Why soapstone countertops grace this renovated historical home

Stuga Properties will soon announce completion of renovations at 466 Aster, in Laguna Beach. This 1923 Craftsman, which may qualify for the Mills Act, is within walking distance to town and features both ocean and white water views.

Renovation includes all new plumbing and electrical, central vacuum, a home entertainment system throughout, and home security. It’s wired for an electric vehicle charging system and hardwired for Internet and CAT 5.

In the kitchen, Thermador appliances are paired with what might be the most desirable counter top material known to man: soapstone. This choice is very much in keeping with Stuga Properties’ earth-friendly building practices, since it is all-natural and will last throughout many decades.

This versatile material, composed of 60-75% talc, has been in use since the Late Archaic Period (3,000 to 5,000 years ago). Here in North America, Native Americans once used it to make bowls, smoking pipes, cooking slabs, and even ornaments. Scandinavians began using it during the Stone Age, when they also discovered that it made a perfect firebox liner and could be carved into molds for casting knife blades and spear heads.

In the 19th century, it was widely used in New England. One important use was as boot and bed warmers, and as foot warmers in sleighs and automobiles. Many old homes in New England still have soapstone sinks – and they’re as serviceable now as they were 150 years ago. Soapstone was a wise choice, but as we all know, fashions change and people want something new.

Why was soapstone once so valued for these applications? Because it absorbs heat and radiates it slowly, and because it is virtually indestructible.

Today, it has come back into fashion for everything from floors, to benches, to fireplace surrounds and fireboxes, to bathtubs, sinks, and shower stalls. It has long been the counter top of choice in chemistry labs.

Three qualities make soapstone a perfect easy-care choice for both sinks and counter tops.

  • It doesn’t burn. Soapstone’s heat resistance means you can set pans on it right from the top of the stove or oven without damaging the counter top.
  • It doesn’t absorb stains. Unlike granite, marble, or limestone, soapstone is non-porous. That means spilled wine, grape juice, beet juice, or food colorings wipe off without penetrating. Other materials must be repeatedly sealed for protection.
  • It’s unaffected by acids and alkalis. That means liquids such as lemon or tomato juice won’t do damage, and you can use whatever household cleaners you prefer.

Care consists of oiling the surface occasionally to keep the color even. Because it’s a soft stone, over time the edges will soften and scratches may appear. These can easily be sanded out.

The only real drawback: the color of soapstone centers around one color – grey, or bluish grey with lighter flecks. After oiling, and over time, it will darken to a charcoal black.

This beautiful renovated home will be ready for viewing in November – watch for the announcement!