Soapstone is a beautiful natural stone available in a range of color tones centering on a light gray when the stone is pulled from the earth. If you want to use it in your Almena home as a kitchen countertop or bathroom vanity, there are some things to think about.
The light gray color can include green or blue tones with random markings, including veining, in amber, beige, white, or green.
The natural color progression
Soapstone begins to oxidize once it is pulled from the earth. This causes the soapstone to darken over time. The gentle, gradual darkening can be a beautiful way to watch it age on its own, following the course nature intended for it.
For some, enhancing this progression through darkening the surface with oiling is preferred. Both of these choices are valid. There is no right or wrong answer with oiling soapstone.
The benefits of applying mineral oil
There are benefits to applying mineral oil that you should consider. When the oil is put on the counter, the stone will immediately darken to a charcoal gray.
If your piece was a darker shade of light gray, it may even turn almost black. In some cases, the stone will keep some of its original shades of green or blue after the oiling process.
The benefit of choosing this process is to ensure that the soapstone darkens evenly. You are simply speeding up the natural process to ensure the soapstone darkens across the entire piece at the same rate.
What happens if you do not apply mineral oil?
If you don’t apply the oil, your soapstone countertop will darken on its own over time, but it will not darken evenly. If you spill oil on your counter, it will darken that spot. That means the rest of the countertop will be a lighter color compared to the oil spill.
If you love the natural look and want to keep it as the soapstone ages, you can simply use sandpaper to sand down the oiled spot. This is one the amazing features of the material. Since it is so dense, the oil only impacts the surface layer.
Any kind of liquid, including water, can darken the soapstone countertop, leaving it with darker spots in some areas. Many people don't mind this, feeling it adds to the value and unique beauty of the soapstone. Along with the natural scratches that come form normal use, it forms a natural patina. This can be an excellent look for country kitchens or kitchens with a more rustic decor.
How often will I have to apply the oil to keep the color uniform?
There is no rule for oiling. Whether you oil it too much or too little, you won't damage the stone. However, one rule of thumb is that you can use oil if you see the countertop lightening up.
This means that, in the beginning, you may need to oil the countertop once a month for approximately a year until the stone stays dark. To oil the countertop, all you have to do is pour some mineral oil on the counter and rub it in with a rag.
Does the mineral oil seal the work surface?
No. It is not necessary to use sealers on soapstone because it is naturally dense and non-porous. Granite, on the other hand, is very porous and needs sealing for safety and sanitation. When you apply the oil, no absorption takes place. The oil is to help oxidize the surface to create a uniform color.
You can expect variation in soapstone colors and veining. The look of your countertop will depend on where it comes from. However, all of the pieces are light gray with variations.
One of the best things about soapstone countertops is that you'll be able to decide quickly whether you want it or not because you won't be looking through rows and rows of colors as you would with other materials.