This completely natural surface has a lot of distinctive benefits that you won’t find in rivals such as marble, quartz and granite. Along with these amazing benefits also come various cons that you should know about before taking the plunge and making an investment in a new counter.
We have put forth every effort to bring forward all of the pros and cons so that you can make a truly informed opinion about the new addition to your kitchen.
There are a lot of reasons why you should seriously consider this work surface for your kitchen including the following:
- Aesthetic value
- A healthier choice
- Environmentally friendly
- Textures available
- Return on investment
- Cost effectiveness
- How it ages
Mother Nature has put her best into producing this rock that is available in varying degrees of hardness. The softest type is used for sculpting while harder stone is used for tables, kitchen work surfaces, wood burning stoves, tiles etc. If you took a chemistry class back in high school you would have been working on a soapstone lab table since it’s pretty much impervious to most types of liquids and chemicals. If you go back and visit your high school classroom you’ll probably see the same tables in place that you were using years ago.
Durability is one of its’ biggest bragging rights and it’s common to see soapstone stoves and sinks that were manufactured in the 1800s still being used today in the northeast section of the United States. If you decide to purchase one for your kitchen work surface you can consider it to be a beautiful investment for life.
When it comes to any soapstone countertops, no 2 slabs are ever the same. The one that you have decorating your kitchen will never be duplicated in any other home. Your countertop will become a personal treasure and will grow on you as it ages.
The color of the stone can vary depending on the area that is coming from. The colors can range from an almost pale green to a light gray and if you choose a slab that comes from Brazil, you’ll often see the same type of veining that you’d find in fine marble. You’ll have the option of applying mineral oil to soapstone countertops to darken the look or you can keep it looking natural and avoid the oiling process completely. Mineral oil does not have to be applied and you’ll have the choice between a lighter and a darker countertop based on your own personal preference.
It’s natural beauty makes it blend in perfectly with older traditional homes and cottage style houses but you’ll find it also appearing in higher-end luxury homes.
With soapstone you don’t have to worry about taking a pot from the stove and putting it right onto the counter. This stone won’t get damaged from heat and doesn’t stain. It’s a lot easier to cook with a soapstone countertop since you won’t have to worry about spilling things or placing hot items on it. The only other type of counter that can compete with it when it comes to workability in the kitchen is one that is made of stainless steel.
They are are non-porous so it will never absorb liquids. Spilling a glass of red wine on the counter is not a problem and any acidic liquids can be wiped right off as well. This type of stone is so dense that no type of sealant is required at all. You can only oil the countertop but this is only done for aesthetic reasons.
A healthier choice
You don’t have to worry about germs and bacteria invading your soapstone countertop. As a result, you’ll be providing a healthier and safer kitchen environment for everyone in the family.
Soapstone countertops are harvested from the earth and simply custom cut to fit your kitchen. It’s all-natural and can be recycled completely. No sealers or toxic chemicals of any kind will be introduced into your home. Nothing needs to be done to make soapstone beautiful since nature has taken care of this all on its own. Once it has been quarried from the earth it simply needs a cleanup and a trimming before it arrives at your door in its natural state.
You can order them with different textures and you don’t have to settle only for a high-polished finish like you would with other stones. Whether you want it to be slightly rough or completely smooth, this stone can be refinished according to your preference. No matter what texture you choose, you’ll love the way it feels soft to the touch without compromising on durability.
Return on investment
If you install a soapstone countertop in your kitchen you can expect to see a return on your investment when you sell your home. Generally, new soapstone countertops will see a 50% to 80% ROI once the house sells.
Although the actual slab can cost quite a bit and can be comparable in price to other natural stones, you have more cost-effective options when it comes to the installation of your countertop. Fortunately, it’s is one of the easiest counters to set up and you can even take it on as a do-it-yourself project on your own. If you don’t want to tackle this type of renovation product by yourself, you can hire a handyman to do it for you. No expensive installation company is required.
How it ages
You’ll find that they age well and can last for many generations. If you get any scratches, you can either leave them as a part of the natural patina or you can sand them out to restore the initial integrity of the stone. You can’t do that with a granite countertop! Scratches, dents and other imperfections that take place on other natural stones can’t be easily worked out and you’ll just have to learn to live with them!
The cons of soapstone countertops
Along with the pros come some serious cons that you’ll want to take into consideration before making a final decision. These negative factors include:
- Surface texture
- Regular maintenance
- Limited selection
- Cost factors
They are the softest of natural stone worktops that you can get, and that is one of the reasons why many people don’t want to invest in it. Yes, it will scratch and dent easier than other types of kitchen work surfaces but fortunately these problems can be handled with a piece of sandpaper, mineral oil and a rag. There are varying degrees of softness so you’ll want to choose a piece of stone that is harder than the others. Here’s a great tip to keep in mind. In general, the stones with greener shades are usually softer than the ones that are mostly gray.
As mentioned above, you’ll have your choice regarding the type of surface texture you’d prefer. It’s best to choose a smoother surface since the natural roughness can scuff China and glassware.
Some people prefer a hands-off approach when it comes to maintenance of a kitchen counter. If you want the surface to darken evenly you’ll have to oil it regularly to have this effect. If you’re not at all interested in any maintenance and don’t want to enjoy the natural look that comes along with normal wear and tear, you’d be better off with a stainless steel or a quartz countertop.
Some people just aren’t a huge fan of dealing with mineral oil that is greasy and can get on your clothes. With a quartz or stainless steel countertop it’s a set-and-forget type of deal. With granite, you’ll only have to apply sealer approximately once a year to keep it sleek and shiny.
When it comes to this stone, your selection of colors and patterns is going to be extremely limited. If you’re looking for something trendy and colorful, you won’t find it with with this stone.
While the cost of installation can be greatly reduced by doing it yourself, many people prefer to have the installation done by a company that has experience with this stone. This makes the whole process quick and easy but at the same time much more costly. In general, they can end up costing you more than what you would have to pay for other natural stone counters when the installation is supplied by the retailer that is selling you the soapstone slab.
When it comes right down to it, you are going to have to work through these soapstone countertops pros and cons to decide whether this type of stone fits into your lifestyle or not. Soapstone does offer a priceless beauty to anyone that appreciates the pure raw nature that only this stone can provide.
One of the best things that you can do is find someone that owns this kind of countertop and has had it for a few years. This way, you’ll be able to see for yourself what you can expect in the future from this type of stone and whether or not it will serve as an enhancement to your kitchen.
And thinking about a soapstone countertop for my master bath. It’s only me living there, and I’m quite neat. Would soapstone be a viable opportunity for this use?
I have had my soapstone counter tops for about 4 years now. My slab was heavily veined and finished with the leathered texture. I absolutely love it! I have had no problems with any dents or dings. I don’t oil it at all. It is cleaned with cleaning vinegar. I haven’t noticed any glass being scratched by the soapstone. Hot pans get placed right on it-not a problem. My counter has some areas where there are fissures-not sure if that is the correct term. They aren’t cracks. It looks like areas where two rocks fused together millions of years ago. Those just add to the natural beauty for me. One thing that was a plus for me was the simplicity of the stone even with the heavy veining. It wasn’t as busy as the granite I saw. I am very satisfied with my decision to go with soapstone.
We’ve had our soapstone counters for 15 months now and I love them! I traveled to several slab yards and found ours at Midwest Stone in Waukesha, WI. They are black with white veining and a leathered finish. I love the look and feel of them – they remind me of the Maine coastline. I haven’t noticed any significant scratching, but because ours have a leathered finish, they would just add to the patina – I didn’t want a shiny, smooth countertop. I wipe them down with mineral oil once a month which is not very time consuming. Everyone who visits comments on their beauty and says they’ve never seen any like them, and they look great with the marble subway tile backsplash. All in all, they were a great design decision for us.
We’ve lived with our soapstone countertops for 4 years and I just about hate them. They are spectacularly beautiful when they are freshly waxed or oiled, but the second moisture gets on them, they become splotchy. I’ve tried every single wax and oil that is made for soapstone and none of them provides me with lasting results. Therefore, the counters always look awful because I refuse to wax/oil them daily.
I also hate how easy they are to scratch. I find them seriously impractical.
We’re likely replacing them with quartz.
I purchased 2 soapstone slabs from midwest stone in mn. They have BEAUTIFUL full slab selections to look at. It was partially installed by a fabricator yesterday ( great guy ). It was gorgeous however i counted over a dozen chips in the island and a few on the countertops along with a gouge the size of my baby fingertip. I was so upset. The guys didnt even leave yet! Long story short. They came back and took them back to their shop. Said theyll be back today to finish the job! Not sure what that means, we’ll see today. The owner if the company indicated perhaps carelessness on the handling end of his guys !? I hope its not an indication of the delicateness of the stone. Excited for the finished product today. Im on the fwnce abou mineral oil…ti do or not to do. Anymore input on that end from ss/owners? Michelle
I live in a vintage building, so I wanted a kitchen that maintained the vintage feel. I chose soapstone for my countertops. After buying the slab I began to get nervous when I read of so many issues people were posting on various message boards. Even though everything I read about soapstone countertops said oiling or waxing was optional I felt the prevailing attitude was “but you can’t even consider leaving them natural,” so I bought some wax and planned to treat them. Once the countertops were installed I loved the natural look. I wiped them down with a wet paper towel to get an idea of how they would look if I waxed them. Personally, I thought it eliminated all of the natural charm and distinctive beauty of the stone. It looked too processed. I decided not to wax them. I have had no bad experiences or issues at all. I experimented to see if a wet glass would leave a ring, and yes it did, but it disappeared when I wiped it down. No stains, no spotting, and when I get something oily or greasy on them I simply put a drop or two of Dawn on a wet rag and wipe it right off. I’m careful not to drag things across the countertops, drop things on them or bang them…but I was just as careful with the laminate countertops I had before redoing my kitchen, so I can’t say that I’m treating them with kid gloves. They are developing a natural patina, but it looks like a movement in the stone. It’s not patchy or blotchy. I use a solution of Dawn diluted in a spray bottle of water to clean them, and the degreaser seems to keep the stone close to it’s original look.
Reading many of the comments on forums it sounds like many of the spotting, etc., issues are experienced by people who oil or wax the countertops. That makes sense to me. You’re applying a thin layer of substance that creates a new surface that has different properties than the stone. So my advice to anyone considering soapstone would be: If you love the natural look and appreciate that it’s sort of a “living” stone that develops a shifting patina then you’ll have pretty easy countertops to live with. If you prefer the more processed oiled look then you’ll need to expect more maintenance with regular oilings and touch up of spots and compromises to the oiled surface. Either way you’ll need to be mindful that they can be scratched.
Cyndy Thank you so much for your comments on keeping the soapstone natural. I have purchased two beautiful slabs that I will be using in a bar/second kitchen. I love the simplicity of the stone and the soapy feeling. I am concerned about the adhesive that the installers will be using between the back-splash and the counters top as I am hoping it doesn’t leave a dark seem. Did you use a back-splash and if so, how this the glue it? Any info would be appreciated. Thanks
hey – i have a love/hate relationship with my soapstone from Brazil for about 6 years. we don’t have kids at home but do have grandchildren now. it is a beautiful surface but it does take care. if you toss keys, tap it, glide something over it, it scratches. i do use mineral oil and it has a beautiful luster. for young family i would worry. i am wondering if i have the hardest soapstone. i do remember the chem lab! anyway, we had one foot of water in our house last weekend with flooding rain and will be re-doing the kitchen (along with the whole first floor). the contractor can’t guarantee that the counters will come out safely. i am debating if i should get an easier surface or just stay with the soapstone and hope i can get replacements if necessary…..hmmm
We are remodeling our kitchen and I really love the natural look and lighter gray colors of soapstone. I have read all the pros and cons but have reservation with the fact that scratches will show. How bad could it be? Anyone out there that has soapstone kitchen counters for a while and can tell me about scratching?
BRIAN Q NANCY, WE’VE HAD SOAPSTONE COUNTERTOPS FOR 12 YRS NOW AND MY WIFE AND I REGRET OUR PURCHASE. IT LOOKS GREAT IN THE BEGINNING BUT WITH 2 KIDS AND NORMAL WEAR AND TEAR IN THE KITCHEN THEY LOOK TERRIBLE NOW. SCRATCHES,DENTS,..DONT DO IT. A LARGER POT WITH HANDLE IN SINK DENT/DINGS THE TOP OF SINK EDGE. DROPPING ANYTHING ON THE COUNTER CAUSE BIG DENTS. MINERAL MAKES IT LOOK GOOD BUT TRY PUTTING A BOOK OR ANYTHING REALLY ON THE OILED COUNTER. IF AND WHEN WE SELL THE HOUSE I FOUND OUT THE CHARGEW TO HAVE THEM PROFESSIONALLY SANDED WILL COST WELL OVER 1,200. VERY DISAPPOINTED FROM WESTFIELD NJ
I am getting ready to build in Washington state. I work at a facility that has soapstone counters. They have been installed over 40 years and are still beautiful. I will have them in my house although it is difficult to find local installers who are familiar with the stone.
Phillip Mitchell Hello Carol, My wife and I live in Seattle and are about to remodel our kitchen and are seriously considering soapstone counter tops. Did you get them? Do you still like them? Can you recommend a source? Thanks. Phillip
I am looking at a home (to buy) that has soapstone counter tops in the kitchen – very dark gray in color. I am not familiar with soapstone counter tops, however, they are beautiful. If I buy this home, I would change the counter tops to granite, something I am more familiar. Would that be a wise investment?
Anthony Greer I wouldn’t look at the countertop as an investment. If granite is what you want than go ahead and get it. Maybe trying keeping the existing ones for a few months and see how you like them. You can’t go wrong either way. Laura Doll I will buy your soapstone if you change your countertops Malanni! BRIAN Q LAURA U CAN BUY MINE ! BIG ISLAND AND ANOTHER 3 X 15 OR SO AROUND SINK AND STOVE. Peter Myers How much to ship to Columbus Ohio? I’d love to take it! Delisa Swanson I am remodeling a home and plan to use soapstone — I would like next option to purchase your countertops Malanni!! Robin NO!!!
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Updated: September 22, 2016