When you are looking for natural stone kitchen countertop material, you might come across soapstone. This is a type of soft rock that occurs naturally in the Earth's surface, coming from areas like Finland and Brazil. It makes a beautiful countertop, but there are also some drawbacks to keep in mind.
It Requires Some Maintenance
The first thing you should consider when you have soapstone countertops is that some maintenance will be required. Like many natural stone surfaces, it requires sealing on a regular basis. This protects its appearance and helps to reduce damage from cleaning with abrasive materials or scratches from sharp objects. Some people like to see soapstone naturally change to a darker colour over time, so if you want to achieve this result, you will need to oil it regularly as well. You need to be careful what you clean the material with, though it does handle acidic cleaners quite well, so that is a benefit.
Soapstone Doesn't Stain Easily
While soapstone is a soft material, it is very dense, so it doesn't stain as easily as other materials. As a nonporous material, you can spill liquid on the surface and wipe it off easily without leaving behind a lot of residue or staining of its natural appearance. A great thing about soapstone is that if it is sealed properly, you notice a darkening of the material temporarily when something is spilled on it, but then it gets lighter once that spill is cleaned up. This is great for noticing spills you might have otherwise not seen.
It Can Handle Hot Temperatures
Another thing that soapstone is good for is handling hot temperatures. If you accidentally place a hot pan or pot on the countertop without first putting a pot holder down, you won't cause severe damage. While you should still protect the countertop material whenever possible, little heat on the material isn't going to cause major damage that requires repairs or replacements. For the most part, it will be able to handle hot pans put directly on the surface occasionally.
The Material is Soft and Prone to Scratching
You need to be careful when cutting anything on soapstone countertops, as it can scratch or chip easily. Soapstone can handle stains and a variety of other elements, but it is soft and will scratch easily. This means you should never use a knife directly on the surface, but instead get out a cutting board. Also be very careful not to drop anything heavy directly on the countertop, or it might chip.