Soapstone samples

I have read a lot about soapstone as a countertop material.  Soapstone has several attributes that make it attractive for a working (as opposed to showplace) kitchen: it won’t stain or etch from any kitchen or household material, even without sealing; extreme heat or cold won’t damage it; and its lower gloss than granite or marble means it’s easier to keep looking clean. Its smoothness and high thermal mass make it ideal for rolling out dough.

There are a couple of drawbacks: Oil or water will darken the surface at least temporarily, so a common practice is to periodically treat the surface with oil or wax. It’s also much softer than granite or even marble, so it can get scratched or dinged with use. The softness also means, however, that such damage can be sanded out with normal sandpaper.

The biggest issue, though, is that it comes only in dark colors, mostly grey to black (and some greens that I can’t see).  Depending on the variety, there are often prominent white or greenish veins. It’s a striking stone and definitely makes a statement. We need to decide if it’s a statement we want to make.

I ordered a sample pack of offcuts from a soapstone counter supplier to help us decide whether this material is for us.  We do have plenty of time to make up our minds, and of course we’ll ask opinions of everyone who comes to visit.

Below are the 14 varieties currently on offer from this one supplier.  I’ve oiled the right-hand side of each.

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