Stoneyard Experience and Soapstone Substitute
I can't find a Part IV to Karin's fabulous Countertop Geology series of threads, so I thought I'd come put a couple of things here.
I love soapstone, but want to have a sense of the granite alternatives, so this morning, I went to a dealer (AKDO in Bridgeport, CT, for those of you local and playing along at home) with my designer.
First, I looked at several things that have a similar look to soapstone and my favorite was one called Negresco that does look quite like soapstone in many ways. The stoneyard had it only in a leathered finish. They like that finish for it because it brings out the texture, which is actually what I'm not crazy about. It has some white veins, which are flush with the rest of the dark grey surface. It also has what I guess would best be described as black veins that are shallower than the dark grey surface. I've decided they bug me, but I'm sure other people would love them. In general, I'm concluding that I usually prefer the truly smooth, even surface of a honed stone to the more variegated surface you get with leathered. Purely a matter of personal preference, of course.
AKDO had general price ranges on the stones (low, moderate, medium, luxury), but won't give the actual price. I know there's been some discussion of this in Karin's threads and my first reaction was not to like the idea that they wouldn't tell me the price of something. I said something to my designer about it. She said that it's because they wholesale only, they won't sell to me, only to the fabricator. My response was ok, but they could tell me what they're charging the fabricator. She said they won't because the fabricators mark them up. So, while I still don't love this practice and obviously some stoneyards will just tell you, I at least now understand what's going on. The fabricators don't want the consumers to know the wholesale price they're paying and the stoneyards are protecting their relationships with the fabricators. Let me be clear, I'm not defending this practice, but at least now I understand what's going on.
But my designer is getting me quotes from the fabricator on a couple of the stones I saw, so at least I'll have a sense of what we're talking about.