Soapstone Countertops - Rustic Elegance
Everything you wanted to know about soapstone
Soapstone is natural rock that is quarried, just like granite and marble. They started forming hundreds of millions of years ago and are sourced from countries as varied as Brazil, Spain, Italy, the United States, and France.
The natural variations in soapstone countertops are what give them character. Their colors range from whites to greys to even blue. You can be assured of having a soapstone counter that's unique to you because of the different patterns that nature has created. Soapstone can have patterns ranging from veins similar to what you see in marble to tiny flecks.
It's named soapstone because of this material's feel to the touch. When you rub the surface of a soapstone countertop, it's just like touching a piece of dry soap. In fact, it feels a bit soft. Despite this, there is no discounting the durability of soapstone countertops.
The hardness of soapstone actually varies, and there are types which are extremely soft. However, those used as home structures are very dense and can withstand pressure, heat, and scratches in more ways than one.
This material has only recently been used as material for kitchen countertops, but it has been used for centuries to construct sculptures, vases, goblets, urns, tools, and fireplaces, as well as for building blocks and sinks. This is why people who opt for soapstone countertops today are those who wish to bring a rustic, Early American feel into their homes.
How to care for soapstone countertops
This stone is chemically neutral, which means that they're not as prone to damage when exposed to acids as Silestone or granite are. You won't have to worry about spilled vinegar, salad dressing, coffee, or wine. Simply wipe the liquid off or use mild detergent to wash it away.
Although it doesn't have to be treated with a sealant, you can apply oil to lift your countertop's character and make the colors more vivid. There are no fixed rules on the amount of oil you have to use or how often you should treat it. The first time oil is applied to the surface, you will observe a darkening.
After a few days, the mineral oil evaporates - a sign that you must re-treat it. The soapstone countertop will be able to achieve its true patina after several treatments. To apply, spread the oil on the surface and rub it with a soft cloth. You can simply keep the oiled rag in a Ziploc bag for future use.
Don't apply too much, as you can't expect oil to be absorbed by soapstone. If there is too much oil on the surface, the countertop would tend to be too slick, which you wouldn't want. Always rub off the excess oil.
Scratching, which soapstone is prone to because of its relative softness, canbe remedied by applying mineral oil to the damaged surface. For scratches that are more noticeable, purchase a 200-grit sandpaper and rub vigorously in a circular motion on the surface, accompanied with water. When the scratch is gone or less obvious, clean the area to remove the debris and after drying, apply mineral oil on it.