soapstone before/after rehoning

farmgirlinkyJune 25, 2011

Hope this is useful to some soapstone folks. We were overall happy with our Jucca soapstone counters from Dorado, but I was bothered by the higher-than-expected sheen after dry waxing, which had the advantage of making the iron and quartz veining "pop" more, but also made the counters easier to visibly scratch (scratches in the wax?) and perhaps more likely to have watermarks trapped under wax. I wanted a more traditional soapstone feel, and through remodelfla and others, reached Joshua of Creative Stone in Florida, who put me in touch with a former colleague of his in Pennsylvania, David Mellinger (267-644-8388) who just happened to be passing through Connecticut one week later. He rehoned our counters and oiled them with Clark Stanley's Snake Oil Liniment (=mineral oil), and we are thrilled with the difference. He sanded first with 80 grit, then with 150 grit. Water was involved in the final stages, too, but I was in the office when it happened and can't cite chapter and verse.) We are now officially thrilled with the soapstone instead of pleased/anxious. The veining is more subtle, but that's fine. At the risk of boring those who have seen pictures from this kitchen ad nauseum: the first two pictures are before rehoning, the latter are after rehoning:





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FWIW - I like every pic of your counters, both before and after. That is great that you like them better now and are no longer anxious about them ;)

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 12:01PM
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Love your kitchen! Thanks for the information. Our soapstone is getting installed in about a month. I definitely prefer the "after" photos, but the before is gorgeous too!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 12:06PM
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Whoa! Your counters are wonderful, but your whole kitchen is phenomenal! Your kitchen is the final straw. I have got to find a way to put soapstone on my island. I think soapstone is the only counter surface that makes me audibly sigh.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 12:41PM
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Wow! What a huge difference! Both are lovely, but frankly, for the first look you could have just as easily gotten granite. You got soapstone and you wanted it to look like soapstone, and now it does. I, too, got soapstone because I wanted a matte finish and would have been terribly disappointed had mine turned out as shiny as your first pics.

Seeing your pics and others with weird soapstone finishes makes me realize how lucky I am that I happened to have Joshua do my soapstone. I had no idea it mattered so much before I called him. I understood what an incredible craftsman he was during our install, just watching him work. Afterward, I appreciated him even more when the GC's crew and all the cabinet guys kept raving about what beautiful work he did. To this day, three years later, my counters are my favorite feature of our new kitchen.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 12:42PM
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Thanks for sharing. It is good to know that the finish can be changed easily. Do you mind sharing what the cost was for refinishing the surface?

I love, love, love your kitchen. I also like the new finish that you got on the soapstone. I bet it feels great to the touch now.

Please share the source of the beautiful lighting for the kitchen. I'm still on the prowl for interesting lighting for our reno.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 1:33PM
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I absolutely love your kitchen. And it has nothing in common with our plan except for soapstone. If I had seen this 6 months ago, there would have been big changes in our future kitchen!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 3:15PM
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Yes, definitely prefer the "after" pics. I actually like how the veining shows through - really ties in with your cabinets. Your whole kitchen is lovely. Congrats.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 3:27PM
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Raro, it does feel good to the touch. The cost of rehoning was just under $500. At this point we have had enough Novocaine and propofol to barely feel it!

Edge monorail lighting with Harley heads, halogen lamps. 12" stand-off from a 9-foot ceiling.

Adventures in stone with holligator, remodelfla, et al!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 4:53PM
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I'm not at all sick of that kitchen! It's SPECTACULAR! Liked the look of your SS before... LOVE it after. I can feel the stone in the pics. And those caramel colors... YUMMY! Great job! Great Kitchen! Enjoy!!!!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 7:08PM
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Thanks, remodelfla, I do feel relieved. Wish I knew what finishing sanding grit the original installers had used, but I don't have that information from them. I think it was 200 or higher -- haven't been able to find out from Dorado, either, but they might not know what was done by the installers. Rougher seems to be better for softer stone.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 9:53AM
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They Look great!

I could never tire of pics of your kitchen!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 10:48AM
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Your kitchen is a true beauty to behold! Like others, I could never tire of looking at it. And, yes, the rehoned soapstone is magnificent. Just lovely all over!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 1:45PM
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I so love your vertical grain fir cabs. Everytime I see yours, or rhome's, I just swoon.

Can you tell me what subway tile you used and with what color grout? I love it, just like the rest of the masterpiece!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 3:14PM
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Hi, senator13, really glad that you like the vertical grain fir -- so far we have had no problem with the Rubio Monocoat oiled finish that our cabinetmaker used. The tile is Pratt & Larson, and the grout color....I can't remember! A grey lighter than charcoal. A fellow GW person warned me that the yellow in creamy tile might make grey grout look a bit blue, and in the beginning I fretted about that, but now I don't see blue, I see grey. But you'll want to do a test run panel with your tile and grout choices.

Hey marthavila when are you going to post more pictures of your own pretty kitchen? Voices cry out in the desert, thirsting for more.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 6:26PM
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Yours is one of my favorite kitchens and didn't think it could possibly get any better, but bygolly you've gone and done it! I love the new face of the soapstone and that kitchen.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 8:35PM
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Do you think this is something a homeowner could DIY? I think my counters may have be over-polished (because they just act weirder than other soapstone owners have reported). Mine are super-hard so I don't worry about making low spots or anything.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 9:02PM
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gosh, your kitchen is amazing.

and i've seen it before! ;)

REALLY, REALLY beautiful soapstone, now (as opposed to just REALLY beautiful soapstone).

happy you love it now. :)

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 9:11PM
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I really don't know if rehoning is a good DIY project -- would look at all the YouTube videos you can and confer with some friendly soapstone dealers, buy some scraps and practice with them before setting out to do it.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 9:16PM
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lighlystarched: I think you should try the rehoning yourself. What's the worst that can happen? That you don't like the result, then have to get someone else to rehone afterward? As you say, you won't accidentally sand a hole in it.

I agree with farmgirl though -- watch all the videos and try on a practice piece.

If your concern is only that your ss is too shiny, I don't think you need to do what farmgirl's contractor did, namely, start with 80 grit. He did that because he needed to actually remove material to get that wax off. If you just want to tone down the sheen, you can just start with the 150 grit. Use a random-orbit sander, and I bet you it will just take a few minutes to take the sheen off to a lovely level. If it is too dull at that point, just step up to 220 grit, etc.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 12:03AM
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This is very timely - we placed our templates today, I noticed that the slab seems smoother/ more reflective that what we saw in the showroom. We love the matte soapstone finish, one of the main reasons we chose it in the beginning. I asked the KD, she is checking with the fabricator, but perhaps we need to just ask them to hone it in the shop as they cut our slabs.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 7:31PM
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I don't know if this will help anyone, but my fabricator recommended oiling vs. waxing. He was very adamant about this and so right, after the 1st oiling, it had the matte look which I love. He has used and seen both, and is a SS purist. Oiling is more time consuming and needs to be rubbed off with a microfiber or in my case an old t-shirt.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 7:59PM
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I agree with your fabricator, celtinNE, the oiled finish seems to have solved our soapstone concerns, even though the dry wax sounded like a promising solution -- I don't find the mineral oil time-consuming to apply, and I don't mind that the soapstone lightens gradually as the oil evaporates: the stone is dynamic in that way, and will require fewer applications as it darkens naturally. The oiled rag in a baggie under the sink is a useful thing to have around if some Dawn suds or some rubber feet on the coffeemaker etc leaves some marks where the oil has been lifted more quickly. But this is not a stain or a scratch, and who cares? (Some do, I know.)


    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 8:15PM
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This is a great topic so thanks farmgirlinky for posting it.

I just re-honed one of my new small counters. I plan to do the rest soon. It was easy and fun. I have the softer type of stone.

I had ordered partially fabricated counter depth lengths from Dorado Soapstone in Denver. I cut the lengths needed for my counters and trimmed the back wall edges with a circular saw and diamond blade, fitting them to the walls. I didn't like the ultra smoothness from the factory in contrast to the very rough surface I created as I cut and fashioned an exposed edge of one section. So I lived with it for a few weeks and decided to fix it. I used a series of sandpapers and a block to get to a finish that was very nice. I finished it at 320 grit which is smoother than farmgirlinky's counter, but more rustic than the factory finish. I might go back and make it even rougher, now that I have this info from farmgirlinky. I love working with this stone. I have one more small counter to place and possibly a window sill, if I can figure it out with my carpenter.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 2:34AM
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Farmgirlinky- Your soapstone looks beautiful and much more like soapstone. You saved me because I was wondering if I should try the dry wax on my soapstone or just stick to the mineral oil (soapstone templating to take place later this week--fingers crossed). One OT question--what is the size of your island sink? I tried to find the info on your OP about finished kitchen but it was not listed. Your kitchen is beautiful and you should be proud! :)

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 1:50PM
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farmgirlinky, I do love everything about your kit but especially your prep sink. That is the best prep sink I have ever seen! Big enough to handle anything and useful from either side.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 3:17PM
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Newbieremodeler, the island sink is 2 x 2 feet square, custom from Julien. It's working out well: we can drain pots of hot water just by turning around from the range, and it's nice to be able to chat with people who inevitably lean against the Aga (perhaps not in August) while we clean up.

eandhl, even though we use the island sink as a utility sink, it would be fine for any purpose, and with multiple cooks in action it becomes a prep sink.

Mabies, good luck with your fabrication. Everything will bw fine!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 7:07PM
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I had soapstone countertops installed about 3 months ago. While I love the stone - it usually looks a mess unless I've just oiled it or waxed it. Anything that has been on it leaves a mark - not just water and soap stains, but anything even marks from heat through a hot pad.
When I contacted the distributor about care he questioned whether the fabricator had sanded the soapstone. Apparently he hadn't so this is thought to be the reason for the constant staining. I really don't care if it is matted or shines but the uneven stained look is not that great. Does the rehoning make it so less as a surface to work on? And if so how does one contact this Joshua? Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 10:26PM
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I just noticed your track lighting, Farmgirlinky. I think it looks great. It is a bit unexpected in the context. Have you posted before on the brand? Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 10:34PM
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Beautiful countertops. Beautiful kitchen! I'm about to start my own soapstone adventure and am just wondering if you had any other option for removing the wax finish other than rehoning? Or was it not really the wax that was the problem? I had been contemplating wax for my soapstone, but perhaps I'll try it on a my sample piece first. Thanks for the post!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 1:37AM
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Love the afters!!!! In the befores, it was definitely beautiful, but they looked more like granite then soapstone. The after pics just give it a completely different look - which I love!!!

Thanks for sharing...we are doing soapstone as well (if we can ever break ground!) so this was very helpful!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 5:59AM
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Your kitchen is such a wonderful space, so warm and pretty. I love the choices you made -- the lights, the materials, the palette. The counters look so much better after the rehoning.

Soapstone and honed marble are great choices because they can be re-honed. We have Danby marble. The fabricator did an awful job honing them (the slabs came to them polished). My DH rehoned them using an orbital sander and fiber pads. They now look just like they're supposed to. It can definitely be done as a corrective or as a refresher several years down the road.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 12:11PM
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So when you do this honing does the soapstone resist all the staining of water and soap?

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 5:14PM
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So, if my fabricator does not sand the soapstone (they told me they don't do anything to the stone, just cut and install), is this something we could easily do after instillation as a DIY? Or should I find another fabricator?

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 9:36AM
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Hi, just saw these recent questions. KitschyKitch, the monorail lighting was by a company called Edge Lighting, using the Harley head. Paddlingpatty, I'm not sure what is causing your watermarks -- I have found that these go away if I rub the area with an oily cloth, and so do the lighter rings left by soapy dishes when the detergent "lifts" the mineral oil from the stone. But I do believe the grit used for sanding affects how easy it is to see marks or scratches in the stone. I also have heard that waxing the stone can trap watermarks under the wax, but I'm no expert -- all I know is this: my soapstone counters looked softer/more matte, and were easier to maintain, when they were less polished and were oiled rather than waxed.

Mmmhmmgood, I doubt it's necessary to rehone to remove wax, which would just eventually evaporate away in any event, but it would take elbow grease and some sandpaper to scrub it off. MIssyV, I'm not sure what condition the stone is in when your fabricator cuts and installs it, and so I don't know what would need to be done after the installation. I do think it is important to work with an outfit that knows and likes traditional soapstone finishes. Can they show you some of their finished work? I'm not as intrepid or talented as Sayde and her husband, whose kitchen is one of my all-time favorites on GW, so they would be better people to advise you about a DIY adventure.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 12:18PM
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And Florida Joshua of Creative Soapstone can be reached through -- incredibly helpful, and it was through him that I found David Mellinger, whose contact info is in the opening post.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 12:24PM
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MIssyV: See my comments upthread on Jun 27. I definitely think you can DIY. If you want to be sure, order a soapstone sampler from any of the vendors (~$25). You get about 6 to 10 pieces of varying hardness, and you can take a sander to them and see what you get.

paddlingpatty: I'd be interested in the answer to that, too. I think the GW consensus was that the waterstains are from water under the wax/oil. I think it would be less of an issue on honed, but I think the wax/oil level is more important. Any actual experiences to share, anyone?

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 12:35PM
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Beautiful kitchen! What is the floor? Can you give brand, etc? thanks!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 7:04PM
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Do you have an email contact for the people who did the work to your stone?

Did they sand it by hand or use a machine?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 10:08PM
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joanieponie, the floor is Baltico cork glue-down tiles from Durodesign.

atct86, the contact information for David Mellinger, who rehoned our counters and came highly recommended by Joshua of Creative Soapstone, is in the opening post in this thread. He lives in Pennsylvania, but came through Connecticut on his way to vacation with his family, and rehoned our counters in a few hours while they went to see dinosaurs at the Peabody Museum in New Haven! He used a rotary sander and I think some hand sanding as well, but I was at my own office when the work was done.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 11:38PM
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So for the gumption to make the decision and $500, farmgirlinky, you let an already great kitchen become exactly what it wanted to be. I call that a bargain. Congratulations on the gumption and the results both.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 11:58PM
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Thanks for your kind words, honorbiltkit!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 8:15PM
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Farmgirlinky - I realize this is an old thread, so I hope you see this post or maybe someone else will be able to answer my question about refinishing soapstone. Does the rehoning also help to eliminate or minimize chips or gouges along the edges? I know there would be the desire to keep a clean, even edge, but it might be worth a little unevenness in the edges if it smoothed out the chips. I am trying to decide if soapstone will hold up well enough to look terrific when we will need to resell our house in 8-10 years after we retire. I wouldn't mind having to spend $500 every 4-5 years for rehoning if it really brought the soapstone back to its original, pristine state. I am quite sure that rehoning will minimize or eliminate scratches, but it is the chips on the edges that worry me the most. I know the aging can be an appealing trait for some, but for resale, we'd need to make it look virtually new. If anyone has refinished or refined their soapstone, I would appreciate knowing how well it worked to minimize or eliminate both scratches and edge chips.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 1:12PM
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My fabricator told me you could take a hundred year old soapstone lab table, re-sand it and it would look like new. Same could be done with kitchen countertops.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 2:42PM
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I love that kitchen.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 2:57PM
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deedles-me too.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 7:23PM
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