Care for slate v granite

tomalyseJune 23, 2008

We have recently installed slab slate counters in our kitchen (love grey/green color and non-busy look). Have seen all kinds of advice and products for granite -- any recommendations for care for slate?

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what is slate? do you have a pictures? is it expensive?

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 6:57PM
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Tomalyse, as slate is the one material that is considered the absolute no for a kitchen, I am curious about what the installer sealed it with. and what advice for or against slate they may have given you. What was their advice for care and maintenance?


    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 4:48PM
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actually - vermont slate is less absorbing than granite and does not need to be sealed. It is Brazil, Indian and Chinese granite that are problemmatic. My aunt has had slate countertops in place in her kitchen in Maine for more than 15 years without sealing and they still look great. What she uses as a cleaner, however, is not available in CA and the shipping charges ridiculous. Thus, I was curious about what others use. We ordered the slab slate countertops from Sheldon Slate in Maine (quarry in Vermont) so our installer only installed them - the fabrication was done in ME. SS also recommended the same care as my aunt.
Thus - slate is not "the absolute no for a kitchen", you just need to get quality slate. I do not have pictures yet. The costs including shipping cross country plus local installation ran around $8500 -- which was in the allowance our GC originally budgeted for granite -

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 8:30PM
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Slate is an absolute no for kitchens? Since when? I've seen several kitchens here over the years with slate slab countertops, and it has a wonderful vintage look, similar to soapstone but paler.

I would also caution against categorizing granite [did you mean slate, tomalyse?] by nation of origin. Too general.

Always worth remembering that not all granite needs to be sealed.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 2:20AM
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You'll pay thousands to have it fabricated and shipped across country but you have a problem paying for and shipping the recommended cleaner? That doesn't make sense to me.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 8:18AM
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I just googled "slate countertops" and came up with a number of sites that said slate was a wonderful material for countertops. Not all these sites were selling slates; some just reviewing materials. So you learn something new everyday!

All the sites that were selling said that you maintain like soapstone with food grade mineral oil and clean with any neutral PH household cleaner.

Here is a link that might be useful: cleaning slate

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 8:31AM
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we have vermont green slate ctops going on four years now.

maintenance has been pretty simple and cheap: soap and water.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 11:05AM
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I enjoyed learning more about slate at the Sheldon Slate website. But I've never seen slate smooth enough to be used as a countertop: is the slate smooth like soapstone? They polish it to make it that way? Just wondering.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sheldon Slate website

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 11:21AM
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Hmmm... Just posted a question on slate. Wonder why this thread didn't come up when I did a search on "slate counter"? But this is helpful. Thanks.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 11:35AM
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busybme--smooth like soapstone, indeed! pretty much the same look w/o the need of oiling or sealing.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 1:59PM
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Odd the vrjames-- one of 'our' stone gurus-- posted the 'absolute no' line.

The inch thick stuff in a pool table is utterly smooth and very very strong.

Someone posted here a long time ago about using his old pool table slate for his counters-- seems like a very cost effective way of getting slab stone. He never updated us, as far as I know.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 3:36PM
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I feel the need to clarify.

All of my training has been that slate is not durable enough for kitchens.

It scratches easily, I can do it with a paperclip, It will spall easily when something heavy is dropped on it and I have handled a few complaints when it is on a firplace and has cracked.

I have been told it is no where near as easy as Soapstone to sand out the scratches.

We strongly discourage it.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 5:00PM
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I guess it's a matter of taste. I have scratched soapstone samples w/ a fingernail, so I consider soapstone easy to scratch. Slate is much harder. Sharp pointy objects will scratch the surface, but b/c of the matte finish, they seem to disappear on their own (its hard to describe). If you tend to flail your pots around like nunchucks you might chip and edge. Going on four years now, w/ a slate farmers sink, and there has been no need to sand out any scratches.

Vermont slate is virtually stain resistant as far as I can tell. Limited colors though.

If you want your counters to look exactly the same the day they were installed 10 years from now, then slate is not an ideal granite.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 10:24PM
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I think there are just vast, vast differences in the quality of what is sold as 'slate': just did my bathroom floor with it-- from a reputable flooring co, not a big box-- and a lot of the tiles could be easily broken in half with my bare hands [floor came out great, though].

But I have an old hutch with a slate top that's virtually bullet proof, and I think the stuff used on pool tables would be just as good.

I think it would be essential to see your slab before buying or deal with a very very reputable, satisfaction-or-refund kind of seller.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 3:20AM
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Here's a link to a post on the kitchen designer's site regarding slate. I wish it had better pictures, because I've never seen a slate countertop.

Here is a link that might be useful: Slate info

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 6:17AM
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we did brazilian slate countertops in our last kitchen remodel. we were there for four years with them and never had a chip or 'spall'. scratching is inevitable, but, as janedibber pointed out, the scratches aren't really all that noticeable, especially as more of them accumulate.

here are a few pictures:

i was very happy with the slate counters as they really gave us the vintage look we were going for. i mineral oiled them about once a year or so and that helped to smooth out the scratches. never sanded them. they were sealed during the initial install, but was told that they wouldn't need to be re-sealed unless we had them sanded/polished.

we opted not to do them in our current kitchen, because my wife was never really comfortable putting stuff down on the slate counters due to the scratching. she wanted something more bullet-proof, especially because we now have two kids. i would've done them again.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 8:51AM
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It didn't come up because this site's search feature works differently than most. As far as I can tell, it does a "find whole words only search." A search that includes "counter" brings up posts that have exactly the word "counter" in them. This post contained "counters" and "countertop" but didn't have "counter" by itself.

Not very user friendly.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 10:47AM
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Thanks cloud_swift. I'd added counter because searching on just "slate" brought up hundreds of posts on backsplashes, floors, etc. So you're correct, not user-friendly...

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 7:59PM
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Hello all!!

My husband has been templating for and installing Slate countertops for years! Yes, Slate is WONDERFUL as a countertop! When properly honed, it can be as smooth as butter. As far as maintenance, a little hot soapy water and you are all set! And, yes, I have Slate in my own kitchen. It NEVER needs sealing and is stain resistant. ( It is only 3% pourous) When small scratches occur (and they will!!) all you need is some oooo steel wool to buff it right out. Deeper scratches will require some fine sandpaper followed up by the steel wool. My husband works exclusively with Sheldon Slate in Granville, New York. He does the templating, delivery and installations and they do all of his fabricating. The range of colors and their craftmanship is phenominal! If you are looking for a durable, long lasting, old-fashioned and absolutely beautiful countertop for your kitchen, whether a new building or a remodel, I strongly suggest Slate. It's forever!!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 2:43PM
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Hello again -

If anyone would like to see pictures of Slate countertops done by my husband and Sheldon Slate, please e-mail me at and I will happily forward pics of his work to you!! Please put Slate tops in the subject line so that I do not automatically delete it as unfamiliar!!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 2:52PM
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I had 150 year old slate sink/counter in my farm house growing up. Unfortunately the house burned last year, as we rebuild there was never a doubt...Living near Monson, Maine and the slate quarry there I purchased/installed new slate counters and a tilt front farm sink in my new house. Easy to care for soap/ the homey/vintage feel, much less formal than granite (though my front steps are granite slabs from the same area). I do recommend checking out Sheldon Slate's website, lots of great photos in the gallery.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 4:17PM
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