Soapstone is a countertop material that is often overlooked. While not for everyone or every design, it possesses several advantages that make it a viable competitor to other countertop material such as granite, laminates and solid surface. Soapstone is composed primarily of talc, silicate, chlorite and magnesium. The talc in the stone makes it soft to the touch while the other minerals add strength and durability. It is chemically inert, resists heat and is durable. Soapstone is nonporous, which makes it stain-resistant and limits the ability of microbes to penetrate the surface. These qualities combined with its natural beauty and ease of care has made it the countertop of choice for many gourmet chefs and kitchen designers.
Soapstone is a very attractive stone but is limited in color. It is light gray in color, but can have a green or blue tint. It has considerable veining which provides for a wide variety of grains or patterns. Soapstone naturally darkens with age and use even though substances cannot penetrate beyond the surface. This natural darkening occurs at different rates across the slab, so for aesthetic purposes, mineral oil or wax is applied to make the darkening process spread evenly throughout the surface.
Although soapstone is not as strong as other countertop surfaces, it can easily last a lifetime with proper care. The edges may soften, and scratches or nicks may develop with use, but most of these can be removed with light sanding.