shiny soapstone

kariwbJanuary 17, 2014

So, our soapstone counters have been in use for ~4 months now, and man are they taking a beating! I knew the stone was soft, and don't mind some scratching with use, but I'm talking we can't even drag a gallon of milk across the counter without a new scratch. In my neck of the woods (midwest) there was really only one fabricator that carried a decent selection, and they definitely are more experienced in granite. To my eye, the stone looks shinier than I thought it would, and I'm wondering if this unexpected polish might have something to do with how easy it scratches? Anyone have that experience? I'm tempted to sand an area and see how it looks after that, but my husband might have a bird if he catches me with sandpaper to our brand new countertops!

Here is a picture so you can see what I mean. The counters have been oiled multiple times, but were not recently oiled in this picture. The shine you can see here is present even when not recently oiled.

Thanks much for any suggestions!

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Mine is much flatter (reflect acne wise) than that. I'm assuming you are oiling it,yes? Ours is a few months old and only oiled once. I like the look both ways

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 7:57PM
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I saw some at the stone yard we were using that was so shiny you could see my reflection in it. I asked them about it and they just said that they polished it finer than normal, some people like that look. I have heard of people struggling with water rings and such and some of that has to do with level of polish as well as waxes and oils that are used. Are you noticing any water rings or anything?

You can see my flash in this one, there was no oil or water on this:

This was another slab right next to it that was more chalking looking- plus my 3 year old's head. lol.

This post was edited by kam76 on Fri, Jan 17, 14 at 20:43

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 8:42PM
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hmmmm... so that's not recently oiled? It does seem a bit shiny for not being JUST oiled. If they buffed it or something and it burnished you might see the scratches more because of the sheen difference between the top layer and the under un-oiled layers. Did you see them do anything to them on-site? Can you share a pic of the scratches? It looks lovely in the picture.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 8:46PM
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I think your soapstone is gorgeous but yes, it does have a shine to it.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 10:49PM
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How often do you oil them? Mine have only been in less than a month but dry out and get gray pretty quickly a few days after oiling them. Maybe this will subside with time and multiple applications of oil. I was told the oil dries much faster in the winter with the heat running so much. I'd say let them go without oil for awhile, I would think they would lose their shininess once the oil dries up.

I was told that there are lots of grades of soapstone, the engineering grade which is what I have is quite a bit harder than most.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 7:21AM
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I have a sample of the first soapstone pictured above. I've had the sample for a good 9 months..maybe longer..long enough for the name label to fall off. It looks like it's been polished (not oiled) and my sample still has the shine to it. It's been through the NE outdoor elements as well as my own abuse. My sample is more of a "hard" soapstone. I'm seriously considering it as I think it would work well with a nice white background quartzite. (I'm not too sure I want to constantly see my recessed lighting reflected on it).

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 11:45AM
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Thanks everyone for thinking about this and for your ideas! I oil/have oiled the counter, on average, every few weeks or so (more frequently at first, less so now). It is very dark after oiling, but fades very quickly back to it's usual state, which is as in the first picture I posted. I actually like it just fine without oiling now, except that oiling helps cover all the scratches.

Kam76 and Mags438 - wow! That is very shiny for soapstone! I didn't know it was ever polished that highly. It's really very beautiful. I'd be interested to hear how it's holding up with regard to scratches, etc.

See below for some pictures of my "patina". There are tons of little scratches all over, which I really don't mind that much (and which my camera doesn't pick up very well). The big scratches in these pictures were from dragging a laundry detergent bottle and a gallon jug of milk across the counter. We also have a number of these gouges, which make me want to cry. We have actually been very careful, and I worry about what the counter will look like in a year or more if I don't do something about it. I do have small kids (5 and 7), but they are really good about taking care. There's only so much nagging I'm willing to do!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 5:40PM
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very sad gouge

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 5:43PM
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from the sharp plastic on the bottom of a jug of laundry detergent

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 5:45PM
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Forgot to address dutty's question: Neither my husband nor I were here for installation, but the salesperson told me that they don't do anything to the stone except cut and smooth the edges, that it is already finished as it supposed to be when it comes to them. Of course, I have no idea where they got it from.... They did say it was from Brazil, but I imagine there's a middle man in there somewhere.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 5:50PM
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There are some old threads about this; I've linked one below (with farmgirlinky's beautiful counters and kitchen). There has been talk on other threads about how a higher grit finished soapstone countertop may show scratches more easily.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rehoning ss counters

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 8:12PM
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:(... You should be in love and it just sucks that your feeling blah and stressed.

OK, I'm not a soapstone expert by any means but my guess is that if it arrived pre-finished, they polished it and now it's got a finish more akin to granite than soapstone. But just because they polished it like granite doesn't mean the finish is harder. It's still soft soapstone and will still scratch but now instead of scratching a matte surface, you're scratching through that polished top so you're seeing EVERYTHING because of the texture/finish difference. Which is also why, when you oil it, the scratches go away but they don't stay away because your scratches are drying down the way natural matte soapstone would but the rest of your counter is drying as polished soapstone. I'm also left wondering if oiling a polished stone is actually penetrating the stone at all? Maybe a little?

My thought is the only way you can alleviate this problem is to refinish the stone down to a natural finish. :( I know with my stone, my wonderful fabricator showed me how to simply sand out any major scratches and the little day to day scratches sorta disappear when you oil everything because everything is the same finish and taking the oil at the same rate.

I'm sorry you've got this problem.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 8:53PM
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Thanks so much again for all of your advice and suggestions. That rehoning link is really helpful, and, dutty, I think you are probably right. I've thought about trying to sand out the scratches, but I just know the areas I sand are not going to match the rest of the counter. It is going to need refinishing, I think. It will take some guts (or a half bottle of wine) for me to go at these practically new, relatively expensive countertops with sand paper on my own. I will definitely have to wait for my husband's weekend to work... he probably won't even notice if I can get the whole top done before he gets home! :)

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 9:00PM
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I never thought soapstone was to feel as smooth as something like granite. I'm wondering if some fabricators are using far too fine sandpaper on their stone. I'm thinking the more smooth the finish the more shiny and more susceptible the stone is to showing scratches. I was given a piece of 80 grit sandpaper by my fabricator to use to repair any future scratches. I'm thinking that was the final grit used on my countertops. Weird to see 120, 200 and 300 grits mentioned. :-O

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 7:35AM
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I agree that it would do better finished with a lower grit sandpaper. Could you get a sample (or do you have any? Your sink cut out?) of the same stone and experiment with it?

In the interim one tip I've read here is to keep an oiled rag handy in a ziplock for touch-ups.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 10:28AM
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Found this YouTube video put out by Green Mountain soapstone. The slabs come with a grit of 400 and the fabricator sands them to 80 after the stone pieces are cut. The 80 grit is what give the stone it's famous feel.

PS. Just felt the underside of the overhang on my island and the stone is MUCH smoother, must be the 400 grit they were talking about in the video.

Here is a link that might be useful: 80 grit

This post was edited by Quadesl on Sun, Jan 19, 14 at 17:16

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 4:10PM
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