What does 'PA soapstone' mean?

francoise47March 1, 2011

Hi All,

I'm leaning toward a soapstone called "PA" with delicate traces of spidery veins. (I'm also loving a sample of Cobra I, but that is for a different post.) I first saw what I think is the same stone in Mary in NC's beautiful kitchen on GW. It is supposed to be one of the harder varieties of soapstone. My samples feel hard and are almost impossible to scratch. The fabricator/stone yard said they came from Brazil.

But, I am confused by the name. Does anyone know why it is called "PA"? Or, is it "P.A."? Or "PA Original"? Does the "PA" stand for something? Some people on GW have referred to their soapstone as "Green Mountain Original PA". Is this the same thing? If so, why is it called "Green Mountain" when it all seems to come from Brazil? Why did the adorable and super helpful saleswoman at M. Texeira tell my DH yesterday that she had never heard of "PA"? And one final question, do the two big guns in the industry, Dorado and Texeira, have totally different names for the same soapstones? For example, Texeira's Santa Rita seems to be the same as Dorado's Minas. If that is the case, what would be the Texeira name for "PA"?

Hoping some of the soapstone obsessed on GW will share their expertise-- thanks!

Here is a link that might be useful: Mary in nc's kitchen on GW

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allison0704

You'll kick yourself. Pennsylvania.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 8:25AM
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fivefootzero

Pennsylvania (PA)

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 8:44AM
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marthavila

The woman at Texiera told you she never heard of PA because all dealers/distributors of soapstone don't deal with the same quarries. Texiera does not deal in Green Mountain Original PA. You can only get that stone from the source, http://www.greenmountainsoapstone.com/ or a dealer that does business with the source such as Garden State Soapstone in NJ. http://www.gardenstatesoapstone.com/

My Green Mountain Original PA came from Garden State. Yes, it is one of the harder soapstones available. As with the slabs I chose, it also has veining that can be very unusual and quite beautiful.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 9:10AM
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francoise47

Thanks. Interesting! (Yes, I've just kicked myself.)

When I asked at the stone yard if PA stood for Pennsylvania I was told, "No, it is from Brazil." I guess it is called Pennsylvania as a fanciful name with no connection to where it is quarried, as seems to be the case with many of our names for Brazilian and Indian soapstones?

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 9:12AM
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sombreuil_mongrel

If you have any patriotic fervor for stone quarried in the USA, your choice can only be Alberene from Virginia.
Casey

Here is a link that might be useful: Alberene

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 10:12AM
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marthavila

Francoise, I have to admit that your question as to what "PA" stands for has bothered me for a while as well and I've never felt comfortable that the answer is "Pennsylvania." Well, today, I finally bit the bullet and called Green Mountain Soapstone and asked them the question directly. Here's your answer:

"PA" stands for the name of the quarry where the soapstone comes from in Brazil. The full name of the quarry is Pinheiros Altos."

So there you have it!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 11:12AM
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francoise47

Dear marthavila, Thanks so very much! What genius to just call and ask at Green Mountain Soapstone. This is exactly the answer I was looking for. Pinheiros Altos it is. And what a beautiful stone. It sounds like you have been very happy with yours. Thanks for all the advice.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 12:20PM
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mythreesonsnc

That is too funny! I always assumed it was Pennsylvania too, and have to admit I chuckled at the question ---- I'm now giving myself a little kick. You know what happens when you assume, right?

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 12:29PM
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scarlooie

I wanted to get to the bottom of this because there was some confusion about PA Original for me as well. I was told by a different supplier they were the only Green Mountain soapstone distributor in the Philadelphia area, not Garden State. So I called Green Mountain to get to the bottom of this. It turns out that Philadelphia Soapstone is the only Green Mountain soapstone supplier for eastern PA and New Jersey. Garden State does not buy from Green Mountain.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 10:41AM
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marthavila

Scarlooie, I won't begin to debate where my GMOPA came from before it got to Garden State Soapstone. All I know is my countertops are of Green Mountain Original PA soapstone and I bought my slabs, back in 2007 from Garden State! :-) BTW, I notice that you just joined today, are you associated with Philadelphia Soapstone by any chance?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 10:52AM
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scarlooie

No, not affiliated with them at all. Usually just a lurker here to gather info. This topic was on my mind because Philadelphia Soapstone said they were exlusively fabricating Green Mountain and you said that you got it from Garden State. I see that you have been chiming in on here for years specifically touting Garden State soapstone. Do you work for them?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 3:13PM
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allison0704

LOL And here I thought I had learned something in GW kitchens. ;D Thanks, Marthavila.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 4:15PM
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64reno64

I am researching soapstone now, and according to Gardenstate's website, they carry "Original PA", so if it comes from the same quarry, it must be basically the same, right? Can anyone tell me how Original PA, or Green Mountain Original PA, compares to Barocca? I love Barocca, but Im afraid it might be a little too soft.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 4:39PM
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francoise47

Hi designnov, I have a sample of PA original (I don't know if it is Green Mountain Original PA; it is just called PA original) and a sample of Barocca. The Barocca is lovely, but seems quite a bit softer than the PA. I can scratch my sample of Barocca with my finger nail.

I don't work for a soapstone company -- lol!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 4:57PM
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64reno64

Francoise47 - thank you! That is what I was hoping to hear. Are they similar in appearance? Im looking to find something similar to Barocca.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 5:32PM
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francoise47

My PA Original actually looks quite different from my Barroca sample. To my eyes, the PA is more "refined" and elegant with greenish and beige spidery veins and a more consistently dark backgroud. The texture of my Barroca sample (from Tiexiera) is more mottled and textural, while still having some lovely chunky veins. Overall the Barroca reads lighter because it has more light specks. These are the parts that seems to chip the most easily. Keep in mind that I'm working with a small 4x4 inch sample. My Barroca sample doesn't look very much like the large slab on the Tiexiera website, so perhaps it is not representative. As you know, the little sample are no substitute for looking at the large slabs in the stone yard.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 8:25PM
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64reno64

Thanks - I will eventually get to Garden State to see it, but Im so curious, because PA seems like the best choice so far. It sounds very nice - but definitely looking for an overall charcoal as opposed to green. I have a Barocca sample, and while I dont mind oiling out a scratch, I can still see the indent in it after oiling. And thats just my finger nail. Have you decided on the PA? What color cabinets are you thinking of pairing it with?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 9:54PM
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francoise47

Hi Designnov,

Yes, I'm 80% decided on the PA soapstone. The only other contender is a Cobra soapstone I saw at Teixeira in NJ. I have literally considered every possible surface for the counters, from Caesarstone to Formica to Pyrolave to granite, marble, and slate.

I've picked white painted inset cabinets (replacing my 14 year old white Ikea thermofoil cabinets). I'm leaning toward Farrow and Ball's Wimborne white for the paint. It looks great with the PA soapstone sample. But I may do a slightly darker or richer "white" like F&B Slipper Satin. I'm planning to top the small 3 by 6 foot island with walnut edge grain butcher block, after flirting for months with the idea of a marble-topped island.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 10:33PM
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64reno64

Francoise47 - We think alike! I am also planning some shade of white painted inset, with walnut on 3x6 island. Likely cararra subway for backsplash. I also considered it for the island, too. Still have to figure out flooring. But waiting for the architect to finalize plans, so havent actively started shopping. Good luck - cant wait to see your pics!!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 9:37AM
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fivefootzero

I have a sample of PA Original that I got a few weeks ago from Garden State Soapstone...I can say that they supply it as well.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 9:54AM
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jerzeygal

I got my PA from Philadelphia Soapstone about 2 years ago. Had a great experience with them; large selection, friendly and knowledgeable staff. Will be using them again in the next year or so, as I have bought a new house that needs a new kitchen. I plan on doing basically the same look all over again. My old kitchen sold my house in ten days, so I think I can't go wrong! BTW, Marthvila, where does Garden State get their Original PA if it doesn't come from Green Mountain?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 4:12PM
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stephct

Hi Francoise-
Can you tell me how the PA compares to the cobra 1. I have a sample of cobra 1 right now and I really like it. I don't have a sample of PA yet. Are they similar colors? Is one harder than the other? What is making you lean more to the PA?
thanks so much!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 4:24PM
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marthavila

Jerzeygal, I can't answer your question because, believe it or not --- I don't work for Garden State Soapstone and never have!!! lol. (Frankly, there's a whole lot more I've been squirming to say about all this, but I've also promised myself to refrain from getting into a silly internet forum shoot-out for no good reason.) My suggestion to anyone who thinks they may have an interest in Original PA/Green Mountain Original PA is to work with whatever reasonable, trustworthy, competent and experienced supplier of the stone they can find. In my case, the supplier/fabricator nearest to me, and who also fit that bill was Jay Tauber at Garden State Soapstone. (And, in typical GW fashion, I've chosen to recommend a good vendor experience/product to others.) I must say that I've also heard especially good things about Bucks County Soapstone as well.

HTH

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 4:31PM
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marthavila

Stephct, if my memory serves me correctly, Cobra is a very hard, plain black soapstone that is devoid of veining. PA is similarly hard and "quiet" (tends to read plain black from a distance) but has occasional veining. Sometimes, the latter can be very striking and multi-colored. At the very least, it adds a subtle bit of diversity to a largely plain surface. Because of the veining in PA, I would guess that it's softer than Cobra.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 5:26PM
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stephct

Thanks so much Marthavila. The cobra does seems really hard from my scratch tests. I need to get a sample of PA. To those who used Garden State...do you happen to know if they mail samples like M. Teixera?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 7:42PM
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francoise47

Hi Stephct, Yes, marthavilla described the difference between Cobra and PA just as I would have. I've been to Garden State in person and got lots of samples. I don't know if they mail samples. Best wishes for your search.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 11:05PM
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gardenstatesoapstone

It looks like I have been missing all the fun. PA or Pinheiros Altos is imported by Green Mountain Soapstone. Yes I have many slabs of this PA in stock and purchase direct from the importer. The Barroca which is from the Mariana region of Brazil. Which by the way we have both Barroca and Mariana soapstone at our location. They both are very similar in the way they look. Both are around a 2.5 or 3 on the Mohs scale of Mineral Hardness, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohs_scale_of_mineral_hardness
A link if anyone is interested. The PA is around a 5.
We will mail out samples if anyone is interested. The difference between PA and Cobra is the PA has more character and probably a little harder.
I hope I have answerd your questions. Good luck to all.
We welcome you to visit our shop/showroom

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 4:18PM
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boxerpups

Marthavilla,

Thanks so much for finding the true name.

When I first read this post I thought I was the idiot
because I heard ages ago it was some place in South
America. Palo A_____ ??? Something. I am so glad I returned
to this post to RE-Learn that it is not Pennslyvania
and is indeed a Brazilian name Pinheiros Altos.

I am just laughing out loud for had I never returned
to this post I would be telling some one else PA
stood for the state.

~boxer

    Bookmark   March 7, 2011 at 7:59AM
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cheri127

My soapstone counters are also PA Original. It's hard, has caramel colored veins and doesn't read green at all. Be careful though, because it's one of the stones that if not finished correctly will give you horrendous water rings and spots. If it hadn't been for Florida Joshua I may have ripped my counters out but he refinished them and they are much more manageable now.

I didn't use Bucks County Soapstone because their stone is a soft Santa Rita type and I was very afraid to get a soft stone. After living with soapstone counters now for almost 2 years I can honestly say that the patina from soft stone wouldn't bother me a bit. I wish I had known that back then because Scott has some gorgeous stone and they do amazing work.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2011 at 8:22AM
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