Will I regret soapstone? Another option?

mommamouroFebruary 8, 2013

We are starting the process of remodeling our kitchen. We have the cabinets ordered--white--and are trying to choose countertops. I love the look of soapstone, but my husband is worried about the upkeep--we have 8 children--and he thinks we will be too hard on them. He prefers something dark, like gray. However, I do not like anything shiny like granite. I love the look of honed granite but several different fabricators have told me that honed granite will be difficult with our family. We have even considered corian--the dark gray "medea" color but have been warned away from dark corians by 2 different KDs because they both say it will show scratches. I keep coming back to soapstone. Am I crazy for putting this into a kitchen with so many little ones who like to cook and help out? Is there another option? We really want a matte finish.



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Something to consider - they use soapstone for chemistry labs with how many hundreds / thousands of students spilling and banging etc?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 5:12PM
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My soapstone is a harder variety and I can't say enough about how much I love it. I am brutal on a kitchen and it stands up to everything.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 5:15PM
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Okay, this is so good to hear! Every fabricator I have spoken with has tried to steer me clear of soapstone telling me I will regret it--that is will scratch horribly. Should I ask for a certain variety of soapstone?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 5:27PM
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I strongly urge you to get samples. That is what I did. After the first few, I was going to nix the idea. I love wild veining and the samples I had were very soft. Then I read about a hard variety that had the veining I so loved. Got a sample and was sold. I had to pay $$$ to get it shipped down to Florida but for me, it was worth it.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 5:33PM
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Why have the fabricators told you that dark honed granite will be "difficult with your family"?

I'm curious because we have honed Black Pearl granite.
It isn't as lovely as soapstone (to be sure!) and doesn't have the irresistible soft talc "hand".
But it as as sturdy and carefree as any counter I can imagine. We don't even have to seal it.

(Not trying to discourage you from soapstone.)

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 5:48PM
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We have Belvedere soapstone. Very hard variety. We don't oil it. It's mostly a mottled dark gray/black. We love it. My husband is a firefighter and a sloppy cook...like having an elephant in the kitchen. I have 2 children, and it has stood up to anything I have put it through in almost 2 years.

There are many varieties. Just get samples and get the harder variety you can find. I don't ever oil, so no upkeep at all. I clean it with Lysol kitchen cleaner when it needs to be wiped down.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 5:50PM
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It's a living finish, but that may actually be better for a family than something dark that is supposed to look pristine all the time. I had soapstone last time and am doing it again next time. (And we had black floors that got cleaned every day to look pristine, so we are pretty picky about how things look--but a variable surface on soapstone looks natural, imo).

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 6:07PM
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Well, we were thinking that black honed granite would be a great alternative to soapstone and the fabicator said that it would most likely stain and scratch--that it would not be sealed like granite. He said he didn't recommend it. I will try to get some samples of the soapstone--not sure if the place we are going to has different types--it sounded like just one kind because when I asked about what kind of soapstone he didn't know what I was talking about.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 6:21PM
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So, you would recommend the black honed granite? I really like the look of it. You have not had problems with scratching, staining, etc.?

I was told that black honed granite is more than soapstone, but this doesn't seem right??

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 6:29PM
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We had clients who had black honed granite, chosen over soapstone for budget. and I always felt it showed grease marks even from finger prints--it didn't bother them at all.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 7:22PM
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Most of the honed black granites I looked at were considerably cheaper than soapstone.
Black Pearl is one of the least expensive granites.
Honed Absolute Black granite was the most expensive black granite I looked;
it may been close to the cost of soapstone.
We have not had any problems with scratching, staining, etching, or smudges on our dark honed granite.

(Not trying to talk you out of soapstone -- it is lovely and a great choice for many people.)

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 8:24PM
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We love our PA soapstone - it's a harder variety. We've had it since July with two children and a bull-in-a-china-shop dh. No problem so far!
My sister has beautiful leathered absolute black. Bullet proof - they've had it for five years or so.
You may also want to look at honed jet mist granite. Not soapstone, but as close to the look of it as you can get, in granite.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 8:43PM
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Wow! Thanks for the wealth of information! Okay, so I have a list that I am going to check into: honed absolute black granite, honed black pearl, leathered absolute black, and honed jet mist granite, as well as soapstone. We are going tomorrow to look! :) Is there a significant difference between honed and leathered? Is leathered just that it has more texture to it? Is there a big difference in price?


    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 9:20PM
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Okay, I did a little research on honed granite and turned up a lot of negative feedback on spots showing--grease stains and finger prints. Has anyone found this to be true? This is why I think soapstone would be the best choice.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 10:33PM
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your quote:"I love the look of soapstone, but my husband is worried about the upkeep"
There is no upkeep. I used the wax supplied by Green Mountain Soapstone once when installed but I would have liked it either black or gray(like fivefootzero's SS photo).
I have Original P.A also-hard variety. There is no pussyfooting around this counter here !

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 11:04PM
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Just curious....
In Summer 2011 when we were shopping for counters
there was no P.A. soapstone available in NJ (not at Teixeira or Gardenstate Soapstone).

Does anyone know if the beautiful and hard P.A. is showing up in soapstone yards again?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 11:20PM
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Get samples and test--hard soapstones are great. Soft soapstones (we have Barroca, and have been told that our batch is even softer than is typical for this stone) will be an issue. I wouldn't choose ours again--not because of the scratches, which I don't mind (they add patina and oil out if desired), but because we have pock marks, divots, and chunks of edge missing, which can't be hidden--it just looks like someone took a hammer to it. (And no, no one did! ;) That's just normal wear and tear from our stone if we forget to take rings or belts off before working near it, put a bottle down directly on the counter, etc.--way too much babying required. We could have paid more for a harder stone, and absolutely should have. It is a great material for working with dough, heat resistance, etc., though, and I do still love the look.

The others we considered (we were warned to steer clear of honed granite also) were Paperstone (top choice but too much $$ for our budget) and Caesarstone. I think there are some other manmade quartzes and materials similar to Paperstone that have the same effect. Good luck--it's a tough choice! Don't be afraid to beat up the samples--I really wish we'd done that. (We just chose the cheapest stone that was the color we wanted since we only had a small counter budget. Not a good plan!)

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 11:38PM
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mommamoura: I think you've probably read through all the past threads on honed granites; the quartz could be an option for you and your 8 childrens. The greys that are available and the "not so glossy but not truly honed" finishes may actually work. Get a large sample and play with it -- rather, torture it.

I'm actually looking at this thread because soapstone is back on my consideration list. I've been reading up on the past threads and now am armed with fork in hand to go to the M Texeira slab yard! But, after reading all these threads, I envision a countertop looking like an Egyptian ruin after a few years. :)

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 12:43AM
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We've had our Beleza for over a year and it is pretty darn bulletproof. There are some light scratches where we have slid 5-gallon carboys full of homemade beer/wine. We don't oil or wax.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 7:18AM
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I'm getting a honed quartzite called Ocean Stone, which looks something like soapstone, kind of a pretty gray-green-blue. Seems to be incredibly hard, and none of the attacks I've mounted on my samples have produced a scratch or stain. We're still early days in our renovation, so I don't have an actual counter yet, but thought I'd throw it out there as a possibility.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 9:50AM
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francoise ~ I know that my soapstone fabricator used to offer PA soapstone. That's what I thought I was getting until he told me it's not available. So, my soapstone will be a variety called "Noire". It's from India. Apparenty, it is very dark and very hard. My counters get installed in a week or so.

Not the best photo, but here's my slab:

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 10:11AM
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I don't have soapstone myself, but when I was first starting my kitchen planning,my friend told me she had put in soapstone and regretted it. She said hers had a lot of dings. I would assume hers is one of the softer ones.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 10:47AM
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As for hardness I'd recommend Belvedere which is what we have or Cobra if you can find them. Our Belvedere is so hard, I have dropped cans of soup from an upper cabinet and it dented the can, but not a mark on my counter top whatsoever.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 11:32AM
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If you can "upkeep" 8 children, I would think you could "upkeep" anything!

I too was looking at honed black granite but now I'm scared - I don't want anything that shows grease spots or stains.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 11:43AM
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I don't know anything about it, but I saw Jet Mist satin when I was looking at granite recently and thought it was pretty.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 12:31PM
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laurajane02 -- Your "Noire" soapstone from India is very beautiful.
My understanding from our soapstone yards in NJ back in 2011
was that the P.A. mine in Brazil was almost depleted.
So... good to know about the option of "Noire" from India.
Be sure to post your install photos.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 2:05PM
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I'll suggest another option. My husband and I went through a similar discussion when we redid our kitchen a few years ago. I wanted soapstone, but he was afraid it would get dinged and dented. It wasn't the upkeep he was worried about: he just doesn't like "patina". But I *really* wanted soapstone because I wanted black counters with a softer, matte finish.

Our compromise was Cambrian Black with a leathered finish and we both LOVED it. It was absolutely bulletproof. No denting, staining, fingerprints, etching, nothing. I did try a sample of a honed black granite -- I don't remember which black it was specifically -- but just handling it in the store left so many fingerprints. The leathered finish didn't show any greasy fingerprints at all. (I mean, if the kids were eating fried chicken and then wiped their fingers on the counter, there would be greasy fingerprints! But just in day to day use, there were never fingerprints.)

Some people on this forum have asked whether things get stuck in the leathered finish, and I'll tell you that it wouldn't be possible. There are no places for things to get stuck. You have to wipe sticky things off just like you would with any counter, but the finish is smooth, with just smooth indentations, and nothing gets "stuck".

Now. That said, if I had to do it again (maybe with a different husband?) I still LOVE soapstone!!

Here is a picture of my leathered Cambrian:

close up so you can see how smooth:

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 3:29PM
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I have 8 kids too, 7 at home with the youngest being 3 and I really think you will like the granite better than the soapstone. Maybe your kids are neater than mine or you have a housekeeper, but I am all for finishes that are easy to clean. My countertops take me the longest to clean because my kitchen is so big and I love that I can take a razor blade and just scrape the junk off from when my girls have been cooking and baking.
Other things that are a must have with a large family:
2 full-size dishwashers, 2 full size sinks, a walk in panty, large refrigerator, 2 ovens either built-in or a large range that has 2 ovens. (and 2 washers and 2 dryers)

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 10:20PM
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We considered baroca - more white vains than others, but played with a sample of Brazilian Black - very similar to belvedere - but really hard. It was installed in our new IKEA kitchen and looks great, and wears well. We oil it once in a while but mostly let color to our habits. Interesting that by the sink and stove it has not been an issue at all. We love it.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 5:23PM
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I saw this thread and thought I should update regarding the "Noire" soapstone. It ended up being a bust and I am now getting Majestic Soapstone (which replaced the depleted PA soapstone). I'll link the thread if anyone is interested.

Here is a link that might be useful: Thread on troubles with Noire

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 5:39PM
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Circus Peanut

For what it's worth, these are the 102-year-old soapstone counters in the kitchen of our new old house. Love them. The only drawback that I have noticed in our first 4 months of occupancy is that the dark color makes dust and specks more noticeable than a lighter color would. But the texture and usability is superb.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 5:55PM
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I had honed Black Pearl in my previous kitchen and I thought it was beautiful and it was definitely bulletproof. I did not baby it at all and it always looked perfect! Also, it never showed one fingerprint...ever.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 5:58PM
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I have a question for soapstone folks - my contractor has a slab of soapstone that may be available to me at a good price because of another homeowner who tends to "change her mind."

I'm considering it for our laundry room (layout discussed here - would love your opinion on that too!)

Do you think that is wise or no? It's darker than I originally planned - and I know that it's a soft stone. That said, there is no "colored" sauces or use like that, just water if anything. No cutting - maybe sliding of laundry baskets on the counter but we actually use Bungalow Scout Junque Trunques so they are soft. Would a few drops of bleach wreck it though?

And, because of it being a laundry room, I'm thinking of it more as in a classic, classic look. My house is a 1917 Colonial so while a big laundry room on the 2nd floor is certainly NOT period to the house, soapstone would have been. With some subway and a simple tiled floor, it could be pretty, especially as the stone ages.

For those of you with soapstone, do you think that's advisable or a bad idea? THANKS!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 10:09AM
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Bleach? No, bleach will not harm soapstone, not in the least. You could pour hydrochloric acid on soapstone without damaging it. I vote "yes."

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 11:03PM
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Me too. Go for it, and please post pics when you're done.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 11:11PM
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I can't say anything about soapstone, but I'm another with leathered granite (though not black) to say it is bulletproof. It doesn't show anything, doesn't stain and doesn't scratch. We love it.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 5:10AM
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To be clear, soapstone has been and is still used in chemistry labs for many years. Much worse has been thrown at it than bleach. It is non-porous and will not absorb anything or stain at all. It can be disinfected with a litany of cleansers, with no damage to the stone.

The key is to find a stone with some hardness, or you might be disappointed with the patina that develops from dings, dents, etc. Some people strive for that look so its a personal decision. Some stones are so soft that you can scratch them with a fingernail. We have Belevedere, and it is extremely hard. I have had cans fall out of my upper cabinets, denting the can. Not a scratch or ding or dent was left on my countertop.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 7:55AM
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We're using our remnant SS for the utility/laundry room counter with sink. We're anticipating it will look great and last forever.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 10:26AM
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Soapstone after one year

Update - we have Brazilian Black (harder variety and after a year it looks great....gets better all the time......
we haven't oiled it 6 months.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 8:34PM
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