7/07/2011

Soapstone on Sinks and Countertops

The Elegance In Your Kitchen
For quite some time people in using soapstone for making beautiful and exquisite counter tops. This article describes what soapstone is and why is it ideal for a modern kitchen design.
Soapstone is a perfect material for counter tops, among other items, such as backsplashes; sinks with drain boards; and islands.
Soapstone will bring sophistication to your modern kitchen, or an old world kitchen, and are becoming quite fashionable.

They are quite practical too; as unlike most natural stone orconcrete, these counter tops do not require sealers. Stains are easily removed with fine sand paper, as they do not penetrate below the surface.
Soapstone has been used in the United States to make counter tops, among other things, since the 19th century. Brazil has the best soapstone, but it is also imported from India, as well as from Finland, to make a variety of items, including counters. This ‘original stone countertop’ is admired for its beauty, along with its strength, durability and versatility.


WHAT IS SOAPSTONE
Soapstone is inert to all household chemicals, and is extremely heat resistant. It is made of mineral deposits, with the main components being talc, chlorite, dolomite and magnetite.  It is a steatite – a metamorphic rock – and comes in various degrees of hardness, with talc being the softer soapstone.
Countertops are made from the harder versions of steatite, as it requires being durable. It gives a warm and rustic look, and is soft to the touch.



Due to its heat resistant and retention quality, soapstone is commonly used for masonry heater fireplaces, wood stoves, fireplace liners and pizza ovens. The rugged and dense soapstone, with its heat resistant quality makes it appropriate for counter tops, as you can literally a place red hot cookware on its surface, without any adverse effect.
With age, its natural shades, such as green-gray, blue-gray and charcoal gray color, change to a darker color. Alternately, you can apply mineral oil evenly to darken it, or oxidize it with water. Its color and appearance can be enhanced by regular application of mineral oil. If you wish to have the original gray color back, you simply need to sand paper it!
Soapstone As Countertops
Soapstone can be categorized into two types: the artistic, and the architectural soapstone. The artistic soapstone has higher talc content, is soft, and is used by artists for carving sculptures, making ornaments and other art pieces.
soapstone westUn-oiled Piracema Split island with dramatic white vein
The architectural soapstone is harder, has little talc content, is very durable and is used for countertops, among other uses, where structural integrity is needed.
As architectural soapstone is dense, it makes it non-porous, and so resistant to staining of any kind. There is a common misconception that it is too soft for construction projects.
On the contrary, it is preferred over granite and marble in many cases. As counters, soapstone adds elegance to your kitchen and value to your home.
Piracema soapstone island. Prominent white veining.
Soapstone is not only used as countertops for kitchen , but also in the laboratories in schools and colleges.
granite countertopThe main reason being its inertness, and the ability to resist reacting to chemicals and acid, as well as all stains, including spills from lemon, tomato sauce, olive oil, vinegar, or wine, etc.
This time tested material has been in use in old farmhouses for centuries, and the original soapstone sinks and countertops are still in use today. Its easy workability and durability makes it the material of choice for countertops.
soapstone countertop with matching custom farm front sink
This is one stone every ones loves to use as a countertop, as soapstone can easily be cut with a saw, and hand finished with sand paper. Due to its easy workability, soapstone countertops can be easily made to your specifications, along with any type of edge profile you wish for, such as a bull nose, bevel, or ogee, or the popular plank edge – with softened top and bottom corners – giving it an old world appearance.
If you are looking for soapstone countertops, have a look at the advantages soapstone has over other stones:
  • It is denser than granite and marble, and so will not absorb stains.
  • It is easy to cut using a diamond blade, so edges can be given any shape required easily.
  • It is completely non-porous.
  • It requires no sealant.
  • It has great thermal qualities and is resistant to bacteria.
  • As it is highly durable, and will last several lifetimes.
  • As it is resistant to chemicals and acids, it is ideal as laboratory countertops.
  • Any scratches can easily be removed by just rubbing mineral oil on it.
  • It is very smooth to feel.
  • Can be returned to its original pristine condition, and look, even after years of use.
  • It has the ability to blend in with any style or design.
Countertops made from soapstone require regular maintenance with applications of mineral oil, to maintain its patina. This could be true with countertops made of other stones, too. However, these countertops can be brought back to their original condition just with the help of a sand paper.
The soapstone countertops fit well into all types of environs, whether in an historic home, or in a most modern setup.

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