Soapstone is a natural stone with a milky appearance that offers a rustic look in any room. It is a steatite stone that includes chlorite, magnesite, and dolomite. It is talc that gives the stone its milky, powdery appearance. Soapstone with high concentrations of talc is a popular stone for sculptors as it can be manipulated easily. Marble Concepts explains that soapstone with less talc is normally used for countertops and fireplaces since the stone is stronger the less talc it contains. If you have decided to install a soapstone countertop, you will need to know how to take care of the stone.
Treating a New Soapstone Counter
Once your counter is installed, there are a few things you need to do right away. You want to let the counter sit for about 24 hours in order for any dust to settle. Use a dampened sponge to remove any dust on the counter. Brush the counter with mineral oil and a clean rag. You can also use a small paintbrush to get into the corners. You want to use the oil directly from the bottle, not diluted in any way. Even though soapstone is soft, it is non-porous which means the oil will not sink into the stone, so you can let it sit with no worries of staining. Once you have coated the entire counter with oil, allow it to dry sit for about a half an hour, then wipe the excess oil away with a clean rag or paper towel. You do not need to use a particular brand or type of mineral oil. It is easily found in hardware stores on online and is fairly inexpensive. The mineral oil adds a thin moisture layer that speeds up oxidation of the stone.
Because the stone does not absorb the oil, it will eventually evaporate, requiring reapplication. For the first few months, you will need to reapply the oil about once each week. After that, you will need to reapply based on how often your countertop is used. Keep in mind that each time you clean your countertop, you will be removing some of the oil. If you cook every day, you will need to reapply oil more often while if you tend to eat out often, you may not need to reapply as quickly. The more you oil the counter, the darker the color will be. Mineral oil gives soapstone its characteristic dark color and brings out its natural beauty. Soapstone that is not treated with oil is often light gray while mineral oil turns it a rich, dark gray. Some homeowners apply once each month while others may re-oil every few months. On way to tell that your counter needs oil reapplied is if water stops beading on the surface or leaves a noticeable mark behind when spills are dried.
There is some disagreement among experts regarding whether you should apply mineral oil to your soapstone sink. Just like your counter, the sink will look great after you oil it but repeated exposure to detergents and soaps will remove the oil fairly quickly. Over time, your sink will darken with age and use, so it may not be necessary to oil your soapstone sink.
To clean your soapstone each day, simply use a sponge dipped in soapy water. If food has gotten stuck on the counter, you can even use an abrasive cleanser to remove it as it will not hurt the stone. Soapstone is non-porous so it will resist bacteria and stains. Acidic foods like lemon juice, tomato sauce, wine, and coffee will not etch the stone either. If you do see a blemish, a coat of oil will usually remove it.
Soapstone does scratch or nick easier than granite, but it is easily fixed. Tiny scratches can often be fixed using mineral oil or wax. A worn piece of 60- to 80-grit sandpaper is all you need to rub out a small scratch. A worn piece is more gentle than a new piece, so if you only have one that is new, you may want to rub the sandpaper on another surface to wear it down and keep from causing additional damage. Just rub the scratch and reapply oil or wax. Many people simply leave the small scratches believing it gives the counter character, so it is completely up to you whether you just leave the soapstone natural or take steps to hide any scratches or nicks.
Should You Wax Your Soapstone?
Over the past few years, some manufacturers have suggested using wax as an alternative to mineral oil. Wax gives soapstone a richer, deeper color and some homeowners say that wax makes the stone feel smoother. Because mineral oil leaves a slight residue, you may find that wax is cleaner as it does not leave the same residue. If you choose to use wax, you need to clean the counter with dish soap and water. Then apply a wax that is food safe, rubbing it into the stone with a dry towel or your fingers. Allow the wax to sit on the counter for at least 30 minutes, although you can leave it overnight before wiping it off. The more times you wax your countertop, the darker it will become so feel free to apply it as often as necessary to get the stone to the color you desire.
Soapstone is extremely durable and requires very little maintenance. It is only available in shades from white to charcoal but adds a richness to your kitchen, bath or fireplace that other stones cannot. If you are considering soapstone countertops, contact Marble Concepts today. For almost four decades, we have been setting your dreams in stone. We can help you create a look using soapstone that will be perfect for you and your family. Simply fill out the online form today or give us a call to get started.