All About Soapstone

Fantasy Soapstone from Brazil is a beautiful, soft blue-gray with dramatic quartz veining.

Do you remember your high school chemistry class? If so, you might recall the black countertops the Bunsen burners sat on. Those countertops are made of soapstone, a metamorphic rock that consists of talc, steatite, magnesite, quartz, and other magnesium rich minerals. Soapstone is the countertop material of choice for chemistry classes because its chemically inert composition and high density make it impervious to stains and bacteria. The qualities that make soapstone a good choice for chemistry classes are the same qualities that make it good choice for kitchens and bathrooms.

Physical Characteristics of Soapstone

The talc found in soapstone is soft to the touch, lending a smooth feeling of  dry soap, which is how soapstone got its name. The colors of soapstone are typically medium gray and can have a greenish cast or bluish cast (the greener the slab, the softer it is, so seek out slabs with less of a green cast if you want a harder slab). Soapstone slabs can contain pronounced veining, which is produced by quartz in the stone.

Qualities of Soapstone

Durability is one of soapstone’s top features. It’s unaffected by heat (it was often used for wood-burning stoves from the 1800s that are still functioning today) so you can place your hot pans and pots directly on the surface with no risk.

Unlike granite, marble, and quartzite, soapstone is not porous. This means that you can put raw foods on the countertop without worrying about bacteria growth. It never needs sealing and cannot be stained.

The talc content is what makes soapstone softer than some other stones, which leads to edges and corners being eased over time. Nicks and scratches may accumulate, but they can be easily rubbed or sanded out or considered part of its patina.

Caring for Soapstone

Soap and water is all you need. Because of its extreme density, soapstone is naturally resistant to bacteria and germs. Use a bit of mild, pH balanced, clear dish soap when you want a heavier clean than just water. As with marble and granite, do not use any acidic or heavy duty cleaners on your soapstone.

Many homeowners like to oil or wax their soapstone once or twice a year. This keeps the color more vibrant and will bring out a charcoal to black color. This is an optional treatment. If you don’t treat your soapstone, it will develop a beautiful patina over the years.

Little white scratches on your soapstone countertops can usually just be wiped away with your hand or a bit of mineral oil. If you really cut hard with a knife, or accidentally drop something heavy onto the stone, you may get a nick or scratch that can’t be wiped away with water or oil. In that case, the scratch can be sanded out. Use three sandpaper pads (60, 100, and 220 grit), and lightly sand the spot in a circular motion with each, starting with the lowest grit. Then wipe off any dust and use mineral oil or water to restore the color. It’s that easy.

The ageless beauty of soapstone is at home in any design style and will be an asset to any project. Here’s a look at some beautiful uses of soapstone in kitchens and baths.

Chestnut Hill kitchen
updated kitchen
Crocus Hill Kitchen
Interior Paint Projects
Elk Ridge Lodge
SoHo NYC Loft Kitchen With Virginia Alberene Soapstone
San Francisco Edwardian Home
Northwest Guest Bathroom
Spa-Like Bathroom
To see even more beautiful soapstone countertops, click over to our Pinterest board! 
Prestige Marble and Granite offers quality sopastone, in addition to many other beautiful stone varieties. Whatever stone you choose, rest assured our experienced fabricators can handle the job!

A Brief History of the Bathtub and a Look at Today’s Tub Styles

PMG bath with marble

From the portable tin tub, to the enameled cast-iron claw foot, to the solid porcelain bathtub that became the hallmark of a high-end bathroom in the 1920s, the bathtub of today has certainly evolved, and in some respects has come full circle, too. Here’s a look at the bathtub from its humble beginnings to its advent as a major focal point and design statement in modern bathrooms of the 21st century.

A Brief History of the Bathtub

The earliest plumbing systems ever discovered date back nearly 6000 years to the Indus River Valley in ancient India. Forward another 3000 years to the Isle of Crete where the first personal bathtub was unearthed – made of hardened pottery, its shape resembling the 19th century clawfoot tub.

The early Romans championed the daily ritual of bathing and raised the bar for acceptable sanitation, but after the collapse of the Roman Empire and descent into the Dark Ages, sanitation virtually disappeared until the Bubonic plague forced  attempts at improving sanitation.

Before indoor plumbing, bathtubs were portable accessories: large but relatively light containers that could be pulled out of storage for temporary use. The typical mid-19th-century bathtub was a shell of sheet copper or zinc. More upscale homes had lead tubs with wooden enclosures that were sometimes equipped with early water heating mechanisms.

As running water became more common in the latter 19th century, bathtubs became more prevalent and less portable. Almost simultaneously in 1883, both the Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company (now American Standard) and Kohler began the process of enameling cast iron bathtubs to form a smooth interior surface.

Over time, the once popular clawfoot tub morphed into the built-in porcelain tub that is still a bathroom standard today. This enclosed style afforded much easier maintenance of the bathroom and with the emergence of colored ceramic, more design options for the homeowner. It was Crane Company that introduced colored bathroom fixtures to the US market in 1928.

Bathtub Styles Today

While the built-in bathtub is still very common, the style preference for freestanding tubs (including clawfoot) in a myriad of shapes and sizes, and fashioned from any number of materials, is strong. Bathtubs have become design statements and are often of the focal point for luxurious master suites with luxurious spa-like bathrooms. Here is a look at a few beautiful bathtubs that just might have you yearning for bathroom remodel!

Model Home
My Houzz: Niagara Vineyard Renovation
Contemporary Bathroom
Bathrooms
Modern Bathroom
Rustic Bathroom

Master En-Suite - Bath, England
Photo by Deana Ashby – Bathrooms & Interiors

Past Designs
Bathrooms
The Green House
Redmond Education Hill Master
Contemporary
Major Renovation- Cleveland
Point Loma Residence
Davis Residence
Kohler
RESIDENTIAL CHURCH CONVERSION
sternmccafferty custom glass bathtub
Carmel Valley Retreat
CH+D mag
Desert Sanctuary (Private Residence)
Waterfront Home
Amass-Miller Residence
Cape Ann Arts and Crafts
Custom Bath wth Japanese Soaking Tub
We hope you have enjoyed this look at some of the most beautiful and unusual bathtubs available to homeowners today – and we just barely scratched the surface! To see even more, head over to our “Beautiful Bathtubs” Pinterest board!
When it comes to your countertops, Prestige Marble & Granite is here to help you with a vast selection of unique, exotic and rare natural stones from around the world. Our knowledgeable staff will guide you through selection, layout, design and installation. We welcome homeowners, designers, and contractors to browse our showroom any time!

Hot Bathroom Design Trends for 2016

According to The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), remodeling today is driven more by personal enjoyment or meeting specific needs rather than adding resale value. But renovating your bathroom is no small investment in terms of both time and money, so it’s important to ensure you have a clear vision of how you want your revamped space to look, work and feel. While it certainly isn’t necessary to follow all the trends to have a good design that’s pleasing, learning about the latest in design can help you get on track and pinpoint what you want and need. Here’s a look at some 2016 trends that offer a fresh new approach to bathroom design.

Angular Elements
Geometric-inspired faucets and fixtures are finding their way into bathrooms and powder rooms across America. Angular designs are making appearances in a variety of bath elements, including bathtubs, showerheads and soap dishes.

Natural Elements
Expect to see more earthy materials like natural stone and river rock in bathrooms next year, not merely on floors and walls, but also on vanity tops, sinks and baths, feature walls and bathroom furniture.
Metallic Touches
While metallics have been a major trend the past few years, these luxe finishes won’t be falling out of favor anytime soon. Metals contrast beautifully with natural elements, while reflecting light and injecting style into the bathroom, whether with an industrial twist or a hint of glamour.
Colors 
One emerging color trend for 2016 is white, or more specifically, off-white. In fact, both Benjamin Moore and Gladden have made off white hues their “color of the year” for 2016, and Sherwin -Williams and Behr have included off-whites in their 2016 color trend forecasts.

Gray has been trendy for the past few years, and it promises to remain strong in 2016. Gray and white will be a popular combo for 2016 bathrooms.

Black and white will be making a strong statement for 2016 bathrooms. Particularly, designers are doing interesting things with black and white tile. Black, gray and white is another interesting color combination you will be seeing in the coming year.

Embrace your feminine side because pink is in. Whether it’s bright and flashy or a more subtle pink blush, an earthy taupe or cotton candy, it’s all about shades of pink this season. Don’t be afraid to indulge in pinkiness: pink towels, pink walls, pink cabinets and window frames, even pink paint or wallpaper. It’s all good!

 

Wherever your bathroom remodeling takes you, Prestige Marble & Granite can provide you with the perfect natural stone surfaces to complement your personal style. We offer a large selection of exotic and rare natural stones that are sure to provide your design project with a one-of-a-kind look. Stop by our indoor showroom anytime; we’re here to help you every step of they way – from selection and layout through fabrication and installation.