Slate or Soapstone?

AilsaMMarch 17, 2011

I have read all the atributes of soapstone, but I am trying to see if anyone has used, seen or likes slate for a countertop. I live in MA and I can imaging they would be beautiful but I can't find any stone fabricator here that will touch them. The colors would be wonderful in my new kitchen and the 'drawbacks' of both seem fairly minimal. SO I thought I would get people's reactions. Why doesn't anyone like slate?

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I saw one in person and it was beautiful. In the Finished Kitchen blog look up Jane Dibber. Gorgeous kit with slate.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 4:59PM
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Is blue stone a type of slate? I've seen some neighbors' counters made of blue stone and it is lovely. It is also local -- I live in upstate New York, near the eastern edge of the catskill mountains where blue stone is quarried in abundance. I bet it is in MA as well.

As for other types of slate, I have seen some on floors and some on back splashes, and the surface always seemed pretty rough, uneven (layered?). I wonder if that's intrinsic to that type of stone. If so, seems less than ideal for a counter, though great for other surfaces.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 4:59PM
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Jay Tauber of Garden State Soapstone (the supplier/fabricator that did my soapstone countertops), also works a lot with slate. Check out the link below for a separate section of their website that talks about slate. Unfortunately, they don't seem to include Massachusetts in their service area, but try calling them. If they aren't willing to travel that far, maybe they can recommend a fabricator in the area to you? Can't hurt to ask!

Here is a link that might be useful: Slate Countertops

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 5:13PM
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I have seen both slate and pietra del cardosa at the slab yards here in CT. I think my fabricator can get practically anything, and send it to wherever you are, but don't see how he could fabricate it for you without being able to take measurements?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 5:25PM
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I don't know where you are in mass, but there's a place in Northampton that has slate in their show room - beautiful.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 5:51PM
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I'm a very long term lurker, and I have this site bookmarked from previous discussions about slate a few years ago:

Here is a link that might be useful: Sheldon

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 6:21PM
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I'm partial to slate as I'm doing a locally quarried slate floor. I have seen slate counters in an old farmhouse (recently remodeled) and it looked awesome! The woman that lived there said she was very happy with it. I'm in Eastern PA, so unfortunately I can't help with a fabrictor/supplier though. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 7:15PM
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Slate is a beautiful material. More and more people are
using this in kitchens. I have a few links below where
you can get slate or an installer in MA, NH or VT.
I also have a few images of slate. Check out the link about
slate and you will see it really is not more difficult to
maintain than some granites, marbles or soapstones.

BFR in NH does slate. I love this co.

Boston Granite Exchange (The have tons of slate)
The do not have pictures of slate on their web site
but they do sell slate slabs. If you are looking for an
installer you could call them to see who is near you.
West Bridgewater Location
279 Pleasant Street,
West Bridgewater, MA 02371
Phone: 508-521-1800
Fax: 508-521-1804

Vermont Slate Co. they are not too far away and are
well known throughout the US and Canada

VT Structural Slate Co.

Black Slate

Slate Countertops Slate Stone co.

VT Structural Slate Co.

Black Slate Stone Co.

Plum Slate

Sheldon Slate Products

VT Structural Slate Co.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to care for Slate countertops.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 6:47AM
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Boxerpups, Thanks these links should help. I will follow up with the one in Bridgewater fist as it is the most local. I did see some beautiful soapstone today so I am definitely going to be torn between the two unless there is a definite price difference.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 6:25PM
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My fabricator here in NH has a green Vermont slate countertop on display and it's gorgeous. I asked about the price and was told it was more expensive than their most expensive granite so I forced myself to run in the opposite direction.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 9:38AM
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I would be interested in anyone's negative experiences with Slate for coutertops. Some of the fabricators in MA that I have spoken with have indicated that it chips and breaks more easily than most. I have now seen samples of it and I really like it and the Woodland Jade or the Unfading Green would be a perfect color in my new kitchen. So I am hoping this community might be able to better tell me why some vendors are trying to stear me away from slate. (Other than the obvious reason that they want me to buy their product.) Thanks everyone for your help.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 12:57PM
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When I was reading up on slate a while ago, folks seem to make great hay about the type of slate used. Many are supposed to be bad, naughty, no-good, dirty rotten countertops. They chip like nails at a cheap salon. They scratch. They have B.O. etc. Others are low or no-maintenance, wear like iron and enhance your fiber intake. Or something.

A couple of links for you.

There's this one and that one.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 9:40PM
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In our first house in Connecticut, an 1840s Italianate Greek Revival, we remodeled the kitchen in 1996 and used Brazilian green slate for the countertops. I believe most slate comes from Brazil because it is difficult to get large slabs from Vermont, but maybe I'm wrong about that. I thought it was beautiful. We lived in that house for five years after the remodel (it took five days to sell the house for a then-record price in that neighborhood, I think because of that kitchen), and we never sealed the slate, or did any particular maintenance at all. After four years one counter had one hairline crack that was barely visible. One counter edge had a chip where I had swung a large, heavy cast-iron pot into the edge. Someone told me that the chip could be made invisible by filling it with a resin and slate dust amalgam of some sort. But the chip didn't bother me enough to mess with anything like that. I think the slate is more reactive than soapstone and could in theory be marked by wine or acids, but I don't remember any such lesions accumulating on the countertop. Wouldn't have cared much if it did. It did not scratch as easily as soapstone does. But I love soapstone, too. Remember that slate is commonly used for laboratory counters -- heat and stain resistant, tough, handsome material. Boxerpups's pictures show how beautiful the matte quiet surface is. If you like it, it's a good choice.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 10:21PM
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I always understood that it's soapstone used in labs, not slate....


    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 10:59PM
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i like slate too.

Someone once mailed me a sample of serpentine, a stone that is half way between slate and soapstone. Too bad it's called serpentine. What a name.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 11:30PM
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We have slate countertops in our kitchen, installed by previous owners. They are blackish with some white veins. Most people think they are soapstone. Super smooth and honed in appearance. Have done absolutely nothing to them in 8 years, and they look great. So I guess they are the "good slate"? Wish I could share more info on their origin.


    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 2:00AM
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collins design

My mom had slate counters (with integral sink & drainboard) built for her last house (in Maine). I think it was local Maine slate... I believe she had them made by these folks (i'll bet they do work in MA, too!)
Sheldon Slate:

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 8:14AM
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Anyone else have comments about the great slate vs soapstone debate?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 4:01PM
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Can someone please tell me the geologic difference between the slate found in NY/VT/ME vs the foreign stuff from Brazil, India and China? I'm not looking for good or bad, but hardness difference and chipping factors. It seems that the US types are harder and I want to be able to prove it to my contractor but I don't know where to find the empirical data. He doesn't think slate will hold up and I want to show him it will.


    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 8:35PM
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Much of the Sheldon slate in the above link comes from Maine. Schools all over Maine, including the campus I work at now, have slate lab tables and sinks; it is durable and beautiful.

Monson Slate has a little historical info in the link below. There are roofs all over Maine made with slate mined there. Bates College in Lewiston, Maine has a number of slate roofed buildings made with that slate.

I love it and someday hope to have slate and/or soapstone in my kitchen.

Here is a link that might be useful: Monson Slate history

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 9:36PM
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Just like there used to be for soapstone, there's a lot of misinformation
about slate, some of it in this thread.

Slate quarried in NY and New England is extremely durable for countertops.
It's amazingly strong, as a large overhang for seating does not need
support! I saw this for myself at the Sheldon Slate Co's showroom, in
upstate NY. The owner's son, a large guy, jumped up onto the unsupported
overhang to prove the point.

I brought home samples of all the available colors, which come in a book,
and also has a ton of information.

I tested the samples for days on end...putting acidy, oily, and condiments
of all kinds on the stones. I threw keys and knives on them, and dragged
mugs and plates across.

Staining-wise, all stones came out unscathed, except for the black. As
one article stated, black slate is porous. As for the other colors, they were
stain AND etch free.

A couple of times I thought I saw some discoloration, so I wiped
mineral oil over the stone, like you would for soapstone. And, ta da,
when the oil dissipated, the stone was perfect!

As for scratching, the keying and dragging did leave minor scratches,
which just like with soapstone, disappeared with a wipe of mineral oil.

The surface of a slate counter is honed smooth, and again, like soap-
stone, is almost sensuous to touch. I could not stop petting the stones.

To get the most accurate information, I suggest you make an appoint-
ment at Sheldon Slate, and take the long drive there. It's a family-run
company, and you will get a most attentive, extensive tour of the place.
The NY location is pretty much at the Vermont border. There is also an
office in Maine.

Sorry for the long post, buy the misinformation was bugging me.


Here is a link that might be useful: Sheldon Slate

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 10:07PM
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Mabelding...during my Sheldon Slate tour, I was told that the black slate
is quarried in Maine. The grey, green and purples all come from NY and

When you drive along the road leading to the NY location, the sides of
the road are piled with discarded slates of purple, green and grey. The
locales are free to pillage the piles, for use in their own homes.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 10:16PM
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having researched both, we decided to go with soapstone as it was cheaper and more readily available where we are. after a year, there isn't a single scratch or chip anywhere--despite my clumsy self, husband and three boys. we actually already had a coffee table with black slate, though not honed. both are beautiful, but there is something about soapstone-warmer and softer to the touch and indestructible. have never bothered oiling it-totally nonabsorbent anyway. also a magical defroster! perfect for old houses-we combined with butcherblock on the side counters and made our island soapstone. good luck!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 5:04PM
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Through personal experience I do not recommend
Garden State Soapstone. I purchased slate tile for my
Kitchen floor from GSS and had it installed by GSS. The floor
Was not installed correctly, the thinset did not
Adhere to the tiles and my concrete subfloor.
Jay Tauber is placing blame on the subcontractor
That he hired to do the install. I had no idea the floor installer
Was a subcontractor and not a GSS employee.
Jay will not refund my money and would not fix my floor.
The floor had to be completely replaced by Another company.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 10:03PM
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