When it comes to choosing a countertop material, there are various options available. Countertops can be as simple as the surface you put your feet on, or they can be the focal point of your kitchen or bathroom remodel. While many homeowners shy away from replacing their old countertops because of the cost, the benefits of choosing a new countertop material can be worth the investment. Whether you’re interested in getting a soapstone countertop installed in your home or you’re just exploring your options, you’ll want to know the differences between soapstone and quartz countertops. Keep reading to discover all of the pros and cons of each countertop material.
According to Dorado Soap Stone, soapstone is a metamorphic rock that consists of variable amounts of water and a mixture of minerals. It is often categorized as a type of sandstone, but it contains less than 10% sand and more than 70% water. The structure of soapstone is very dense, hard, and brittle. It can be polished to a smooth, almost glass-like finish, but it’s not recommended for this as it will not only dull the surface, but will also cause the stone to crack and crumble over time. Soapstone is generally not used for ornamental purposes because it is too dense and heavy for such uses, but it is quite popular for interior design and architecture due to its durability and resistance to stains.
A quartz countertop is made from a heat-treated silicon carbide rock and has an extremely durable surface. Quartz countertops are resistant to chips and stains, which makes them perfect for kitchens with young kids or pets. Quartz countertops are also more energy efficient because they don’t conduct heat as quickly as other materials. This means that your kitchen will stay cooler in the summer, saving you on your utility bills. The downside of quartz countertops is that they are more expensive than soapstone. You will also need to maintain these counters regularly by resealing them every two years to ensure they do not crack or break down.
Which Countertops are Right for You?
The decision of which countertops to choose is ultimately a personal one. When choosing a countertop material, there are many aspects to consider, including durability, color, and cost.
- Soapstone: Soapstone countertops are made from soapstone or talc. They have the look of granite but the feel of marble. This stone is soft and easy to scratch, so it requires frequent maintenance. The downside? It’s also porous, which means it cannot be sealed or laid under sinks or dishwashers. Plus, soapstones stains easily – if you like your counters pristine, you’ll need to apply sealant regularly.
- Quartz: Quartz countertops can be made from a variety of minerals and materials including porcelain and quartz-like materials. They are durable and stain-resistant with no need for sealing because they can’t be scratched or stained like soapstone counters can be. Quartz is available in any color imaginable (including natural stone colors), making it perfect for customizing your kitchen or bathroom remodel! One downside is that quartz isn’t as heat-resistant as other materials and will break if exposed to extreme temperatures for extended periods of time, so beware the oven.
Pros of Soapstone Countertops
Soapstone countertops are very durable and require little maintenance. Soapstone is non-porous, which means it won’t stain as easily and it will be easier to clean. Soapstone is easy to install, as it can be glued down for a seamless look or installed over an existing surface like laminate countertops. It’s also durable enough that installation isn’t necessary since it doesn’t break down over time or scratch easily. Soapstone lasts nearly forever, so the investment in a soapstone countertop will pay off for years to come. The natural color of soapstone requires no surface finish and can be honed to a smooth texture if desired, so soapstone looks just as good with or without added surface treatments like quartz countertops need. Soapstone is naturally antimicrobial and won’t hold on to dirt or bacteria like other materials might, meaning soapstone counters are one of the safest surfaces you can have in your home – they don’t harbor bacteria like other materials do. Installation of soapstone countertops requires very little sealing because the material cuts smoothly without splinters and tolerates high temperatures well (like boiling water).
Cons of Soapstone Countertops
- Soapstone is a natural stone, and natural stones have the potential to crack or chip. If you have children or pets, this might be a concern with soapstone countertops.
- Soapstone is porous and will stain easily, so it’s not a good choice for families with children who like to eat on the countertop.
- Soapstone requires regular maintenance in order to avoid stains and doesn’t work well for cooking.
- The cost of soapstone countertops is more expensive than most other materials because of the high installation process.
- Some homeowners report that soapstone can change colors over time due to UV light exposure and heat from stovetops and grills (though this can occur with any stone).
- Many homeowners find that soapstone has an uneven surface, making cutting veggies difficult on the countertop’s surface, as food does not slide around easily on these surfaces.
Pros of Quartz Countertops
- Quartz is more durable than soapstone.
- Quartz counters are easier to clean and resist stains better than soapstone.
- Quartz is less porous, which means it will have fewer cracks and fissures over time.
- This countertop is easier to install because it’s lightweight and less likely to crack when cut or drilled into place.
- Installation of this material can be done by many professionals, even those without experience in installing quartz countertops.
- It’s easy for maintenance pros to repair quartz countertops if they crack or chip at any point during their lifetime due to the way they are designed and manufactured with glass fibers that are tightly wound together rather than a solid slab of stone like soapstone.
- If you need a repair, the material can be handled by most professionals-even those without experience in repairing quartz countertops-due to how it is designed and manufactured with glass fibers that are tightly wound together rather than a solid slab of stone like soapstone.
Cons of Quartz Countertops
Quartz countertops are a beautiful material that many people love. However, as with any material, there are downsides to it as well. Quartz is a beautiful material, but it is also one of the most expensive options on the market because of how difficult it is to create. Quartz slabs need to be cut with lasers and they take more time to install than granite or soapstone. Many people who have quartz countertops go through their remodel and replace their counters again within 5 years because the grout is porous and can showcase stains. Since quartz has a tendency to show every single scratch, you need to be very careful when cleaning your countertop. You can’t use abrasive cleaners like Comet because they will scratch the surface of your stone and make it look even worse than before you started cleaning. Quartz makes for a beautiful countertop, but there are some drawbacks too. If you want a cost-effective option that won’t scratch as easily or need frequent resurfacing, soapstone might be a better option for you.
Soapstone vs. Quartz: Which Is Right for You?
If you’re looking for a natural stone countertop that offers sustainable benefits, soapstone is your best bet. It’s a beautiful option that has similar properties to granite, with one exception: it doesn’t contain any quartz. Quartz, on the other hand, is composed of mostly silicon dioxide. Quartz counters are more scratch-resistant than soapstone and offer a different aesthetic appeal. However, they don’t offer the same level of sustainability as soapstone counters do. Soapstone is a natural choice that will add elegance and character to your kitchen or bathroom remodel at an affordable price. If you want the durability of quartz with the natural look of soapstone, consider choosing sink stone or slabs of granite for your counters instead.
Soapstone is soft, but not as soft as quartz. Quartz can scratch easily and is a little harder than soapstone. Both are relatively softer than granite or marble.
Both materials can cost a fair amount of money, depending on what you’re looking for. Soapstone ranges from $0.25/sq ft to $2/sq ft, while quartz can go up to $15+/sq ft per stone.
Both quartz and soapstone are very durable, but soapstone is more resistant to scratches than quartz. And if you do get a scratch in either material, it’ll be harder to see on soapstone.
Both materials can be installed by someone with some DIY knowledge or by a professional. You may need some help getting the stone into your home or apartment, but once it’s there, you should be able to put it where you want and fill any gaps as needed with silicone caulk. Soapstone has more of a tendency to have gaps between the stone after installation than quartz does. However, both materials can be polished.
Commercial vs. Residential
Soapstone is more common in public spaces, like malls and hotels. However, it can be used in residential spaces as well. Quartz is pretty much only used for residential purposes now; however, it has been used in some commercial applications as well (think about what you see in the bathroom of your favorite restaurant).
One of the most obvious differences between soapstone and quartz is veining. Veining is the patterning of different colored bands across the surface of a stone. These bands are often very thin, and can be very faint or very pronounced depending on the stone. The bands may be parallel, or they may be wavy, or they may be uneven. The more pronounced the veining, the more valuable the stone is. So, if you are buying a new piece of kitchen countertop, make sure it has pronounced veining. Veining is the result of mineral deposits within the stone. If a stone is extremely dense, there may be very little room for mineral deposits, so the stone will have less veining. On the other hand, if a stone is porous, there may be a lot of room, and the stone will have pronounced veining.
Another obvious difference between soapstone and quartz is grain pattern. Unlike veining, grain pattern is not a natural characteristic of the stone. Instead, it is caused by the manufacturing process. Grain pattern is the term used to describe the random pattern of veins in a pare of stone. When a stone is first mined, it is completely uniform. Then, the pare is cut and polished, and the lines of the grain pattern stand out very clearly. The types of grain patterns that are found in soapstone and quartz vary greatly, depending on the minerals that make up the stone. Common grain patterns include wavy, ripple, and satin. Because of this, many people choose soapstone or quartz based on the grain pattern that they like the most, rather than on the stone’s natural characteristics.
As with many other natural stones, the color of soapstone and quartz can vary greatly. The most common colors are white, gray, and brown. However, different minerals will cause the stone to appear in other colors, such as yellow, green, blue, red, and even purple. The most common white soapstone is made from a combination of silica, calcium, and sodium. Most soapstone is fairly neutral in color, and will look very clean and modern in a contemporary or modern design. On the other hand, the brown soapstone is very common in Americana and rustic homes. It has a characteristic reddish tint, and its veins are often visible in the stone. While soapstone is a very clean stone, it is also very hard, dense, and rough. It is not suited for delicate surfaces, such as table tops, where it will scratch easily.
Streak is the effect caused by moving the stone across another substance, such as a wooden table or a metal sink. A faint streak is normal for soapstone and quartz, and virtually all of these stones will have a streak of some sort when they’re quarried. However, if a stone has a very pronounced streak, it may have been polished too aggressively, or it may be made of minerals that cause a streak, such as magnetite or Titanomagnetite. In either case, the stone should be avoided.
Natural or cultured?
Most soapstone and quartz are naturally occurring minerals, found in the earth. However, a lot of these stones are “cultured,” which means that they have been artificially created in a laboratory. Cultured soapstone and quartz are usually more uniform in texture and color, and they often have a more even veining pattern. However, they are not mineralogically identical to the naturally occurring stones. There are many benefits and drawbacks to consider with both soaps stone and quartz countertops. What are the best types of countertops for your home? The answer to that question is not as simple as it may seem. When deciding what type of countertops to purchase for your kitchen or bathroom, there are many factors, including style, durability, maintenance, and cost. The key is to consider what your needs are first. Once you know what you need for your home, you can decide which countertop is right.