe marble. Marble and especially granite are very popular for kitchen countertops, but they're not the only stone in town. Soapstone is a rich, resilient material that's ideal for your kitchen countertops.
Composition of Soapstone
Soapstone is a relatively soft, metamorphic rock. Talc is the primary mineral in soapstone, which accounts for its softness. However, other minerals such as mica, chlorite, magnesite, dolomite, chlorite, and carbonates make up soapstone. Soapstone quarries are located in Brazil, China, and Finland.
Properties of Soapstone
The dominance of talc in soapstone's composition gives the stone its physical properties. As stated above, soapstone is relatively soft for a rock. However, it's both nonporous and nonabsorbent. It's also resistant to both heat and acidic or alkaline spills. The stone's coloration is usually gray, muted blue, green, or brown with variegation in coloration.
Benefits of Soapstone Countertops
One of the major benefits of soapstone countertops is the natural beauty of the stone. Soapstone slabs feature a chic, muted palette with attractive veining. The texture appears soft or "soapy," which gives the stone its name.
Soapstone's nonporous nature makes it completely antibacterial, a boon in the kitchen. Likewise, its nonabsorbent properties, combined with resistance to acid and alkaline, make it durable against spills and easy to clean. Naturally, being heat-resistant makes soapstone ideal for kitchen use since you don't have to worry about placing a hot pot on the surface.
Design Ideas for Soapstone Countertops
Soapstone countertops are appropriate for a variety of kitchen styles. The soft surface can look time-worn, which is appealing in a cottage or farmhouse kitchen. However, as Better Homes and Gardens points out, the restrained palette of soapstone can create a sophisticated look in the kitchen, especially when paired with chic elements such as crisp cabinetry.
Soapstone also serves as a material for sinks. Therefore, you could have your soapstone countertop installed with a soapstone sink for a perfect match.
Maintaining Soapstone Countertops
Despite its soft nature, soapstone is a durable countertop material. For the first month after installation, you should rub mineral oil into the surface about once a week or so. This will allow the surface to develop its characteristic soft sheen. After that, you can rub mineral oil into the surface once a year. Not only does this maintain the sheen, but it helps disguise scratches. Soapstone doesn't need to be sealed yearly, like granite does.
For more info on soapstone and other materials, contact businesses like Southwest Brick & Fireplace.