Deciding on the right decor for kitchen countertops can be a challenging ordeal. When choosing the suitable decor, in this case, a rock surface, several factors come into play—for example, visual appeal and durability. This article explores the difference between soapstone counters versus marble kitchen countertops.
Popular materials in the building industry include architectural soapstone and soapstone (another common name is Steatite) as natural stone countertops. Marble has been a natural stone around for centuries in art and architecture. The classic beauty of marble is timeless, and it can add a luxurious feeling to your kitchen. Marble is also solid and durable, making it an ideal material for countertops. It is typically more expensive than soapstone countertops because a blend of stone, resins, and particles get combined with pigments to create different colors and natural good looks.
If you’re in the middle of a major kitchen renovation, it might be good to consider stainless steel appliances for lasting quality. It’s the best choice for a home improvement plan and the best way to a great return on investment when it’s time to sell.
Considering the softness of soapstone, it is:
- Heat-resistant, so hot items won’t be a problem for these countertop surfaces in use today
- Stain resistant
- Fights off bacteria for fewer germs
- It is a metamorphic rock
- Made mainly from the presence of talc, a clay mineral used as a baby powder when mixed with corn starch
- Made of other natural materials include micas, amphiboles, quartz, chlorite, magnesite, and calcium carbonate
- It feels “soapy,” but no, they do not put it in a bar of soap
- On the Moh scale, soapstone tops are the softest (1) compared to high-end granite slabs (8), which is the hardest mineral, and marble (4) is also one of the softer stones when it comes to mineral hardness
- Installation costs vary, but soapstone ranges anywhere between $500 to $1000 and will vary by region in the United States
Soapstone also carries over to the art world, with artistic soapstone found in indigenous and Inuit carvings and other design accents.
Table of Contents
- How Strong are Soapstone and Marble
- Caring for Both Soapstone and Marble Countertops
- Frequently Asked Questions
The name soapstone originates from soap itself and almost appears to mimic the surface texture of the soap. High-quality soapstone will always feel like soap. While not wholly a soft surface, It can chip and scratch with constant countertop use and darken with periodic oiling, which results in a gray/black deep charcoal look. A plus or minus for some homeowners.
Choosing the right countertop is the difference between retaining the original color, accepting its soft nature, or accepting the unique look as it changes with oiling. For small kitchen spaces, the benefit of soapstone is that it helps everything feel more spacious and is cheaper than marble for those on a tight budget.
A soapstone’s color gets defined by its mining region. Typically soapstone is light gray. In addition, to light gray, there’s soft white and deep charcoal versus dark gray. Some countertops will have beautiful white veins and patterns, and some even might exhibit blue, green, or pearl.
When you look at the Mohs hardness scale, soapstone is a soft stone; in fact, it is the most delicate natural stone material for countertops. Limestone is slightly harder on the Moh scale (3). Soapstone is resistant to heat or chemicals. When making that next hot meal, you’ll realize you made a great choice since hot, heavy objects, hot pans, and hot pots won’t affect the surface and its natural state.
For durability, your best option is Granite for your new countertop in your new home, for example. It is the ideal choice, but it is a porous stone, so you need to take care with sealant and annual maintenance if you want it to last a long time. The types of Granite available include green pearl, tan brown, imperial red, black or white galaxy.
Marble stone is also an excellent choice. In the United States, the price range installation per square foot of these stones is slightly different, with soapstone being the most expensive to install in this case. Marble has a delicate look; however, it lacks soapstone’s milky and cloudy appearance.
Marble is perfect as natural stone countertop materials go. It comes from volcanic deposits and is a metamorphic rock formed by limestone exposed to high pressure and temperature. It has been popular and used since ancient times because of its durability and beauty. Today, marble is widely used in homes, offices, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and other public places.
You can choose between two types of marble: natural or cultured. Natural marble is mined directly from the earth, and cultured marble gets made through a chemical versus manufacturing process. The latter is often preferred because it looks more realistic and authentic.
What about the look of marble? It is a popular choice in thicker slabs for countertops and is also the right material for cutting board. Other colors include blue, pink, black, red, and green, and color variation is a primary advantage.
Other popular countertop materials include Carrara marble. Why is it a good idea? It’s abundantly available, cheap, plus its name is from the Italian city where it gets quarried. It’s a good choice if you like a gray background with veining in white, blue-gray and blue colors.
For Carrara White Marble, this Epoxy Countertop Kit will help with maintenance. Click the image for details.
You can use marble for kitchen storage areas, bathroom countertop vanities, etc. If you choose a white marble, it will change over time, developing a yellow cast. And unlike soapstone, marble’s base color won’t vary significantly.
How Strong are Soapstone and Marble
Though soapstone and marble are soft, that doesn’t mean they’re not ideal for kitchen countertops, as already mentioned. Add some glamor to your dining area by using either marble or soapstone for the tabletop. The good thing is that the dining tabletop will be easy to wipe clean, courtesy of the smooth surface.
Marble and soapstone might be less harsh than quartz countertops or Granite but are still stones, and soapstone appears smoother because of talc composition. It all comes down to the better fit for your interior and home decor tastes and budget.
Mineral talc content can determine whether or not soapstone is of the highest quality. Moreover, this will also help add significant visual appeal to your entire kitchen decor and styling. Typically, artistic soapstones are known to carry a talc composition of up to 80%, making them mimic the texture of an actual soap. Generally, a typical custom kitchen with soapstone countertops has less talc – at 30 percent talc. The kitchen industry still considers this talc composition strong enough for everyday kitchen use.
When comparing the toughness of soapstone and marble, it always boils down to averages. Scratch resistance of these two minerals is measured based on the Moh rating scale. In general comparison, the top mineral would be diamond. Granite also doesn’t disappoint, as it falls on the top-end and high-quality side of the Mohs scale. Though tougher and more expensive than soapstone and marble, it will still make great decor for closed and open spaces.
For a real world understanding of soapstone slabs and countertops, check out the science labs at MS International, Inc.
Caring for Both Soapstone and Marble Countertops
If the countertops of modern kitchen cabinets or bathroom vanities are soapstone, you’ll have yourself to thank as it requires little care. That’s because it’s impervious to corrosion by fruit juices, red wine, or any acidic liquid, unlike the marble countertops.
Here are tips my friends shared with me on how you should clean your soapstone countertop:
- Use warm water and mild dishwashing detergent ( even grape juice) to wash the soapstone surfaces like soapstone sinks.
- Abrasive cleaning products like scouring pads or harsh chemicals can damage the stone’s surface, so you should avoid these products.
- For a granite or marble countertop, it may be best to wait until the next day to clean it. Marble and Granite are harder than soapstone and will require extra care when cleaning.
- The day after, rinse with clear running water after washing. Dry completely before using.
- Try a natural remedy such as baking soda or lemon juice mixed with hot water to clean stubborn stains. Apply using a sponge or rag and let it sit overnight. It would be best if you only did scrubbing once.
- Soapstone should be away from direct sunlight, so I’d recommend kitchen window blinds or curtains.
- To prevent scratching from hard-to-clean areas like faucets, sinks, and fixtures, apply a coat of non-abrasive wax polish or an oil finish.
Marble countertops may be smooth, but they still have some porous properties, which need observation as they quickly corrode upon acidic fluid and juice spills. Also, you can have separate countertops with either of these two minerals. And as much as it will bring out a luxurious style design in your kitchen space, note that you’ll be caring more for one than the other.
Marble is a harder stone but still very soft. It can be challenging to keep your marble looking new. Here are my ideas to help preserve the beauty of this natural stone. The first thing you should know about cleaning marble countertops is that they have different surfaces than other types of stone or tile.
So, while you may use the same type of cleaner for porcelain or slate tiles, you will need something specific for marble. With many different cleaners on the market, you need to realize that not all work well with marble. You also want to ensure that whatever product you choose does not contain any abrasive or harsh chemicals.
Marble requires extra care for cleaning. Some people recommend using a soft brush instead of scrubbing your marble with a sponge or rag, and this way, you are not scratching off any layers of paint or sealer.
If you are unsure how to clean marble properly, here are a few tips to get started:
- Use a Brushed Sponge: Brush the surface lightly with a bristled sponge to clean your marble sink.
- Brush Away Dirt With A Soft Toothbrush: Instead of wiping down your marble countertop with a cloth, try brushing away dirt with a toothbrush.
- Scrub Your Stone with a Cloth: To remove stubborn stains from your marble countertop, grab an old but clean cloth or towel and soak it in warm water. Then rub the towel over your marble sink or countertop until the stain disappears.
- Vinegar And Baking Soda: Mix one cup of baking soda into two cups of vinegar for spots and minor spills. Pour this mixture into a spray bottle to clean up after a messy situation.
- Use Salt Water To Remove Stains From Your Countertop: Add four tablespoons of salt to a gallon of hot water. Allow this solution to cool completely before spraying it onto your marble sink or countertops.
What is an excellent option for maintenance? Use an excellent food-grade mineral oil. For example, Three Chefs is a perfect product for soapstone and many other kitchen accessories, and it keeps surfaces stain-free for occasional home maintenance. Click the image for detail.
Spread widely mineral oil to avoid dark patching. Linseed oil and beeswax enhance soapstone’s rich color, which also helps reduce the number of mineral oil applications.
Frequently Asked Questions
Apart from countertops, can you use soapstone anywhere else?
Usage of soapstone is flexible, plus you can decide whether you want a modern or traditional style design of the area you’d prefer soapstone stone. Since you can practically use soapstone anywhere, with time —as previously mentioned— the setting will develop a perfect blend of tradition, courtesy of the vintage appearance.
Can a soapstone countertop easily be scratched?
Unlike marble and Granite, soapstone can easily scratch since it has a low scratch resistance rating. If you’re unsure about your choice of mineral, you can ask for recommendations from multiple kitchen designers.
Between marble and soapstone, which one’s better?
These two minerals have distinct differences, and so it all depends on the specific feature you’re looking for that suits your need. For example, if you want a mineral that needs less maintenance but has a high propensity to scratch, soapstone fits the profile.
On the other hand, if you want minerals with more maintenance attention but more durable, marble is your best bet. These stones are excellent kitchen decor if you want a vintage or modern look, regardless of whether the color blend consists of neutral colors.
While I didn’t focus on granite countertops in this article, granite tops are more durable and require low maintenance than compared to marble because of their stain-resistant nature. So they are the better choice. After installation, you need to apply sealant, but be prepared for annual re-sealing. An excellent seal will allow water to bead on the surface.
Is quartz an excellent alternative for soapstone and marble?
Like marble and soapstone, quartz comes in a wide range of colors. However, this stone is an artificial mineral with a smooth, non-porous surface resistant to scratches.
As much as it will give your kitchen an entirely different style for your kitchen, it has a drawback of manufacture, which is that it’s heat resistant. So as you cook, ensure you have separate space for holding hot kitchenware to avoid damaging it. Essentially, it’s an excellent choice for multiple aesthetic solutions.