We’ve all heard of granite and quartz, but soapstone countertops? You might be surprised to find out that this stone is growing in popularity.
Below you can find some absolutely stunning soapstone kitchen countertop ideas that we love, as well as useful information on buying and installing the soapstone yourself!
What Are Soapstone Countertops?
Soapstone countertops are made primarily from soapstone (but not entirely) which is a “soft” naturally occurring stone consisting of mineral talc. Most soapstone countertops are made of a combination of soapstone and a harder stone, like quartz.
This makes the stone harder and more suitable to be a countertop that you can chop, cook and plate up on. The other alternative is to laminate the soapstone to give it a hard, protective layer. While this is effective, it won’t look or feel like natural stone.
Soapstone comes in a variety of colors, but most are naturally grey or black. Depending on the percentage of soapstone to harder stones, they can be beautifully marbled into white or flecked.
Soapstone is non-porous and will naturally darken with age, so keep that in mind when you’re choosing a color!
Soapstone Countertops: Pros and Cons
Image credit: MSI Surfaces
Ok, so we’re not going to pretend soapstone countertops don’t have faults. Here’s their main pros and cons so you can decide if it’s right for your kitchen or bathroom countertop.
- Affordable compared to marble and easy to get your hands on across the world.
- Smooth surface and beautiful natural colors.
- Easy to maintain with a mineral oil wash.
- Although it can be scratched, you can easily sand away any marks.
- It’s DIY friendly, so you can easily install soapstone countertops yourself without any special tools.
- Needs regular maintenance to remove scratches.
- Naturally darkens with age, which may be advantageous depending on your kitchen design!
- Costs as much as granite countertops, which is a more durable stone.
- It’s mined in smaller slabs than marble and granite so you may have seams when installing large or long countertops.
The biggest con is the price. Although soapstone is not the most expensive on the market, it is as expensive as top-of-the-range granite slabs. That doesn’t bother us (it looks truly extravagant, you can see that it’s worth every cent) but this might price it out of your budget.
Read more about costs, buying and installing soapstone countertops below.
What About Granite and Quartz?
In the battle of soapstone vs granite countertops, you’d be surprised at the winner. Although granite is harder, soapstone is less porous. Basically, that means it won’t hold onto stains and odors as easily. Soapstone is also more natural and subtle, compared to the vivid patterns and eye-grabbing designs of granite.
This image is of a granite countertop – it is certainly beautiful, but it demands your attention. It’s the centerpiece of this kitchen, which uses dark, plain woods for the cabinets and plain light colors for the walls. In contrast, a soapstone countertop is more monotone. It can be easily paired with bright colors and gives you more control over the focus of your kitchen.
Now let’s look at quartz.
Image credit: Sky Marble & Granite
When we compare soapstone vs quartz, the biggest difference is the price. Quartz countertops are quite pricey! They come in a variety of colors and designs that beat soapstone out of the water. The beautiful picture above melts browns with deep blues and reflective quartz flecks. Beyond that, there aren’t really any advantages to a quartz countertop in your kitchen that you don’t get with a soapstone countertop.
How to Care for Soapstone Countertops
Image credit: Marcopolo Florist
For the most part, caring for your soapstone is as simple as any other countertop. Wipe away dirt and keep it clean with paper towels, dishcloths, and gentle cleaning detergents.
Scratches and Dents
These can be easily sanded away with simple sandpaper or fine grit. Once you’ve sanded away the top layer until the scratch has gone, you’ll notice the area is slightly lighter than the surrounding areas. To solve this, dab on a tiny amount of mineral oil and spread it evenly across the lighter area until the darkness matches the surrounding stone.
Because soapstone is so dense, it won’t absorb the oil deeply. That’s why it’s so noticeably lighter even when you’ve only sanded a shallow scratch.
Managing the Soapstone Color
To do this, you need to use mineral oil in an even layer, wiped over the soapstone. This will help it age as one large stone, rather than aging more in some places than others. To make it lighter and turn back to its original color, you’d need to sand the entire countertop – time-consuming and not practical. You’ll end up with a very thin countertop!
Using mineral oil is more practical and maintains that lustrous sheen. Look for light, food-safe mineral oils that are specifically formulated for soapstone countertops.
Soapstone Countertops Colors and Designs
With soapstone colors, you’ve got a very natural palette to choose from. That’s one of the reasons we love it so much. It can be incredibly versatile to dress up and dress down how you like. Let’s look at your options…
Black soapstone can range from a dark grey, like the image above, to jet black. Naturally, it has a few white or cream veins running through, but they aren’t as intricate or detailed as you’d get with quartz or marble. The stone feels washed as if the sea has rolled over it leaving those white veins to cut through the black stone.
Black soapstone countertops are typically used in the kitchen with pure white cabinets. This really makes the soapstone design pop. Dark cabinets can also work, but they make the kitchen area feel sleek and professional rather than modern yet homely.
You’ll rarely find black stones used in the bathroom.
Fresh, clean and white. White soapstone countertops will be slightly gray and naturally marbled with browns and greys in a similar pattern to black. They’re beautiful in the kitchen and the bathroom with a clean edge. Chrome décor works well with the white stone, as do gray décor schemes and light woods like cedar and beech.
Remember that white soapstone will darken with age, helping you hide small stains and dirt!
Natural Marble Soapstone
Natural Soapstone colors can have green, blue, brown, black and grey variations. Natural slabs might even feature all of these colors, depending on where it’s mined from the earth. This array of colors is bright enough to be the centerpiece of your kitchen if you want to go for minimalist design cabinets… or it can be a subtle dash of color to a traditional kitchen style.
Image credit: IMGLABS
3 Soapstone Kitchen Countertop Ideas
Soapstone in the kitchen can be beautiful for countertops and island tops. Here are our 3 favorite ideas for incorporating soapstone into your kitchen.
The Farmhouse Kitchen
Image credit: t4veranda via Pinterest
We’re talking traditional and homely. The kind of kitchen you can spend an afternoon in baking cookies with the kids. Replace your kitchen island with a sturdy wooden table and save your soapstone counters to go around the edge of the room.
Plain black soapstone, simple wooden cabinets painted white or left bare pale wood, and wooden knobs or vintage handles. This is the kind of kitchen with herbs growing on the windowsill and a pot roast in the oven.
To keep up with the rustic farmhouse look, we’d recommend a simple edge to the countertop like the pencil cut or round edge. Don’t oil this countertop, instead let it naturally age darker in some places where spills happen and stay light in others. This will enhance that rustic, homely feel.
The Elaborate Antique Kitchen
Image credit: Best Kitchen Places
A little posh, very rich and a hint of oh la la. The key to giving your soapstone countertops that elaborate, antique feel is to get it cut with ogee edges. Those sweeping stepped curves give the soapstone counters a beautiful polished finish.
Varnished wooden cabinets are a good match to this style – you could use any color soapstone you like. We’d recommend keeping it well oiled with mineral to keep up a lustrous shine in an even layer.
White and pale grey soapstone is a good choice – anything but black works well. Finish your kitchen with a beautiful chandelier over the central island.
The Chiseled Masterpiece
Image credit: Carved in Stone
If you like something a little quirky that really gives the wow-factor, consider a minimalist meets naturalist style kitchen. Get your soapstone slab cut into a geometrical shape, or leave it in its natural glory. You can have the edges finished in a chiseled style so they’re rough and eye-catching. We think this design looks best with natural soapstone shades with plenty of marbling in amber, blue or green shades.
We like gray or black cabinets (and maybe a white tiled floor) for this style kitchen. The cold hard edge of the soapstone countertop looks better with monotone colors instead of natural woods!
3 Soapstone Bathroom Countertop Ideas
Soapstone in the bathroom is a great idea. It can surround your sink, or just be used to create a vanity desk for your makeup and bathroom products. Remember that as it comes into contact with water (from spills, splashes, and steam) it will naturally darken. As such, if you start with black or dark gray soapstone countertops you’ll notice the effects less.
The Practical Solution
Image credit: Emily in Alaska
As mentioned, there’s a lot of water in your bathroom. No one can manage to stop every single drop from touching the soapstone. That’s why the practical solution is to go for dark countertops that will look fab every single day, no matter how much the kids splash about.
Simple black with white marbling is a good choice and a classic. The whites on your bathtub, shower, and toilet will make the marbling pop beautifully. You could even use the soapstone for any windowsills or mirror frames to add an extra touch.
You could take the black and white and create a minimalist style, or just go for something cheerful. Black soapstone countertops in the bathroom will suit any bathroom décor changes you decide to make over the next decade. It’s a permanent solution.
Image credit: M. Teixeira Soapstone
Just look at that! Gray and sleek from top to bottom. This soapstone has been elegantly carved to give you an all-in-one style bathroom sink unit. The bathroom in the image is on a large scale, but you can easily apply the same idea to a small bathroom soapstone countertop. As you can see in the image, there’s a darker patch under each faucet where the water naturally darkens the stone. You can choose to even this out with mineral oil if desired.
Chrome fittings are a good choice for the faucet and cabinet handles, but you could also go for something very different. Think stone water feature meets indoor bathroom. Stone faucets are definitely an option and a way to bring some style to your bathroom.
The His & Hers Bathroom Design
Image credit: The Alliance Conference
This image features a beautiful flecked brown soapstone countertop with a green tint. Having a his and hers bathroom countertop with 2 sinks is very luxurious if you have space!
Want to know our trick to reducing the cost of such a large countertop? Larger sinks! If you can find a seller who will provide you with a quote per ²cm of soapstone, you can reduce the cost by increasing the gap needed for your sinks. If you’re heading down the DIY bathroom soapstone countertop route, you could use the cut-outs elsewhere in your project to cost cuts. If you don’t mind having seams in your countertop, install square sinks and use long rectangle cuts of soapstone to surround them, which may be cheaper than buying a single slab.
Where to Buy Soapstone Countertops
Image credit: Fromy Love Design
You have a few options:
- Order them online, which gives you a wider selection but added delivery costs.
- Visit a soapstone countertop store, which allows you to see examples of the finished product and speak to installation experts.
- Or, visit a local stone yard or quarry. This might limit your selection, but you can see the stone sourced. You can give them the dimensions you’re looking for and potentially get a deal by cutting out the middleman at the soapstone store.
If you’re visiting a quarry, make sure you let them know in advance! You might need to book an appointment.
Finally, you can find discount soapstone countertops from all kinds of places. Whether they’re second hand or just off-cuts from a larger slab. Search around because sales and discounts on soapstone are available.
Average Soapstone Countertops Cost
Soapstone countertops can cost anywhere from $70 to $150 per square foot (12 inches x 12 inches). The average countertop is 25 inches in width (measure from the wall to the edge) and can vary greatly in length.
Considering the 30-foot area of kitchen countertops in the average American home, plus the costs of installation, and you’re looking at a quote in the range of $3,000.
DIY Soapstone Countertops Installation
Image credit: House Method
Yep, you can install a countertop like this yourself!
With a jigsaw and circular saw, you can cut the soapstone yourself, then sand it down with strong sandpaper and a grinder. As long as the shape you’re aiming for is relatively square, you can simply create a template to cut.
Here’s a simple step by step guide to give you an idea of how simple it is:
- Make sure your cabinets are level and can support an extremely heavy weight without strain.
- Cut with saws and woodworking tools.
- Use impregnated blades to attach the stone to the countertop.
- Use adhesive on any seams.
- Shape and refine edges with sandpaper and grit paper.
Voila! Now your new kitchen is sorted, what’s for dinner?