Four Reasons Soapstone Is Making a Comeback

Step aside, quartz. Soapstone is rising to the surface, becoming a go-to material for use in indoor and outdoor spaces. Whether designers are looking for a modern or classic feel, here are a few reasons why this understated stone has become an increasingly popular choice.

Like other natural stones, soapstone can take on a range of tonalities.

Like other natural stones, soapstone can take on a range of tonalities.

1. Aesthetics: Like other natural stones, soapstone can take on a range of tonalities. When in its natural honed state, it typically has a cool, grayish appearance but when oiled or enhanced it deepens to a rich black. In some cases, veining and quartz flecks within the stone impart subtle bluish or greenish undertones. Its subdued yet sophisticated look makes it especially attractive to designers looking for a stone that complements a variety of finishes and textures without overpowering them.

2. Functionality: Earning solid marks for its high-performance features, soapstone offers a blend of beauty and functionality. It is nonporous, so it doesn’t stain and holds its own against acidic materials, such as wine, lemon juice and cleansers. While it is softer than granite and marble (thanks to being largely comprised of talc), it’s naturally chip-resistant. If it does chip, it can easily be repaired with sandpaper. Ditto for minor scratches or blemishes. Soapstone is durable and virtually maintenance free, which goes a long way, especially in active households. Plus, it ages exceptionally well, developing character and a distinctive patina over time.

3. Versatility: Because of soapstone’s ability to absorb and radiate heat, it’s a great option for fireplace surrounds, pizza ovens and outdoor kitchen countertops. Hot pots and pans can be set directly on soapstone countertop surfaces without damaging the stone. Once it heats up, soapstone will keep a room warm throughout the day, reducing energy costs. Other popular applications include backsplashes, sinks, flooring, tile and custom stonework. Soapstone tile also is suitable for outdoor and pool applications because it is not slippery when wet.

4. Eco-friendly: As an added bonus, soapstone is a truly green material that can be quarried with minimal impact on the environment, doesn’t require sealing, and can be salvaged for use in another project or recycled at the end of its useful life.

Although soapstone isn’t necessarily right for every project, it’s certainly an option worth exploring when looking for a material that is beautiful, sustainable and “easy to live with” for years to come.

Learn more about soapstone from the Natural Stone Institute.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Polycor Inc.

About the Author

James A. Hieb, CAE
James A. Hieb, CAE, is the CEO of the Marble Institute of America (MIA). MIA+BSI, or the Natural Stone Institute, serves more than 1,900 members in 55 countries who represent every aspect of the natural stone industry, offering them a wide array of technical and training resources, professional development, regulatory advocacy and networking events.

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