Brazilian Soapstone? Anyone have it or regret it?

megpie77May 22, 2009

I could really use some great advise, as I just can't seem to choose between Absolute black honed granite or soapstone. I live near Seattle and the only soapstone available is gray or green from Brazil. The sample I have chips and scratches easily but it doesn't look very pollished or "finnished". It's just a beat up sample which makes it difficult to see it in it's glory. I have seen the slab in person though and it looks much better. I have heard more bad things about the absolute black honed granite than bad things about soapstone. I have 3 kids and it will get lots of wear and tear. I don't mind the scratches, as I have tested the sanding and oiling and it comes out almost invisable. I am worried about the chipping. Has anyone had soapstone for a few years with it still looking great? All and any advise and pics would be greatly appreciated.

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Hi Megpie, I don't have soapstone yet, but am also near Seattle and will be building in the next year. I was hoping to use soapstone as my perimeter counter. Can you tell me what supplier you are going to? I wondered if it would be tough to find here, as I can't seem to find any installed to look at. Good luck....

    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 1:04PM
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Megpie, most soapstone comes from Brazil and there are different varieties which are all considered "Brazilian" soapstone. Do you know which variety you may have a sample of? The only soapstone being mined in the US is from Alberene in Virginia, and I think I'm right in saying that even they aren't actually mining anymore, but just using slabs that were mined years ago. I've read that no soapstone is being mined in Vermont anymore, even though places sell it under the name of Vermont SS. Other companies use names like PA original, or Green Mountain Original, but I'm fairly sure it all comes mainly from Brazil because the US just doesn't have the supply anymore. Maybe you can get a little bit more info on the sample you have or the slab you've looked at to determine the actual variety it is and whether or not it's what you want in SS.

I have a friend who has honed AB and she hates it! When I met with a cabinetmaker and was in his showroom he had honed AB on a display and said they couldn't wait to rip it out. He said that it showed every fingerprint, smudge and watermark. He said they were constantly fighting it to make it look decent. Even though my kids are older, it was enough to make me steer clear of it. There are some other black granite choices out there that can be honed or antiqued and seem to have far fewer issues than the honed AB. Do a search for Antiqued Nordic Black granite, which has had some great reviews as a SS alternative. Also Mamadadapaige and a few others on here love their SS alternatives and used Ocean Green or Virginia Mist granite which was honed. If you look up mamadadapaige in the finished kitchens blog you'll see all the info on her lovely granite.

I have Green Mountain Original SS and love it!

Kat :)

    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 1:18PM
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You will hate any honed or matte finish if you have kids. The process of honing will also open up the material more and make it even more porous. Just because you seal it, doesn't mean that it won't show everything. I will not sell honed or leather textures any more, I wouldn't put them in my own house.
As far as soapstone goes, it is for looks, not for wear. Think about this. Talcum powder is basically ground soapstone. It is very soft, softer than Corian. Not an easy worksurface and must be maintained often.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 3:13PM
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Gayl-I found the best selection at Meta in Seattle. They had a green soapstone and two gray varieties; one had more veining that the other. Other places had it like Michelangelo and Oregon tile and marble. It really is nice if you can drive there and look around. They are all within walking distance. The man who is installing mine (whichever I choose) said he doesn't install it very often. Another company I almost went with seems to install it fairly often. They are Johnson Stone Countertop in Tacoma. I went to one lady's house and she has soapstone with a pattern that reminds me of a leapord. It looked nice but there were chips all around her sink. She has had it for 3 years and loves it and said she isn't very carefull with it, hence the chips. She doesn't have any kids though and I do. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 4:51PM
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lesmis. Thanks again. I think you have helped me before recently. Every little bit of information helps.

Everyone-I think we, or perhaps just I, have chosen two high maintenance countertops. No matter what I choose I know this and don't mind the maintenance. It seems like when soapstone gets worn it looks ok because it has a rustic stone look and the scratches that occure just blend in with all of the veining. The downside is the chipping. With AB honed it has less variation and less depth (kind of a flat look) and seems it would show more, but probably won't scratch as easy as soapstone and doesn't chip. I answering my own questions? I know the pros and cons, it's just a matter of what flaws I can live with. It really helps to hear everyones experiences so thanks again and please keep them coming!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 5:05PM
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Meg, If you can chip your sample easily, I would not install it as a countertop. Even in Seattle, you can get soapstone from one of Dorado Soapstone's locations. Their Beleza is very hard. Or M. Texiera also ships and their Julia is very hard. Have each company mail you their samples and see how they hold up. I would agree with you that scratches are one thing but chips are another.

Also, check out Nordic Black Antique granite or Cambrian Black satin granite.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 5:35PM
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mklein You may be referring to the softer soapstone used for carving when you say it is not suitable for countertops. It is very common to come by 200 year old soapstone sinks that are in great condition. I am not sure that Corian lasts as long :) My daughters' middle school is 101 years old and the science labs actually have beautiful soapstone lab benches that look as good as my own 2 year old counter.. Although it is 50% talc by content, the rest of the elements that make up soapstone are quite sturdy.

That being said, it is not a stone for someone that likes perfection. It will by its very nature show some dings and scratches and one should expect to be accepting of that. As far as maintenance, my stone (higher maintenance Santa Rita) requires approx 4 hours per year to keep it in its dark grey perfection.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 5:47PM
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We are just outside Seattle too, and just got done with this process. We too went back and forth between SS and honed granite, but did not have luck with either in this area. A few places were super expensive for fabricating, and others had only green stone. We ended up with an amazing deal on Pietra. Its beautiful, much harder than SS. We found it at NW Stone in Redmond.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 5:57PM
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anon girl, what is Pietra? I've never heard of it a granite?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 8:53PM
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On the Eastside here, anyone try Crocodile Rocks in Kenmore? I've been emailing them because they are a local contact for Danby marble. They have a variety of SS on their web-site. I'm interested in any experiences with them.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 9:13PM
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Pietra is a schist. Some call it soapstone, some call it slate. Its neither. It is a natural stone that is extremely durable. I has SS in my previous kitchen with only 1 child and he destroyed it. Now I've got three kids so I need durability, but I'm not a fan of granite.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 10:10PM
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Hi. I used a highly polished black granite in my kitchen and it's terrible. Shows
every fingerprint and needs constant attention. It looks beautiful right after
cleaning and awful, as in dirty, for the remaining 23 hours and 45 minutes per day. And we have no kids...just two adults.

Just a warning.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 6:32PM
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I know this was awhile ago. But we have Brazilian Soapstone, and absolutely LOVE it!! And we actually got it from Crocodile Rocks in Kenmore. They have a nice selection and desk areas made out of soapstone, so you can see the wear/nicks. I think if you like soapstone, you love it and if you don't, you hate it. It just depends on if you would be okay with character. Lets put it this way, if you wouldn't mind the scratches on butcher block, then you would LOVE soapstone :-)

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 4:19PM
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Hi Seatownmom! We are getting our Brazilian Soapstone from Crocodile Rocks too! We are beyond excited.. We're having the fabricator next door, Homchick Stone make a matching sink. How did yours turn out? Did you have them fabricate it too?

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 4:57PM
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Let's not blame the stone for the faults of the fabricator and homeowner.

I see and fix chips around sinks constantly. Why? Because the fabricator used a 1/8" roundover instead of 3/8". Why? Because it's faster and therefore less expensive. He's certain his customer won't pay more for a more functional edge and unfortunately he's probably right.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 5:44PM
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Trebruchet can you explain or show a picture of a 3/8" round over vs a 1/8" ? I am getting soapstone and I would pay more to have less chips around the sink.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 10:36PM
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I am reading every GW thread about soapstone trying to convince myself that I will love it if I use it in our remodeled kitchen. I keep learning important new information, so thanks to all GW posters. I assume that what Trebruchet is saying is that an edge that is more rounded won't show chips as much. I recently talked to a kitchen designer who used soapstone in her own kitchen and she said that she should have "eased" the edge more, because it wouldn't show the chips as much as a hard edge. Has anyone else found this to be true? I am not a fan of polished granite with lots of movement, and I think the look of soapstone would be perfect for our traditional white kitchen, but I just don't want to have it look beaten up in 8-10 years.

Also, I agree with the comments about honed back granite showing every fingerprint and smudge. I've seen this and have talked with homeowners who absolutely hate their honed black granite for this reason.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 12:38PM
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Maybe this info will help?

A Honed vs Polished search on Houzz.

A retailer's info page about honed absolute granite. Seems to be a lot of Q&A on that site.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 9:11PM
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Terrific information at both of these links, bend-or. Thanks! I had never heard of the issue of granite being artificially colored until recently. A homeowner had to replace their black granite counters after just 3 years, because faded spots were multiplying. So upsetting and what deceit in the industry. I think I'm going to do some more research on the Mohs scale ratings for soapstone and try to get a feel for just how high the rating has to be to make a meaningful difference in its durability. I appreciate all the great information on GW. There's nothing that speaks louder than the experience of homeowners.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 12:25AM
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I'm surprised by your KD's comments. Why doesn't she just ease the edge more now? Or have it done? That's half the appeal to soapstone: you can make changes!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 3:32PM
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Hi Soapstonelover, thanks for the shout out! We absolutely LOVE our soapstone! Mabsy, I was feeling apprehensive about getting soapstone, because I didn't want the edges getting chipped. But I talked to the lady at Crocodile Rocks, who has soapstone in her kitchen. She made me realize that I have the "personality" to like soapstone. She broke it down into what leather couch I would prefer; an Anthropologie worn leather couch, or a shiny Dania style one. THAT RIGHT THERE made me realize I would never want a clean cut Dania style! Its just not in my nature to like such a cold modern piece. She sent me home with a large soapstone scrap and told me to "live with it" for awhile. So I threw my keys on it, scratched it, oiled it etc. It turns out its exactly what I was looking for!!! I sweat things happen for a reason, and there was a reason why I went in there and talk to that sweet lady!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 7:18PM
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Good info here, specially regarding 1/8 vs 3/8 edge. Thanks

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 8:24PM
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