Here are some frequently asked questions about soapstone and the Alberene Soapstone Company.
Alberene Stone is geologically described as a “steatite,” a magnesium silicate formed under great pressure and intense heat millions of years ago. It displays unique characteristics that are exclusive to our deposits of architectural soapstone. Alberene soapstone is broadly described as a massive foliated metamorphic rock closely related to slate and serpentine in character. Alberene architectural soapstone is a homogeneous, dense, non-stratified stone comprised largely of talc, magnetite, and chlorite.
To list just a few descriptors: 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.
Soapstone feels soft and silky to the touch, hence the name.
No. Soapstone isn’t slippery. In fact, it is less slippery than bluestone and many other natural stone materials, making it an ideal choice for walkways and patios.
Because soapstone has a high concentration of talc, it is somewhat soft—but this same talc also makes soapstone extremely dense, so it is a very durable stone. Like other natural stones and countertop materials, it can be scratched. But unlike those other countertop materials, which must be sealed before use, scratches in soapstone don’t require professional resurfacing—they can be handled by any homeowner, using mineral oil or sandpaper.
Soapstone is impenetrable: No liquid will permeate the surface, so it will not stain. It is also unharmed by acid found in many household cleaners, and does not harbor bacteria like other, more porous surfaces.
Yes, unbelievably so. When it comes to extraordinary heat retention and transfer properties, soapstone has no rival. Unlike other stones, such as granite and marble, soapstone has an unusually stable composition, meaning that it can withstand direct flames indefinitely and be subjected to substantial temperature fluctuation with little expansion or contraction.
These unique characteristics make soapstone ideal for use in patios and poolside applications, masonry heaters, and countertops where hot cookware will be placed directly on the surface.
Yes, soapstone resists acids and bases and is impervious to cleaning solutions like Lysol or those containing acids and alcohols. Soapstone stands up to even the harshest cleaners used for sterilizing surfaces.
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 poolside settings.
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 not need to be chemically sealed like other natural materials, including some popular types of stone.
Yes! For a variety of reasons, Alberene Soapstone in particular is a great option for those who prefer green, eco-friendly materials, including those seeking LEED points. In addition, no chemicals, explosives, or environmentally unfriendly products are used to harvest and fabricate soapstone products—unlike marble and granite, which make use of hot glue, chemical sealants, and backing strips.
No sealants are required to protect soapstone from spills and stains, since the stone is extremely nonporous. Some people do choose to apply mineral oil or food-grade wax for a darker look, but many prefer allowing soapstone to age naturally.
It is slightly heavier than granite due to its high density. Our soapstone countertops, at 1.25″ thickness, weigh 20 lbs./sq.ft. compared to granite, which is 18 lbs/sq.ft.
Soapstone is comparably priced; like any mid-range natural stone, price will depend on quality.
The only American soapstone available today is from Alberene, which has been in business in Virginia for 130 years. Other companies that sell soapstone in the U.S. import it from places like Brazil and India. We are proud of our legacy and working hard to honor our place in Alberene Soapstone’s long history.
Soapstone has a smooth, silky appearance and comes in a range of colors, including gray, dark green, or black; some soapstone contains rich, flowing veins. Soapstone is a metamorphic rock, formed by heat and pressure applied to the stone and all the material around it, including plant life, water, sand, etc. As a result, the coloring and veining of soapstone can vary greatly from quarry to quarry, accounting for the different types of soapstone in our inventory.
Yes! Alberene Soapstone can be seen in the Lincoln Bedroom at the U.S. White House; at the National Agricultural Library, also in Washington, D.C.; and at Alumni Hall at the University of Virginia, to name just a few illustrious places.
Definitely. Soapstone is relatively easy to work. It’s similar to working with wood, and much easier than with other stone that must be cleaved or cracked. This flexibility makes it a popular choice for DIY home projects. Normal woodworking and hand tools can be used on Alberene Soapstone. We can also provide shorter slab lengths for easier handling.
Alberene Soapstone has plenty of Virginia soapstone available. We have active quarries and are also continually reclaiming blocks from our 1,400 acre holdings.
We maintain an on-site inventory of slabs and pavers that are ready for immediate sale. Custom orders typically take two weeks.
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.
Yes, we offer retail and wholesale pricing, plus occasional promotions and sales. Check our website or contact one of our sales specialists for more information.
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 bluestone and slate. And the stone can be easily cut with common hand tools, so shapes and designs are a snap to create.
Our standard tiles are ¾” and made of our harder material, Church Hill. We can make other thicknesses if requested.