Each of our nationwide warehouses has been receiving gorgeous soapstone slabs from the Barroca quarry. The stone pictured here is from a recent lot of Barroca™ soapstone from this region and shows the traditional, quiet design that’s often quarried from this location. Read on to learn more about what you can expect from this classic stone in kitchen or bathroom applications. Choosing Barroca soapstone brings a refined look and beneficial characteristics to your home, plus you’ll love our options to customize your pieces using our fabrication services.
What Is Barroca Soapstone?
Barroca soapstone is a metamorphic rock variety quarried in the Mariana region of Brazil. This part of the world is abundant in minerals and is known for producing some of the most classic-looking soapstones. The average composition of Barroca soapstone slabs is nearly 50% talc, so it is ideal for architectural uses in home furnishings and fixtures. Trust that natural slabs from the Barroca quarry have all of the nonporous, nonabsorbent, heat-resistant characteristics you’ve come to expect from soapstone.
What Does Barroca Soapstone Look Like?
Barroca soapstone is called a “classic soapstone” because of its traditional gray appearance. These beautiful light gray slabs turn to a rich black after oil or wax treatment, and they also darken with natural aging. Barroca veining has a quieter, more understated look than other stone varieties. Carbonite veining occurs when a metamorphic rock is formed and is influenced by pressure and force and varies slightly slab-to-slab. View our current selection of Barroca soapstone to see the magnificent variances a single quarry provides, from almost no veining to thin, but noticeable, lines.
Best Uses for Barroca Soapstone
When it comes to where to use Barroca soapstone, it’s a perfect option to add sophistication and style to your kitchen countertops, backsplash, tile flooring, and any other area, inside or out. This natural gray material can be used as a focal point bringing out its fine black finish or downplayed for a complementary natural element in your home’s design. Beyond its look, Barroca soapstone offers heat-resistance, strength, anti-bacterial, and non-porous qualities, perfect when installed in your kitchen, bath, or outdoor living space.
Kitchen Countertops Crafted of Barroca Soapstone
Kitchen countertops made from Barroca soapstone slabs are as durable as they are eye-catching. Because the slabs from this quarry have slightly more subtle veining, it is ideal for covering large areas while still letting other design elements in your home stand out. Its resistance to stains and heat are often why Barroca soapstone is chosen for kitchens. You can trust that your countertops are naturally sealed against bacteria, keeping food prep areas free from harsh cleaners, sealers, and solvents, plus hot pans can be set down on the surface without leaving a mark!
Add a Barroca Soapstone Backsplash
Not only does Barroca soapstone give your kitchen a sophisticated look with its light gray coloring, but it protects your walls very effectively because it is nonporous. This stone won’t absorb any liquids, so it won’t stain from food splatter. It’s also heat resistant so you can use it continuously through your whole kitchen—including behind your stovetop and appliances—without worrying about heat-transfer damage. Installing this subtle gray as an uninterrupted backsplash provides sleek styling with practical protection while ensuring other featured materials in your kitchen don’t lose focus.
Spa-Like Barroca Soapstone Bathroom Installations
Choose Barroca for your bathroom applications for its nonporous and thermal qualities. Since the stone will not absorb liquids, it ensures surfaces remain hygienic without a lot of extra scrubbing, and you won’t have to rely on harsh cleaners to remove germs. Using soapstone for your soaking tub really highlights this stone’s thermal abilities, too—the nature of the stone means that the tub will lock in and radiate heat to keep bath water warmer for longer than other tubs. Additionally, Barroca bathroom floor tiles have a natural softness that is satisfying and soft underfoot, and it doesn’t become slippery when wet, providing a safe solution for moisture-rich environments.
Create Designer Accent Elements Using Barroca Soapstone
This soapstone’s semi-neutral coloring allows it to effectively accent or complement other design elements in your home. The soft gray natural stone pairs easily with white cabinets or dark countertops. You can install this soapstone variety as a small prep area countertop or coffee bar without overshadowing another stone meant to be the focus. Age the soapstone’s appearance by oiling for darker accent pieces. Barroca offers plenty of flexibility to mesh with any change in your home design.
Custom Barroca Soapstone Design, Fabrication, and Installation
We’re happy to offer full services for your Barroca soapstone project, including slab selection, custom fabrication, and installation to suit your design vision. Barroca is perfect both indoors and outdoors, so there’s no end to the possibilities, with options for custom countertop edging, cut-to-size DIY kits, integrated sinks designs, and specialty carving.
There are many looks you can achieve from Barroca soapstone from varying the mineral treatments to custom fabrication details—let us know what you have in mind or request a quote today. Visit our blog for renovation inspiration, soapstone projects we’ve completed, and options to spark your own home renovation ideas.
There have been some rumors out there about companies who own quarries, who mine different varieties of soapstone, etc. As a native of the soapstone region of Brazil and a current part-time resident of the area, I would like to clarify a few issues that are causing “confusion” in the market.
First of all, I can assure you that the soapstone importers/distributors in this country (including M Teixeira Soapstone) do not own any quarries in Brazil. Although you may hear false claims like ” we are the quarry,” or “we are the only company that quarries and imports from its own quarries,” this is simply not true. I personally know most of the quarry owners (not brokers) in Brazil and know for fact that none of the quarries there are owned by any US-based company. The most serious soapstone producers in Brazil (such as OPPS, QTZ, and Rinoldi Soapstone) simply supply soapstone slabs to their clients (including us) in the USA. Now, if being a US representative of a certain quarrier in Brazil entitles you to ownership, then we own many quarries there.
I myself was a partner at a soapstone quarry in the region back in 2003 and 2004, but it did not take me very long to realize that it was not for me. I am in the business of importing, fabricating, and distributing quality soapstone in the USA, definitely not mining it. Mining is a totally different ball game.
I consider my company to be a “soapstone boutique.” My job is to travel the area, visit the quarries, spend time with the producers, and select what I feel meets the quality standards that I have set.
One might wonder how we have such a broad variety of soapstone with so many different names. Well, the simple answer is that we like to offer our clients a variety of looks, instead of only just one. To accomplish this, we have access to a variety of soapstone quarries. If we import soapstone from Barroca quarry and Santa Rita quarry, these stones cannot be just called “soapstone,” or the “original” soapstone. We call them Santa Rita Soapstone and Barroca Soapstone because that is what the locals call them. This also lets us differentiate the unique features of each quarry. As an example, the Santa Rita quarry produces a heavily veined soapstone and the Barroca quarry blocks are much less veined.
I also enjoy traveling and exploring new boundaries. This is why I migrated from Brazil at the age of 17, by myself. My love for travel, business, and soapstone has taken me to many places on this globe. We even offer a few varieties of soapstone from India in addition to our Brazilian varieties. I feel Brazil is a very blessed nation, but mother nature did not assign Brazil as the exclusive soapstone source of the world. Finland and India also have a lot of nice soapstone and I am very proud to be able to offer soapstone from different continents. The US also has its share of soapstone quarries (yes, we have everything in this beautiful country), but cost, quality, and environmental/political issues have brought any production in this country to very negligible amounts.
Thanks for reading.
There are a lot of questions, rumors, myths, and misinformation about the hardness of soapstone. I’d like to inform you about the facts of this stone, its characteristics, its hardness and uses, and how to test it so you are fully informed about this durable, natural material.
Soapstone Mineral Composition and Uses
Since soapstone is made mostly of talc, it is naturally softer than many stones. What determines its hardness or softness comes down to how much talc is present among other minerals in soapstone’s composition. Average architectural grade soapstone contains approximately 50% talc and is commonly used for countertops, wood burning stoves, sinks, and floor tiles. This composition is also called steatite. Harder soapstone is likely 30% talc, while softer stone—used by the art industry for carvings and other installations—will often have 80% talc in its mineral makeup.
Differences Between Soapstone and Serpentinite
There are natural stones falsely labeled as soapstone that fail to meet one very important requirement: talc content. Some very hard “soapstone” has no talc in it, and in petrological terms, it cannot be called soapstone; it is serpentinite.
I have heard references to the “new generation” of soapstone being harder; this is comical because in geological terms, serpentinite metamorphosed into soapstone, which makes these harder stones the “old generation,” and the softer soapstone you know today is its new iteration.
How does an average person tell soapstone from serpentinite? Testing the stone’s hardness is a common characteristic to measure. If a stone is so hard that it cannot be scratched with a knife blade, chances are that it is a serpentinite and not a true soapstone.
Serpentinite hardness isn’t the only characteristic that makes it different from soapstone. It also differs in its thermal properties. While one cannot use serpentinite in an application with extreme heat, soapstone boasts heat retention and durability in excessive temperatures including fireplace linings and mantels.
Measuring Mineral Hardness With Mohs’ Scale
Mohs’ scale of hardness is one way to determine the actual hardness of soapstone. Although Mohs’ scale was classified using 10 basic minerals (not rocks or stones), it can be used as a guideline to determine the hardness of all materials, including soapstone.
To determine where any material falls on the Mohs’ scale of hardness, it needs to be tested against a mineral on the scale. As an example, a fingernail cannot scratch Calcite (3) but it will scratch Gypsum (2), so it can be concluded that a fingernail is approximately a 2.5 on the scale.
With that mode of comparison in mind, if you scratch soapstone with something that has a confirmed hardness and the soapstone scratches, we know it is the softer material and we can begin to make additional comparisons to rank the stone. We’ve provided some hardness values for common materials below for your own use to see the actual hardness of soapstone or other materials.
- Fingernail: 2.5
- Copper penny: 3.5
- Knife blade: 5.5
Keep in mind that anything harder than the knife blade is definitely a serpentinite and not a soapstone.
Is Soapstone Fragile?
No, soapstone is not fragile. Even though it is softer than other stones, namely serpentinite, the mineral makeup creates a pliable material that isn’t brittle or susceptible to cracking. Its various grades make soapstone adequate for many uses, from artistic carvings to outdoor furniture, countertops, and floor tiles.
Does Soapstone Scratch Easily?
Most soapstone will only scratch if one purposely tries to damage the stone; how easy it is to scratch depends on the grade—how much talc is present—and the softness of the stone. If your stone does become scratched, the beauty of it is that you can easily buff the area with regular sandpaper or apply a dab of mineral oil or soapstone wax to hide the scratch; this easy fix is one of its distinctive features.
Explore more soapstone facts and tips at our blog. Thanks for reading,
Rogerio M. Teixeira
If you are looking for beauty in nature, this soapstone will surely catch your eye. It features a very striking surface with lots of veining running through a dark background. This stone is a work of art and will be exquisite on any kitchen or bathroom countertop.
We welcome a new variety to our soapstone collection this week called GOA. This soapstone is very similar to Julia Soapstone, which we no longer carry. The soapstone does not have very much veining but it has a beautiful flowing blend of dark tones. It’s a great option for those that want subtle looking soapstone.
A great option for a free-standing fireplace is a soapstone woodstove. The stove is comprised of an EPA Certified cast iron fire box insert surrounded by a soapstone veneer. The stone retains the heat and makes the stove super efficient. You can purchase all of our wood stove fireplaces online or call our office to place you order. We also carry soapstone masonry heaters. These are built solely of soapstone, 100% both inside and out, while the soapstone wood stoves, have a cast iron insert that is covered with soapstone.
Now that you are enjoying your beautiful soapstone kitchen countertop, it’s time to get to work, clear the clutter and enhance the look of your entire kitchen.
The first order of business is to stow away those appliance that you don’t use on a daily basis. The ones that come to mind include the bread maker, crock-pot, rice maker, espresso machine, and yes the George Forman grill. You know the culprits.
Now that your space is cleared here are a few kitchen decorating ideas to get you started:
- Candles always add warmth and coziness to any space. Purchase a pair of inexpensive glass hurricane lamps, add a candle, and surround it with materials that reflect the season. Cranberries, lentils, beans, sand, and coffee beans all look natural and beautiful.
- Keep your dish soap in a soap dispenser or pretty glass bottle.
- If you use bar soap next to your sink, take a small shallow dish, fill it with small pebbles or glass stones (from the craft store) to create a unique soap dish.
- A small bouquet of fresh flowers will bring the outside inside. Also consider a few pots of herbs near the window.
- A mini table-scape on the serving tray can be practical as well as decorative. Try two coffee cups, a sugar bowl, decorative napkins, and spoons. For wine lovers, a few wine glasses and a bottle of wine can do the trick.
- A bowl or basket of seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables such as apple, squash, oranges, peppers, lemons and limes can add a splash of color especially to corner spaces.
When you are all done, sit back and enjoy your new soapstone kitchen countertop.
For those that want to enjoy the darker color of a soapstone countertop, mineral oil can be used to bring out the rich beauty of the stone. Once your soapstone countertop is installed, follow these simple care tips and maintenance instructions:
- Vacuum the countertop to remove any dust or dirt.
- Clean the countertop with a clean cloth and denatured alcohol.
- Once the alcohol dries apply mineral oil to the countertop with a soft cloth. Avoid making puddles of oil.
- Wipe off any access with paper towel.
- Continue to apply the oil twice a week until the desired patina and color is acquired.
- Follow-up with an application every one to three months to maintain the desired effect.
M. Teixeira Soapstone has available for online purchase a lighter grade of mineral oil perfect for maintaining a soapstone countertop. You’ll find this oil much easier to apply than the standard drugstore mineral oil. Visit our online store where you can purchase Soapstone mineral oil.
Whether you are considering soapstone for your countertops or floors you’ll want to know all about this beautiful stone.
Soapstone is a metamorphic rock. There are two different materials popularly called soapstone. The first being Talc, the softest mineral on earth, mostly used in the manufacturing of cosmetics, refractory materials, sculptures, and everyday items such as toothpaste, baby powder and even chewing gum. What we manufacture at M. Teixeira Soapstone is an alternate material known as steatite.
The rock steatite (also called soapstone) is the material we use for our countertops, sinks, masonry heaters, flooring, and many other architectural applications. Steatite was also used to “coat” the famous “Christ the Redeemer” statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Steatite is composed of several minerals, but the most abundant is talc. Steatite, because of its additives, is harder than talc, and hence suitable for the applications cited above. Soapstone (steatite) in its initial state only comes in shades of gray, unlike talc, which is available in a variety of colors.
This naturally quarried stone is softer than most other naturally occurring minerals. Although soft, soapstone is a very dense (non-porous) stone; more so than marble, slate, limestone and even granite. Since soapstone is impenetrable, it will not stain, no liquid will permeate its surface. Other stones, including granite, have a propensity to soil; this is why soapstone (steatite) is widely used in chemistry lab countertops and acid rooms.