Soapstone Vs. Quartz

Soapstone and quartz are options to consider when selecting a countertop material.
Soapstone and quartz are options to consider when selecting a countertop material. (Image: the kitchen. image by guiney from Fotolia.com)

Despite the variety of materials out there, soapstone and quartz are among the most popular choices in home decor, usually in kitchen countertops. There are qualitative differences between the two, which differ in key characteristics, such as appearance, color, durability and maintenance.

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Soapstone

Soapstone is a rock that largely consists of talc, which is one of the softest minerals on the Ohm scale. This makes it "soapy" in feel, as well as dark gray in appearance. The talc content also gives soapstone a high density, which leads to non-porousness; these qualities are ideal for visual and tactile appeal. They may, however, also may lead to easier cracking.

Mineral oil is often applied to countertops for a more "finished" appeal. The oil can be applied to soapstone to enhance its elegance by darkening the surface and bringing out the minutiae, such as streaking, of the material. However, because of the high density, the mineral oil consistently rises to the surface in a powdery form and must be cleaned up and re-applied in order to maintain the desired aesthetic appearance. Soapstone is more high-maintenance, but its dark beauty increases with age.

Soapstone is easy to install due to its smaller maximal size, and installation can be done on your own with the proper know-how.

Quartz

Quartz comes in a variety of colors. Color quality can range from transparent to translucent, milky, rose, opaque and other shades in between. When purchased for installation in the home, it is usually an in engineered form, with the material consisting of 93 percent quartz particles. This gives a countertop a non-porous, stain- and scratch-resistant quality.

Because of quartz's inherent properties, maintenance is easy, and quartz offers durability and longevity. Its appearance won't change much, if at all, over time and won't streak. However, because of these desirable qualities, along with range of color, quartz is expensive.

Installation can be done on your own as well, and many commercial varieties of quartz are available.

Comparison

Soapstone and quartz are both solid options, material-wise, for home decor. Soapstone is less expensive, has a particular aesthetic that can age in beauty and has a smooth feel, but it requires more maintenance, has a narrow range of appearance and may crack and darken undesirably over time. Quartz is available in a variety of colors, is more stain- and scratch-resistant and offers easy care but is more expensive and does not improve aesthetically with age.

The qualities that are most important to you are what should detrmine your choice of soapstone or quartz as a material. You should also be aware that there are other choices on the market, such as granite, ceramic and laminates.

References

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