Soapstone is a unique natural stone that has been popular for countertops and other applications for many years. With its soft, smooth texture and muted gray colors, soapstone offers a timeless, organic look. However, soapstone is limited in availability and can be quite expensive. For those who love the look of soapstone but want more affordable options, quartz provides some excellent alternatives.
What is Soapstone?
Soapstone, also known as steatite, is a metamorphic rock that is composed primarily of talc and dolomite. It has a distinct soft, soapy feel and a grayish color that ranges from light gray to dark charcoal.
Some key characteristics of soapstone:
- Smooth, non-porous surface
- Naturally stain and heat resistant
- Develops a patina over time
- Expensive and limited supply
- Needs periodic sealing
Soapstone has been used for architectural elements, flooring, tiles, countertops, and wood-burning stoves for centuries. It offers unparalleled heat resistance compared to other natural stones. The soft patina that develops on soapstone gives it an aged, antique look.
However, soapstone is only quarried in a few locations worldwide. This makes it harder to source and more costly than many other natural stones and engineered surfaces.
Why Choose a Soapstone-Like Quartz?
For those who love the look of soapstone but want more affordable and widely available options, quartz provides some excellent alternatives:
Availability – Quartz engineered stone is made from abundantly available natural minerals and resins. It can be manufactured anywhere, making it easy to source.
Affordability – With higher availability, quartz costs significantly less than quarried soapstone on average. It provides a soapstone aesthetic at a fraction of the price.
Consistency – Quartz has consistent coloring and patterning since it is engineered, unlike the variations of natural soapstone. This allows for a predictable look.
Durability – Quartz is very hard and durable, more so than soapstone. It does not need ongoing sealing and maintenance like natural stone.
Stain resistance – Quartz has excellent stain, scratch, and scorch resistance due to its non-porous nature. It outperforms soapstone in this regard.
For these reasons, quartz provides an excellent option for those who love the soapstone look but want greater affordability, availability, and durability. The key is finding the right quartz variety and finish.
Quartz Countertops that Resemble Soapstone
Several leading quartz manufacturers now offer colors and patterns specifically designed to mimic soapstone. Here are some top options to consider:
Cambria Torquay Quartz
- Warm gray background with intermittent white veining
- Matte, non-reflective finish
- Subtle pattern variation mimics natural stone
- Durable, low-maintenance, and stain resistant
LG Viatera Aria Quartz
- Light gray base with dark gray veins
- Matches the gray tones of natural soapstone
- Smooth, soft matte finish
- More affordable than natural stone
Silestone Blanco Zeus Quartz
- Consistent, marbled gray tones throughout
- Minimal veining for clean look
- Suede-like finish absorbs light evenly
- Highly durable and resilient material
Caesarstone Rugged Concrete Quartz
- Medium gray base color with white mottling
- Replicates weathered, industrial concrete appearance
- Smooth, cool-to-the-touch finish
- Great for modern, urban aesthetic
MSI Calacatta Laza Quartz
- Dramatic gray veining against white backdrop
- Polished finish highlights veining patterns
- Distinctive movement mimics characteristics of soapstone
- Stain, scratch and heat resistant
How to Choose the Best Quartz for a Soapstone Look
When shopping for a quartz countertop that resembles soapstone, keep the following tips in mind:
- Focus on gray tones – Lighter grays, like the natural color range of soapstone, are ideal. Whites and tans can appear too distinct from soapstone.
- Seek subtle veining – Minimal veining helps recreate the look of soapstone. Busy veining looks less realistic.
- Consider matte finishes – Glossy finishes don’t mimic soapstone’s soft, matte look. Suede, concrete, and matte options are best.
- Look for texture – Subtle changes in patterning helps recreate a natural stone appearance. Too uniform of a look appears artificial.
- Ask about heat resistance – Some quartz formulations withstand heat better than others. Look for options rated for hot pots and pans.
- Request samples – View a few slabs in person to get a sense of the color tones and finishes before deciding.
Taking the time to find the right quartz variety, color, and finish is key to achieving a natural soapstone aesthetic at a more affordable price point. With the right selection, quartz can beautifully mimic the look of soapstone for your space.
FAQs About Quartz Countertops that Look Like Soapstone
Does quartz stain like soapstone?
No. One advantage of quartz is that it is non-porous, making it highly resistant to stains. Soapstone requires periodic sealing to avoid staining whereas quartz does not.
Is quartz cheaper than soapstone?
Yes, quartz is significantly cheaper than natural quarried soapstone. On average, quartz costs $55 to $75 per square foot installed. Soapstone can run $100 to $200 per square foot.
Does quartz need sealing like soapstone?
No. Quartz never needs sealing because it is impervious. Soapstone requires yearly sealing to keep its patina and avoid stains. Quartz maintains its factory finish without sealing.
Is quartz stronger than soapstone?
Yes, quartz has much greater durability and strength than soapstone due to its engineered composition. Soapstone rates only 3 on the Mohs hardness scale. Quartz rates 7 and resists scratches better.
Does quartz develop a patina like soapstone?
No. The patina that forms on soapstone is a signature part of its look. Quartz’s color and finish will remain consistent over time and not darken or develop a worn look.
Is quartz completely matte like soapstone?
Not always. Quartz comes in gloss, semi-gloss and matte (or concrete) finishes. A completely matte finish most closely resembles the soft matte look of soapstone. Glossier finishes have more shine.
For those seeking the organic, stone-like look of soapstone, quartz countertops now offer excellent options at more affordable costs. Advanced quartz manufacturing provides choices like Cambria Torquay, LG Viatera Aria, Silestone Blanco Zeus, Caesarstone Rugged Concrete, and MSI Calacatta Laza that beautifully mimic soapstone style. Seeking light gray tones with subtle veining in a matte finish results in a remarkably soapstone-like aesthetic and feel. With the right selection, you can enjoy the aesthetic qualities of soapstone in durable, low-maintenance engineered quartz.