I am working on a couple of kitchen/bath renovations and have begun to think about different options for countertops. One material that I am particularly excited about is soapstone. I haven't used it before but it almost seems too good to be true. Its key properties include:
- Durability - so durable, in fact, that it is the preferred material for science labs.
- Heat Resistant - hot off the stove proof.
- Doesn't Stain - red wine is just fine.
- Can hold up acidic materials - squeeze away on those lemons.
- No sealing required - means almost no maintenance.
Of course, there are some drawbacks:
- Cost - less expensive than marble but more expensive than most granite.
- Slab size - most slabs are around 7' long meaning that seaming could be required.
- Limited color palette - gray to black with options for a blue/green undertone.
- Can be easily scratched - although many think this adds to its character.
Soapstone which is quarried in the Appalachian mountains or imported from Finland or Brazil, can be used with or without it being oiled. If oiled it takes on a black finish like the left half of the slab below. If untreated it has a more gray blue color like the right half. Personally, I am not sure which I like more - although in doing some research it seems like oiled is a more consistent finish.
Another cool feature of soapstone is its softness (easier to carve and manipulate) making it suitable for sinks as well as customizable to include integrated features like drainboards.