Are there any drawbacks to using soapstone for countertops and bathroom tile?

Asked by buck
Savannah, GA

I will be building a passive solar home using HTM construction.


Polly Osborne, FAIA, LEED AP

Answered by Polly Osborne, FAIA, LEED AP

Los Angeles, CA

Polly Osborne Architects

December 3, 2010

There are two reasons I do not recommend soapstone for countertops.

  1. One is that unless you have a full-time maid and don't care, you might quickly become bored with the monthly oiling of the surface. (Personally, I don't really like it when it is newly oiled and greasy anyway.)
  2. Secondly, unless you live near a soapstone quarry that you have personally visited and found they are habitat restorers as well as quarry people, you will have contributed to scarring of the earth.

That being said, a small local quarry rather than soapstone from Brazil or India reduces the carbon footprint of your stone, even if the local quarry isn't restoring the land, so it would be better than something imported.

There other, better choices I think.  For a feel like soapstone, I would choose concrete.

  • While concrete isn't ideal environmentally -- and that's a whole other discussion -- it is a step in the right direction.
  • To get inspired about concrete, I would recommend reading Fu-Tung Cheng's book Concrete Countertops.
  • Another option might be "Eco" by Cosentino, an engineered stone using 75% recycled content.


For more information:

Check GreenHomeGuide's "Buyer’s Guide to Green Countertop Materials" for detailed pros and cons of counter materials.

Tagged In: stone

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