I’ve been planning this post ever since I decided to have soapstone countertops installed in our kitchen. I visited the Polycor quarry last year in Georgia (read more about that in this post) to pick out the marble for my fireplace and was instantly smitten (aka sidetracked) with the velvety, rich black stone I noticed in the slab yard… soapstone. I knew I had to have it, but thought I should probably do more research on the durability, cleanability, and maintenance- just to be safe. Luckily, I discovered it was a great fit for our family and thought it might be helpful to answer questions, share my discoveries, have a pro weigh in, and put some soapstone myths to rest. It’s one of my very favorite natural stones that has been a staple throughout history, and I’m absolutely certain we can expect to see more of it as it resurfaces and increases in popularity this year. Click through to learn all about soapstone, why I selected it, and how it looks in terms of upkeep.
This post is REALLY informative- especially if you’re in the market for countertops. Hopefully it will offer insight and help you decide if soapstone (or a natural stone) is a good option for your space. Tune into Instagram this afternoon at 4pm EST for a LIVE Q&A where Steve (the Polycor expert) and I are going to chat about lots of valuable info!
Q & A W I T H S A R A H
What does soapstone look like in its natural state?
Lucky for you, Steve sent me a sample! Here it is sitting on my countertop…
Why are your countertops so dark? They don’t look like the image of the stone in its natural state, shown above.
Good eye! I enhanced my soapstone countertops by applying an ager and wax for a saturated result.
I really wanted a deep, rich black that would compliment our black stainless appliances and appear as a true black rather than gray. The stone absorbs the oil or ager and automatically deepens. It’s an easy and instantaneous process… I’m going to do a live demo on Instagram at 4pm EST- so be sure to tune in for that. In the meantime, here’s a quick visual of the difference it makes.
What does that process look like?
Again- I’ll show you this afternoon, but it couldn’t be easier! Apply a small amount of wax or ager to a sponge or rag, massage it into the stone, allow it to sit, then wipe away any excess. Depending on which product you use, you can repeat the process to darken as needed. In the 3 – 4 months we’ve had the countertops, I’ve done it twice and it took less than 10 minutes each time. A little bit goes a long way. This is how much I’ve used during those two times…
Does your countertop scratch, and does that annoy you?
Yes, it does scratch, but no it doesn’t annoy me. With an enhanced finish you can make the appearance of scratches literally disappear with another application of oil or wax which will turn it from white to black. I prefer the deep dark color, but it also has practical benefits. Here’s a little scratch test I did for you. I intentionally scratched my countertop and buffed it out with more wax…
I actually don’t mind seeing wear on a countertop- I think it’s pretty beautiful and shows that a space is lived in. I’m all about natural stones that develop a patina and look better as they wear and age with time. Those gradual imperfections are artistic and tell a story. If I wasn’t into that, I would opt for a granite or quartz product… I just think it’s a bit boring in comparison- and although practical, maybe a little less luxurious. Just my opinion!
Think about when traveling to other regions of the world, you see stone that is super old with a nice patina and yet people comment on its beauty. I like that quality and it feels special in my kitchen. It has also withstood the test of time. Throughout history, people have used natural stones and that’s why they have a classic reputation today.
Natural stone (like soapstone) or quartz?
I would choose a natural stone time and time again. We did quartz in our previous kitchen and it was fine- super practical (although it still chipped thanks to me dropping a glass bottle of olive oil on the edge), but it wasn’t anything special. Nothing to write home about. It was obvious that it was manmade and it will look the same as it does today in 50 years. I think as an artist, creative person, and romantic, there’s something pretty magical about the way something organically changes over time. It tells a story, feels intimate, and nods to a different time period where quality and a unique composition trumped quantity and all things man-made.
I will say, if imperfection or wear bothers you… a natural stone might not be the best fit. That’s when I’d recommend something like quartz. It’s very practical, durable, and consistent. I’ll definitely use it in certain client scenarios because of those reasons, but I can say with 100% confidence- in my own home, I prefer natural stone.
Even my fabricator questioned the fact that I opted for soapstone. It gets a bad rep for some reason. He asked, “Why not install quartz or granite? My answer was easy. In a world of mass production, why would I want something that looks the exact same as my neighbor’s? I want something unique, organic, and textural- that tells my story, is a little weird, and if the upkeep is easy, why not? If it was good enough for castles, cathedrals, and historic buildings ages ago… it’s good enough for me today. Classic materials never go out of style!
Have you scratched your countertops yet?
Of course. Did you see the scratch test?! Haha! But really… we’re constantly renovating, our home is LIVED in, and we’re not exactly gentle on our home with construction projects happening 24/7. Once the first scratch is made, you can breathe easy and let it go. Sometimes I intentionally make the first scratch… I’m dead serious! Although with soapstone, it’s easy to apply more ager or wax and the scratches disappear like magic. Just rip off the bandaid and enjoy it! Let it do its thing. That’s my motto.
Did you make the right call, going with soapstone?
Absolutely!! I love it as much as I did the day I laid eyes upon that slab at the quarry. Obviously I’m a fan- it’s in the laundry room, kitchen, AND we even made matching soapstone dog feeders for our pups. Need I say more? It’s so beautiful and I love seeing it in my home.
I’ll be asking Steve these questions later on Instagram (4pm EST), so if you’re interested- be sure to tune in and join the conversation! I’ll also save the video for IGTV, in case you’d like to go back and watch it after the fact.
Q & A W I T H A P R O
How does soapstone wear?
Does soapstone need to be sealed?
Will my soapstone turn green?
How should I maintain my soapstone?
Is soapstone soft? How about absorbent? Is there certain food or drinks I should be cautious with?
If you prefer a rich black look, how often should you enhance your countertops?
Where is the soapstone quarried? Spoiler alert… it’s a state in our own country!
What are the different applications for soapstone?
Would you like the share examples of soapstone throughout history?
See you guys on IG in a bit! Feel free to drop additional questions in the comments below and I’ll add them to the list.
*This post is sponsored by Polycor. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that allow us to create unique content while featuring products we actually use & enjoy!
SallyJuly 12, 2018 at 9:46 am
Loved all of your reasoning – just a great example of how everybody’s decision-making process will differ in results but should follow roughly the same path so that you can feel that you’ve done your due diligence!
As an aside – I followed your link to have a look at your previous kitchen and only then went on to read about Emmett’s name change 🤯! Are you both now at the stage where it’s like it always was this way?
SarahJuly 12, 2018 at 10:32 am
Thank you, Sally! Exactly… you have to find the material that is best for your personal aesthetic and functional for your family. In regards to Emmett, pretty much yes- unless we’re chatting with our family back home. It’s like a switch we flip on and off depending on where we’re at or who we’re talking to. I think he’d prefer it to be 100% though.
ColleenJuly 12, 2018 at 4:34 pm
I absolutely love your soapstone counters….I wish we would have considered this option more seriously when we renovated our kitchen 14 years ago. I still really love my kitchen after all these years but my granite is considered dated now 😏 The soapstone would have held up as far as countertop trends go I think. However, if replace our granite in the future I will absolutely want soapstone. It’s such a beautiful material I don’t think I would ever tire of. Wise choice. Love your kitchen…..
CeceliaJuly 13, 2018 at 9:34 am
I love soapstone, and used it in my last kitchen reno, so I was thrilled to see that you used it in your kitchen.
I love the velvety feel, the fact that it’s easily repairable if scratched, and it’s heat safe and doesn’t absorb stains. Plus I like the fact that it’s a softer stone, so you can have integral drainboards carved into it. I know you don’t have them, but then I like the smooth symmetry of the countertop at your sink.
I’ll probably do soapstone again in my new (old) kitchen, as we have a great supplier here in New Jersey, and as a softer stone, it can be DIY’ed.
Thanks for the inspiration, I love checking the blog every day, and seeing you in InstaStories. Love your style, love your blog, and can’t believe what a great eye for design you have at such an (apparently) young age!
SarahJuly 13, 2018 at 11:24 am
It’s so nice! I absolutely love it. I seriously considered the drainboards. Emmett wanted them really bad! Maybe in our next kitchen we can do an integrated sink with the drainboards- that would be AMAZING. Great points about DIY too. Thanks so much for your kind words and for following along, Cecelia! xo
Beth NortonJuly 13, 2018 at 8:32 pm
This is a great article!! I just put sopstone in my kitchen about seven months ago and would love to know specially the products that you use to touch up nd hide the scratches.
I really love my counters!
LeahMarch 8, 2020 at 6:32 am
Hi! I’m obsessed with your backsplash- would you be willing to share some more details about that tile? It’s dreamy.
BeccaJune 6, 2022 at 6:38 am
Hello! I am also loving your backsplash! I found a link on your other kitchen post but it is no longer active. Could you share details about the size and type of marble this is, so I can try to find something similar? Thanks a bunch!
SarahJune 6, 2022 at 11:59 am
Thank you so much, Becca! Unfortunately the tile pictured here is no longer available. I’m sorry! It was carrara marble.