Soapstone counters & 3" soapstone backsplash--look goofy?

needinfo1February 13, 2013

The fabricator was just out to take a look at my kitchen, and I have a problem. The floors and counters in my 100 year-old house are out of alignment. This is just a minor upgrade--range and countertops----and we had been planning to retain our white, subway tile backsplash. Now we have been told that since the counters will need shaving on one end and shimming on the other (quite a bit of both apparently) if we want to keep the backsplash we will need to remove the lower row of tiles. The fabricator will then create a 3" to 4" smaller backsplash of the soapstone that will be tapered in to abut the tiles (I'm guessing the concept is somewhat similar to the typical formica you see that goes up the wall a bit.) He says that this difference in height of the soapstone part won't be readily apparent. So, we'd have 3 cm deep soapstone countertops, a small soapstone backsplash cut from that same 3cm soapstone and then the white subway tile.

I suppose we could rip out all of the backsplash and start over again. But, since the white subway tile is appropriate to the period look of our kitchen which has a mix of original-type cabinets and custom made replicas, I'd most likely end up just putting in white subway tile again. So this seems kind of silly (and expensive and a hassle).

Thoughts anyone? Is this going to look goofy with that extra line of soapstone? Thanks.

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A friend of mine just have to do this with granite. She didn't have to remove any backplash as there was a 4" laminate bs in place. The fabricator cut the granite bs on site and it tapers to fit properly. No one notices anything.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 9:45AM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

I'm hesitant to post a picture of a similar scenario behind my sink, just because it is/was very specific to my circumstances, but here goes:

The counters are not soapstone, but epoxy resin from old lab tables. I had a scrap of material that was about the right length, and with a height of 3 1/4". Since I wanted the appearance of a vintage kitchen sink, I used the scrap, then used marble tiles around it. If you look at the right side of the pic, you'll see that the marble surrounds the resin scrap, because the scrap was a little short. This is just behind the sink--I have beadboard elsewhere in the kitchen.

I've read that the short 4" backsplash of counter material is dated, but I like the way that this piece looks in my kitchen. Also, I thought that lower on the wall, the resin would be easier to keep clean than the honed marble.

Wider shot without dishes draining on counter:

I hope the photos help you make a decision. There are so many kitchens with the short backsplash, I don't think yours will look goofy. (But if folks say that it does, point them to my kitchen, and they can have a really good laugh.) ;)

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 10:25AM
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My only concern would be whether they can remove just a row of the backsplash without damaging the rest. I've read lots of stories on here where people try to remove one tile and end up ripping the whole thing out.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 10:55AM
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debrak--So,your friend has granite counters, a short granite backsplash and then tile on the walls?

mama--Thanks for the photo. It looks as though the only place you had to do this was behind the sink. Am I right? t looks fine to me, but I would need to do it pretty much everywhere vs. just behind the sink as you have. And, one more quick question for you. Is that marble I see on your other countertop? If so, how do you like it? And, how do you like it with the soapstone?

sailorgirl--Good thought, and that is something I hadn't thought about. This "little" project is turning into a much bigger headache than I 'd ever anticipated!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 2:22PM
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"This 'little' project is turning into a much bigger headache than I 'd ever anticipated!"

They always do!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 2:31PM
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Sorry I don't have a photo of it but will try to explain further.

There was laminate counters with the 4" laminate backplash. Above that was a ceramic tile backsplash.
They wanted to change the counter but not the backsplash. When the fabricater came out it was determined that the old cabinets/counter was not level. For the granite to be level the "4 in" granite backsplash would have to be customized to fit. I think it starts at about 3" and runs up to 4". They were very concerned that it would look funny but it doesn't. You would never know unless you measured. The fabricator cut it on site (in the yard). It sounds just like your kitchen.

I would be more concerned with cutting the tile out. Would you do that yourself or have someone else do it? I think its doable with good planning and patience.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 3:45PM
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We had our soapstone counters at our lakehouse done with a 3" soapstone tile backsplash. The fabricator installed a small shelf behind the range, as well.

The kitchen is central in an open floor plan. To keep the look clean and unfussy we decided to just have painted walls under the cabinets. I'm happy with the look and it's served us well for 5 yrs. But I also think it would look good with simple tiles above the backsplash.

You can see it from different vantages - the clearest is in the shot of the sink - in "amck's " kitchen in the Finished Kitchens Blog.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 5:42PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

Needinfo, I found a couple of pics from houzz, with black granite counter, and a short backsplash--soapstone would be similar:

Traditional Kitchen design by Portland Interior Designer Garrison Hullinger Interior Design Inc.

Contemporary Kitchen design by Portland Architect Emerick Architects

In my kitchen, the short backsplash is in only the sink area--I didn't have enough of the resin slabs to go around the whole kitchen, even if I'd wanted to. The counters around the sink and stove are epoxy resin, cut from old lab table tops. No soapstone--the other counter is made from New St.Laurent marble tiles, as is the sink backsplash. I love the marble.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 5:48PM
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Thanks to all of you for all of the ideas and the help! I am starting to wonder exactly how difficult it would be to just get the lower row of tiles out without damaging those above it.

I did find this interesting blog with photos of someone who'd installed the short backsplash. Her fabricator recommended the short soapstone backsplash saying that if there is a seam area where the soapstone counter would meet the white wall tile at countertop level it would be a seam that would appear to be dirtier and gunkier than a seam at that level between soapstone and soapstone. I have to say that is true of my current set up where the tile counter top meets the white backsplash tile. So, maybe that is another good reason to do this that I hadn't thought of.!/2012/04/countertop.html

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 6:18PM
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That first Houzz picture btw, got tens of thousands of likes by kitchen lovers. People are generous in grasping the whole effect in a kitchen.

One suggestion of late is to do a lower backsplash, say 2". This avoids the more common look of the 4" bs. I believe a GW kitchen member has done this of late.

Love soapstone. Good luck.

This post was edited by SparklingWater on Wed, Feb 13, 13 at 20:31

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 6:31PM
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I'm almost finished with a kitchen remodel due to a water leak. I got new cabinets and appliances, the granite was reused. I didn't care whether or not I kept the same backsplash but the insurance said it wasn't necessary to have it replaced. So when they installed my new cabinets, to make them level, they were running higher (above the bottom of the lowest tile) so they took off the lowest row of tile. They explained that once the granite was reinstalled, it wouldn't look right to put something back in that area because you'd see how it runs uphill (or downhill) so we tore off the entire backsplash. I just had the cheap white 3"x6" subway tile from lowes, and I like it so that's what I'm having done again. But I'm soooooo glad that we tore it all out and re-tiling the backsplash. It will look so much better. It's getting done tomorrow. I personally would rather have the backsplash redone than to go with the 3" piece. JMHO

BTW the insurance paid for a new backsplash since the granite couldn't be installed exactly where it was before and I got $1100.00 for a $300 backsplash :)

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 7:33PM
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sparkling water--I would have no choice about the height because it would need to be what fits in between the counter and the tile.

mountaineergirl--Very interesting insight from you for a pretty much similar situation where you have actually been able to see what is going on as the process proceeds. I installed this backsplash myself and could do another one pretty easily if I had to. $300 is my kind of price too!

The more I think about it, I am suspecting that we should just go ahead now and try to see how difficult it will be to remove that bottom row of tiles without damaging the next one up. That might just force us into a decison right away.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 7:49PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

I found another pic on houzz--the info lists the perimeter as Vermont soapstone:

Traditional Kitchen design by Philadelphia Interior Designer Dennison and Dampier Interior Design

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 8:46PM
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I think the short backsplash is sort of classic and timeless...but at my age, that's also how I think of myself

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 10:34PM
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