Slate countertops

mitzi011July 12, 2014

We are at the beginning of a complete kitchen remodel. The concept drawings are done and we're now making decisions about the details. Both my husband and I love slate and plan to install slate countertops, but our GC isn't able to provide us with samples. I was hoping that someone here could post photos of their slate countertops. Thanks!

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I have Italian slate. It is a impossible to keep clean, so much so that we are replacing it with honed black granite

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 7:26AM
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I don't have any photos but my best friend has slate countertops in her kitchen. They are beautiful. Also has a slate sink and backsplash. Hers are Monson Slate-which is local for us.
I cook in her kitchen a lot and they dont need babying. The only rule is don't cut on the counter- but I never do that anyway it is bad for the knife.
She has three kids, the counter is 7 years old.
Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 7:27AM
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Wow, I'd understood the opposite about slate countertops. I thought cleaning was easy. I'll look into that further.

I so love the look. And no, I'd never allow a knife to come in contact with my countertops.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 10:10AM
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I have black slate counters. They clean super easy, but they scratch. It's supposed to be really easy to sand the scratches out, but I haven't bothered trying. I'm planning on doing it again in the new house.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 10:39AM
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amber - beautiful counters!

I'm considering soapstone counters and hadn't thought about slate. I don't mean to hijack but I'm wondering how they're different. Is slate a more solid color while soapstone has veining?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 11:02AM
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They are beautiful. Exactly what we are trying to achieve. I'd read about the scratch potential, but people seem to minimize it by reporting that it's part of the character of slate, and if it bothers you, the scratches are easily buffed out. What about flaking?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 11:06AM
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We haven't had any flaking, but I am telling you it gets dull, not honed, but dull very easily and you have to basically oil it every day so it doesn't look like crap.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 11:47AM
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I have chipped it at the sink. It's under mount, and I smashed a large pot against it. But it hasn't flaked anywhere else.

I didn't want shiny, so the flat texture is a bonus to me.

It doesn't have veining, but it's not solid, either. Here's a picture of it at the fabricators. They wet it to show what it looks like sealed.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 12:41PM
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Thanks for the picture. That is exactly what I needed to see. We don't want shiny or glossy. It's just not our thing. I decided not to go with soapstone - altho it, too, is beautiful, because I've read that it absorbs stains and even odors much more than slate. I would want to get the slate sealed. I'll talk about it with my contractor. I'm also a bit concerned about how to keep the corners from chipping.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 12:58PM
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The corners around the island are fine. It's been 2 years now. Just the chip at the sink. In the next house, I'm going to do a drop in sink.

I've seen advice here, too that if you put a curve on the edge with a wider radius, it'll hold up better.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 4:42PM
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If soapstone absorbs odors and stains, why have they used it in laboratories for centuries? Why do people get excited when they can et a countertop out of a school that's remodeling their science dept, or things like that?

I'd rethink that.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 8:10AM
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Food for thought

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 8:38AM
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Everything that I read about soapstone said it was highly resistant to stains. It's shortcoming is the ease of scratching.

I got slate samples in the mail from one of the on-line sellers, might have been Sheldon Slate? It was someone who would ship the counter pre-cut to me.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:07AM
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Yeah, soapstone is impervious to any liquid penetration. When oiled, it doesn't 'soak' into the stone, it sits on top and builds up into a finish. Only negative about soapstone is it's relative softness and that really depends a lot on the variety of SS as some are softer than others.
Our 1st choice of SS looked similar to the photo above, not really any variegation or movement in it. I chose it due to it's hardness, couldn't scratch it w/my nail. But after a week or so I came to the conclusion that the beauty of SS is in it's veining and hardness be damned. So I searched again until I found some beautifully veined stone and purchased 2 slabs. It's softer than ideal but I've learned over the year how to get rid of scratches (that bother me) and we both love it. We have marble on the island and the other side of the kitchen so don't work on the SS much (prep). However the range and main sink are in the SS, I will get it again if I ever build another house.
Slate, unlike SS, is very porous, will absorb liquid, will stain and flake. I have it in the entryway and up the stairs, had it in the previous house also. Never would consider it for a counter top, just too unsanitary in my eyes. I have to seal our slate frequently (it does carry a lot of traffic though).

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 11:23AM
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The porosity and flakiness of slate varies greatly with the quarry. Slate from New England is very hard and has very low porosity.
Not all slate is the same.
India Slate is very flaky though really gorgeously colored.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 11:30AM
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New England slate (Monson and such) are fine for countertops. Through New England and NYS you'll find old slate sinks (had one in a basement in a 1910-ish house) still going strong. But it's expensive, and if it scratches, it's harder to buff them out compared to soapstone.

I once had a slate tile one. They don't flake the way that slate from India does, which is fine for floors but would make awful counters.

My soapstone counters do not stain. Maybe you're thinking of ring marks, which some people get depending on the oil/wax they've done and/or the how fine they were finished?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 11:35AM
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I put in slate countertops from Sheldon Slate (in Monson, ME) last year as part of a slowly progressing DIY kitchen renovation. Went with the dark green, they have several colors available. I live in driving distance, so was able to pick my particular slabs, went with one with lots of veining and movement. They were very easy to work with- sent out some small samples quickly after a call.

A year later I'm still happy, although they may not be right for everyone. They do scratch, so far have only put in one scratch that makes me wince. I haven't tried to buff it out yet. They have a soft, not shiny texture- not sure how it compares to honed soapstone. They sent me with oil, which I have not used yet. They clean easily, and do not take stains- overnight red wine, coffee, turmeric, chili oil, etc. I did a slate farmhouse sink which is also doing fine- a few scratches, and a few very small (1-2mm) chips along the inside edge. I am a bit mindful when slinging around my big Cruset pots, but otherwise treat as normal.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:17PM
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I've certainly been schooled about soapstone. I guess I read all the wrong sources. I think you're right, kwilson50, slate isn't for everyone. Personally, I just love the look of it. I live in Virginia, and it's not easy to get here, apparently. No one I know has it. I saw it in Pennsylvania fairly frequently when I lived there and always loved the look. The scratching scares me, but I'm just not a granite counter top type.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:34PM
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kwilson50 -- May I ask how much your slate countertop cost approximately, per sqft, installed? We were dead-set on getting soapstone countertop from PA, but now husband is thinking about something that wouldn't change color over time. We think Vermont/NY slate might be a good choice. We are in central NJ and could drive to upstate NY to visit Sheldon Slate. Thank you.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 11:05AM
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