Tips from one who just put in marble & soapstone

needinfo1April 28, 2013

My counters have been in for not quite a week now, and here are my gut impressions. (Soapstone is on the more heavily used L of my counter areas, while marble is on the lesser used other side of my kitchen; I don't have an island. This was a kitchen refresh rather than a gut or new construction.)

I've got an older house with 1920's to 1930's era, natural birch cabinetry (honey toned) some original and some custom replicas. The floors are maple that also have a honey tone. Obviously the counter looks are completely different and, if I look at only the one surface at a time, the kitchen has a totally different feel and look. The soapstone area seems quite similar to what many people today are installing in Craftsmen type kitchens, while the marble has a more undefinable by era look. The darker soapstone definitely soaks up the light whereas the lighter marble doesn't. I'm glad the soapstone is on the side of my kitchen where the windows are because I think it might be overwhelmingly dark in an area without really good natural lighting.


In retrospect, I overanalyzed this choice because I got so caught up in all of the discussions here of density and hardness and scratching. I eliminated some choices I probably would have liked better just because they weren't as hard and might be more vulnerable to scratching. Even the quite hard (original PA) I installed does get small scratches from everyday use. Now that I understand this, and see that it does not bother me, if I had it to do over again, I'd pick more on looks rather than being so concerned about all of this scratching/hardness issue. I'd been hoping to leave it unwaxed and unoiled because I like the lighter appearance better, but I'm already seeing that grease spots appear very easily when unoiled. I'm still trying to work out a good method to deal with these spots and may end up going the waxing/oiling route despite the fact I'd prefer the lighter appearance.

Marble--It's lovely, and in some ways I wish I'd had the guts to use it all over. But, it has not really had any wear or any use so I haven't been dealing with etching or everyday maintenance issues, and I hear these are much more apparent in really well-lit areas (like the areas where my soapstone are). Mine has been sealed three times, so I am hoping it does well. Interestingly enough, my fabricator commented to me that he can tell when he first comes out to measure whether people will have problems with marble or not. He thinks people who keep the kitchen fairly well maintained are those for whom it will work. He said we should be fine, and we are not neat freaks by any stretch of the imagination.

I like the mix of both materials. Appearance wise I think I would have liked all marble. I don't know if I would have been happy with all soapstone (just because it is so dark) unless I'd chosen a different type than I selected.

I got lots of help here, so I hope this helps others who are going through the throes of decision making. I decided to post this now because I think most people, unless it was really a horrid decision on their part, adjust to whatever they have installed and forget their early impressions.

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Thanks for posting, that was a useful opinion coming from someone who's been wondering how much I need to concern myself with scratching of soapstone. I know everyone's tolerances are different for such things but the more info to sift through makes for better decision making in my book

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 2:15PM
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Another thank you -- this was generous and helpful to me in a couple of ways. I debated soapstone and marble and went with marble. I almost didn't because of all the concerns about etching and chipping. It's true, it does etch and chip. But I think I would have regretted not getting it because I simply liked it so much more than anything else.

It is important to be apprised of all the potential problems before hand and to make an informed decision. But I think it is also important to not over think too much and to not relinquish something you really want -- if you want it enough to live with the potential downsides.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 4:46PM
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I'm glad this helped both of you. I don't want to give the impression that I don't like my soapstone, but I just wanted others to know my impressions now that it is actually installed in my kitchen. I do like it a lot.

And, I am quite certain if I'd installed all marble and had been using it as a primary prep surface, rather than just a place to set things in the more out of the way side of our kitchen, I might have some comments about living with it every day.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 10:35AM
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Another thank you. I adore my friend's soapstone but my new kitchen will be a windowless galley with natural light on both ends. I have been saying marble, which I also love, because I'm afraid soapstone will absorb too much light. Thanks for confirming my judgement. I'll go marble with no regrets.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 12:59PM
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I had soapstone and White Princess at my old house and we are starting demo of my new(old) house, so I am going through the thought process again of whether I can live with the marble.

I like that that you have reiterated what I seem to hear on this forum--that those that want marble and go into the decision with full disclosure and info gathering, find it to be a wonderfully beautiful material. I am leaning toward marble this time, mostly because I have not found that the color of the White Princess quartzite these days to be the color that I am looking for.

Thanks for adding yet another opinion--that's what I love about these boards. You hear both sides of most every material/decision.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 12:21AM
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