Soapstone--no samples & not much choice

needinfo1February 9, 2013

I keep reading all of these posts about the different varieties of soapstone and people taking samples home to attack them to see how sturdy they are. Then, people comment on the qualities of the variety they have chosen. I'd like to be able to shop that way, but it doesn't seem to be happening in the upper midwest where I live.

Do all of you people who have all of these opportunities for samples and learning about different varieties live on the east coast? There is not much knowledge here or much soapstone available. Even the distributor with the widest range of soapstones in the large metro area where I live doesn't have samples and can't categorize many of them as to name. He also tells me that many are called different names by different people, and often different areas of the quarry where the soapstone is quarried can vary as to hardness and softness. I've been able to do the fingernail test on the edge of the slab, but that is about it. That and taking photos...

I do not want to just order online from some place like Teixeira where I know many of you get your samples. I want to actually see the slabs, and I want to shop locally.

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I really wanted to shop locally, but there just wasn't the selection. All the slabs were green or a subdued gray/charcoal. My KD called around the metro area (Milwaukee)and no slabs, anywhere. I ordered samples from Alberene and was thinking of ordering from M.Tex. We were in the Denver area in August so on a whim we went to M.Tex and Dorado. We found our slab at Tex and things progressed from there. The whole transaction went really smoothly.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 2:30PM
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I live in So. Florida and couldn't find the variety I wanted. Tex. had it in New Jersey. I coordinated a trip there with a visit to my boys in NY. Got to eyeball my slabs, paid, and had them shipped to a fabricator in Florida. It sure cost me an extra chunk of change, but for me, it was a major priority in my kitchen so I chose to spend it.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 3:05PM
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I am in the midwest, too. I did buy my slabs from M. Teixeira, after getting samples from them and a couple of other places on the east coast.

IMHO, even if you have no intention of buying your slabs from M. Teix., it is worth it to get the samples to see the different varieties.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 5:04PM
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I live on the West Coast (rural BC, Canada) and was able to get a sample, visit a showroom, etc.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 7:54PM
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Here in Central Tx I've only seen a few different varieties - Noire, Anasazi, Minas (none available right now), and some Bruzios. I think the East Coast has a lot more varieties available.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 9:41PM
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Dorado soapstone has a representative in the Atlanta area. Check their website. They only had softer varieties when I looked, however.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 9:59PM
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I'm curious how those of you who ordered and then had it delivered worked this out. And, how much does it cost over what it would have cost if you'd purchased your soapstone locally. Were the slabs delivered to your house? To your fabricator?

I'm in Minneapolis, and the other thing that seems strange here is that places are pretty much all wholesalers and will sell only to the fabricators. I have never actually gotten a price other than to hear that a slab is around $1,000; I've been told they are all about that price, and one variety isn't really much different in price than another. How it works is I select a slab, and then I get a quote from the fabricator for the project including materials.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 12:08AM
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Well, I can tell you the shipping cost, if that is what you mean. It cost me about $9 or $10/ sq. ft. to have the slabs shipped from Hackensack to Wisconsin. The slabs were delivered to my house. (I did the fabrication myself, so that made sense!) I gather the shipping company charged basically by the weight, as every quote they gave me worked out to about $9 or $10/sq. ft.

The normal price for the soapstone itself was generally $30 to $40/sq. ft., depending on the variety.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 12:55AM
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needinfo, the fabricator I told you I worked with in Mpls sent me to several warehouses around the Cities to see a couple of samples: not a large choice but enough to make my decision on the very hard variety, Julia. I had also sent away for some samples.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 7:25AM
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I was crazy enough to pay for transport twice in theory. I had my slabs shipped to Fla. Joshua who is in a different part of Florida then me. He then transported them down to me in his mobile fabrication truck and did the template/install. I think I paid somewhere around $800 extra to have them shipped to Joshua and then I paid him his fee to transport/template/install down here. Like I said, this part of my remodel was a major priority for me (I saved money elsewhere) so I was willing to take on the expense to get exactly what i wanted and have it installed by the absolute best expert (in my opinion). I don't regret one penny and would do it again in a heartbeat.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 9:04AM
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My cut stone was sent to our house. My installers laser templated, sent the cad file to CO, and the counter was sent to us. I have a rather amusing video, although not at the time, of the truck driver attempting to get the 1000# "package" off the semi. The counter was packaged on an A-frame with styrofoam and wood surrounding it. It was packaged very well.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 9:49AM
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marita--I've been to every place in the Twin Cities, but as you said there just isn't much selection--a couple slabs here, a couple slabs there. Only the place out in Shakopee even classifies anything by name, and everyone else just says it is dark or light soapstone or it is from Brazil.

My other huge problem is that of the choices available here there is only one slab of what I like--a Green Mountain variety--and I need two if I want to do all my counters in soapstone. So, my choices are to go with part soapstone and part marble counters (something I had originally contemplated anyway), choose a soapstone I don't like very well but can get two slabs of, wait for another 3 months until the largest supplier in town gets a new shipment in (one that is supposed to probably contain stone similar to what I want), or order online relying on photos and paying the additonal shipment costs.

On top of all of this, the fabricator I have chosen to work with was out two days ago and told us we will have extra problems because our kitchen and our counters are not level, creating extra installation issues so we will need to do a 3" or so soapstone backsplash if we still want to try to retain our current backsplash (something we'd been planning to do). This of course requires more soapstone, and now they don't know if the plan to just use the one slab will work out. I know this is a typical old house issue, and I want to work with someone who has had lots of experience like this with the quirks of older houses. We were really impressed with this company and plan to work with them, so I've got lots to think about. And, the idea of just ordering cuts templated from somewhere elese doesn't work for us.

Angie--it is a good thing your house didn't have issues like these; it would really have been a do-it-yourselfers nightmare since we were told it will require shimming up part and shaving other parts in order to get the counter level, and they will require tapering the backsplash to try to fit in with the current subway tile we have for backsplash all the way around the room.

Thanks all.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 10:15AM
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Well, my house IS a wonky old house, but mine was a gut remodel. I installed the floors and the cabs, and so I got to make sure the cabs were level. Sadly, I haven't done the backsplash yet....

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 12:08PM
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My home certainly isn't level, in fact the back wall where the kitchen is slopes a good 2" from one corner to another. Our installers shimmed the counter in places. The laser templating was so precise that the soapstone fit the wonky walls despite the quirks.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 12:39PM
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