do you have Pietra Cardosa or Soapstone that you keep grey?

jfnewhouseMay 5, 2013

I've had soapstone in my current home and I love it- a hard dark variety with beautiful veins. I've been loving it for over 6 years- no problems.
Much as I would love to have it in my new house, I am thinking the kitchen layout can't handle all that black, and so I am looking for something more grey (granite and manufactured need not apply- do not want a shiny surface). I have seen Virginia mist, but it's not my ideal- I would like to see veins and it's usually too homogeneous for my tastes.
1) Do you have pietra cardosa?I have heard conflicting reports about needing to seal. Can't seem to find links on gardenweb for previous threads on this. If you have it, can you comment on etching or spotting? For example, what if you wanted to make fondant on it- kneading crisco/ marshmallows/ powdered sugar. Would it cause a spot that would not come out?
2) Have you had a soapstone counter that you kept in the grey phase? How do you do it? I have heard that wiping with solvents like acetone removes the black patina, but I worry about the softness of grey/ pale soapstones, or having patches of it constantly look darker (where using olive oil etc). That sounds like too much upkeep for me.
I'd love your input- but especially if you have this in your own home.

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I have a harder variety with tons of veining. I typically only wax when we're going to have a big party... so maybe once every couple or three months. Mine doesn't go really gray, more like washed out black jeans or a deep charcoal. That's how they are right now. If you needs, I can take a couple of pics (once I clean up... in the middle of cooking right now!)

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 9:25AM
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My SS has settled into a nice soft gray tone. I never oil it and just let it act like soapstone. I've never sealed it either in any fashion. It does get some olive oil and or grease on it now and again but I don't do anything special for that - just a quick wipe with a wet dishrag. Honestly, I don't notice the spots - they seem to go away quickly.

I don't know what variety of SS I have - I bought both the counters and my soapstone sink from Bucks County Soapstone in near Philly and am thrilled with it.

Great service - great guys.

Good luck - Doc

Here is a link that might be useful: Bucks County Soapstone

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 10:45AM
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Hi, thanks very much for the replies. What I am trying to ask about the soapstone, is do you make an attempt to keep it the raw pale grey color. I love my soapstone. It arrived pale grey and in the first days/ years I rubbed it with beeswax/ mineral oil to give it that nice matte black look. I certainly don't want to take a corner and strip it off now!! but in my new place, I will have double countertops in a great-room kitchen- and I think the mass of "black" from soapstone will not be as beautiful there (dark wood floor, and white cabinets would be wrong, so I need to have lighter counter).
I'm looking for someone that intentionally keeps it grey. Have you ever tried that?
**BUMP*** Anybody with Pietra Cardosa out there? I am dying to hear!!!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 11:02PM
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Well, we keep ours gray. We've had it for almost 3 years now-it's on perimeter counters and the island. I really don't work too hard to keep it gray, but our variety also has some speckles or spots on it that are a little darker so small spots of oil sort of blend in, and then fade away. If there is a big weird looking smear of oil, which happens sometimes, I just clean it either with Dawn, or sometimes a product called ''Greased Lightning''. I read something on here once about what the Greased Lightning had in it, but since the soapstone doesn't absorb it, and I wipe it off and then wipe it with a soapy rag, I don't worry too much about it. All in all, we really wanted a light gray/blue-ish soapstone, not dark gray, so that's what we have:

Closeup of island:


    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 12:13AM
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Wow!! You seriously were able to maintain that look for 3 years? that is fabulous! I am really excited! thanks so much for sharing the photos. I want my soapstone, but I just think black/oiled will look depressing. I think that wonderful grey will be soft and wonderful! thanks again!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 12:55AM
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My Python soapstone has been in for a bit over a year. I have never intentionally oiled it. However, the sections of the countertop that get significant use are now pretty well darkened. I have also never tried to degrease these sections (other than normal washing with soapy water). The corners are still pretty gray.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 2:27PM
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Thanks to all for the replies. I contacted Texiera soapstone and they say that you can also use a dry wax or a certain sealant to keep the original grey look. Now it seems like all I need to do is choose my slabs!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 1:02AM
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Our soapstone is gray naturally, if I oiled or waxed it would be a much darker gray.

We have Belvedere from M. Tex. We do nothing to keep it this color. I clean the counters with Lysol Kitchen cleaner spray.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 8:09AM
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Thanks so much for getting this thread going because I have had my counters in now for two weeks, and I want to keep them grey. But, I am having problems with the oil spots showing. Maybe it is the variety--Original PA from Green Mountain--I have, but the oil spots from spattering when frying or from an olive oil bottle ring are quite noticeable. So, I am still trying to figure out how to deal with those and could benefit from some tips.

I had read here about Greased Lightning, and it does do the trick. But, then my husband made a comment about the chemicals it is made from. So I am a bit leery of constantly using that. Dawn applied full strength will also do the trick. But, I have found that just wiping with a soapy rag doesn't take care of the oil spots and I need to do something more. I don't mind that they will darken in well-used places because to me that is more of a natural patina, but the spots don't look particularly attractive. I think perhaps the secret if you want to do this is to choose a more mottled variety versus something like mine that is a pretty uniform all over grey with veins. I had been so concerned about scratching and the need for a harder variety that I passed on a couple of other varieties that in retrospect might have been better for someone who wants to maintain the natural look and color.

By the way, my fabricator, who was absolutely amazed that I did not want to oil them, told me that just the process of oxidation due to exposure to air will cause them to darken.

jf--Did Texiera tell you the name of the product that can be used to keep them light grey? Thanks.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 8:39AM
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By the way, my fabricator, who was absolutely amazed that I did not want to oil them, told me that just the process of oxidation due to exposure to air will cause them to darken.

You hear that explanation for the darkening a lot, and I am sure it is wrong in detail. Soapstone is mostly talc, or steatite. It is a magnesium silicate. It is already an oxide! It cannot get any more oxidized.

Moreover, those slabs have sat, exposed to air, in the stoneyard ever since their initial polishing, which may have been several years ago. My own slabs sat exposed in my backyard for many months while I fabricated them. They did not darken a whit during that time. So why do your countertops start darkening after they are installed?

Here is what I think is going on. You install the stone. You get some oil on it, let's say inadvertently. It cannot get absorbed by the non-porous stone, so most of it eventually evaporates. (This is why, for intentional oilings with mineral oil, you must repeat your initial applications.) However, some of the oil polymerizes. This increases the molecular weight, and slows the evaporation. This is what happens, for example, to an oil-based varnish, an old-fashioned linseed-oil based paint, or the seasoning fats in your cast-iron frying pan.

Eventually, you get a basically permanent layer of polymerized oil. It can be removed, of course, but it won't go away by itself at the same rate that those initial coats of oil did.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 1:18PM
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Angie-Which explains why the areas of highest use start to slowly darken. I never did really understand how it could ''oxidize''.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 2:23PM
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Angie--You must be a geology major!

I too was trying to logically think though how a smooth slab of stone that had been quarried and now sitting out exposed to the air would continue to darken but figured the fabricator must know something I don't.

And, Angie, you don't have grease spots on your counters and you have never put any treatment on them?

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 7:32PM
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Sorry to report that my experience differs from fivefootzero. I did say this upthread, but let me be more clear. The areas of my counters that I use are pretty dark by now; it looks as if I had oiled them. The areas of my counter that I do NOT use, i.e., the deep part of the corner, look more or less as they did when I installed them. In the areas in between, well, I wouldn't have said that there are grease spots, but I don't think that is an unreasonable description. I have toyed with oiling the whole thing, just to even it out, but I have not done that yet.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 10:42PM
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Angie, have you tried wiping them with a cleaner that cuts oil? Like a Dawn, or like the Lysol Kitchen counter cleaner that I use? I do get some spots if I put a spoon down that I just stirred a pot with, or if something overflows on the counter, but it cleans up right away with the cleaner and looks brand new again.

Over the holidays when I bake and roll out a lot of cookies on the counters, they do darken from the butter in the dough. One wipe though with a cleanser and its gone.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 8:39AM
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Well, no, I haven't. I just wash with soapy water. (Dawn, in fact, but have only tried dilute solutions.) I was not particularly trying to preserve the gray look; I actually like it darker.

To be honest, I hadn't really decided whether to oil it or not, so I decided to let nature take its course! Perhaps I will pick up some of that Lysol Kitchen Cleaner and see if it cuts the dark areas or not. (If I really want it back to gray, I am not afraid to sand with fine-grit wet-or-dry sandpaper, as I have had to do that during fabrication.)

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 9:06AM
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I have had my soapstone for almost 3 years and have never oiled it. It has remained basically the same color since it was installed, I do nothing special to keep it that way I just wipe my counters down with soap and water. This seems to take care of any grease spots, fingerprints, etc., they come right up with just regular soap and water. My soapstone is definitely a lighter gray, I don't know if it shows up that well in the picture

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 10:33AM
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Angie, try the Lysol Kitchen cleaner, I think it has a purple trigger sprayer. Or any spray cleaner you like. You can also use alcohol or acetone too. Whatever is making it dark is just on the surface, so you really shouldn't have to resort to sanding it.

Keep me posted if you do it.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 2:17PM
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jfnewhouse, did you end up getting soapstone for your countertops or the pietra? i am having the exact same dilemma. i want grey countertops, not black or super dark grey, but am wondering which would be easier to maintain as grey, a soapstone or pietra cardosa. i have also been told by three different shops that you can actually seal both of these stones with a non-color enhancing sealer and that helps maintain the grey color and prevent stains. but have also had other people tell me that you can't seal soapstone or if you do it's a waste of time and doesn't really work since ss is non-porous and won't absorb the sealer. i wish i could just see each of these installed in a working kitchen and see how they fare over the years :). tough decision, for me.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 7:41AM
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I've had my Pietra Cardosa kitchen counters for just over a year now and love them. I heard all sorts of warnings about them and was very concerned, researched heavily, and obsessed. I spoke with a person who used to have soapstone and now had Pietra and found them to be much less maintenance and harder than soapstone. I love soapstone but didn't want to deal with the oiling, and was worried about how soft soapstone is. I love the look of my Pietra counters, and maintenance is minimal. We had them sealed when they were installed, and so far no need to do so again. The woman I spoke with had not sealed them in 4 years, and she described herself as a messy cook. I am as well but I am definitely more careful with these. They are beautiful, and people who come into my kitchen always ask about them. They have a great feel as well, different from soapstone, but very organic and smooth. I think the look is a bit cleaner than soapstone, but still organic and natural and not slick...they have a cool warmth, if that makes sense (I just don't love the look of granite) I have noticed that when a heavy metal utensil has dropped on the counter there can be a slight nick, but it's hard to see because of the markings on the Pietra. Have not had any stains. Granite would be much harder, but the Pietra is so much nicer in look and feel. I obsessed about the choice but now that I have them I totally love them and feel they 'maker' my kitchen. I have white cabinets, and a white island with butcher block on top. On a small countertop that houses non-food items (telephone,, bowls, cutting board) I put in a slab of limestone, which I love but know does not do well exposed to food.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 3:34PM
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Thanks for all the replies to my post! Sorry that I was rude and didn't post any follow-up as the thread continued to grow! We went to Teixeira in San Francisco and chose some gorgeous slabs of Barocca soapstone. This is a softer soapstone than I have in my current house, but even when wet or oiled, it will go to a medium grey, not a black. On top of that, the representative said they sell a dry wax product that can maintain it in any state of grey between the raw unoiled look toward the oiled look. He didn't show me the product, and I don't know how it's applied, but he showed us some stone in a countertop display that supposedly had been treated with it (still grey color after years). We will be finished with the new home remodel soon, and I can't wait. I'm sure the barocca will be softer and more easily dinged, but my dark soapstone really has nearly no marks on it after 6 years of use. I'm not afraid of a patina in the new kitchen- it will work fine.
Regarding Pietra- great to hear that it is not necessarily as tricky as I have heard. I think it is gorgeous stone- and yes, it's "cleaner" looking- than soapstone. It's sort of a step toward granite that way. I prefer the veins I've seen in soapstones. I like the patterning I've seen in pietra, but it seems to me that it mostly is swirls of inclusions, almost as if it represents settling patterns in rock formation. It gives a more uniform and homogeneous look than the veins I've seen in soapstone. Not sure if all Pietra has this type of patterning and lack of veins.

A final note on marks in soapstone: I have almost no marks in mine as I said above. The new house has mirror-finish Caesar stone counters in dark brown (that will be replaced). When unpacking groceries, my husband dropped a bottle of beer on the counter. Caught it just as it fell right side up. The bottle did not break, but there is a mark on the counter that matches the little stripes from the bottom edge of the bottle. It is really noticeable and will always be there (until we rip it out!!). On soapstone, it would fade in right away and would not be noticed at all. Just saying.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 2:26AM
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Jfnewhouse, enjoy your new counters! And please excuse a thread jack?
Coll4, that is a lovely space and I went looking for detail on that fabulous light, but couldn't find a reveal. Please share?

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 6:41AM
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Clyde10 -- do you think you could post pics of your kitchen? We are currently building and strongly considering Pietra or a honed ceasarstone... perhaps even with a butcher block/walnut island... would love to see yours. Thanks!!!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 10:31AM
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Don't know if I'll get a reply, since this thread is old, but I was interested in Angie's explanation of why soapstone darkens. I made the huge mistake of oiling my soapstone, and now it's dark and I hate it! The darkness, not the soapstone, which I love. I oiled it because the installer told me to oil it, and I just did what he said. I used both mineral oil and a beeswax/mineral oil salad bowl finish my installer said was better. Well, it worked, and the soapstone is dark, with nice white streaks.

Is there a safe way to bring it back to gray without damaging the surface or sanding it? And once it's gray, it seemed initially to get darker whenever it got wet. Will it just dry back to gray or will it get a grimy dark look around the sink where it's wet a whole lot of the time, and food spills on it, etc.?

Will Dawn alone remove polymerized oil (does that mean the oil has turned into a plastic-like film?)? Or must I use something toxic? I clean with vinegar and water, so I stay away from Lysol and other household chemicals. Even Dawn would only be used in emergencies in my house!

TIA if anyone responds!!

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 6:30PM
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kksmama, So sorry for the late reply but I just saw your post. The light fixtures over the island are amphora bell jar glass pendants and the one over the kitchen table is from Restoration Hardware, Pearson Pendant.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 12:33PM
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Thanks, they are lovely! I decided on Hudson valley Haverhill pendants I love in pictures and hope are better quality than cheaper, similarly styled pendants. They aren't here yet, and I wonder if I've over-spent.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 2:19PM
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