Alternative Stone Countertops

Go beyond granite in your bathroom with soapstone, limestone or travertine countertops.
By: Kim Hildenbrand

They may not be as ubiquitous as granite, but these other stones deserve a hard look. See what's to love about soapstone, limestone and travertine.

Soapstone. A centuries-old surface option, soapstone brings classic beauty to the bath. On the practical side it's nonporous, heat-resistant and impervious to chemicals — good news if you're prone to spills. It's even used in chemistry labs for this reason. A metamorphic rock, soapstone is composed largely of talc, which gives it the slightly "soapy" feel. The light gray surface gains a rich, dark patina from age and applications of mineral oil.

Limestone. Limestone melds sophistication and natural beauty. A sedimentary rock, limestone has a slightly more rustic appearance than granite and marble, and it often features tiny shells and fossils. The most common colors are creamy beige and gray, but yellows, pinks, browns, reds and blacks are also available. Not as durable as some stones, limestone can scratch or mar and spilling acidic liquids can cause etching. The absorbent surface requires sealing.

Travertine. Travertine lends old-world charm to the bath. A sedimentary rock that's technically a form of limestone, it's available in earthy shades of white and brown and features a textured, pitted surface. As stones go, it's somewhat soft, and the surface is prone to staining and etching. To add durability and simplify cleanup, the pockmarked surface should be filled with grout or resin and sealed.

Alternative Stone Bathroom Countertops

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Natural Beauty

Limestone slab countertops, rich with natural beauty, are a timeless addition. Limestone's soft nature makes it easier to install than some materials, but the porous surface requires sealing. Photo courtesy of Walker Zanger

Durable Beauty

This dark natural stone lends distinctive elegance in the bath. Durable soapstone is nonporous and withstands chemicals. Photo courtesy of Soapstone International Inc.

Elegant Surfaces

A member of the marble family, travertine is an elegant stone that comes in various colors. The surface is slightly pitted and requires sealing. Photo courtesy of AKDO

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