FAQs

Following are some common questions customers ask about soapstone and about the Alberene Soapstone Company.

If you have additional questions, please contact us (434-831-1051). We look forward to working with you.

How would a geologist describe your company’s soapstone?

The Alberene Stone is geologically described as a “steatite,” a magnesium silicate that was formed under great pressure and intense heat millions of years ago. It displays unique characteristics exclusive to the Company’s deposits of architectural soapstone. The Alberene soapstone is broadly described as a massive foliated metamorphic rock closely related to slate and serpentine in character. The Alberene architectural soapstone is a homogeneous, dense, non-stratified stone comprised largely of talc, magnetite, and chlorite. Click here to view a Technical Bulletin on Alberene Soapstone.

How would someone else describe your company’s soapstone?

Beautiful, soft to the touch, elegant, an “easy and natural” feel; impenetrable, heat resistant, easy to care for, stable, and — surprisingly — easy to work with.

How did soapstone get its name?

Its name comes from this soft texture, it has a soft, silky feel.

Is soapstone slippery?

No. Soapstone is not slippery. In fact is less slippery than blue stone and many other natural stone surfaces, making soapstone an ideal material for walkways and patios.

Does soapstone scratch easily?

Like other natural stones and countertop materials, it is possible to scratch soapstone. But unlike those other countertop materials that must be sealed before use, scratches in soapstone do not require a professional to resurface and can be fixed by any homeowner. They can be blended in with mineral oil or smoothed out with sandpaper. Soapstone’s high concentration of talc makes it soft but also causes it to be extremely dense, making a very durable stone.

Does it stain?

It is impenetrable, no liquid will permeate the surface and it will not stain. It is also unharmed by acids found in many household cleaners, and does not harbor bacteria like other more porous surfaces.

Is soapstone heat- and cold-resistant?

Yes. Unbelievably so. There is nothing like soapstone as it possesses extraordinary heat retention and transfer properties. Unlike other stones such as granite and marble soapstone has such an unusually stable composition that it can withstand direct flames indefinitely and be subjected to great fluctuation in temperature with little expansion or contraction (special thanks to John Chavez of Greenstone Heaters).

These unique characteristics make it ideal for use in patios and poolside applications, in masonry heaters and for countertops where one can place hot cookware directly on the surface.

Is soapstone resistant to acids, bases and common household cleaning agents?

Yes, soapstone is resistant to acids and bases and is impervious to cleaning solutions like Lysol and those containing acids and alcohols. Even the harshest of cleaners used to sterilize surfaces won’t cause any harm or damage to soapstone.

How is soapstone affected by water and humidity?

Soapstone is impenetrable. It is unaffected by water and humidity, making it ideal for sinks, bathroom and shower tiles, as well as outside applications such as patios and pool side settings.

Is soapstone all-natural?

Absolutely. Soapstone is a metamorphic rock also known as steatite. Our soapstone, unlike all others which are imported, is quarried in America and therefore has a smaller carbon footprint. Because of soapstone’s unique qualities it does need to be chemically sealed unlike other “natural” materials including other stones.

Is soapstone environmentally friendly?

Yes! For a variety of reasons, Alberene Soapstone in particular is a great option for those in search of “green,” eco-friendly materials and/or LEED points. In addition, no chemicals, explosives or environmentally unfriendly products are used in the harvesting and fabrication of soapstone products — unlike marble and granite, which make use of hot glue, chemical sealants and backing strips. Click here to view our Sustainability page.

Does soapstone require the use of sealants?

No sealants are required to protect soapstone from spills and stains, since the stone is extremely nonporous. Some people prefer to finish soapstone with mineral oil or food-grade wax for a darker look, but many prefer to allow the stone to age naturally.

How heavy is soapstone, in comparison to other materials?

It is slightly heavier than granite due to its high density. Our soapstone counter tops at 1.25″ thickness are 20lbs./sq.ft. compared to granite which is 18lbs/sq.ft.

What is the price comparison between soapstone, marble and granite?

Soapstone is a mid-range natural stone that compares to marble and granite depending on the quality.

Is “Vermont Soapstone” really from Vermont?

After 130 years our soapstone is the only American soapstone. Other companies selling soapstone in the U.S. import from places like Brazil and India. We are proud of our legacy and work hard to honor our place in the company’s history.

What is the common appearance of soapstone?

The texture of soapstone will give you a smooth and silky appearance ranging from grey to dark green or black, some of which contain rich, flowing veins. Soapstone is a metamorphic rock, being formed by heat and pressure applied to the stone as well as all the materials around it including plant life, water, sand, etc. As a result, the coloring and veining of soapstone varies greatly from quarry to quarry, which accounts to the different types of soapstone in our inventory. Click here to visit our Materials page.

Is soapstone featured in any notable places?

Yes!! Alberene Soapstone is found in the Lincoln Bedroom, the Agriculture Library in DC, Alumni Hall at UVa among other places.

Is soapstone easy to work with? Could I use it in my DIY project?

Definitely. Soapstone is relatively easy to work with, somewhat like working with wood, much easier than with other stones that must be cleaved or cracked. This flexibility makes DIY home projects easy and fun. Normal woodworking and hand tools can be used on Alberene Soapstone. Also, we can provide smaller slab lengths for easy handling. Please see our DIY Kitchen in a Box special.

Is soapstone readily available? Do you have a plentiful supply in inventory?

Alberene Soapstone is at no risk of running out of Virginia soapstone. We have active quarries and are also consistently reclaiming blocks from our 1,400 acres of quarries.

How long does an Alberene Soapstone order take to be filled, from placement to delivery?

We maintain an on-site inventory of slabs and pavers that are ready for immediate sale. Custom orders typically take two weeks.

Can I choose my own specific slab?

Yes, you are more than welcome to visit the Alberene Soapstone facilities in Schuyler, VA, to select the exact slabs you would like to use in your project.

Do you offer sales and discounts?

Yes, we offer retail and wholesale pricing plus occasional promotions and sales. Check our website or contact one of sales people for more information.

How thick are Alberene Soapstone pavers and flagstone?

All of our pavers and flagstone are cut to a thickness of 1.25” — there is no variety in thickness, which makes laying them much easier than blue stone and slate. The stone is easily cut with common hand tools, so shapes and designs are a snap to create.

How thick are Alberene Soapstone tiles?

Our standard tiles are ¾” and made of our harder material, Church Hill. We can make other thicknesses if requested.

How does soapstone compare to other countertop materials?

Click here to find out more about the benefits of soapstone over other materials.

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