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Sandstone vs Soapstone

One is a material that you may have seen in a kitchen being used as a countertop. It may have even been been labeled as a different kind of stone altogether. The other is a material that has been used in laboratories as a worktop because of its unique characteristics. When you compare sandstone with soapstone it is easy to see that the two materials are very different from one another. Yet each of them are useful as a surface for working on; whether it is used as a surface for preparing food or it is the surface on which experiments are prepared. In this article, we will take a look at sandstone vs soapstone and compare the traits of each material with that of the other. As we do, we will attempt to highlight the reasons why each material has its advantages.

Summarizing Sandstone Properties

Some things are readily apparent simply by looking at the name of it. That is true when it comes to sandstone surfaces. The name says it all. Sandstone is basically a rock that is composed of sand.

A Closer Look at Sandstone

Let's go a little bit deeper into the details of sandstone as it pertains to countertops. We won't elaborate on the ins and out of the material since we have already covered that in the page entitled: About Sandstone Countertops. However, we will briefly look at details concerning the features we are comparing in this article.

Sandstone's Hardness

Natural sandstone is made up largely of the mineral quartz. Thus, sandstone is relatively hard. On the Mohs scale it registers at around 6-7, which is about the same as natural granite countertops. The hardness of sandstone translates into scratch resistance when it comes to using it as a surface material.

Sandstone - Not Necessarily a "Pore" Choice

Porosity of natural stone is important to consider because it plays a role in the absorption of liquid. The easier a liquid travels into the material, the more likely staining is. Sandstone is a sedimentary rock, however it does transform into another kind of stone called quartzite. as we explain in the article entitled Is Quartzite Porous, Or Not?, the metamorphic process happens over time and blurs the distinction between these materials. The takeaway? As sandstone makes the transformation to quartzite, the porosity gets lower. So sandstone that is closer to becoming quartzite will be less porous than other sandstone.

Sandstone Colors

A big factor in choosing stone countertops is the color selection. The more colors a stone comes in, the more projects it is compatible with. As you are no doubt aware, sand ranges from white to red. In fact, there are various colors of sand in brown hues. Any of these sand colors can make up sandstone.

As a brief review of sandstone then, it is a hard natural stone that ranges in porosity and is available in quite a few colors. But what about Soapstone?

Soapstone's "Clean" Character

This material is also a natural stone and it is very different from sandstone; although there are reports of people confusing the two. Note what is stated on www.GoingGranite.com.

When you research it online, it seems that sandstone is often confused with Soapstone despite their dissimilar appearances.

The "dissimilar appearances" are not the only distinction between sandstone and soapstone. Their properties differ too. We stated at the outset that soapstone is often used as a work surface in labs. As we delve into some of the characteristics of soapstone, the reason that is the case will become clear.

Hardness of Soapstone

Make no mistake, soapstone is a stone. But relatively speaking, it is a soft one. Steatite (the actual name of the material that is nicknamed "soapstone") is made up largely of talc. It can contain various other minerals to different degrees. However, it is by its composition soft as far as rocks go. On the surface, that might sound like a disadvantage. However, smoothing scuffs, nicks, and scratches doesn't take so much force on a soft stone.

Soapstone's Porosity

That subheading is a bit misleading. Because soapstone is actually non-porous. Virtually all natural stone has some porosity. Soapstone though is non-porous. This means that liquids stay on the surface and are not absorbed into the material. As you can imagine, this makes cleaning soapstone surfaces easier since the spill stays on top.

Colors of Soapstone

The statement that "soapstone comes in different colors", is true, depending on how you view colors. How much difference defines the line of demarcation? Virtually all soapstone has a hint of green in it. But it does vary. Check out this soapstone image search on Google. You can see that the green tint is just that; a hue. The appearance can be a bit diverse, so don't just think that all soapstone is the exact same color. it will vary to one degree or another. However, the color selection will not be as diverse as its counterpart.

Comparing Sandstone With Soapstone

Well, we have reached the head to head part of the sandstone vs soapstone discussion. Let's make the comparison now. In the table below you can see that in each of the three areas we covered for these materials, they are very different. And yet the pros and cons column highlights why each surface material has a place in the countertop/worktop realm.

Pros & Cons of Sandstone vs Soapstone
Sandstone Soapstone
Hardness (on Mohs Scale) 6-7 2-5
Porosity Various Porosity Non-porous
Color Selection Various, the colors of sand. Various, nearly all has green tint.
Pros Hard, scratch resistant surface with a lot of visual variety and several colors. Soft material is easy to sand out scratches and is non-porous so liquids do not get absorbed. Also resists chemicals.
Cons Porosity means that surfaces need to be regularly sealed to help resist staining; harder materials tend to chip more easily. Soft material scratches easier and will even dent in some cases; not as wide of a color selection.

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