While designing your dream kitchen, you might find yourself wondering which material is best for countertops: soapstone, quartz, or marble. We’re here to help! Let’s explore the differences between these three popular kitchen countertop materials so you can upgrade your counters with confidence using a stone that suits your lifestyle.
History of Soapstone, Quartz, and Marble
Each mineral originates from different rock types with a varying mineral makeup that influences how the stone looks and performs.
- Soapstone is a naturally mined metamorphic rock that grew in popularity for residential use after gaining traction in industrial settings and labs. Soapstone offers great versatility: It can be used throughout your home, indoors and out—it is a good choice for flooring, fireplace surrounds, sinks, and even your bathtub.
- Quartz became popular in the early 2000s for residential uses. It is engineered, rather than quarried, and became an instant alternative to granite for its look-alike abilities. This engineered stone is also referred to as Silestone and Caesarstone, after two of its main manufacturers.
- Dolomitic marble is a quarried sedimentary rock that is similar to “regular” Carrara marble, but the additional dolomite, pyroxene, and calcite minerals add hardness to the stone so it is slightly more durable with a very similar look.
The Visual Appeal of Soapstone, Quartz, and Marble
Most people shop with their eyes, and in the case of choosing a stone countertop, that’s a great place to start. Complementing your home’s style and highlighting cabinetry and other furnishings is an important part of the decision-making process.
Veining and Natural Aging Are Soapstone Features
When considering soapstone, classic Santa Rita soapstone is a neutral gray that ages beautifully. The carbonate veining that occurs with aging or oiling is an impressive visual feature of soapstone installations. Whether you prefer contemporary Stormy Black or an exotic Fantasia, your counters age and change naturally over time.
Endless Color Choices With Quartz
One of the benefits of quartz countertops is that they can be engineered in an almost-limitless number of colors and finishes; choose a modern patterned or flecked appearance, or opt instead for a quartz countertop that mimics the look of soapstone, marble, or granite. If the selection pool feels overwhelming, let our expertise as certified fabricators for top quartz brands help.
Stunning Patterns and Contrasts With Marble
Marble is one of the most visually recognized stones for its exquisite lines and bright striping. Our White Carrara Marble is a classic Italian stone that brings a stately look; we see it used as an accent to complement other stone surfaces. We also offer dolomitic marble, which is a heartier material that’s available in four styles: Calacatta Black & White is an upscale look with a heavy contrast; Dolce Vita has marbling with a subtler contrast, while Calacatta Diamond and Pegasus offer swirl patterns in lighter tones.
Compare Required Care and Maintenance
All countertops require some level of care, especially in high-traffic areas. Knowing what maintenance you’re signing up for when choosing your countertop stone can help avoid unexpected surprises later. See where soapstone, marble, and quartz rank for required maintenance.
Easiest to Maintain: Soapstone
Soapstone is one of the easiest natural countertop materials to maintain. There is no mandatory sealing or heavy maintenance required: They’re naturally nonporous, so you can skip the sealers, solvents, and cleaners. Simply oil soapstone countertops if you wish to darken the stone, and clean away spills with regular soap and water or your favorite household cleaner.
Medium Maintenance: Quartz
Quartz is sealed as part of the manufacturing process, and is fairly resistant to staining—but it is not completely stain proof or sealed against stronger acids and chemicals . Compared to marble, quartz is more resistant to damage from daily wear-and-tear. However, the resin that’s mixed in the compound cannot handle excessive heat or the elements—so, for outdoor use, quartz is not only inferior to soapstone and marble but with the exception of a couple of colors, not certified for outdoor use.
Most Maintenance: Dolomitic Marble
Marble requires more maintenance compared to soapstone and quartz. Regularly scheduled sealing is needed to make sure liquids, acids, and bacteria do not compromise the material and cause etching. If you love the look of marble, consider choosing two stones for your kitchen: Use low-maintenance soapstone for high-use areas, and choose marble for a secondary accent.
Consider Each Material’s Durability
Stone countertop’s durability shouldn’t be overlooked: You want to protect your investment against cracks, stains, and scratches, so choose a countertop to meet your demands. Let’s see how soapstone measures against quartz and marble in four key areas.
1) Hardness & Cracking
Depending on its mineral makeup, different slabs of the same stone can vary in hardness.
- Soapstone that’s used for architectural applications is often 50 percent talc—this is also known as Steatite. Talc is a fairly soft mineral, giving the slab some level of flexibility that protects it from cracking but will make it more prone to scratching. As a reminder, scratches on soapstone are easily sanded off with little effort.
- Quartz is fairly resistant to cracking, but depending on the quartz quality, extreme temperatures—a hot pan or a bag of ice—can compromise the surface.
- Dolomitic marble is fairly hard, which can make it brittle and susceptible to cracking with a jarring enough impact.
2) Scratches & Nicks
Surfaces in high-traffic areas may get scratched, but some materials resist damage better than others—and some are easier to fix.
- While soapstone can become scratched during routine use, a light sanding and some mineral oil or wax will hide the area easily. Another option is to talk to your supplier about the different soapstone varieties and its varying talc contents and choose soapstones that have less talc, making it less prone to scratching. Some of these are Stormy Black and Anastacia Soapstone.
- Quartz is more difficult to damage, but when damaged, it will likely require a professional repair.
- Dolomitic marble holds up well to regular wear and tear, but glass and metal can damage the surface. Light scratches can be buffed out, other damage may require professional repair.
3) Staining & Discoloration
Countertops see spills daily—so a countertop must resist stains, or be easy to clean up. When choosing a countertop material, consider natural stones that resist staining, clean easily, and aren’t harmed by cleaning solutions or cooking acids—think spilled citrus juices, liquor or wine, or vinegar.
- Soapstone is nonporous so it will not absorb substances that will stain it—including bleach and acids. Spills sit on top of the stone and are easily wiped away.
- Quartz is stain-resistant, but not stain-proof. The resins mixed with the stone discolor from bleach, acid, and prolonged exposure to UV light.
- Dolomitic Marble is resistant to stains after proper sealing, however, acids can damage the surface and cause etching or other damage.
When choosing a counter for your kitchen, you’ll need to consider how it holds up to heat. In the category of heat-resistance, soapstone and marble outperform quartz.
- Soapstone and dolomitic marble have similar thermal properties that absorb and redistribute heat, so they aren’t scorched or marked by hot pans. Neither are damaged by sun exposure, either.
- Quartz can become discolored from too much UV light and a hot pan will leave a scorched mark on the surface.
Cost Comparison of Stone Countertops
Consider slab cost, fabrication, and installation when comparing soapstone versus quartz versus marble countertop prices. Remember that the initial expense is carried across the years you have it: A long-lasting stone like soapstone might seem more expensive upfront, yet it often outlasts all other stone types. Whether you choose soapstone, marble, or quartz, we’re happy to assist you: Request a quote and we’ll provide estimates for the stone fabrication, installation, and materials for your project.
Stone Fabrication & Installation Services Near You
If you’re looking for a soapstone, marble, or quartz fabricator near you, or have questions, we’re here to help! Visit a showroom near you: Stop into our Boynton Beach location to see the largest open stock showroom in Florida, visit a location in New Jersey or San Francisco, or contact us to find a partner location. If it’s not convenient to see our soapstone in person, order a soapstone sample.
If you’re weighing the pros and cons of soapstone versus quartz or marble versus soapstone, hopefully these factors help you decide. Visit our blog for more about the benefits of soapstone and see examples of our fabrication and installation services in real-life applications.