Landscape Contractor / Design Build Maintain

MAR 2018

LC/DBM provides landscape contractors with Educational, Imaginative and Practical information about their business, their employees, their machines and their projects.

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Above In its natural honed state, soapstone has a cool, cloudy color, exemplified by the pool deck (bottom right) and this out- door countertop (bottom left). Once the material is waxed, as seen in this indoor kitchen countertop (top right) and the close up (top left), any white talc striations should stand out more against the darkness of the stone. Soapstone is perfect for countertops because acidic liquids or strong alkalis will not damage the look and feel due to its non-porousness. Additionally, according to Polycor's Steven Schrenk, hot pots and pans can be placed directly on a soapstone counter without fear of popping or melting. Above The Uni- versity of Virginia's Jefferson Scholars Foundation building was completed in 2010 and meets LEED Gold stan- dards. This 32,700 square foot complex features 7 soapstone- clad columns at its main entrance. March 2018 33 this stone. This unique aspect allows "do-it-your- selfers" the option to use soapstone in their homes or landscapes without the need of professional ma - sons or heavy-duty equipment. Attributes Soapstone is dense, heavy, not brittle yet still very soft to the touch: much softer feeling than granite because soapstone has a very high talc content and talc has a hardness level of 1 on the Mohs hardness scale. The exact hardness of each piece of soapstone will vary depending on the amount of talc present and this can fluctuate from as little as 30% talc (rel - atively hard) to 80% talc. Comparatively, granite, whose composition is mainly quartz, has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs hardness scale. Because it is naturally quarried, each individual piece of soapstone is unique and will contain vary - ing levels of talc. Some slabs will have many veins of white talc running through it, while others may have none. Different quarries around the world will produce soapstone with varying talc contents. Steven Schrenk, a design consultant from Polycor, a natural stone manufacturing company that is a member of the Natural Stone Institute, stated that when used in areas of high heat "soapstone is very resilient in comparison to granite. Granite can actu - ally pop and spall." Furthermore, he says, "unlike bluestone, which has a sedimentary layering that can peel and flake in freeze/thaw cycles, soapstone has a similar tonality and look but is homogenous and won't peel and flake." According to Schrenk, quarrying soapstone is also fairly sustainable be - cause the leftover particulate can be used as an additive in many other prod - ucts, like tires and roofing shingles. This allows the quarrying of soapstone to produce less wasted materials than granite or marble might; yet the extrac - tion method remains the same. Schrenk mentions that one of the drawbacks of soapstone is that it scratches easily and knowing this could deter people from using it. However, he is quick to add that soapstone is very easy to polish and buff by hand, allowing almost anyone with sandpaper to perform the repair job themselves. The elegant luxury that this natural stone dis - plays, coupled with its silky soft texture, can be a great choice for your projects. It can add finesse to your hardscapes, at a more affordable price than other options. To learn more about the use of natural stone for your projects, visit . LC DBM

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