People tend to gravitate toward Soapstone instead of Silestone because it is one of the smoothest materials you can use for a countertop. Softer grades may feel similar to soap when touched, hence the name. And while its strong heat and stain resistance make soapstone an option for kitchen countertops, it is not perfect. Neither are Silestone countertops either, but we’ll address that.
Soapstone is an alternative natural stone countertop instead of Silestone, granite, or marble. The smooth texture is nice but can its softness (scratching and chipping) be overcome by its benefits? Both being natural stone, they are similar in many aspects.
Countertop Colors: Soapstone vs Silestone
Simply put, Soapstone lacks variety. Because Soapstone is naturally occurring, there are limited slab sizes and Soapstone is only available in shades of light grey, soft white and deep charcoal. They tend to have gentle veining and hues of green, blue, or pearl. On the other hand, Silestone has many many contemporary options for countertop colors and patterns. Silestone countertops tend to be more “elegant”.
Also, keep in mind that Soapstone darkens with age, giving it a worn look over time that some people desire. If you do not want your countertop becoming darker over time, choose Silestone.
Countertop Maintenance: Soapstone vs Silestone
Like Silestone, Soapstone does not require sealing and is not likely to stain when wine or oil are spilled onto it. Soapstone may require regular aesthetic maintenance (not a performance issue) as it darkens over time to present a desired patina. To get that patina, you will need regular mineral oil treatments.
But with Silestone countertops quartz, the ease of maintenance is unmatched. All you need to ensure is that you clean off spills immediately and avoid placing hot items on the quartz countertops.
For daily cleanup, use common household cleaners on soapstone countertops. Various chemicals and acids will not cause any damage to the surface. However, it is recommended to clean with just soap and water if the countertop has been treated with mineral oil. Harsher cleaners may remove the mineral oil, causing you to have to re-apply it. Silestone countertops clean up just as easily with soap and water.
Gallery of Soapstone Countertops (mostly grey)
Countertop Durability: Soapstone vs Silestone
Silestone countertops win this one. Soapstone countertops are a bit odd. They can be scratched or chipped more easily because they are softer, but they are also more “pliable” and won’t crack from stress or weight. Even so, consumers need to avoid dropping heavy kitchen items on Soapstone countertop like skillets or cutting blocks. So from an “impact perspective, Silestone countertops are much more durable than Soapstone countertops.
Though Soapstone is easily scratched, it can be resurfaced with sanding and treatment with mineral oil. Soapstone tends to be used for laboratory countertops, stoves, fireplace surrounds, and insulators for electrical components and cookware.
Countertop Stain Resistance: Soapstone vs Silestone
Both are stain resistant with limitations. Any spills left for long periods will change the surface area. Again, Soapstone can be resurfaced with gentle sanding and treatment with mineral oil. Consequently, Soapstone countertops are often seen in laboratories for practical reasons. The stone will not be compromised by acids or alkalis that might be spilled on its surface.
Countertop Consistency: Soapstone vs Silestone
Soapstone is natural and not engineered like Silestone so slabs can be inconsistent, even hard to find. It can be difficult to get an exact matching pattern for two pieces when creating something like a waterfall countertop or if repairs/replacements are necessary. In larger kitchens, seams can be an issue.
Alternatively, Silestone is made of natural stone, it is engineered to be consistent in pattern.
Countertop Heat Resistance: Soapstone vs Silestone
This is the one factor where Soapstone countertops clearly win. Soapstone is unaffected by heat. Hot pots can be placed directly on it without fear of melting, burning, or other damage. Silestone can’t handle searing temp. Some people report cloudy blotches on their quartz countertop after many months of use and not paying attention to hot pans and hots. Cloudy blotches are reported due to chemical changes in Silestone countertop resins caused by heat.
Why is Soapstone soft and scratchable?
Soapstone (a.k.a. steatite, soaprock) is a metamorphic rock composed largely of the magnesium rich mineral, talc. On average soapstone is 63.37% silica, 31.88% magnesia, and 4.74% water and usually has minor quantities of other oxides. Soapstone is relatively soft because of its high talc content, talc having a definitional value of 1 on the Mohs hardness scale. Because of its softness, it has been a medium for carving for thousands of years.
Other uses for Soapstone
Soapstone is often used as an insulator for housing and electrical components because it can be pressed into complex shapes. Soapstone is better used for fireplace surrounds and cladding on wood-burning stoves because it can absorb and store heat due to its high density and magnesite (MgCO3) content.
COST: How much ARE soapstone countertops?
Soapstone costs generally fall in the range of pricier granite, but not as much as some types of marble. To get a better idea of how much a soapstone countertop will cost, you can get an online estimate.
Pros and Cons of Soapstone Countertops
The cost of a soapstone countertop varies based on the talc content of the stone and where it was quarried. However, the average cost of soapstone per square foot ranges between $45 and $85. Professional installation can significantly raise the cost of a soapstone countertop. When you consider the cost of the soapstone and the installation cost, the total cost can range between $85 and $150 per square foot.