Solid surface materials are essentially manufactured from modern plastics. Polymer resins are combined with minerals like bauxite and dyes, creating a durable countertop surface. The material is typically produced in sheets of a standard countertop thickness. These can then be turned into countertops, backsplashes and other surfaces.
Soapstone is a natural, metamorphic rock whose geologic name is steatite. It gets its moniker and soapy feel from the talc in the stone. In fact, it is this talc content that distinguishes the two main types of soapstone: architectural and artistic. Artistic soapstone is softer and is very easy to carve thanks to its high talc content.
Speaking of granite, soapstone is a softer stone and is cut into smaller slabs. Consequently, large areas – typically more than 7 feet — will require more than one piece and will have seams. The larger slabs of architectural grade come from Brazil, according to Sierra Soapstone, but it is also quarried in India and parts of the east coast of the US, such as Appalachia and Vermont.