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What Is a Soapstone Countertop?

Granite is a common, more porous material for countertops.
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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 27 October 2014
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A soapstone countertop is a surface often used in kitchens or bathrooms that is made from a specific type of rock known as soapstone. This type of stone is often used for carving and has an attractive appearance that will change over time as a patina develops on its surface. Unlike some other stone countertops, the soapstone countertop cannot be protected with mineral oil. Applying such an oil will only darken the color of the stone and not protect it from scratches, dents, or discoloration.

Two types of soapstone exist: artistic soapstone and architectural soapstone. The latter is generally used for a soapstone countertop because it is harder and therefore more durable. In its natural state, soapstone has a gray appearance with lighter veins running through it, giving it a unique look that is attractive for kitchens, bathrooms, or other rooms in the house. The application of mineral oil will darken the tone of the stone, so consumers will generally have the option of a lighter soapstone countertop or a darker one. As the stone darkens, the veins tend to stand out more, creating an even more unique look.

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Like other countertops, a soapstone countertop can be custom-made to fit any kitchen or bathroom configuration. The installation should generally be done by a professional, since this stone can be difficult to cut, especially on site. Once installed, the countertop is strong, attractive, and resistant to heat damage. It is sometimes used in the building of fireplace surrounds precisely because it resists heat damage. It can also evenly distribute heat, which again makes it suitable around fireplaces or even ovens. Unlike other stones like marble or granite, soapstone tends to be non-porous, which means it will not absorb spilled liquids, even many caustic ones. It will therefore resist staining as well, which is a common problem with marble and granite.

One of the disadvantages of soapstone is the weight. It is a fairly heavy stone, so thicker slabs may be too heavy for wooden supports. A thinner countertop may therefore be necessary. Thinner soapstone is more versatile, and the builder can create countertops, backsplashes, and other features that will accent the room. Windowsills can even be made from smaller, thinner pieces of soapstone to create a consistent aesthetic within a room.

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