Help Making Final Soapstone Decision!

juliezlatJanuary 16, 2014

After months of research and scouring our area for slabs, we're down to two. I've loved the look of all soapstone and didn't really have a preference all along, I just thought I'd know it when I saw it. Unfortunately, that isn't happening as easily as I thought it would.

The first slab is from Green Mountain, and I don't even know the name of it (the fabricator doesn't know). It has more green than I was envisioning having in our kitchen, and it's pretty dramatic, but the more I look at the pictures, the more I think I like it. I think it will probably be a harder soapstone because it has so much green in it.

The second slab is just a "Brazilian soapstone", but if I had to name it, I would say it's Barocca. I do have concerns about the softness of this one, and although it's a very "traditional" looking soapstone (and one that I've posted many pictures of on Houzz), now, compared to the other slab, I feel like it's almost a little boring...?

I'm just all over the pace and would appreciate any votes or suggestions!

Ok, I can't figure out how to add more than one photo, so I'm posting the one from Green Mountain!

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sammy62

I think it is absolutely beautiful! Is this going on all of your counter tops or just an island?

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 8:38AM
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juliezlat

All of them. Here is a smaller sample, not wet.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 8:49AM
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juliezlat

Here is the other slab.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 8:51AM
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springroz

I really like that "other slab" . Does it look gray when dry?

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 8:57AM
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remodelfla

I love lots of veining in soapstone so I'm a fan of the first stone...particularly the second pic of it unoiled.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 9:04AM
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juliezlat

Yes, the second slab is light gray when dry. I almost feel like the first slab doesn't look like soapstone, maybe because all of the soapstone I've seen in real life is light to dark gray, and non of it has been so dramatic. However, for as much as I don't typically like granite, all of the pieces I have liked have had lots of movement and have been more exciting and interesting...

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 9:33AM
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remodelfla

I have really really dramatic soapstone. You can see pics in this old thread that just popped up again yesterday.

When it is not waxed/oiled... which is frequent. It fades to this wonderful look of faded washed denim. I love love love it at every stage.

Here is a link that might be useful: my kitchen

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 10:03AM
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jackfre

I like our greenish SS. Ours is called Cruz Azul. I have one 16' run over a Kohler Whitehaven 36" sink and then 11' over the range. Island is 38x92. 4" backsplash and 8' window sill. Two different slabs and so not totally matched. If I oil it, which I have done only once, it comes together color wise. It's been 4-5 weeks since oiling and just looking at it the color difference is showing more. I love the SS and am not put off by the slight color change. I have white oak floors and they aren't uniform either. It's a natural product. I have to figure out how to take and post photos. This morning would have been perfect with the hanging full moon out the 8' window, but the boss took the camera for baby pics of our new grand daughter.

Net/net I like a lot of action in stone. One of the things I like the best about the SS is it isn't reflective, so there is no glare either from the outside or the bazillion led cans I have.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 11:43AM
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wags848

Well, they always say you will know a stone is the right one for you when you have your first glance at it. That being said, your first stone is my dream soapstone! :) I love it, as it has great movement, interest, green & beige tones, plus it's a harder variety. Wish I could find that slab in my area (What part of the country are you in? Just curious...and in case you pass on that gorgeous slab... :) ).

The second stone is also beautiful; just more traditional ss. What I like about ss is that it is neutral. It can go with just about any decor/style. I don't think you can go wrong with either of your options. Good luck with your decision! Looking forward to following this thread.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 11:57AM
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bcafe

I like #1, but I also have a dramatic ss in my kitchen.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 1:34PM
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bcafe

Dup.

This post was edited by bcafe on Thu, Jan 16, 14 at 13:41

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 1:40PM
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mom2sulu

They are both beautiful. I think I would make my decision based on the rest of my kitchen. Do your cabinets need jazzed up or are they already the star of the show? The second stone is a quiet one but would definitely be my pick if I had gorgeous cabinets.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 4:04PM
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juliezlat

Wags848, I live in Cleveland.It has been difficult to find a nice variety of slabs, and also difficult to find fabricators whom I feel comfortable working with. The random slabs I saw at other stone shops were not my "dream stones". I kept searching and holding out hope, and now I'm frustrated with myself for having such a had time just choosing one! I guess I never thought I'd pick a green stone, number one, and am terrified of choosing the softest variety (the light Barroca-seeming one) and having my husband blame me for a lifetime of too-distressed countertops.

Attached is a pretty recent pic of our renovation. There is also an island, and the paint color in the background is residual from the formal dining room before we took the wall down. The floors are acacia, and the cabinets are a color called coconut (Whitman style by Kemper). I do think that if I choose the green soapstone, it will be the main showpiece of the kitchen. The rest of the kitchen will be pretty subdued/traditional.

I guess I wish the green were about two shades darker. I have half of it oiled now. Will it get even darker than that over time? Oh and BTW, the brown veining in the green stone matches our floor exactly. And the grey stone is more expensive...am I making a decision, do you think? ; )

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 8:39AM
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juliezlat

Oh, and BTW Wags848, I got the number of a guy who works for Green Mountain, and he gave me the name of this fabricator, where I found this stone. I probably wouldn't have found it otherwise, since it's almost an hour away from us, and not one of the "usual" or popular places we were directed to in our area. I can give you his name and # if you want, and maybe he could direct you to someone near you who carries their stones.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 8:52AM
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wags848

Thx so much for the info, Juliezlat! After seeing your slabs, I emailed Green Mountain asking about suppliers/fabricators in my area (Indianapolis); awaiting a response. I love ss so much; still pondering though as our cabinets are dark & I'm not sure if ss is light enough for our kitchen. I almost purchased a remnant of ss for our island last year; very similar to your second choice. I passed because it was black when oiled & it was very soft. I wasn't sure about the scratching over time & how we'd feel about that. Of course, now I regret not purchasing it, as remnants that size are hard to find. But seeing your first stone has ignited the spark in me to start searching again! A green stone with movement & lighter veins might work for us.

Your remodel will be wonderful! Love your floors. With those lovely white cabinets, soapstone will look beautiful. The veining in the first ss will pick up the brown tones in your flooring, while the whiter veining in the second choice will tie in nicely with your cabinets. Both good options.

What does your gut tell you? Which slab makes you smile more when you look at it? If you like the black stone more, can the fabricator tell you more about its hardness value? Have you tested your sample enough to know if it's too soft?

Not to confuse you more, but if you feel the need to search more, there's a ss supplier near Cincinnati (Batesville, IN) that has a decent amount of ss. The owners are wonderful people; they specialize in ss.

wags

Here is a link that might be useful: The Stone Studio

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 9:44AM
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rubyclaire

A vote for "the other slab". Just lovely...

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 10:05AM
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bcafe

I have brown and caramel iron deposits in my ss and they are just lovely.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 11:12AM
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juliezlat

Thanks, Wags. I think we just need to make a decision based on these two. I can't imagine how confused I'd get if I added more into the mix at this point! ; )

My husband and I are going to look at both slabs again on Tuesday. We want to measure out our template on the first slab (since the one slab isn't big enough, they have two partial slabs that match) because that was one of the issues we had when we first looked at it. There were some parts of the smaller slabs that we didn't want included, and weren't sure if we could do it. Then we want to get a sample of the second slab and bring it home to play with. From there, I think we just need to pick one!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 4:17PM
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beachpea3

Another vote for the Green Mountain slab. It is lovely and will look great in your new kitchen! The Green Mountain samples I tried passed all tests with flying colors. Also they were harder then the other SS samples. Would have picked either of them in a heartbeat but had to change to a lighter colored counter due to DH and his vision issues. At any rate I chose another Vermont product: Danby Marble. Yet deep down...I still wish it were the Vermont SS. Good luck with your choice....and post pictures when it is installed!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 5:13PM
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aktillery9

I like the "other" slab at least on my screen.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 6:16PM
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cevamal

I think they're both lovely and if you can't decide, go with the harder one.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 11:32AM
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juliezlat

For what it's worth, I did some research and it looks like the GM soapstone is called "Hubbardton". I don't see that it's been used a lot, looking on Houzz and just googling it. It has a lot of quartz in it, and seems like it gets lots of little divots in those areas. The side I oiled has little quartzy "pock marks". I wonder if it would still do that after it's been honed...?

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 11:49AM
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nosoccermom

I'd go with the "boring" slab because I like less movement and find it has more staying power. However, having said that, I'd make sure that it's durable and practical.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 12:12PM
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quadesl

Juliezlat said:
"For what it's worth, I did some research and it looks like the GM soapstone is called "Hubbardton".

Where did you get that information? As far as I know Green Mountain sells one type of architectural soapstone and I wasn't aware I went by any specific name though I do see their address is 680 East Hubbardton Road. :-)

This post was edited by Quadesl on Sun, Jan 19, 14 at 14:18

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 2:13PM
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juliezlat

I googled green mountain soapstone and saw that several suppliers named Hubbardton, Ice Flower, Majestic, and some others as coming from Green Mountain. When I looked at images of the Hubbardton, it looked exactly like the sample that I have. So I was just assuming. Also, there was a picture of a kitchen with Hubbardton soapstone on Green Mountain's Facebook page, which, again, looked exactly like the sample that we have.

Unfortunately, I ordered samples and a brochure from Green Mountain a couple of weeks ago, and am still waiting for them to arrive. I don't know if someone forgot or if it just usually takes this long?

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 3:36PM
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quadesl

Interesting, thanks for the info. This YouTube video from Green Mountain does mention some other varieties but mostly talks about Majestic which I'm pretty sure is what I have.

Here is a link that might be useful: GM YouTube link

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 4:33PM
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polly929

After 6 years of having a softer variety of soapstone, I'd recommend you go with the harder variety. I'm ok with the " patina" but every time we have people over for a party, I find a new deep gouge that doesn't disappear when oiling, and it makes me nuts. Wish I'd gone for a harder variety.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 8:44AM
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quadesl

Polly929,

Indeed, there seems to be many soft varieties of soapstone out there. I'm also starting to realize that the finish folks are getting from their fabricators is a lot smoother than it should be. That could be the case with yours and why it scratches so easily. The soapstone I have in my home comes with a 400 grit finish from the supplier but after it is cut by the fabricator gets sanded and finished with 80 leaving the nice silky, soapy feel soapstone is intended to have. Seems like many fabricators leave it at or near 400 grit which to me seems way too smooth for soapstone and leaves it shiny and more susceptible to scratches.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 9:23AM
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juliezlat

Interesting point about how it is finished. I spoke with a guy from Green Mountain and picked his brain about everything, including what is the best finish for the surface. He said that they use an 80 grit, and that a higher grit makes it too smooth, leaving it more susceptible to scratches and harder to keep oiled (he said it's "too smooth to hold onto the oil"). I insisted on talking with the fabricators at each place we looked at stones... one fabricator told me that they hone it to an 800 grit! The others have seemed to know what they're doing.

Polly929, maybe you could have someone sand your countertops down?

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 10:06AM
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juliezlat

Update: The fabricator who has the Green Mountain sone called me yesterday to say that they are now unable to fabricate the stone, due to changes within their company. So we have to have the stone transported if we want to use it, which means it will cost more... The guy from the second place said that he will fabricate it for us, but he will charge us the same price as his soapstone ($300 more) plus $200 to transport it. Going to go look at it again this morning and lay our template out on it. This was not a helpful turn of events... : (

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 7:38AM
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NettieJean

If at all possible check out The Stone Studio from the link above. They have a good in stock selection and are awesome to work with. They are not just fabricators but artist. I would choose the hardest stone you can find that you like. Be prepared to get small chips/diviots in the quartz veins, nothing big that you can really see but you will notice them when you wipe the counter. My soapstone is anasazi from Dorado Soapstone purchased from The Stone Studio. I have had it almost 2 years, haven't oiled it at all in the last year and still love it.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 12:01PM
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wags848

Hi juliezlat - Did you decide on a slab? Just curious. Hope things are moving in the right direction!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 1:39PM
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juliezlat

Yes, we decided on the first one from Green Mountain. At the last minute, the place we were going to buy it from closed their fabrication business, so we had them ship it to another fabricator, and got a great deal on it in the process! We had them come out and measure for the template today, and the install will be on the 11th! I spent a lot of time talking with the fabricator. It turns out that they don't ever hone the surface of the stone, something I had taken for granted that was going to happen. We went around and around about what grit is appropriate, and I finally called down to Creative Soapstone in FL, to ask the infamous Florida Joshua. I think I have the information I need, but I'm wondering if we will be better off leaving the slab at the 400 grit it's honed to now, or to have them hone it down a little, more, and how much that would cost. I hate having this responsibility on me, instead of on the fabricator!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 7:20PM
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quadesl

I'd contact Green Mountain direct.

Here's a video they put out describing the finish, 80 grit.

Here is a link that might be useful: 80 grit

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 7:33PM
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juliezlat

Thanks, Quadesi. I actually spoke with Rich from Green Mountain several times, and watched the video. However, I do have concerns about the 80 grit being just a bit too rough. Apparently, the softer the stone, the rougher the grit, and the harder the stone, the higher up you can go, since you don't have to worry as much about disguising scratches. Creative Soapstone recommends a 200 to 400 grit finish.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 7:40PM
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quadesl

I have Green Mountain Majestic which I believe is a very hard architectural grade, I think it's their newest product that's been around for a year or so. I'm pretty certain it has an 80 grit finish. I was given a piece of 80 grit sandpaper by the fabricator/installer which he told me can be used if I was to ever scratch the finish. The fabricator we went with only deals with Green Mountain soapstone. It's actually the only countertop material they deal with and have so for ten years. I have no issue with the finish one bit. I'm pretty confident it's finished as intended by the supplier.

This post was edited by Quadesl on Wed, Jan 29, 14 at 20:36

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 8:32PM
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juliezlat

Here is my problem. When I told the fabricator that I wanted it finished to 80 grit, he said that would leave big whorl marks of where there sander was, and it would be extremely rough. If Green Mountain were fabricating my stone, I would tell them to do what they believe is best. But I dont even trust my fabricator to go much below 400, if thats what he feels comfortable using for soapstone, KWIM?

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 9:43PM
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cookncarpenter

Have them go with a 220 grit, and then go finer or coarser from there if you don't like the look. I like the way my Brazilian Mariana looks at 220-320. You really can't hurt soapstone, it's characteristics are to similar wood, if 80 is too rough, just progressively go finer until you like the look...

This post was edited by ctycdm on Wed, Jan 29, 14 at 22:44

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 10:40PM
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quadesl

juliezlat,

I'll find out exactly how my stone is finished and post the info here. My guess is that it's finished with 80 grit but I will confirm. There's no swirl marks and the finish looks great so if it is 80 grit, there must be a way of doing it without swirl marks. That video shows them finishing a small piece and from what he said he completely finished it from 400 to 80 in the time of the video.

Maybe you can get a small sample of it finished with 80 vs 220 and feel for yourself the difference.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 7:45AM
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wags848

Congrats on picking your beautiful stone & for getting a nice discount on the fabrication! Good luck with the finishing process. Can't wait to see the final reveal! It will look amazing!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 8:42AM
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juliezlat

Thanks, everybody. My husband and I talked last night and decided that we are going to have to do exactly that. We're going to take our sample slab and ask them to finish it to 100 and 200 so we can see and feel it. The fabricator said they only do increments of 200, 400, 600, etc. They are pretty resistant, so we're going to have to make a pain of ourselves, unfortunately. I'm going to e-mail the green mountain video to the guy who was here yesterday. I know for one thing, he said they hone with water, and green mountain says to hone it dry. I don't know if that makes a difference? Like I said before, those of you who have worked with fabricators who know what they're doing are very lucky!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 10:06AM
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quadesl

Our stone was cut and sanded in their shop. They also made the soapstone sink from the same slab of stone. The guys that fabricated the stone also installed it in my home. The seams were obviously finished in my home and dry sanded.

Our base cabinets were also made by the same company and guys that built them also installed them. Kind of neat to meet the guys who did the beautiful work and for them to see it installed in your home.

This post was edited by Quadesl on Thu, Jan 30, 14 at 10:55

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 10:52AM
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quadesl

I heard back from my fabricator. Basically they said they finish with 80 grit for the very reason the video states and the higher grit finishes show scratches more readily. Through trial and error they found 80 grit gave the best results.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 12:08PM
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juliezlat

Quadesi, thanks so much for looking into that for me. I sent a link to the green mountain video to our fabricator and asked him to watch it.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 12:17PM
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quadesl

juliezlat,

Glad to help. Good luck and hope you post pics of the results.

John

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 12:52PM
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mabsy

I am so glad I read this thread! I am thinking of using soapstone in my remodeled kitchen and thought I had read a lot about it, but I never realized until now that I need to pay attention to exactly how it is finished. I absolutely love the look of soapstone, but I am concerned about how well it will hold up over 8-10 years, because we probably will have to sell our house in that timeframe. I now realize that how it is finished could really make a difference in how it wears, as well as how much quartz there is in it. I recently saw some older soapstone in a house that was for sale. This kitchen countertop looked terribly worn and after seeing it I thought that I should abandon the idea of soapstone altogether. The counters had horrible gouges, almost like ribbons of gouging and deep, deep wear. It looked as if someone had beaten the counters with a heavy chain or something! I am now thinking that this beat up look must have been along the areas where there was more quartz veining. Has anyone else seen this type of wear with soapstone? I admit that I am really having analysis paralysis about whether to use soapstone.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 12:23PM
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juliezlat

Mabsy, we took our sample slab when we went to lay the template. They divided it into 4 sections, and honed one to 80 grit, one to 100 grit, one to 200 and one to 240, so we could see the difference. The higher they polished it, the more I could see the undulations of the quartz areas vs the talc areas. At a lower grit, the whole surface was more even. We decided that the 80 grit finish was best for our soapstone. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 12:43PM
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mabsy

Thanks for that information, juliezlat. Very helpful to know. I'd love to hear how it works out for you once it's installed and you're living with it.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 1:40PM
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wags848

juliezlat - Is your soapstone installed yet? Looking forward to your reveal!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 7:51PM
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juliezlat

Actually, it's been installed for a while, but we had to wait for the room to get painted, and now we're waiting on the backsplash. My husband's friend is doing it, and he's supposed to get it done this week. I didn't want to post pictures until it was looking its best!

The soapstone is gorgeous, and I'm still getting used to it. More later. Small crisis with trying to get the kids in bed! ; )

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 9:46PM
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laurencp

Would love to see photos as well! Thanks for all of your research and information! I now have more knowledge and will be better prepared for my meeting with my Fabricator next week.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 11:07AM
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juliezlat

I'm ready to post pictures. Do I just post them to this thread or do I have to put them somewhere else? I was never able to figure out how to post more than one picture at a time.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 9:47AM
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wags848

Hi juliezlat!

Can't wait to see your reveal! Your call how you want to post. You can add photos to this thread, or start a new thread (and attach a link to this thread since so much good info. here!). I can't help you with how to post multiple pics; I have yet to figure that out! Looking forward to seeing your kitchen!

wags

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 3:18PM
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quadesl

Here's a link the describes how to post pictures. Hope it helps!

Here is a link that might be useful: Posting pictures

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 5:24PM
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juliezlat

Thanks guys, I think I've got it! : )

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 9:13PM
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    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 9:45PM
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