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Concrete vs Soapstone

Hard surfaces are used for a number of applications. Everything from sidewalks to countertops are made from hard surfaces. And there are many kinds of hard surfaces that are used. In this article we will look at concrete vs soapstone too see how these two materials compare with one another. We will consider the properties, what to keep in mind when working with each material, and what is required for caring for them.

About Concrete

Concrete is a man made material that is very versatile and effective for use as a hard surface. This material is used for walking surfaces, working surfaces and walls. Buildings rest on concrete foundations and many roadway structures are made from this durable and strong material. What are the characteristics of this useful material?

Concrete Hardness

Concrete hardness can vary depending on the mix ratio of the ingredients. Most concrete has a hardness in the range of 5 to 7.

Colors of Concrete

Concrete usually ranges from a light cream or whitish color to a gray tone when it as completely cured. However, it can be dyed virtually any color using products designed for that purpose. Thus, there are companies and small businesses that fashion kitchen countertops from concrete. These professionals are truly artists and can create amazing surfaces that are marvelous.

Soapstone Information

Soapstone is a natural material that is very useful and has a very specific set of traits. If you have never heard of soapstone, you are not alone; many have not. However, if you are acquainted with the material, you probably encountered it in college or you work in a laboratory. It is a very practical material as you will see when we talk about the properties of this material. Let's do that now.

Hardness of Soapstone

Soapstone is relatively soft "hard surface" material. It is composed mainly of talc and talc resides on the low end of the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. In fact, soapstone is so soft that some of it can be scratched with a fingernail. Some soapstone is a bit harder. The range of hardness for soapstone is from 1 to 3 since it contains other material besides talc.

Soapstone Color

In contrast with the virtually endless colors that concrete is available in, soapstone is a material that is almost always a grayish green color. In fact, the more talc that is in a soapstone, the softer it will be. Since talc is white, the darker soapstone is usually the harder variant and the light colored stone, the softer.

Working With Concrete and Soapstone

As you can imagine, working with these materials requires tooling designed for the material. Thus, these materials require some of the same equipment and some tooling that is specific to the kind of material.

Cutting Concrete vs Soapstone

One of the most common tasks performed on hard surfaces is cutting them. As we previously mentioned, soapstone and concrete differ in their hardness. This means that concrete will be better cut using a blade designed for cutting harder material. Conversely, soapstone is much softer and is best cut using a blade for softer stone. Why the difference?

The difference is in the way the blades are made. Blades consist of diamonds (hence the term diamond blade) and a material in which the diamonds are embedded. This material is called the the "bond". Together these form the blade's matrix. The way the diamonds and the bond interact with the material being cut is what determines the blade's performance on certain materials. The more efficiently those materials interact, the better the results.

Caring for Each Material

When it comes to caring for concrete and soapstone, there are factors to consider. For example, if the surface is concrete, is it outdoors or inside? How is the surface being used? These questions and others like them give you an idea of the extent to which care is required. Of course, personal preference matters as well.

Caring for Concrete

Taking care of concrete involves a few types of tasks. One of these is cleaning. Another is stain removal. A third is sealing.

Cleaning Concrete

Concrete cleaning is performed using specific cleaning agents depending on the kind of substance you are trying to remove. One of these is mold. Removing mold from an outdoor concrete surface is accomplished using mold remover.

Concrete Stain Removal

In addition to removing mold from concrete surfaces, using a stain remover for lifting discolorations from surfaces such as concrete is also possible using the proper product and technique.

Sealing Concrete

The last facet of concrete care that we will mention is sealing. Treating concrete surfaces with a concrete sealer makes the other aspects of concrete care a bit easier. Finding the correct concrete sealer and following the instructions yields the best results.

Soapstone Care

The care and maintenance of soapstone is different from that of concrete. In both cleaning and in removing scratches, there are differences.

Cleaning Soapstone

Unlike concrete, soapstone is non-porous. In fact, it is one of the very few natural stone materials that is non-porous. That means soapstone surfaces do not absorb liquids and anything that is spilled on them stays on the surface. Additionally, soapstone does not react with chemicals like other stone materials do.

Scratch Removal

We mentioned earlier that concrete is much harder than soapstone. This translates into scratch resistance. Soft materials like soapstone scratch very easily. And in the case of soapstone, when it scratches, the mark appears lighter than the rest of the stone.

Removing this marring is relatively easy. You can lightly sand the area to smooth it out. The stone will most likely turn light where it was sanded. However, this is easily fixed by applying mineral oil to the surface. In fact, periodically oiling soapstone keeps the material looking its best. Yet, it is not required.