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Soapstone Countertops: Pros & Cons


May 17, 2020 by Matt Frankel, CFP

When it comes to solid countertops, there are several materials to choose from. Granite and quartz are very popular among U.S. homeowners, and marble countertops are also commonly used. Yet another option is soapstone, which has a unique look and some unique advantages over other materials as well.

Here's a rundown of the pros and cons of this natural stone as a countertop material to help you decide whether it's worth considering for your next kitchen renovation.

Advantages of soapstone countertops

There are several advantages to using soapstone as a countertop material:

Durability

Soapstone is a very durable material. It is acid-resistant, unlike some other stone countertop materials, which means that it won't be harmed by acidic substances like lemon juice. In fact, some soapstone countertops have lasted for a century or more.

Attractive and unique appearance

No two pieces of soapstone are identical, and the unique patterns can give your kitchen a very "custom" feel. Plus, many homeowners like soapstone's smooth and warm look.

Antimicrobial properties

Since it's naturally smooth and nonporous, soapstone is naturally antimicrobial, as there are no imperfections or spaces for germs and bacteria to linger in.

Softness

Soapstone is what's known as a "soft stone," meaning it's easier to carve and shape than many others. For example, it's relatively easy for an installer to carve drainage grooves into soapstone countertops near a sink.

Heat tolerance

Unlike some other countertop materials, you can set hot pots, pans, and baking sheets directly on a soapstone countertop. In fact, soapstone is often used for surfaces near fireplaces because of its strong resistance to heat damage.

Environmentally friendly

Soapstone is a natural building material. That means it has no chemicals, and it can be repurposed when you no longer need it.

Nonporous

Soapstone doesn't require a sealant and doesn't stain. In fact, soapstone is often used in science labs for countertops for its stain-resistance and durability.

Drawbacks of soapstone countertops

Of course, there's no such thing as a perfect building material. Here's what you should keep in mind before deciding on a soapstone countertop in your home:

Easy to chip and scratch

As mentioned soapstone is a soft stone. This can make installation easier, as it carves easier than many other types of stone, but it also means that it can chip easily. For example, if you accidentally drop a cooking pot on a soapstone countertop from a height, it can do significant damage.

Expensive

This is perhaps the biggest drawback to using soapstone countertops. According to HomeAdvisor (NASDAQ: ANGI), soapstone countertops generally cost between $70 and $120 per square foot. This is significantly higher than the typical cost of granite ($50 to $100), so soapstone might not be the best choice if you're operating on a relatively tight budget. On the other hand, since it's easier to carve soapstone, the labor could potentially be cheaper, so check with your contractor for a better idea of the cost difference.

High maintenance

Soapstone darkens naturally over time, and if you don't want this to happen, you'll have to treat it regularly and/or polish it in order to maintain the original color.

The Millionacres bottom line

Soapstone countertops can be an attractive and durable addition to your kitchen, but they aren't perfect for everyone. In addition to soapstone, you have several other choices when it comes to solid countertops, such as granite, quartz, or marble. All have their pros and cons, so be sure to educate yourself on your options before deciding.

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Matthew Frankel, CFP has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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