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rubyfig

Love your soapstone countertop? Good, I need your advice.

14 years ago

First, this story (and the pictures that follow) are not for the faint of heart.

I love the look of Soapstone, but the only place I have seen it is in pictures, which of course, is very different than the real deal. So, I guess I love the *idea* of soapstone, but am a little stone-shy after our disaster with our current counters. Here is where we are in the process, and how it came to be:

We saw a beautiful stone with long striations in a dark color (ranges from black to smoky tan-grey) that has all the qualities of a warm and very dark wood. We were told this material was granite and that it was "virtually maintenance free". We asked about reactions to acidic foods like lemon juice and vinegar and made it clear that we cook a lot. We were told the stone we liked would hold up. This, of course, came at a premium (about $90/sq foot installed) and the compromise was that we had to work with smallish (48" x 110") slabs. We could afford just two slabs, with nothing left over (hence nothing to test). We bit the bullet. We picked a maple cabinet with a grey-ish stain (Kraftmaid Muslin) to work with it. The two together with our red oak floors worked well.

The countertop was installed in our (remodeled and now long and narrow) kitchen in our 1930s cabin-turned home. The horizontal lines carried the space and made it seem more spacious than it is. The two large windows along the main counter highlighted the veining on the top and it was perfect. I did the happy dance. It was gorgeous and we were done...for about 10 minutes.

To make a long story longer, everything (and I do mean everything) etches this monster stone. It scratches extremely easily (even with wood), and it has developed not one, but two cracks. In 3 months, it has deteriorated so badly, that the stone place agreed to replace it.

I know we are lucky. The dilemma is what to replace it with? The absolute black granite (that the stone place is pushing) seems too cold/blue and the flecks that make up the stone just don't strike a cord for us. Not to mention, the shiny BA is just not to our taste.

Soapstone sounded like an ideal solution until I started reading on this board. Cracks and water stains? This is starting to sound a lot like what we have...or is it? The pictures that follow are of the countertop that is in place. Does Soapstone do anything like this? Any help would be greatly appreciated (I think my husband is ready to put in laminate...only 1/2 joking).

PS--the first 2 pictures are what the tops look like most of the time, and the last 4 is the best that they look right after oiling (that look lasts about an hour or so). The white ring you see is a lemon juice and salt mixture that leaked from my preserved lemon jar... that will not come out no matter what I try.

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Comments (63)

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Alan, are you at all aware that soapstone has been used in as countertops chemistry labs for at least 70 years or so? It is used in a myriad of scientific labs. Why??? BECAUSE IT IS INERT. It therefore can't be stained or etched.

    You apparently are unaware that they make fireplace boxes out of soapstone as well. And cookware. And sinks.

    Please do some research...or else you will have zero credibility even with regard to the products that you do sell.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I definitely wouldn't take any advice about soapstone from a so-called stone dealer who can't even spell the name of the stone correctly! Alan, you have done yourself the biggest disservice by spamming your ignorance onto this site. As one who has both soapstone and marble installed in her kitchen (Green Mountain Original PA), I assure you that the former neither etches or stains.

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  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi kpaquette,

    Wow, those pics are a surprise. What I saw looked nothing like that (your kitchen looks great, by the way). They put water on it only and said that was pretty close to the look of the oiling (I guess not, huh?). It looked so busy to us in the yard.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    After posting I'm confused as to exactly what Pietra del/di Cordoza is... Pietra simply means *stone* in Italian. Some places call it Schist other places call it marble, but everyone seems to agree that it's calcium carbonate and does etch. Sorry if I gave any bad info!

    Kat :)

    Here is a link that might be useful: Here is another thread that talks about another type of Pietra that isn't supposed to etch

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I told you. ;-)

    Everyone who has come by to see the house (total reno - I live in a historic community with very nosy neighbors- it was a revolving door here on Saturday!) has drooled over the counters. When I went to pick my slab, they told me that had they known I was interested in Julia, they would have oiled it for me a few hours in advance so I could see how dark it would get after oxidation. I got my stone at Teixeira, and they had 2 kinds of julia, one that's more green and mine, which is more black.

    And water vs. oil would be very different IMO. (another case of folks not specializing in soapstone not knowing enough.) If you want to consider it, tell them to OIL it in advance of your coming so you can see what it really looks like.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Kat, thanks for that link to Maurizio's post (RIP!) about soapstone and Pietra Del Cardoza (many different spellings for that one!) Lately, I've seen a couple of references here by posters who have been told that Pietra is either in the soapstone family or is a stone that is similar to soapstone but superior for use as a kitchen countertop. From my research a few years back, I knew both of those claims to be untrue but could not remember the specifics as to pietra's classification or its maintenance issues. Gosh, from advice to stay away from granite because of radon, or to avoid soapstone because it's susceptible to stains, or that pietra is a form of soapstone and on and on -- there's a lot of misinformation swirling about in the stone industry! Thank goodness for GW!

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Kat--oh you know, I think you found something...I think it might be Pietra (the back was marked "Made in Italy", and webbed--but I was told that only meant that the finishing was done in Italy). It seems like the stone place was having lots of trouble with the whole "family" of these "granites". "Black Meteorite" I think was another that was similar.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I had a stone supplier give me an exceptionally good price on *supposed* SS when I was looking and when they said it had just come in from Italy all the bells and whistles started going off. SS isn't mined in Italy! That's what got me looking at Pietra di Cordosa and I found very mixed reviews on it, enough so to make me stay away. Recently someone posted on here that they had it though so I think some people do love it. I just didn't want to deal with etching problems, plus I'm a HUGE fan of SS so I'm biased!

    Kat :)

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Well, yeah. I must admit that I'm biased as well. And there's a difference between being critical of misinformation and being critical of another's design options. (I meant to be critical of misinformation!) For some, pietra may very well be considered superior to soapstone as a kitchen countertop surface. But, in any case, soapstone it ain't! :->

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    LOL Martha, I didn't think you were being critical. I think that's the best part about this forum, we get "real" info and then as educated consumers we can make our own choices! And if it ain't SS then it ain't in "my" kitchen either! ;)

    Kat :)

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Kat (and everyone), thanks so much.

    I feel so green (and naive) about the whole stone situation. We had a big remodel. The kitchen and bath had to be re-done at the same time because we changed the layout, and I was distracted in so many ways (roof caved in, we lived in the house during the remodel, heating issues, water heater issues...you name it, we probably have/had it). I was under huge pressure to pick the countertop and cabinets and when we found this top, it was (we thought) easy. It was beautiful and we believed what we were told about the durability. Wow, would I do it differently now. Thank goodness I have a 2nd chance at it, and THANK YOU all for your input. It is GREATLY appreciated.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I'm so sorry about your stone! I've never seen anything like that!! We considered pietra di cardoza - your stone doesn't look anything like what we saw. It was a gorgeous gray stone with white veining - it looked like a light gray version of soapstone.

    Anyway, I have honed absolute black and love it. It doesn't behave at all like the stone in your pictures.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi November. Any idea what kind of AB you have (or where it is from)? There seems to be quite a difference in the color, the size of the grain, and how it holds up.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    To be honest, I don't knew where it's from, except that I do know it's not from China, and it definitely wasn't dyed. Mine has extremely tiny flecks of slightly silvery charcoal in a darker charcoal base. It reads solid black.

    By "how it holds up" you probably mean how it shows fingerprints. We haven't had problems with it - it does show marks from some things, and then we wipe them off. And black granites show white/light crumbs more than light granites, which would probably show dark crumbs more. Search "honed AB" on gardenweb - there are some people who have it and hate it, and some who have it and love it. I would hate it if it were high maintenance, but mine is not.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    To be clear Soapstone is talc based and relative to granite it is soft. I have read that some types are harder than others but folks in this thread and in other threads who have soapstone have talked about how easily it dings even from items dropped from very low heights. Some folks have already advised on some of the harder varieties but be aware that some are quite soft.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks caryscott and november. I will certainly take a few samples out for a test run before deciding this time around. I have to say, not crazy about the AB granite samples we saw, but I have heard Belfast AB and Zimbabwe AB are a different animal (what we saw was an A grade from India which we did not care for).

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Kpaquette, love the movement in your Julia!

    OP: we have had Cobra, a very black SS, now for 5 years. It is trouble-free to our life style. We sling frying pans on it right off the burners and it laughs back at us with no damage. We never have to worry about staining or etching. It cleans up with any household cleaner.

    We are now trying to choose a countertop for our bathrooms and we cannot find any other surface that we both love since being spoiled by SS. He hates granite and finds marble too cold. He likes the silky surface of SS. Just wish SS colors went with the bathroom color palatte.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Remember the poster who was looking for info about anthracite for countertops? Maybe this is anthracite. It would explain the stratified look of the stone.
    Take a torch to a remnant. If it starts to burn with a red-hot glow, then it's anthracite (hard coal, IOW pure carbon)
    Casey

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Rubyfig, it's true that Pietra del Cardosa (like the other poster said...many spellings) can look like traditional SS, but depending on how it's cut it can also look a lot like yours. See the link below...funny that they too call it SS!

    Sombreuil I read that same post on anthracite...wonder if that was also Pietra?

    Kat :)

    Here is a link that might be useful: Pietra del Cardosa

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I'm no geologist. And I am a soapstone fan.

    It doesn't sound like what you got was even granite. Maybe you could send a pic to your state university's geology department (Not worded as a complaint about your counter guy, but as a "Hey, this is weird, none of us can figure out this quirky puzzle! Wouldn't it be fun to help me? What do you think it is?") If you're nearby, you could even go in with a picture or a chunk.

    But as much as I love my soapstone, long counters in an earthquake zone for someone who wants to chop freely with little maintenance and installed by a company that THOUGHT they were selling mystery stone as granite? I think your chances for happiness in this equation are low.

    It's true you can oil marks out, which is an advantage over permanent marks, but while it is not as soft as critics say, it still chips and scratches easier than granite. That's a fact. And those of us who like it LIKE its patina of chips and scratches and LIKE the occasional oiling the way some people like brushing their dog. If this is just a chore, you won't be happy.

    I know you're not thrilled with the granites you've seen, but maybe you should take a deep breath and give them another chance. (Although the rehone every 6 months sounds insane to me. If true.)

    Have you looked at Jet Mist/Virginia Mist? It's a soapstone lookalike granite that you could be more free to chop on, and I think could take a little more undulation.

    (I live outside an earthquake zone. Another poster here, Bayareafrancy, has soapstone counters, but her kitchen is much more bijoux.)

    Good luck!

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ruby, coincidentally I was thinking about bayareafrancey too, referenced in Growlery's post. Ive linked a long thread that she started last year about the patina issues she was having with her soapstone. Cautionary note - she was not too happy about the patina.

    But - as you have read here and will read in the attached, there are many who love ss, including me. We've been back in the kitchen for 6 months and it looks as beautiful today as it did when we moved in. I reckon we have had at least 100 people over for dinner during that time period (making up for lost time and a non-existent kitchen!), so the kitchen and counters have been put through their paces. We oil once a week, or when people come over who haven't seen the new kitchen yet, but for the most part we don't "maintain" it. It is probably one of my very favourite things about the kitchen!

    As Growlery said "it chips and scratches easier than granite. That's a fact. And those of us who like it LIKE its patina of chips and scratches and LIKE the occasional oiling the way some people like brushing their dog. If this is just a chore, you won't be happy."

    Only you know the answer to that! :-)

    Eliz

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    You know, the post by Bayareafrancy was the one that really scared me. Anyone know how hers cracked?

    I am still looking at all the options, and growlery, I am taking your post to heart. Butcher block is starting to sound good ;).

    Here is the thing: I am happy with a bit of maintenance, and I understand that Soapstone is softer than granite (I'm trying to work out if it is softer than what we have currently). We don't cut on the counters (that would dull the knives), so that isn't an issue (having to prep in the darkest spot in the kitchen so that tomato drips don't destroy the countertop [that would be one of the many things that etches what I have now] IS an issue, but I understand tomato juice does not damage Soapstone) . Bits of chips and a little patina from it being used--great (I think that fits with the house, which is not pristine by a long shot). Cracks that affect the integrity of the stone-- that would turn me off completely.

    The house we own is on a hillside and it has the marks of having been added to over the years (The last pic to follow is what we bought...we have since trimmed that monster vine that is covering most of the front). The house does attract a LOT of dust. We sweep it every day. The counters in the kitchen do get wiped down, once a day across the whole of it, and as we work preparing meals (provided we don't have to run to save the top because we dripped a bit of lemon juice while cooking...we want to concentrate on the cooking as it is happening).

    So, what am I looking for? Well, something that works with the elements in the kitchen that we have chosen so far (grey stain on the cabinets is limiting), and doesn't look like we tried to make the space something it isn't (ie nothing too modern looking), but what is also important is that it not make the space feel small (tall order in a dark countertop and even more so with a stone that shows a lot of movement).

    The kitchen is not large (aprox. 8'x18' including the laundry "alcove"), with a low 92" ceiling-- but we carefully configured the space to feel larger than it is while accommodating 2 cooks. What was critical was keeping the size of the old kitchen window, and adding a 2nd one to match it. We cook a lot. The dishwasher is pretty much for show (watching the birds while doing the dishes is just too much fun). No microwave. We ordered take-out just once in the whole time we were remodeling (we cooked outside on a $20 camping stove and a charcoal BBQ and trekked up and down the stairs to wash up).

    Ok, you have read this far, perhaps I can ask you to look at a few pictures.

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  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    OOH can I move in to your house? It's everything I WISH my house was but isn't...charming, cozy and cottage'y! I think that SS would provide the "look" you want to achieve/maintain, it's just whether or not you want the compromises that come along with it. Frankly I haven't found there to be much maintenance on mine so far. I haven't oiled it regularly, actually only 3 times in the 3 months since we've had it (and those were all in the first month and a half) so not once a week like the more dedicated folks on here do. I like it both unoiled and oiled, plus we've had so much going on and furniture/accessories being moved here and there so much that sometimes I'm not able to even see half of my counters ATM. I love being able to put a hot pan directly from the stove onto my island without a care and I never cut on my counters, no matter what the surface, because like you I don't want to dull my knives. I think because you had such a bad experience with your last counter choice you are trying to find the "perfect" choice this time, which I completely understand, but really there are no perfect choices, just what will work best for you and make you happy when you look at it everyday.

    Get some samples and give them a workout, then go with your gut. Your house is lovely and it sounds like you both love to cook so I'd opt for a counter that doesn't etch, stain, etc. verses one that won't scratch since you don't cut on the counter anyway. Butcher block may very well be the best choice, but I still think you might love SS.

    Kat :)

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    rubyfig, the bayareafrancy thread was a scary one for me, too. I'd coveted soapstone counters long before they became so popular with the whole Christopher Peacock/SGTG kitchen. The only way to be certain is to test, test, test. We are very happy with our Black Venata it does not water spot at all. We've left drinks and bottles out overnight without any problems. I only oil/wax the soapstone counters every few months. Our butcherblock counters however, I have to oil/wax all the time. I'm actually thinking about waterloxing them to end the hassle. I'd also like to know how her crack came about. Maybe you can start a thread addressed to her over in decorating. She's over there more often than kitchens now.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    rubyfig, I was scared off of soapstone by bayareafrancy's thread as well, but then I ended up with soapstone and with some of the problems that she was having. It has been a frustrating experience for me as I was so excited to get soapstone after reading all of the wonderful postings about it on GW. I ended up having my countertop resanded to get rid of the many scratches and nicks and chips that were not oiling or hand sanding out. Dave from Dorado Soapstone (where I purchased my minas soapstone) in Shrewsbury, MA was kind enough to come out to my house and resand the island even though another company had done the fabrication. Dave recommended it be sanded to 80 grit which was not as silky smooth as the 220 grit the fabrication company had sanded it to. He told me in his experience that most soapstones perform better at a lower grit.

    After seeing how much better the island was at this grit, I sanded the perimeter myself with an orbit sander (as Dave had shown me). Then I ordered Dorado's new Dry Wax and I have to say I am having a much better experience with my soapstone now. It used to be just moving a plate or a pot or pan across the counter would leave scratches, now nothing. Also, I was having a terrible time with water marks and now I still get them, but I can get rid of them with the dry wax.

    I would say to you, if you love soapstone's look and the fact that it doesn't stain or etch and you can place hot pans directly on it's surface, and you realize that it can scratch and nick/chip and don't mind, go for it. And most importantly make sure your fabricator deals only with soapstone.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    That is such a beautiful house!

    And a beautiful, simple kitchen. I can see why you liked that linear stone, and why you're edging toward soapstone. It WOULD look nice.

    Don't get too freaked out by a single bad story. There are probably thousands, if not tens of thousands of silent readers out there, and if this were endemic, a portion would be leaping in to match this story with their own.

    However, in your case, as I said, the particular length of the counter and your area of the country, and the fact that the previous one broke badly make me wonder. Does this happen a lot out there?

    Or maybe, as suggested, some nice wooden plank counters could be sensational. You could even have some nice big soapstone hot landing areas built in, next to the stove to avoid scorches there.

    Good luck. You deserve it!

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Kat :) c'mon over. Just be prepared we don't have heat or aircon working yet ;). It is cozy (at 1300 sq ft it would be hard not to be).

    I made an appointment with a place that deals with just SS (for this coming Tuesday), and I will pick up a few samples and abuse them. I'll let you know how that goes.

    laxsupermom--Black Vendeta is one that I will look at on Tuesday, and thank you. I will try to get ahold of bayareafrancy on the decorating board.

    pluckymama-- Thank you for your note. I don't know how much luck I will have in picking both the stone and the fabricator, but I am going to give it my best shot. I figure if I can find the stone that works first, then I will figure out what to do about the install. Chances are we will end up picking up some of the cost, and we will have to see how we can do that in addition to the load we already paid (but after having the BA granite samples [both polished and honed] sitting on the counter for a while and my DH talking about replacing the BA before it even went in, I knew I had to find something else).

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Bayareafrancy's soapstone was a fabricator's mistake. The fissure/crack was not caught prior to fabricating and the Santa Barbara quarry was not producing stone anymore for the supplier of the stone to supply any more. The fabricator was less than willing to make it right on his part, and the supplier could not supply the same stone and was not willing to take all the responsibility of the fabricators mistake. It was a bad situation that makes guys like me really frustrated because it would have been a nonissue if we were the fabricator. . . . I know many other soapstone only guys that would say the same thing.
    Finishing soapstone, in my opinion has a lot to do with how it should act in your home. . . .Im not into the sanding it with 80 grit. . . but I guess thats my opinion. Too rough it will not show what we all love about soapstone, too high a polish and you get to see every little rub mark. . . .
    When looking for soapstone, see examples, ask questions, and pick your stone out yourself. Most soapstone only guys should give you knowledgeable advice. There are a few granite guys that I know that will do a good job so dont write them off either, but make sure they know their stuff.
    And as always if you want, give us a call and we will help you out as much as we can. . .
    Joshua.

    Oh, My best selling soapstone is of the softer varieties. I think it is all about the fabrication, and the biggest, the customer and what they expect out of their choice. I can destroy any countertop within seconds if I want. . .so can you. . . Now, that you know there is no indestructible surface. . . . choose wisely. . .lol

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Florida joshua,
    I have long admired your beautiful soapstone fabrication of holligator's countertop's and her kitchen was one of my inspirations to get soapstone. I know you have probably read my other postings about our soapstone countertop, so I am interested in what grit you sand to and your recommendations for the kind of problems described in my above post. We were being very careful with our countertop, but it scratched and chipped easily before we resanded.

    When I originally purchased my soapstone through Dorado, I had already given a deposit to a granite fabricator so they did my fabrication. Dave had over 20 years experience fabricating soapstone, but had now moved into the distributorship and was no longer personally fabricating, but did know fabricators who only worked with soapstone. He recommended the 80 grit based on his experience, telling me that anywhere from 80-120 grit works, but he had found that the 80 grit worked the best. My granite fabricator felt that was too rough and went with 220 grit which of course, felt very silky smooth, which I loved the feel of. However, after months of watermarks that wouldn't oil away and so many scratches and dings, I called my fabricator and was told "that's soapstone, that's why we prefer granite."

    I then called Dave and he told me the 220 grit was too high and recommended I sand it to 80. Initially, on my own, I sanded the island to 150 grit as I just couldn't bear to lose that silky feeling, but after a few weeks we were having the same problems again. We were not being careless or rough with the countertop, in fact, we were walking on eggshells with it. When I called Dave, he offered to come out to our home and see if he could help. After looking at the soapstone, he felt that it was too smooth and was showing every little mark. He sanded the island to 80 grit and told us to live with it a while and see how it was. After just 2 weeks, I sanded the perimeter myself, for the difference in the island was dramatic.

    The soapstone is still just as beautiful but more matte. No one looking at it would see the difference, but it does not have that silky smooth feeling :( It is performing much better for us. We are no longer having to think about sliding a pan or placing a dish down. I'm curious as to your thoughts on this as I have always read your postings and am grateful for the advice you thoughtfully share on the board. You are a true asset to the GW community.

    Not meaning to hijack the thread, hoping this helps you as well rubyfig in your decision making.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    growlery, thank you. my latest thought is that the Indian soaps only come in smaller sections. At first, this seemed like a drawback, but now I think maybe if it were to crack, it might along a seam instead...so I will see if I can get a hold of some samples to abuse.

    florida joshua, Thank you!

    pluckymama, please! I am very interested in your questions as well. The more info the better :). I am curious, did you test your soapstone before going with it (clearly, it isn't reacting in the way you expected it to)?

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I'm sorry I missed this thread for so long! Ruby, seeing your fabulous house made me homesick for my own formerly-little northern California home town. Steep eucalyptus-covered hillsides and the San Andreas fault...

    I've been a stoner for a little over three years now, and just LOVE the earthy, honest vibe it provides. Little scratches and dings happen -- and if we're having company, I'll maybe oil them out. But usually not, and they flow nicely into a wonderfaul, casual patina. And since we're rebuilding the entire house, and have two teenage boys and two big dogs, my countertops have seen lots of dust. Thing is -- unless I wipe down with a white rag, * I * don't see the dust. They're that care free. And to me, they simply look like stone -- a wonderfully rich charcoal grey stone with some flowing white veins and the occasional speckle. After three years, I'll oil before Thanksgiving and maybe one or two more times per year. No real need to, but if I'm having a fancy party...

    IMO, they'd be PERFECT for the look you're aiming for and the lifestyle you want. Very 'mountainy', but also simple, traditional, and unfussy.

    As stones go, soapstone is very dimensionally stable (in other words, granite would likely crack in an earthquake that would crack soapstone). But the advice about maybe doing smaller sections -- say inserting a section of butcherblock to break it up -- might be a good idea if your soils are that jiggly.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    rubyfig, I did not test my soapstone beforehand. I had tested other soapstones, but had not found the right slab. When I drove down to Dorado they had just gotten in a new shipment of Minas soapstone and it was beautiful and I picked it right there. Also, another poster nomorebluekitchen had gotten Minas from Dorado and her stone has been very hard and maintenance free. They are different stones though. Mine was blue gray unoiled and hers was not. Also hers had more fine veining throughout.

    Just like there are many kinds of granites there are many soapstones. Some are very hard, others softer. Mine is softer, but not as soft as some I had tested before. It's funny at 220 grit I could scratch it with a fingernail. Now at 80 grit I cannot. I'll try to take a picture and post it for you.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    i have spent about 3 years thinking about the kitchen renovation that will finally actually begin this summer...

    i had been set on soapstone for a long time....i am in toronto and the local supplier fabricator is N & G soapstone with many years experience. a good friend got her (very extensive) surfaces from them and is very happy...

    i was especially excited because she had a bathroom done in a pale grey green blue soapstone and i thought it would be great (even un oiled it showd no marks at all after a couple of years)...

    but when i when tout to look at their slabs i was told that this lighter oolour had been quarried out... then i saw an amazing piece of pale green gold adn cream SS that i immediately fell for completely and utterly...only to be told that the slab was sold and again the stone had been quarried out.....

    every other piece of ss they had seemd so grey or grey blue and not what i had wanted....

    they then showed me an alternative stome called aqua grantique... the referred to it as slate but i think it is actually granitic gneiss...it looks like a charcoal marble with cream and pale green and caramel veining... very hard..i have tested the sample with various acids and a sharp paring knife and it seems very resilient....i think it would make a ve very practical choice for wear and tear

    but the colour is still darker than i wold like....

    has any one ever seen a SS that was paler and coloured????

    i sure would love to find some...
    thnask liz r

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Liz, I'm in TO too and we got our ss at N+G. We looked at the "grantique" because the sample in their showroom was so gorgeous, but in the end decided we wanted true soapstone.

    Do you know when they're getting new slabs in? May be worth waiting to see the next batch before you finally decide. I have to say there were very few "pale" ss at N+G.

    Eliz

  • 14 years ago
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    That's a good point about the seams acting as joints, moving at appropriate places. That might be your answer.

    Florida Joshua may have more advice on that as well. He must do some installations where settling is an issue.

    I have Minas. It is soft enough to scratch with a fingernail, if I try. But so are many surfaces in my kitchen (wood, stainless etc). It's medium dark, with some nice veins and a little cloudiness (a lot of the Indians you mentioned are very black and featureless, which I was interested in at first). Very black might show more dust. Dunno.

    As I often mention here, just about all the houses on our block had large soapstone laundry tubs in the basements. Some of them are still in place, in use for a hundred years. They are extremely abused -- knocked around, chemicals poured down them, workmen standing on them -- but they look surprisingly good. Chips, scratches and all.

    I hope you get this sorted and you can get back to cooking and watching the birds!

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks a bunch everyone. I have a meeting set up tomorrow with a stone place that *just* deals in SS. I plan to come home with some SS samples and I have some very specific questions to ask in relation to joints, cracking, and such. Hoping to get this countertop situation wrapped up this week. I do love the fact that liquids will not harm SS, and I love the look of a dark unshiny surface. What I know for certain: nothing will be as horrible as what we have now :).

  • 14 years ago
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    pluckymama. . .give me a call I'll answer any questions you may have.

  • 14 years ago
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    I went, I saw, I loved the look of soapstone. It looked great (in the showroom, right after it was oiled). And I thought I was excited about the countertop again. The choices for the amount of countertop I have limit what I can pick practically. From this supplier, Black Venata is pretty much it. There wasn't a sample of black venata to take home, so I was given one of Mubai grey. I was told it is similar (kind of), but harder. So, I took the sample home. Oiled it and stared at it for a while. I liked it. Then I started to play a bit. I scraped the edge with my fingernail--and was able to produce a nice little pile of SS dust. There was a ding in that same sample, and I could literally carve out a hollow with my fingernail. I tried dropping a small can of beans on it from about 2 inches--and that dinged it. By the next morning, the oiling was pretty much gone and the color was back to a very dull grey. Yikes. And this is supposed to be the harder variety? Now what?

    So I trekked back to see if I could locate another dark stone. Zimbabwe black (a type of AB granite) was something I had heard of. I found some, but when I asked for a sample, nothing. I was told that this supplier does not dye it's stones, and that I could test a corner (but not the middle) with lemon juice. Right....if lemon juice won't harm it, what does it matter where I test it?

    Back to soap? Why is this so hard?

  • 14 years ago
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    Ruby, can you ask the stone yard to give you the names of several people in your area that have SS so that you could contact them personally and maybe go see their SS in a working kitchen? That may be the best way for you to find out if it's the right stone for you.

    Kat :)

  • 14 years ago
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    Sorry I'm so late to this thread. Nothing to add to the soapstone discussion but wanted to mention how gorgeous Rubyfig's stone counter is. We bought our bathroom tile from Artistic Tile, which carries a lined marble that looks very similar to your counter, with the colors reversed (lighter gray main color, dark gray almost-straight lines). It's called Marmara. They also have a lined greyish-brown marble called Wenge, as the lines look like the wenge wood species. Maybe that's what you have?

  • 14 years ago
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    Kat, I will give that a try, thank you.

    Hi zeebee, I have no idea what material I have ("Pietra del Cardosa" or "petite granite" seems to be the 2 that keep coming up), but it does look a lot like Wenge. Except to say that sealed Wenge would most likey hold up better than my countertop has. I would love this stone on a console table or a desk...but in a kitchen, no.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Pluckymama, until I read a few soapstone threads tonight I had no idea that you have had such trouble with your SS. I am so sorry-- it seems so unfair after all you went through to get it. You were a saint with the weather and broken slabs and delays. I hope the sanding and your new wax regimen solves your problems. And thanks for sharing your experiences, as I'm sure it is helping others.

  • 14 years ago
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    I wanted to second the recommendation for nordic black antiqued granite. I love the look of soapstone but I couldn't find it very easily in Dallas when I redid my kitchen over 3 years ago. So I looked for something low-maintenance that had a not-so-polished and vein-ey look like soapstone.

    I'm sorry I can't post pics today, but I've had that granite in my kitchen for over 3 years. It's maintenance free, has some veining (although not as much as soapstone), and isn't very shiny. We don't have to re-seal it. I honestly can't even see the goop on it sometimes. I'm probably not supposed to, but I use cleaners with bleach in them. I don't think it has a scratch but if it did, I couldn't see it.

  • 14 years ago
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    Thanks a bunch ctaylors6. I looked at Nordic black as so many had mentioned it, but the yard can only show it to me in a polished format, it is looked so sparkly in that form. If you can post a picture, I would love to see it in the matte form. Thanks again!

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Rubyfig,
    I originally went with the Nordic Black antique granite, but when they installed it, it was fabricated incorrectly,
    and I could not get another slab that I liked :(

    It was beautiful! and everyone with whom I spoke to about it, loves it and finds it easy to maintain. I ended up (as you know) with soapstone.
    If you have any question about whether you would like the patina of soapstone or the oiling, etc... Nordic Black antique is a great choice.
    Here's a link to my clippings page with pics of jen4268's kitchen. She did Nordic Black Antique.

    Also, in the finishedkitchensblogspot.com deenoel and susanandmarkw have it as well. Susan has great photos, including closeups of hers.

  • 14 years ago
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    Thank you so much Pluckymama. That is a great help (and you are right, they do look great). I am off tomorrow to see a few more slabs of SS (Minas and Beleza) and will take another look at the Nordic Black.

    The Mumbai Grey SS that I took a sample of is doing the same watermark thing you are experiencing (and wow, the mineral oil only holds for a day at most). Soapstone International has told me it has to do with the finish (which they 400 grit, but that sounded kind of crazy considering).

    As I was thinking about the watermark issue, I just wondered if anyone has tried carnuba wax? I say this because it is used on cars (stay with me), and on the glossy coating of candy (like M&Ms). My thinking? Food grade, OK. And if it buffs to the point that it protects car exteriors, it is obviously durable.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    The Dry Wax from Dorado has carnuba wax in it, along with several other unknown ingredients. (Dave from Dorado told me about the carnuba). I did try a Carnuba wax/walnut oil mixture I purchased from Real Milk paint which did not hold up for me as well as the Dry wax (I wish I knew all the ingredients in it).

    Good luck with your decision. With soapstone you will have to oil more often in the beginning. Depending on your stone, you might oil, every few days for a few weeks and then once a week for a few mos and than every few weeks, every few months, etc.. Some people don't seem to oil at all and I have to say I envy them!

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Rubyfig --

    I just wanted to put in a good word for Beleza. We've been using ours (from Dorado Soapstone in Austin) for a year and I love it. We've never oiled it (because we liked the dark gray look it has unoiled). After a year I started noticing some tiny (really minor) scratches here and there in the most used areas and I used a green scrubby pad and buffed them out in about 10 seconds. We're not careful in any particular way with the counter (and we have two teenagers and their friends around) and we've nary a ding or chip (touch wood; I hoping I'm not jinxing us).

    Good luck with your search. Your kitchen, and your house, are lovely.

  • 14 years ago
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    sw, you have had such a great experience with your Beleza soapstone. Any chance you could post a pic. I think many don't realize how beautiful it is as a countertop when they see just the slab.
    They had Beleza the day I was at Dorado looking, but I wanted veins......It's good to hear about your experience with such a low maintenance soapstone.

  • 14 years ago
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    Sw, thank you! I saw a few more slabs yesterday, and I have to say Beleza is beautiful (quiet, with a depth to it). We are definately leaning towards Beleza.