Life with soapstone--patina pictures galore

bayareafrancyAugust 4, 2008

I've been wanting to post these pictures for so long, but I've had horrible "soapstone elbow" from obsessive oiling, and I haven't been able to type much.

I don't baby this stone at all. In fact, I don't even use cutting boards very often (simply because I have a teeny kitchen with no good place for them). This is terrible for my knives, of course, but I like the nicks and scratches on the stone.

I have 2 kinds of 'wear' on my counter. One that I love, and the other that I don't love!

What I love are the marks of usage--scratches, dings, teeny chips. I want more and more of those. I'm restoring an 80 year old kitchen, and I want the counter to look as old an used as the rest of the kitchen.

Everyday look in my main (teeny) work area (you can see lots of fine white knife marks and scratches):

Another view:

After oiling (beautiful, but leads to pesky water marks, rubber marks, etc. as soon as I start using it)

What I don't love are the water marks! Argh, those pesky water marks! They drive me batty. They are only a problem if I oil the stone. If I leave it gray, the only thing that "stains/marks" it is oil (cooking oil, butter, etc.) but that can be washed off, The water marks mostly happen when something hot (like a dish right out of the dishwasher, or a lid from an in-use pot) is placed on it. The hot item seems to "steam clean" the bee's oil right off the stone. I can't figure out any solution to this.

Removed hot dish from microwave, placed lid here:

But the water marks I don't quite understand come from non-hot items. If the stone is freshly oiled, and I place a wet drinking glass on it, it will leave a ring. The ring (if faint) sometimes fades in a day or two, but not usually. Actually, I don't think think the ring is actually fading. I think the oiled area is fading to match the ring.

Water marks from regular glasses of water, and drips/puddles (these drive me batty). Am I the only one who gets these?:

Oh--the other thing that leaves rings is anything absorbent that can lift the oil out of the stone. So, I get a ring under my ceramic compost jar (the ceramic is unsealed on the bottom). Or flour spilled on the counter. Or rubber bottomed shoes (e.g. if I stand on the counter in sneakers or crocs, it will leave tread marks that won't go away until oiling. Or if I sit an appliance with rubber feet on the counter, it leaves footprints.)

All of these marks disappear with oiling. But constant oiling is hard for me and my poor elbow. So I'm thinking about "going gray."

Here is the everyday look in my other work area:

Another view (not for the faint hearted):

Of course, I still adore my soapstone. But I do with I could keep the dark look without battling all the water marks.

I've been painting the kitchen for a couple weeks now. It has been great to have mineral spirits and paint sitting right on the counters without worry. Of course, the mineral spirits stripped the stone back to gray. And I"m thinking of leaving it that way. Luckily, any color of soapstone works in my kithcen. But I do adore it dark.

But, black or gray, spotty or not, I love my soapstone!



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I'm laughing 'cause I was going to start a post today asking how the "keeping it grey" crowd was doing. You want yours to stay dark and I want mine to stay light. I posted awhile back looking for suggestions as to how to get the light "watermark" or steam ring look over the whole stone. I even ran my floor steamer over the counter, (blush).

I hope you get some answers, I'll be watching this thread!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 4:11PM
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Oh my goodness--a steam mop on the counter! That is great!!!!

Have you tried acetone or mineral spirits? Uh--not that you want that in your home on a regular basis. But for one try, it will "bleach" it back in no time.

Or put blue painters tape all over. Leave for about 30 mins, and peel!



    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 4:20PM
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Wow, I had been dreaming of soapstone for my "next" kitchen (whenever that will be), but I going to be frank and say those pics have turned me off to it. Like Bayareafrancy, I don't mind the knife nicks and dings whatsoever-- that's patina! But the water mark circles would drive me batty. Are ALL soapstones subject to that? Or just the type that Francy chose? (what is the name BTW of that soapstone?)

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 4:29PM
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Francy, I get water rings too but not as bad as yours. I guess I've been taking the prevention tactic to try to deal with them, although that can be a pain too. I try to wipe the water puddles off the counter as they happen and put glasses that I know will have a lot of condensation on the butcher block instead of the soapstone. Have you considered putting a plate under your compost bucket so the unglazed part doesn't sit directly on the counter? (My bucket is copper and doesn't have the same issue as yours). I don't baby my soapstone, but I do try to minimize the upkeep and constant need to oil. But I don't have little kids in the house either...

I gotta say, from the photos, I don't even see your crack these it just me?

Hey, I saw your hinge post on the old house forum. I think Horton Brass is amazing about their return policy, so you may be able to send them back if you find others that would work for you instead.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 4:36PM
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say it ain't so!

I too love the look of soapstone and was planning a trip to the "yard" this week to check out selection. But thanks Bayareafancy for the real pics. I agree, those water marks would drive me crazy too! You must be close to me--I'm in the South Valley and we have hard water here.

I'll be watching this post with interest!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 4:36PM
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We have found that using spoon oil (a mixture of mineral oil and beeswax) has lessened the watermarks and I think it stays looking nicer longer so if you want to stay "oiled" it might be worth a try! We saw that suggested one time on this forum so thought it was worth a try and so far I like the look and feel better.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 4:42PM
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I'm so happy to see more pictures! That yellow (is that the BM Barley?) looks like a big smile -- how could you not be happy walking into a kitchen that color?

Sorry about the water rings bothering you. We ended up going with my first love for our countertop (white marble), but for a l-o-n-g time my husband was dead set against it, instead preferring soapstone. While gorgeous, it just wasn't my true love ... that, and I know we're clutterbugs so it would have been up to ME to clear off the countertop and oil it, even though I'd have preferred it grey. (it was the impervious black which called to my husband)

Anyway, so we ended up with a countertop which certainly patinas and I look at its splotches and think: "our kitchen looks loved! it looks lived in! people who eat together and tell stories and make each other laugh and spill their drinks live here!" and I confess those were my reactions looking at your photos, Francy. I thought "isn't it wonderful that this is not some show off-y kitchen? this is really the heart of Francy's home!"

But I don't live there. You do. So while I think your watermarks are beautiful, character-filled stories and would make me (or other guests) feel comfy and at home in your home, I absolutely appreciate you're not thrilled with them. I'm so sorry!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 4:46PM
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I ditto rmkitchen's remarks, Francy. It's good to see you back here and to see your photos! It's also not so good to see those water marks and to hear how they are driving you batty. I must say, as one who is also planning on installing soapstone, I find these photos rather sobering. But, as rmkitchen points out, those water marks have just as much character as the scrapes and dings -- only different. In any case, here's hoping some others of us may have some advice on how to deal with this problem. BTW, your kitchen is looking great!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 5:00PM
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Hi RM (pronounced "erm")!

Thank you for that SWEET post on the paint forum! How in the world did you pick out the barley color?? Or did I mention the name on a different thread? No way could you have just called it, could you??

I'm not sure why the watermarks bug me, but the other kinds of patina don't. I do want the entire kitchen to look 80 years old. Ideally, I'd like guests to not know which parts are original, and which parts are reproduced. But something about the watermarks reads "not clean" to me. I love things to look beat up and used (like scratched and worn wood floors, or a cashmere sweater with a little hole in it). But I need them to look clean (so no dirty floors or sweaters). I think maybe the rings are reading "dirty" to my mind.

But I do get a chuckle at how very different my counter looks from the standard magazine counter. Friends come in and say, "I want to see your brand new counter." Then they see it, and say, "Uhhhhh....."

The soapstone is called Santa Barbara (supposedly not mined anymore, but I've been told it looks exactly like a kind called Marianna). I recall one other poster who had bad water marks, but she has since moved out of that home. True, I don't usually do anything to prevent them--including wiping up water spills as they happen. Fast wiping iping helps a little though.

arlosmom--the crack is in the two runnel pictures. But since the bee's oil (mineral oil/beeswax combo as mentioned by other poster) has faded, the crack now looks like a DARK line, instead of a white line. When oiled, the crack is white. When not oiled, the residual oil/moisture sits in the crack and makes a dark line. Isn't that funny? My ever changing crack! I'm trying to get both colors to meet somewhere in the middle. And I just discovered a gray colored sharpie...

Oh, I can't wait to post pictures of the yellow kitchen though. Still painting every night from 11pm until about 2am when the family is finally asleep and out of the kitchen!


    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 5:02PM
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We have not oiled our soapstone in the month since it's been installed and, unoiled, we haven't had anything like those kinds of water marks.

Our stone is Beleza, which is naturally darker gray, and we're finding that we like the unoiled color. It's a bit lighter around the sink where soap gets on it regularly and a bit darker around the stove where grease splatters on it. But we aren't getting water rings or spots. So maybe we'll just continue to leave it unoiled. I just wipe it with a damp sponge or a little spray cleaner if there's something sticky and it looks good as new (and I'm a messy cook and not much of a cleaner).

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 5:02PM
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My soapstone is called "Brazilian Eyes". Heck if I know what variety it really is. I get water and steam rings too, but mine fade away in a day or two. I love the organic-ness of it. I've tried rubbing alcohol, steam mop, and nail polish remover and I can't get the whole stone to lighten to "water ring" color. Maybe I'll try the mineral spirits.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 5:17PM
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Have you tried a little abrasion with a nylon pad and some detergent?

I've had water marks on mine but I can't say any of them didn't disappear when I wiped them.


I think letting people who consider soapstone know all about it so they make decisions they'll be happy with is an excellent idea.

Here's a ding in mine from a measuring cup that dropped from the upper cab:

...and close up:

I'm OK with it 'cause, like you, I'm looking forward to the aging and patina. But it would be sad if someone who wasn't up for it spent a lot of money and had their heart broken.

Hope a little abrasion works for you. It can't be more than a combination of mineral deposits sitting on top of the soapstone and drawing the oil out/off.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 5:25PM
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We have Ice Flower Soapstone for three years now..dings, rings or water marks..never.
The only part that lightens is by the soap some soap generally drips down..and that eventually makes the stone look white in that small area..but it takes a while..and a simple swipe of mineral oil takes care of it in a second...

It now stays quite dark for a very long time(months)with no oiling...I now only oil it when guests are coming as it imparts a nice soft "glow".

And, we have VERY hard water, which leaves white marks on all things dark, such as the water catch tray under the through-the door water/ice dispenser on our black fridge..which are IMPOSSIBLE to eradicate 100%

Perhaps one of the experts who post here can explain why some varities of SS have this issue, and others are not affected.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 6:03PM
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Egads Francy,

I just realized that you have the kind of cabinets I want - inset doors and partial overlay drawers. But all of your earlier posts have disappeared (at least according to the search mechanism). Any chance you could re-post a couple of those shots?

PS, I love your patina.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 7:01PM
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I can't post another pic of my Green Mountain here because you will all faint from boredom. BUT - Francy - I never oil my stone, as you all have heard me say a million times. Dings, scratches, yes. Water marks? Huh? They wipe right off with a sponge and dish detergent. Counters are darkening on their own, without oil. They look great. Give yourself a break nad leave them natural for a while and see what happens.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 7:03PM
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Ok--I was inspired.

I got out the mineral spirits, and some sanding sponges. The bee's oil is gone. So are the rings. The counter is gray. And man, does my arm ache!

It looks pretty great. Lots of scratches and other "love marks." It's pretty fun--like I got a new counter. The black color was gorgeous, but just too much "cosmetic maintenance" (or "non-maintenance maintenance" as someone here once called all the oiling) for this point in my life. But fun to know I can go back to black if I want someday...

I just learned something possibly helpful to those installing soapstone. When you install it, you need to know what color it will eventually be (from oiling, or not oiling) because that determines what color they will permanently dye your seams. So, now that I removed the oil, my seam is darker than the rest of the stone (luckily it is a teeny seam behind a farm sink). Now, I'm not an expert by any means, but I would suggest that it might be wiser to keep your seam gray so that you have the option of "going gray" should oiling be too much work. If you decide to oil, you can use markers to color the seam to match the black (and I *think* the marker color could be removed if you go back to gray--but I don't know what that seam material is made of. Certainly, even sharpie marker can be sanded right off the soapstone.).

Fern: here are some photos for you.

The original 80 year old cabinets and overlay drawers:

The reproduction cabinets (not yet painted here). The dishwasher is hidden on one side of the sink. My cabinetmaker really hated making that panel (too much work for him).:


    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 8:30PM
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I've had my Green Mountain Original P.A. soapstone since May 1 and I am loving it. I've oiled it two or three times. The third time it really didn't need it. It's staying dark. No dings, no scratches (I do not cut on it. I do not want to dull my knives.) Regarding rings, if I let a puddle of water sit then there will be a soft ring that eaily disappears with one small wipe of an oiled cloth. Rarely do I have to do this because most of the time I just wipe up the puddle of water.

To those of you considering soapstone, do not be afraid! Do your research. There are different kinds of soapstone- some high maintenance (softer, need more frequent oiling), some very low maintenance. I consider mine very low maintenance and I love it!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 8:31PM
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Oh, dear, now I am more confused than ever. First after reading posts here about dings and scratches on soapstone, I was "no soap." Then I read some more and realized soapstone was exactly what I wanted, so I was "Go soap!" Now I'm just confused.

I loved the analogy someone posted. If you like starched, pressed linen slacks, then soapstone might not be for you. My linen slacks are just back from the laundry. Perhaps I'm really a black granite person.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 8:53PM
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Hmmm.... I've gotten no watermarks either. I use the Bee's Oil too. My stone is Piracema and been installed for about month. LOVE-LOVE-LOVE IT! I giggle every time a hot pot goes right on to the soapstone table - "Dinner is served!"

It's great to see your progress - the dishwasher panel is fabulOOOso!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 10:07PM
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Just wanted to say a great big thank you to Francy for the pictures and post. I have/had my heart set on soapstone and would never have thought to ask about water rings! Dings, scratches, nicks, yes...water rings - I had no idea! Something else to think and ask about when I go shopping for slabs. Glad to hear you were able to get the water marks out.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 11:06PM
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"I just learned something possibly helpful to those installing soapstone. When you install it, you need to know what color it will eventually be (from oiling, or not oiling) because that determines what color they will permanently dye your seams. So, now that I removed the oil, my seam is darker than the rest of the stone (luckily it is a teeny seam behind a farm sink)."

I hear ya! The installers mixed an olive green seam for me and we whizzed past that in the course of a month. No prob! I got out a black Sharpee and ran a line over the seam and smudged it in with my finger. 'Course, if I wanted it lighter I'd have to find something other than Sharpee to do the trick.

If you got a liner brush and masked off the stone you could probably mix some acrylic to match. You'd only need a small tube of white and one of black -- maybe some green depending on your stone.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 11:37PM
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I knew I was right! The second batch of photos you posted (with your sons' artwork on your cabinets) proves what a warm, cosy, friendly home you have. I've been putting my laddies' art up on a wall in the family room but you have totally inspired me: I'm going to start putting it up in the kitchen as well. I just love how that looks, Francy. Thank you for sharing these with us!

I think you're up painting now -- I'm working on assembling my Finished Kitchen pictures. And I know we're both working now for the same reason: sleeping children!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 2:14AM
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It's nice to hear that you are still in love with your
Soapstone Counters!!! They look really nice, and I love what
you did with your dishwasher "cammoflauge" detail..

very trick!!

All in all - Very Nice work - your kitchen looks WAY COOL!!!


    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 2:28AM
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Wow--I haven't dealt with any watermarks like that, although I don't know if they would bother me as much as they bother you. I have had my Black Venata for almost eight months now and I'm down to oiling about once every five or six weeks. I sometimes see watermarks when something has just been wiped up, but they disappear in minutes. I am getting a nice patina of tiny scratches. I like how yours looks grey, but I think the darker with water marks and all looks fine, too.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 4:04AM
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Ugh. Almost 2am here. Just finished more painting. Not done yet.

rm: I have their artwork on every single cabinet. I highly recommend it! Every picture has a story or memory behind it. I can't wait to rehang them after this painting is finally over! It's fun to do "theme doors." Like, I have one door that has different pictures of rainbows that the boys have done.

Bbstx: can you say more? Why were you "no soap"? And that what changed you to "yes soap." Perhaps we can help you sort this out.

I made dinner tonight on my "new" gray counters. Easy cleanup! No watermarks! The counter looks great. My 7 year old looked at them and said, "Mama, these need oil!"

Probably next month I'll be missing the gorgeous black color. But I guess my particular variety of soapstone just doesn't want to be black. And you can't fight the stone. It is what it is.

(Hi Kevin! Long time no see! *wave*)



    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 5:07AM
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I was surprised to see the problems you had with water marks. My soapstone island and countertops have seen heavy use since December, and I don't get them at all. I even keep a tumbler of ice water by my fridge all day long as a reminder to get my 8 glasses a day in. There's not even a spot there.

I've used the beeswax/mineral oil combo 3-4 times since installation. I don't baby my stone, though I don't cut directly on it. I've even been rolling pie and tart dough out on it with no residual marks. I am guessing it has something to do with the variety.

The water rings would bug me if I had them, so I can understand why some folks who were going to go with soapstone my be dissuaded by your issue. But I hope it won't prevent people who really want SS to change their minds without some more research into it.

Florida Joshua & other SS guys, can you lend some insight?

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 10:33AM
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Do any of the 'don't get water marks' crowd get the rubber marks? Like, if I put the blender on the counters, and leave it there for 20-30 mins, when I put it away, it leaves 3 little oval gray footprints, where the rubber has pulled the oil off. Same with mixing bowls with a rubber ring on the bottom.

Making challah on the counter leaves marks, but they are in the love-em-working-kitchen category. While making the dough, if I leave spilled flour on the counter, it sucks up some oil and leaves a grayer area (not a problem, cause it isn't pronounced like a water mark). Then, after kneading the oily dough, I get a freshly oiled, dark splotch. Again, not a problem for me at all. Just reporting about the daily visual changes you might (might!) get with soapstone. Now that my counters are gray, it will be interesting to see if the 'kneading splotch' will wash off easily. I use wimpy eco style cleaners in my home, so no tough grease removers.

If I can get it together, I'll get out some scraps and do some tests. I have a big chunk of Black Galaxy (sleep deprived--forgetting if that's the right name?). I'll oil the Santa Barbara, and the BG, then put water/glasses on them.

What I love love love the most about soapstone: If you are a DIYer at heart (or a control freak, like I am), then the self-maintenance of the counter is just wonderful. In my last home, I had silestone, and when I had chips I had to go through the whole hassle of getting someone out to argue about why they needed to repair them. I love the independence of soapstone. I can beat them up, scratch them, have them black, have them gray, etc. Then I can renew them all by myself. I can make them look brand new, or help them along in looking old-world. I just love love love that!!!!


    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 2:00PM
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I have to say the watermarks have dissuaded me and I was very seriously looking at soapstone (having researched, looked at slabs and even got 2 quotes). It was one thing to oil, or to even sand out an occasional ding if need be, but I guess reading this helped me to realize I want to be able to wipe my counter down to make it look good and not have to spend so much time on it.

I still think soapstone is an amazing stone and I love it's look and it's patina, but when I read about francy's soapstone elbow and the work involved in her countertops, I know it's not for me. I'm grateful she posted her pics. Her love for her stone is evident and I think her input is very valuable to help people question which variety of soapstone they should get or if they should look at another type of countertop material.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 2:44PM
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Francy, Thanks so much for this post. We have GM Original counters being fabricated as we speak (or rather, as I type), so it was a bit of a gut check, but I like the honest advice and pictures everyone has shared. I feel I am, but really want to be, prepared for "living with soapstone".

On an aside, where do you guys get the mixture of mineral oil and bees wax? Do you have to make your own or can I buy it somewhere for a reasonable price. I seems to remember Florida Mimi posting some information on it months ago. I'll go search and see if I can find that info again.

Thanks! Jaymie

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 2:51PM
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Hey Francy///so glad to see your pics ! I have not oiled in 1 1/2 years. I won't probably ever again. I don't cut on mine but I knead bread and also roll dough lots on the surface. Where I work the most it is darkest and where I never knead etc it is light grey. I never notice at all. I like the variations and it really blends with the 1890 look I was after. I have several tiny chips along the edge and the busiest corner across from the ovens has a tiny roundness to it where it was bumped. Oh well it is a "working kitchen" and is going to have more I am sure !

I love the way your space is looking...really good ! c

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 2:56PM
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LOVE that dishwasher front!! wow! If I had known that was possible I would have done that rather than the dishwasher drawers.

"Patina Galore"-- my fav Bond Girl! ;-> "Mr. Bond, you know I love my men like I love my soapstone-- stratched, beaten up a bit, and then suddenly smooth as silk with a little rubdown."

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 3:11PM
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trailrunner: I'm considering Soapstone and was thinking that I would have to oil it because I want to knead bread, roll out pastry doughs, etc, and figured that if it wasn't oiled, the fat from the doughs would really show up on the counter. But you say this isn't an issue?

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 3:19PM
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louisa: EEEEEE! *snortle* *gasp* *choke on coffee*

Plucky: as much as I might want to be the model of the entire universe (*grin*) please do remember that my counters are atypical as far as this thread is concerned. There used to be a person here whose counters looked exactly like mine (especially over her dishwasher where she put hot clean things). Anyone remember her? But so far, no one else has said they have the water marks like I do. Also, I haven't had any since I removed the oil yesterday (and I've left puddles all over this morning). Finally, as far as I know, I am the only case of 'soapstone elbow' here on GW. Let's just say I was a little carried away with oiling and sanding this-er-20 inch crack that my counters have. And I have problematic tendons to begin with. You know what they say about one bad apple... Soooo, before you discount soapstone altogether, get some samples, and try it out. I really think my variety is unusual. Perhaps it is best to stick with 'garden variety' soapstone.

nightflyer: I'm thinking of doing pizza dough later on my new gray counters. If I do, I'll post before and after pictures for you.

Patina Galore (wondering if I can change my username)

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 3:55PM
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bayareafrancy: "Do any of the 'don't get water marks' crowd get the rubber marks? Like, if I put the blender on the counters, and leave it there for 20-30 mins, when I put it away, it leaves 3 little oval gray footprints, where the rubber has pulled the oil off. Same with mixing bowls with a rubber ring on the bottom."

No rubber marks either..perhaps the problem is the mixture of bee oil....maybe its a brand thing? I use Mineral Oil from Buck County Soapstone...if you like a darker look, maybe try that and see if the water rings/rubber marks still occur...

Just a thought.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 4:05PM
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Is it possible that you are getting more water rings because of the mineral content in your particular water supply? It seems that might be a possibility with so many other reporting no, or very minor, water rings. Then, it could also be a combination of your particular stone with the mineral content in your water.... just a thought.

Your kitchen is really turning out great! It really fits the part and blends seamlessly! Your dishwasher panel is FAB!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 4:05PM
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jaymielo - The beeswax mix I use is one I heard about here. I ordered it online from Holland Bowl Mill. I got the 8 oz. container and have about 2/3 left since first using it last fall.

Francy - I just moved everything off my counter to scrutinize for rubber feet marks and there are none - not under the coffee grinder, the KitchenAid or even the electric kettle.

One thing I remembered was that when I had little ones visiting who were using the laundry lav often, there were water marks where you could see that they had moved the hand soap dispenser around each time they used it. The kids tend to use lots of the stuff and let it run down the sides of the container....(at least they're washing!) The marks faded away so soon I had forgotten about it until this post. The SS on that vanity top is different from what I have in my kitchen. So I definitely know what you've got going on, but it apparently is not an effect I get on my kitchen SS.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 4:15PM
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i have had Finnish soapstone installed for 2 years

no rings or rubber feet

I have oiled it a total of 6 times since it was installed

The only place i have had any sort of issue with the oil wearing off is near sink and figure that is because soap and oil do not play well

this post did get me to go look for the rings and feet but as i said i was unable to fins them

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 4:25PM
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pluckymama- Of all the posters above, the only one with tennis elbow is Francy. Carefully research and pick a soapstone that is low maintenance. There is such a thing as low maintenance soapstone. (And , yes, I iron my linen pants.)

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 5:11PM
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I wonder if it is the wax that is causing rings and marking ? Do you see the same rings if you use mineral oil alone ?

In the short time I have had my soapstone countertops, I have used both the supplied mineral oil and the Holland Bowl oil/wax mixture. I haven't seen any watermarks with either.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 6:09PM
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amck, THANK YOU! That name got me to the thread I was remembering in my head about beeswax at a reasonable price. Now I can place an order. The great part is that I believe I can use the same product on the Boos Butcher block that will sit on the counter. I'll probably have soapstone elbow soon! j.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 6:12PM
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There is also a good deal on a beeswax/mineral oil mix on ebay. She is a wood worker and mixes it herself. I think, as I recall, it is a better deal than Holland.

Here is a link that might be useful: Beeswax Mineral Oil on Ebay

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 6:27PM
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I had Santa Rita soapstone for 2.5 years before we moved and I never got watermarks or rubber feet marks. I miss my counters so much that I dreamed the new owners ripped them out and put in laminate. We are going to get soapstone again when we remodel our current kitchen.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 6:31PM
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I have Soapstone, and love it. When it was installed, I was told that waterspots are caused by excess oil. I have found this to be true, and as those who choose not to oil have indicated.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 7:34PM
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OK, so here goes. I caught up on this thread a little late but I think I have an explanation.

How your soapstone patinas in your home depends on a couple of variables. One important variable is how much talc is in your stone. The second and I think this is extremely important to mention, is how the countertops are finished. Over the last couple of years I think Ive learned a delicate balance between polished up too much vs. not enough. Thirdly, what environment the soapstone is going to be placed into plays a role to. For example, does your ac duct point directly onto your countertops, or do you have a window that directs a lot of sunlight in your kitchen - both will evaporate the oil off quicker. Hard water would be lumped into this category along with how your soapstone is finished. How much you use your kitchen (introducing oils) will also play a part in this.

For me soapstone is a balance between how each of us act in our own kitchen and what type of soapstone you choose how its finished plays a big role too, (hopefully I get this point across. . lol). Soapstone is like a chameleon changing with each owner. It just fits right in . . .

Hope this makes a bit of sense.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 7:46PM
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thanks floridajoshua. I was hoping you would chime in.

"How your soapstone patinas in your home depends on a couple of variables. One important variable is how much talc is in your stone."

So, does that mean I should look for lower or higher talc?

I love the look and feel of soapstone, but Francy's counters scare me!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 8:05PM
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I am in NYC at DB's place but I will post pic of counter from "Kitchen's in Action" thread. I made Buttermilk Bread the other day. This is probably a couple hundred loaves that have been kneaded in this spot since install. So here is how it looks unoiled. It looks lovely and I wipe with a soapy dishcloth several x a day.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 8:15PM
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I wonder if I was oiling too much? I used the beeswax/mineral oil combo sold by Williams Sonoma. We don't have hard water. It's mountain water. Hmmmm. I'm so surprised that none of you have rubber marks!!

Perhaps it has something to do with how my counters were finished. The company that did it did not seem proficient with soapstone (e.g. on one counter you can see a whole row of circular saw marks).

Regarding my variety--Santa Barbara. M. Teixeira told me it was a very pure soapstone--almost all talc. Then again, they also advertised it as a harder variety. I"m not sure how it could be both. Wouldn't more talc make it softer?

Ah well. The counters look pretty lovely after yesterday's stripping.

Main work area (goodness, I'm starting to laugh at how miniscule my work area is! Yikes!):

Other work area (don't know what those dark splotches are):

But the ring from compost jar didn't get removed, despite mineral spirits and sandpaper.

Watermarks by sink gone:


    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 8:45PM
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Patina I can handle, but water rings...NO WAY! Francy, thank you soooooo much for posting your pictures and sharing your experience. I still want soapstone but will be much more careful when choosing the stone and how to maintain it.

Btw, I think your GRAY counters are beautiful!!!!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 9:28PM
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Francy - Sorry to hear about your soapstone elbow. Your counters look great oiled or natural. Seems you've made peace with your crack. Congrats on that!!

We have Amazon soapstone counters. We've been vigorously using our counters for a few months now. Our stone stays dark with such little effort it is amazing. We do get the faded areas when I set hot steamy pans on it but I keep a oil soaked cloth in a baggie under the sink and a quick swipe takes care of it.

We love our counters and in contrast to Francy they require less attention than our previous pink laminate counters (yes I said PINK). I wipe them clean with a soapy dish towel when needed and I oil very infrequently (less than 1 x monthly). I mostly oil because I want to, not because they need it. (I had to scrub the laminate weekly to get it looking clean, everything stained it, even setting pots on it left dark gray smudges)

I use the beeswax and oil combo. I got mine on ebay. IT works great on the soapstone and it was recommended for butcherblock also. We have always used olive oil on the butcherblock as that's what the manufacturer recommended. But it isn't like soapstone so it stayed oily all the time. Anything left on it would pick up the oil - towels, purses, mail etc. So I stripped my island butcherblock top of the olive oil and applied this combo oil. NOT GOOD. We have used that butcherblock for years and never had staining, watermarks, etc. After the change everything stained it and the slightest damp glass would leave rings. I was appalled. I stripped it again and went back to the olive oil. I know some say this isn't the best oil to use but it has worked so well for us. Sorry to get OT. Thought some might like to know our experience with this.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 10:36PM
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mustbnuts zone 9 sunset 9

Francy--I love your kitchen and stone with the patina. I think it looks great! I love the oiled and non-oiled look. I had to really look at the picture where the compost bin was. It is barely noticeable. Since you live with it and see it everyday, it is probably more noticeable to you. When people come over and don't ohhh and ahhh about your stone, they probably don't understand about the wonders of soapstone. Yours is beautiful--warts and all! And I love the warts!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 8:31AM
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mary_in_nc, Thank so much for the link to the beeswax/ mineral oil on ebay. It does seems like a better idea.

vwhippiechick, Thank you for going slightly off topic. I was wondering about using the same goop on the block. The manufacturer of our block recommends Boos Mystery Oil, which looks like a combo of mineral and linseed oil. I'll play with the different products, but it would sure be nice if I could us the same stuff on both!

Very timely and informative thread! Thanks so everyone! j.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 9:01AM
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A data point, for what its worth:

Last night I took a glass and coated the bottom with water from my reverse osmosis water tap. I placed it on a sample of Belvedere soapstone I had nearby. This soapstone was oiled with USP mineral oil about 3 weeks ago for the fourth time since I obtained it several months ago.

This morning I lifted the glass and wiped up the remaining water. There is no white or gray ring. There is a hint of dark quiet circularity in the underlying inclusion pattern. Because I put the glass down without looking carefully at the pattern where it was placed, I can't be certain it had no effect. But if the water had any effect, it was not the effect of causing a gray or white pattern.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 9:02AM
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I've had my soapstone for 13 months now. I hardly ever wax it anymore; when people are coming to see the kitchen I do, but mostly I just wipe it down. I never get the water marks that Francey is suffering with, and I have plenty of little scratches and marks, but they don't bother me and they don't detract from the beauty of the stone. I have very busy stone, though, for soapstone, with lots of veins and serpentine deposits. (Santa Rita Venata, M. Tex.)

I would choose soapstone again in a second. I completely love it.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 9:12AM
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Joshua, what grade paper do you think gives the "delicate balance between polished up too much vs. not enough"?
Is there a way to know if one has a high or low percent of talc?

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 9:17AM
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Hmmmm. To test the "too much oil" theory, I put a glass of water (with a wet bottom) on a section of oiled counter that was last oiled several months ago. So there is definitely no exces oil, and the counter is dark, but not freshly black. After 30 minutes, I lifted the glass. A pronounced RING! I wiped it with a wet sponge.

After one hour: no change in the appearance of the ring.

This morning (more than 12 hours later): no change in the appearance of the ring. It is still there. I'll keep watching it as the day goes on.

What is the deal with this Santa Barbara soapstone? I don't know qnyone else here on GW who has this variety, so no comparison. [So my experience needn't turn you off soapstone, if you were considering it. Could be comparing apples to oranges.] Is this so-called rare, pricey, no-longer-being-mined stone truly soapstone????

Again, I suggest, if you are getting soapstone, stay with a time tested, "typical" variety. Else, you could be surprised!

I need to do some testing on my other sample (different variety) today...


    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 1:37PM
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A second test for 12 hours with r.o. water at another position on the Belvedere sample showed no ring.

Soapstone selection apparently needs to include ring testing.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 11:06PM
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Ok, check this out!

Putting a glass of water on the counter (which had "old oil"--hasn't been oiled for months, but is still dark in color). Removed it (left wet spot).

Wiped the wet spot dry, then waited about 30mins.

Same spot, next day:

Sample pieces of soapstone, from left to right, Brazillian Waves, Black Galaxy, Santa Barbara. All freshly oiled. Put glasses of water on each, and my rubber footed pencil sharpener touching the BG and SB.

Water mark left on the Brazillian Waves (which is a really beat up sample):

Water mark, and 2 rubber footprints from the sharpener on the Santa Barbara:

NO WATER MARK on the Black Galaxy (you might see some grayish marking in the photo, but that's not from the water. That's just a natural swirly line on the stone. SB stone is next to it, with ring visible.).

Shoot: I just knew I should have gone with the BG. The BG, btw, also got the rubber footprint though. But not quite as pronounced as the SB.

Further proof that not all soapstone is created equal, and paying an upcharge for a special variety (as I did) is certainly not guaranteed to get you a "better" stone!

This is pretty annoying, to say the least (can you tell I'm getting a bit grumpy now??). Soapstone is nonporous, nonreactive, impervious to stains. Oh sure, we get our samples home and drop some red wine and hydrochloric acid on them just for fun. But who EVER thinks to test WATER???

Perhaps I should let M. Tex know about this, so they can tell folks to be sure to test for water stains!


On the upside, those of you who were turned of soapstone after seeing my counters, just test for water stains, and you should be fine!


    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 11:37PM
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Could you try repeating your experiment with distilled water? Maybe your tap water has some unusual chemical in it.


    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 10:38AM
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Ive been trying to add my unintentional experiment to this thread for 2 days now and kept getting interrupted by the kids. :D

I have a large (20X18"?) scrap piece from our last house thats seen some abuse in the last 5 years. There is only one scratch that anyone but me would notice and I dont get any rings, despite my sketchy oiling practices these days. The only thing I have seen strip the oil is dripping hot soap from my daughters latest craft obsession or candle wax that spilled during our last power outage and its easily fixed with a spot oiling.

Here are pictures I took for a friend when it was really dirty (my husband was home alone for the weekend doing demo;), cleaned and then re-oiled. I have no idea what the rings were (lemonade, soda?) but the lower right corner was some kind of oil. Motor oil, perhaps? The smaller pieces are the samples we are interested in now and theyve been getting some pretty harsh treatment too. Large piece is Cobra and the others are Brazilian Black and Rainforest Green.

You can see a couple spots in this picture but Im pretty sure that was candle wax I didnt bother to scrape off. It really doesnt look this "un-oiled" in person though.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 11:38AM
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If it makes you feel better, Francy, I get water marks too. I have a sopping wet dishrag sitting on the counter now to see if I can get a BIG light spot. Wish me luck!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 2:10PM
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lightly: thank goodness! You know, it is one thing to have water marks. It is another thing to be the ONLY ONE with water marks. That just isn't fair. I was already the only one with a 20 inch crack. Being the only one with water marks is more than even I can take.

I have my "experiment" running with bottled water right now. I don't have distilled water, and figured no one is drinking that stuff, right? Although I might have to try it, just for the sake of science, b/c the bottled water seems to be leaving a mark too...

More pictures to come.

Patina Galore

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 2:27PM
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Patina Galore, after looking at your pictures again I noticed in a few that the edges seem to hold their own. Not sure if its because you didnt strip the oil there or the camera angle but I wonder if its the level of polishing that makes a difference. We DIYd and went back over the entire surface with a fine grit after sanding the seams.

Maybe that would solve your problem.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 3:03PM
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backinthesaddle, your cobra sample made me droooooool. I cannot wait to get mine. Yum!


    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 5:14PM
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you are not the ONLY one with soapstone issues!!! I got mine from vermont soapstone about 5 years ago. After installation, the original sawtooth marks were still there, and the installation guys (later fired, not because of me) didn't even sand it down properly. I think it was "finished" with a belt sander at 80 grit. I oiled it, and the oil sat in the grooves. My counters shredded the paper towels I tried to wipe the oil off with. I couldn't get enough oil off because of the pronounced surface grooves; airborne dog hair would stick to it, and there were water rings and other faded marks galore. I stopped oiling. I was so fed up I made them come back. They used an orbital, but still only to 80 grit (that's their policy & I didn't know it made a difference). I didn't oil after that sanding. The original saw tooth marks were less pronounced, but still there. In its gray state, I got water rings (dark), and oil/grease marks. The water rings would wipe off with some cleaner, but the oil spots did not fade without elbow grease and some comet (I thought this thing "didn't stain"?). On weekends, we scrubbed all the counters down with ajax so it looked like "patina", instead of "dirty" dark rings. I could not clean my 4 inch backsplash or counter edges properly because they were so still pretty rough (80 on a belt sander). I call them again because a seam on my island separated (!!!-not enough adhesive was used) and my soapstone sink had MOVED (right vs. left side was about 3/4 inch off if you looked at the apron overhang). They came to yesterday. The new seam looks ok. The sink was pushed back, but my faucet deck is still tilted down (not level) & they have to send someone else next time. I asked them to sand out the sawtooth marks. But again, they only used 80 grit. I think they would have to use 30 grit to get them out, so they didn't. It looked smooth when they left because of all the dust. When they left, I manually sanded with 150 and 220 (it took me 4 hours + an hour cleanup) to smooth it out a bit more, but the surface is still not that smooth (I am comparing it to a machine finished one that they sent me a month after the initial project for a bookshelf in the kitchen) because of the tiny pitted grooves. The edges were sanded, but unevenly, so they look shoddy. The backsplash is smoother, but they couldn't get into the corners. I am undecided about oiling - which would be worse: dark oil spots everywhere, or faded spots from water & feet marks?
Sorry I am ranting, but I HATE my soapstone and wish I could rip it out. I think the smoothness is the culprit, because the piece on my bookshelf is WAY easier to maintain.
Incidentally, I think this stone was Mount Holly. I tested the samples, but it was NOT like this!
I was wondering why most of you rave about your ss, but it sounds like a different animal than mine and francy's.
Is there any way we can fix this????

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 9:06PM
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Continuing to experiment:

Selecting a sample from M. Teixeira marked Sta. Barbara, I wetted the bottom of a glass with r.o. water and left it on the stone for 24 hours. The result is a very faint ring and a slightly gray area the size of the remaining unevaporated water trapped under the glass. This stone had been oiled several times, but not more recently than about 8 weeks ago.

This soapstone has the appearance of a fine aggregate, with darker and ligher components. Close inspection of the new grayer area suggests that it is the boundaries of the lighter components that become white, making the affected area look gray.

I suspect oil film leaching by the water that is affected by what is in the water, and by how susceptible the minerals in the stone are to losing their bonds with the oil film.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 12:13PM
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Thanks Kas! You sound like a real scientist *batting eyelashes.*

I'm not a scientist, but I play one on Garden Web. :-P

So what to do about the Santa Barbara? My bottled water does the same as the tap water. The rings eventually fade (with the oil) over several days, but by then new rings would be added in a normal kitchen. So, if I oil, there will ALWAYS be rings. *sigh* I do so LOVE the dark counter. But if I don't want rings, I guess I have to stay gray.

Unless a different kind of oil would behave differently?


Dang Santa Barbara! My Black Galaxy sample looks just fine.

BAF aka PG

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 1:32PM
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when you leave your stone unoiled, do you get grease stains that don't wipe away with an all-purpose cleaner?

I don't understand why it is said that soapstone "does not stain." If I get a grease mark that won't wipe away with some cleaner, and I have to scrub really hard with something like ajax, doesn't that mean that ss does, in fact, stain? I have "stains" that stuck around even after it was sanded. Isn't that a stain? On any other thing, like clothes, or a garage floor, that would constitute a stain, no?
Anybody with insight into this?

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 7:39PM
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Hi Zanne,
I'm sorry I didn't get back to you after your first post! And I'm sorry you are having so much trouble. Holy cow: I would never expect to have any trouble form one of the veneralble old companies like Vermont Soapstone. I would expect soapstone perfection from them. I don't understnad why they can't finish your surfaces nicely. Saw marks?? I have circular saw marks on my counter, but my counters were not done by soapstone masters! I can't believe your sink moved!! Holy carp!

Re: the oil. It's funny. Of course oil "stains" soapstone, but most folks don't consider it a "stain" because they are "staining" the entire surface. Also, "stain" often means a penetrating/permanent mark. But with soapstone, everything sits on the surface, and can be sanded off. You should be able to sand the oil stains (should we call them "marks"). I like to buff my stone with 400 grit wet sandpaper. But if I really want to get a ring off, then I'll gently, gently use a 220 grit sanding sponge. You have to be gentle, because it is easy to sand too much of the soft stone out, leaving the harder deposits behind. This results in a wavy texture.

So remember, soapstone doesn't stain. It "marks." Especially with water, in my case! ;-P

Raynag has unoiled (gray) soapstone counters. I just posted asking her how she deals with stains, because I only use super gentle, eco type cleaners, and I don't want to use grease cutters or heavy duty scouring powder. She said that baking soda removes her oil/cooking "marks." I haven't tried it yet. I"m in the middle of a giant paint project, so am not doing any cooking. I'll try to splot some olive oil on the counter tonight...

Can you post pictures of your counters? Then we can probably tell you how lovely they really are!



    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 9:29PM
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I completely feel your pain! I posted a couple of months ago about my soapstone. The fabricators installed them without honing them first. It was a disaster. It was just like zanne_lh said. Everything left marks, and paper towels were literally shredded when I tried to clean them. I then had my contractor try to sand them. They were better, but you could still see the saw marks, and everything still left marks. I finally contacted a knowledgeable soapstone fabricator, who was willing to come out and sand the counters for me. The guys who came tried to leave after a mere hour and a half of sanding, saying that that was the best they could do (you could still see the saw marks). I insisted they try harder. After 4+ hours, they finally got them smooth. I can't tell you what a huge difference it makes. I no longer have water marks, but I do get marks from the rubber feet of my appliances. Compared to what I had, I can live with those! Maybe the problem is the honing?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 2:38PM
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I completely feel your pain. My soapstone has been installed now for about 1 1/2 years. A few months after it was installed I created several threads begging for help with my soapstone (PA Original from Green Mountain). I was having all the problems you are describing. I have the water marks & rings, I get the fading if I use anything with rubber feet and I had a lot of uneven fading with oiling, including some unusual blotchy spots that would fade must quicker than the rest of the counter. The only thing that had gotten better is the quick fading. I started using the bees wax and that definitely helps the dark color hold longer. I have one particular spot on the center of my very large peninsula that will not darker up with the rest of the counter. I am not sure what happened there. It was not there when the counter was first installed. I am not sure if something was placed there that took the color out, but it is very frustrating. I still LOVE the look of soapstone counters, but for me if I had to do it again I am not sure I would pick them again. The area around my sink and faucets fade very quickly and the ring marks sometimes still show up even after I oil them. I still think the counters are stunning, but for me I like the dark look and it is too much work to maintain them, especially with a busy household. I had 3 children ages 3 & under when the counters were installed so any extra work was not welcome! :-)

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 10:50PM
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mamcy343- That's interesting because I have PA Original from Green Mountain and have none of the problems you are having. Perhaps it is the grit it was honed to? I absolutely love my counters and would definitely choose this soapstone again.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 6:17AM
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Grit values seem to come up often. Do you all know what grit your counters were sanded to?

I believe ours were sanded to 120. I cannot comment about the water ring problems yet.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 11:57AM
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I don't know what grit my counters were sanded to. When I first brought up the issues I was having several months ago to the forum, I believe Joshua from FL thought the finishing of my counters might have been the problem. I can't remember the exact terms he used but maybe they were too polished? I wish I had saved the thread - it got to be quite long but it has since rolled off the board. I wonder if there is anything we can do to "fix" our counters if we are having these issues.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 2:21PM
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Hi Nancy,
I remember all your troubles! Never thought I'd be having some of my own. Who ever would expect water marks?

Maybe I'm going in the wrong direction re: finishing. I've been sanding with 320 or 400 wet paper to make them smoother and smoother. They feel great, but it has done nothing to help the water marks on oiled sections. I also tried some grapeseed oil, and it seemed to hold a bit better than the bee's oil, under the water assault.

I do want blackish counters again. The gray is nice, but I can't get the big oil splotches from cooking out. And I was always planning a yellow/white/black kitchen.

I love my soapstone like I love my children--warts and all. But sometimes I look at it/them, and think, "why do you have to be such a pain in the arse?"



    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 2:57PM
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Just bumping it back up to see if there is any more input regarding the sanding grit value.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 1:28PM
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francy -- yes, can you believe vermont soapstone screwed up so badly? i thought they were the "ones" too, judging by all the press they get. i think it was bad luck & bad timing, & now it is hard to correct their mistakes & they just don't have it in them to work that hard. thanks for raynag's baking soda tip; i will try it. ---sigh--- i guess that since replacement is not an option, i will try to love it. i do like the dings and such, & the beautiful gray color, but the maintenance issues are definitely a bit much. btw, i have "marks" after the countertop was sanded. i wonder how far down it actually goes? maybe in 10 years, all the splotches will blend into the patina we all seek...!
cluelessinva, where do you live? your guys don't work close to long island, do they? do you know how they finally removed the sawtooth marks, i.e., what grit they used & what the finish grit was?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 9:20PM
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I am glad you remember! When I posted my trouble several months back there were no other complaints about soapstone on the board. I felt like I was a soapstone traitor! I still love the look, but hate the issues I am having. My counters were installed over a year ago (almost 1 1/2 years now) so I doubt the issues will get much better at this point. I think Joshua said if the counters were finished to smooth it could cause problems. I just wonder if there is anything we can do now. I am going to try & get a picture of the ugly strange blotch I have in the center of my peninsula. I have tried oiling - but it always fades quicker than the rest of the peninsula. It is so strange!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 12:32AM
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Babka NorCal 9b

An opposing opinion: After 3 years of daily cooking with my Mariana Soapstone, which looks to be almost the same as Francy's...I'm still very happy. Yes, it gets lighter areas from soap, blue tape, vinegar, lemonjuice, and hot lids, BUT I never have to worry about ruining it with ANYTHING I put on it. I treat it like my previous ceramic tile counter top. No trivets or hot pads. A quick 30 second wipe, not a thorough rubbing, with a slightly oiled cloth on my sink/prep island returns the surface to "new".

Each countertop material has its advantages and disadvanages. I personally didn't want anything shiny. MY primary purpose in the kitchen is to cook. I can do that with my soapstone and not give it a second thought.

You cannot beat the feel of this stone under your fingertips. For many of us stoners, it is worth any quick oiling (for guests) that it requires.

Each kitchen owner gets to decide, and I suppose this link will seperate the "I want my countertops to look perfect all the time" from those who are cooks who don't want to worry about damage to surfaces while they are moving about the kitchen i.e. the lemon can sit there until after dinner! Soapstone cannot be damaged by acids, or whatever.

Lets Eat!!


    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 1:39AM
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Francy, have you talked to your stone people about dying the stone? I'm just musing here, but someone in another thread mentioned her granite was dyed in a spot to blend a seam...wonder if they could dye your SS darker? Just a thought. Good luck and thanks for posting pics.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 4:40AM
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Zanne, I'll have to ask the guys what grit they used, but I may have spoken too soon! We now have some water spots. It may be because it's still "new", and it's due for an oiling, but I'm a bit skeptical. The counters are definitely smooth, but maybe they're now too smooth? I e-mailed the guy the other day, and he suggested frequent oilings, and then he'd revisit the issue if need be. I'll keep you posted!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 9:59AM
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What about trying one of the little orbital sanders with the bag attached with a lower grit paper. By the way we discovered the paper for these sanders though not rated for wet use hold up very well. HD has some reasonable priced ones

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 10:42AM
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I'm a newbie to this website and extremely interested in all the comments regarding soapstone. We are in the middle of a kitchen remodel and after looking at granite one stoneyard showed us the Ice Flower stone. They pulled the slab and the owner threw a glass of water on the slab so that we would see the color after the "aging" had been applied. We LOVED IT! Our house was built in 1862, completely redone before we purchased it but the kitchen was a nightmare. I was relieved to find something we both liked. The stone yard owner told me Ice Flower is in the soapstone category but is much more stable than original soapstone because orignal ss has much more talc in the stone, this one apparently doesn't. He said it should be called ironstone it was so stable. Needless to say we were excited. I've just placed a wet glass on the sample piece we came home with, I'll let you know what happens.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 9:38PM
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decomom: be sure to oil your sample first. Water usually won't leave any kind of mark on unoiled stone.

babka: I don't think I would say this thread separates the "wants the counters to look perfect" crowd from the patina lovers. I most definitely do not want my counters to look perfect. I want them to look 80 years old, scratched, dinged, and loved. But water marks just have a different aesthetic for me. I haven't been able to fall in love with them yet. Maybe someday?

After I finish my painting project, I will reoil, and they try your 30sec oil-with-damp-cloth routine. Hopefully it will help my water marks!



    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 10:09PM
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I will agree with babka on the 30 second routine. I was spending a long time with my beeswax oil, only to have all of my hard work fade before my eyes after doing a sinkful of dishes. I started doing the wipe down mostly around my sink and now my counters have the deep dark look (without watermarks - here's hoping Francy!) most days. Perhaps once a week I will do the entire counter - it's a lot quicker and I'm much happier.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 10:56PM
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i don't expect my counters to look "perfect", either. just "aged", but CLEAN. soapstone is marketed to be low maintenance, which, for some of us unfortunate ones, it does not seem to be.
just out of curiosity -- has anyone out there with unoiled (gray) soapstone achieved allover darkening yet? how uneven does it look? is it blotchy? or does it look pretty uniform? do you have to oil ss in order for it to achieve an even patina, long-term?
i am hoping that maybe in 10 years, my soapstone will darken enough to mask all the grease spots!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 12:01AM
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oh, no! :( ...keeping my fingers crossed for you... let us know what happens!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 8:40AM
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I had ordered a sample pack of soapstones from M. Teixeira. I was already gravitating toward the "Rainforest Green" and the "Malibu Green" (which may be a serpentine stone not soapstone based on other GW posts). In any case, both samples passed the water ring test with flying colors, which eased my mind. Now, I know that you're supposed to test actual slabs with mineral oil before you buy the particular slab(s), but do people test particular slabs for water rings?

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 3:20PM
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Hi everyone, The Ice Flower sample was treated before I put the wet glass on it and let it sit overnight. Yeah! no water marks! I am going to contact the stone yard tomorrow and ask what they treated the sample with. I really love this stone and it does feel harder than orignal soapstone, the green color with the veining will work well in this house. I'll let you know what he says about watermarks but it sounds like a 30 sec wipe is all we need. I'll be in touch again.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 8:00PM
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Well, I did use beeswax/oil around my sink on Friday. On Saturday, water marks did not stay, but tonight (Sunday), they are staying. I can't be oiling every other day! I'm going to contact the company that did the honing, and ask them for suggestions.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 10:18PM
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decomom, we have Ice Flower (which three years later we still LOVE) is charcoal gray with beautiful carmel colored veining..however, I'm not sure what the stone yard owner means by "stable" but we get no water marks that remain, and cooking oil spots wipe clean with one swipe of the sponge.

However, it does ding, chip and scratch fairly easily, so it is definetly not one of the harder SS varieties....and I was informed of such by the supplier/fabricator, Bucks County Soapstone of PA.

Also, as far as I know, Ice Flower does not have any green tinge like "original" is a pale grey pre-oiling..and oiling turns it charcoal grey. No green tinge whatsoever.So..I'm wondering if the one you were shown is indeed Ice Flower.Perhaps someone here can shed some light on this...

BTW...FWI...a little puddle of water leaked out from an on the counter water dispenser that went unnoticed for quite a while. I wiped it away, and it DID leave a light mark. However..a little later on..maybe a half hour, it had disappeared on its own....and, I have not oiled the counters since June.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 2:03PM
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Jay at Garden State Soapstone told me the same thing about Ice Flower as Bucks County Soapstone advised Logic. That it is one of the softer soapstones and, as such, it will ding, chip and scratches more easily than some others. However, IMHO, it's high talc content is also what makes it one of the most beautiful of soapstones, with a wonderful silky feel! It is a stone with much movement and white veining. As Logic says, it is pale gray-to--charcoal gray in color. No green tinge. Decomom, I'm thinking your stone yard guy may have his soapstone spiel a bit mixed up. Bottom line, though, is to worry less about the name or what the supplier tells you about it and more on how a sample of your stone reacts to oil,water, test scratching and blunt force trauma. :)

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 3:36PM
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I haven't read this entire thread, but I just want to say that if I had a kitchen with soapstone, the first thing I would do would be to invite a bunch of people over for a patina party. (Yes, I know patina is supposed to have to do with metals, but its vernacular use has expanded.) I would want all those rings and the whole shebang. I have an all white, polished marble baking slab on part of my island and I let everyone use it for everything the very first month we moved in (it was over Thanksgiving 2005) so that all my mommy merit badges would show. It's becoming honed on its own. LOL. (Marthavila, I'm LMAO at the "blunt force trauma" test.)

1 Like    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 5:18PM
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I tried grapeseed oil today. Thank goodness for Trader Joe's pricing, or this might not be an affordable option. I'll have to see how it works long term, but initial tests leave no residual watermarks. (I also tried plain mineral oil designed for wooden cutting boards, but that had the same water-ring problem.)

So maybe my counter can be blackish after all!


decomom: one caution-I would be wary of any fabricator that "treats" the soapstone with a product other than oil. Soapstone is nonporous, and any product that you apply to it sits on the surface and will eventually wear off. And as it wears off, it goes into the food that you have on the counters. My own soapstone-inexperienced fabricator strongly recommended applying a chemical enhancer to the stone, which they said will last (keep it dark) for about a year. Experiences soapstone fabricators do not usually recommend this, and stick to food safe oil.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 6:02PM
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Francy, I know this may sound a bit nutty but it comes from experience with both a trial piece of soapstone and a wood table (cherry). Try having a little water mixed in with the oil on your cloth and see if it works better. Sometimes the combination of a little water on the oily cloth works wonders.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 9:10PM
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Hello everyone,

Thank you all for your comments. I will ask for the specifics of the "aging" this company uses. They are a highly recommended and very reputable distributor but I appreciate the feedback. This stone is absolutely a verde color. In it's raw form it looks like a chalky gray but once it was wet it was this amazing color that we fell in love with.

Kitchen project is going slowly, no kitchen for two months now, getting really tired of cooking on the grill!

I'll be in touch soon. Thanks everyone!

    Bookmark   September 7, 2008 at 4:19PM
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The soapstone that decomom is referencing sounds like the Rainforest Green sample I had received.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2008 at 5:51PM
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Our soapstone is a green-gray with light veins. We have had it about 18 months, during which time I have oiled it 2-3 times. We have had no problems with water marks, and the kitchen gets fairly heavy use.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2008 at 8:08PM
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Bumping this because it seems so important. I have waffled back and forth between soapstone, granite, tile, engineered stone, and now back to soapstone. BUT Francy's experience and the pictures are very sobering, though I do like the grey look better than the black personally. What to do, what to do? I am thinking of copying and sending some of these posts to a very nice soapstone provider who actually went to the trouble of writing me four or 5 emails yesterday, complete with pictures. See what her take/opinions are about all this. Definitely, definitely I will ask for samples to test before I commit to soapstone. The ones she is thinking of for me are Beliza and Minas. Anyone have first hand experience with either of these? think someone did mention Minas; better go back and skim thru to find it. And all this about fabricators makes me extremely nervous. The 3 fabricators the source woman mentioned in my area...I am concerned about their experience and how much SS they've really installed. I live in a rather small TX city and, frankly, I doubt that very many here have soapstone, so how much experience and know-how are these local fabricators really likely to have, working with SS? Should I settle maybe for Raven engineered stone that supposedly has sort of a soapstone look and be assured of the ease of its maintenance and the likelihood that fabricators and installers will know what they're doing and not have to worry about radon????? Waffling Ali

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 3:08PM
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I enjoy the natural patina of soapstone and in my kitchen leave it unoiled. In my bathroom I oil it and if I do get rings I would recommend using a bit of Softscrub and the rough green side of a sponge over the spot and then reoiling only that spot. You might want to consider purchasing a specially formulated mineral oil, the ones in drug stores tend to be a bit thicker and leave an oily residue. Sometimes the soapstone companies themselves sell recommended oil for this.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 3:43PM
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I haven't logged in for several weeks, but did a test with my soapstone this weekend. I have a strange spot on the center of my island that looks awful. Every time I oil this spot fades within 1 day to a lighter color gray and it just does not look good. So, I think I figured out what happened. I must have scrubbed it with the rough side of the sponge to clean something up. I did a test little spot and achieved the same appearance. Now what do I do? How do I get this spot back to the original finish of the rest of the counter? I think I am going to contact the Green Mtn to ask about this.

So, I guess my advice is beware when using the rough side of the sponge - in my case it seems to have permanently altered my counter in that spot.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 10:28PM
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Hi, all. Francy, for what it's worth, I emailed my soapstone installer (he's templating AS I TYPE so hopefully my kitchen project is drawing to a close!) about all of this. He wrote me back:

"My experience is that the occurrence of these rare rings has nothing to do with the grit or the type of soapstone. It has to do with the owner of the stone, who constantly cleans the stone with cleansers and heavy detergents and doesnt allow the water to dry 100% before re-oiling the stone. This causes the water and oil to repel each other and will leave what appears to be a film or water mark on the stone."

Who knows... just thought I'd post it in case it helps.
In fact, after all the soapstone I have installed, I encountered only one client who fits into this category. This client is constantly cleaning the counters due to her child having a medical condition causing illness from any germs or bacteria. I have returned to the clients home on several occasions to address the issue, which I believe is under control now with the proper drying before re-applying oil. Hope that helps put your mind at rest.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 3:36PM
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I don't know what page of the forum this post was on since I found it through a forum search for soapstone, but I'm replying to it so that it won't fall off into oblivion. It's too important to lose.

I've wanted SS for so long that when I walked into M. Tex last week to pick up a box of samples, I had a weird almost tearful emotional reaction (like butterflies of joy in my stomach) to seeing and feeling all the smooth beautiful SS in the showroom. I couldn't stop touching it.

Then I came home and found this thread. And oh, horrors. I've begun testing all of my samples. With water, no less. Patina, yes. I love my scratched and dinged soft wide-plank pine floors. But those water spots and glass rings? I don't know if I could live with that every day. What would we do without the ever-helpful Kitchen Forum?

I wonder if Francy ever got her water ring problems resolved.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 12:21PM
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Definitely bumping - this was one of the most informative threads!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 9:06PM
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My DH and I just spent 30 minutes reading every one of the above replies. Thanks to each and every one of you who replied--you have no idea how much it helps!

We are still in a quandry over the SS.....not completely conviced one way or the other. However, we prefer the light gray color which sounds like it will be easier to maintain than the darker color that SS can turn when oiled.

Francy: any other new tests for us? :)

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 12:51AM
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Sue Brunette


    Bookmark   July 7, 2009 at 4:50PM
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Great thread! Thanks Google for bringing me to it! And big thank you to all the original posters for taking the time to share.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 8:49AM
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Wow-I agree. Still trying to get rid of my blue tape marks-tried several things but no luck yet. I keep hoping I'll just walk in there and they'll be gone . . .

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 6:50PM
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    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 2:05PM
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Installed Spring 2011, it's now May 2012. Treated with El Dorado Dry Wax with Beeswax. Big kitchen window, very hard water, and yes, we get white rings.

We're in SoCal so we used Soapstonewerks in Escondido. It's been a lovely countertop, we love it!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 9:46AM
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    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 1:01PM
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Here is a link to a thread with information on sealing soapstone, an option that prevents water rings and the need to oil or wax.

Here is a link that might be useful: testing sealants on soapstone

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 3:28PM
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I installed Brazill Black in our cabin 4 years ago. NO problems with water or soap. I installed Santa Rita (black with white veins) in our home this year and rarely oiled surface has light grey areas everywhere soap has touched.
It is much harder to keep looking consistantly good.
Different stones- different care.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 1:03PM
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No watermarks on my three year old soapstone. It gets heavy use. The only nick from a careless handyman who set his circular saw on the counter and "slid" it back into his hands. Urgh. I oil less now than initially--maybe once in four months.
Counters to have rubber skid marks when I slide the kitchen aid on its rubber feet. Those wipe off with a damp paper towel. My cleaning crew scrubs the counters 2X month with soap and water. Easy counters, beautiful look.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 1:18PM
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I remember this thread because it gave me pause just as I was about to install soapstone. I went with Julia, and have had no water stains or rings at all in 4 years. Very few scratches or dings, too, because it is so hard. Best kitchen decision made! It still looks pretty much like the day it was installed.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 1:36PM
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I love this thread! SS is my first choice for a countertop, and this is a very thorough discussion.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 4:21PM
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What an extraordinary thread - iconic Gardenweb, I suspect.

If any of you soapstone countertop owners are still around, I'm curious - does anyone leave it totally natural, no waxing or oiling EVER?

Or, did you wax/oil it initially, and now just let it mature gracefully, with no treatment except keeping it clean?

Just wondering if that might be the least distressing route to take.

I'm a messy cook, and we have hard water, and I really don't like glossy cold granite, etc, but prefer materials that are more - alive (not sure what the right term would be): I don't mind them aging and gaining scars of use and not-so tlc as we mature together!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 6:51AM
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Holly- Kay

I am loving the look of soapstone! I know it is not for me because I love shiny but I have to say that it is heartwarming to me to see people who have kitchens that look lived in! My old fridge has my grandsons' works of art hanging all over them, I have teapots lining my window sill and was thinking of giving them up in my new kitchen, now I am rethinking that. I love looking at the beautiful, sleek, sophisticated kitchens but my kitchen just can't be "perfect" I think it would drive me nutso (well to be honest I don't think I could keep it perfect looking).

Francy I just love your kitchen and the BM Barley may just be the color I use. Barley and Casabella are among my favorites.

Good luck to all of you and your beautiful soapstone counters! Thanks for sharing!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 8:37AM
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why_not_me: We've had our ss counters installed since July 2010 and have never oiled them. We love them that way:

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 12:03PM
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leela4 - thanks so much for posting those photos! Your countertops look just as I imagined - quite matte, but with a warmth and depth and life that just isn't there (IMO) with concrete, or most granites.

Does the finish you've got have a name? I love how the corners are looking "hand rubbed" already.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 12:21PM
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These are gorgeous. Do you have any idea what type of soapstone you have? And, just curious about what color it is when you wet it with water. We too would prefer not oiling, but I have heard people say that places will naturally darken where there is a lot of consistent use. Have you found this to be the case?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 3:41PM
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Wow: what a blast from the past! And to think, my kitchen STILL isn't done. (actually, it never will be: I've given up!)

Here is what I've learned, and a soapstone update:

1. The FINISH given to your stone will have a huge effect on water marks, etc. My counters were done by a grantie person, and were sanded TOO smoothly. other on GW have had this very same problem, and a rehoning by a soapstone expert has eliminated 90% of the watermarks and constant scratches. This isn't really an option for me because I don't have access to an expert, and I don't really even care anymore because....

2. I initially treated my counters with BEESWAX which is very easily LIFTED by heat and "grabby stuff" like tape, rubber feet, etc. Thus, all those water rings and rubber feet marks were actually the gray stone showing through where the wax was lifted. i switched to oil (grapeseed oil from trader joe's), and that eliminated 80% of my marks. i don't get water or heat/steam marks anymore at all, but I do get slight "lifting" from grabby rubber feet.

So, oil was the answer for me. (I never oil now. the counters stay permanently dark.)

because of the fine finish on my counters, I get scratching like crazy. I don't care at all, because I absolutely want a "living" surface in my kitchen that is used for working on. It is a kitchen counter! I do everything directly on the counters. I also get constant little pock marks/white dots fom jars and wine bottles etc. that have textured bottoms. The section where my younger son makes his special recipe popcorn for us is COVERED in pockmarks from the trader joe's salt shaker that has a bumpy bottom. Sometimes the dots bug me because they look like they could be food/crumb residue, and thus can make the counters look dirty. and I don't like dirty! But if my son were gone tomorrow, I'd treasure every dot he made. His popcorn is the best because, I tell him, I can taste the love in every bite.

The only think I might do differently with my counters if I could do it all again, is use marble instead. I luuuuuuuuuuv marble. But I don't love pristine marble. I love marble that has done its duty, and earned its keep. I have a marble end table in my living room (polished) that had all kinds of etches. About a year ago, I repeatedly rubbed the surface with cut lemons until the whole thing was etched. then, I left lemon slices on it as a test. When it was polished, I could see every lemon slice imprint/etch. After my treatment, the spots where the slices lay were invisible to my eye. I don't understand why people don't do this to their kitchen counters. Try it on a sample!

Hope that helps!

Life is short: use and enjoy your counters!



    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 4:57PM
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francy- I'm so glad things are going well for your counters! I assume you decided to live with the crack?

why_not & needinfo: Our ss is called "smoke". It is a softer variety, but not terribly so. We have some nicks and dings and scratches. We did find out that the slab yard received it honed at a fairly high grit- ~600-800 is what they thought. That said, I think that affects scratching most of all as it is not shiny and has a wonderful silky feel.
We don't get any wet marks or rubber feet marks as some above described, and we have pretty hard water. And there are some areas that have naturally darkened but that doesn't bother me too much as I'm able to get rid of those areas by lightly sanding with 400 grit wet sand paper (which I don't do all that often because it's not significant).
Here are a few pictures wet and not:

From the other side:

And here is a sample oiled:


    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 7:36PM
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I obtained six square samples of Tribecca and Julia soapstones. Julia was smooth-honed and ca. 4 hardness, while Tribecca was bumpier and ca. 3 hardness. Tribecca has linear markings all in one direction, while Julia is more of a garden.

I found that making watermarks on a stone with no oil or wax coating is impossible.

After coating twice with olive oil, I attempted to make watermarks again. After 30 min. I could see a dark filled circle on the Tribecca. If I rubbed the watermark with my fingers, it disappeared (the watermark, not the stone; I'm not Merlin). My hypothesis is that the oil finish floats to the surface of the water, leaving an underlying water layer that diffracts light causing an apparent watermark.

I noticed the next day that the oiled Tribecca remained dark but the oiled Julia had returned to natural color. If oil adheres to Tribecca stone more than Julia, and if oil evaporates we might get this effect. However, I don't like that hypothesis as I don't believe oil evaporates overnight, so tentatively conclude that the Julia stone may absorb oil more quickly despite all assertions to the contrary. Any assertion that a surface is non-porous has to be relative as all surfaces are porous at the atomic-molecular level which is where the action is.

Perhaps these simple experiments, along with the experiment that coats the entire stone with water looking for incipient cracks are worthwhile prior to any purchase?

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 10:29AM
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To follow up on the "ring" experiment, Mr. Bean, I conducted a "ding" experiment on my 2 sample chunks of Alberene soapstone. I grabbed a shallow metal ladle and gave a little whack to the ss with the rim. This made a good sized, whitish ding. I re-oiled the divot and expected the powder in the cut to disappear right away. It didn't. I tried some Scotchbrite to feather it in. That didn't wok. I moved on to simulate a hard plastic cup falling from the cupboard. A small ding resulted. Last I took a silverware knife and dropped it from almost-cupboard height and another disturbing divot appeared. I have set the samples aside thinking this material won't work for us.

How on earth do we know which ss will be a harder one? Is Virginia ss harder than Brazilian? Is strongly veined ss inherently softer than less-veined? This seems to be an obsessive topic for some of us.

When I asked my potential SS counter fabricator to comment on the varying stories I read on GW and Houzz about SS, she said she doesn't believe a thing she reads here. She is my only local source of Virginia SS so i may need to use her despite her attitude. I see these sites as a link to reality. Thank you all for the time you people take to share your experiences.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 11:49AM
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@ harmonyhill - I get that you want a really good surface, but - surely part of the charm and pleasantness of use of soapstone IS that it's soft, and being so, WILL mark up if you smack it around. If you want hard, granite's fine (don't get them to polish it if you don't want the gravestone look), otherwise, soapstone is a lovely natural SOFT stone countertop material that has survived the test of time, again and again, nicks and all.

I can't abide negative (which is often a cover for clueless head-in-the-sand) sales people such as the woman you describe, and iiwy I'd be seeking out a fabricator who's so civil and willing that I'd feel good about giving him/her my hard-earned $ for my countertops! Maybe she's just a bit of a Luddite; ime the good 'uns nowadays are VERY internet savvy and VERY aware of how thorough much of the research we lowly home owners do - on the internet.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 1:11PM
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Harmonyhill I can understand your fabricators stance as I have read a lot of misinformation on many different topics here and other places online but I have also read tons of helpful info. You have to be careful about trusting the advice that you get from people and take the time to do your own research, as you have.
As far as Virginia Soapstone vs. Brazilian or soapstone from other areas, they all vary. Alberene has had different types of soapstone within its quarry that range in hardness. When the types that are currently available from Alberene are compared to soapstone from other areas it is harder than some and softer than some. Most soapstones will dent when objects are dropped on them, there are a few that don't but they are not the norm. As far as veined stones, I had a sample of a Brazilian soapstone that had pretty vivid and wild veins and it was a little harder than the Old Dominion from Alberene so I do not believe that all of the soapstone with pronounced veins are softer.
I have had soapstone from Alberene in 3 rooms of my house, including the kitchen, for over 4 years and am very happy with it but it is not perfect. As a whole my counters look great but I have dents in areas, I have small scratches, and I have a sprinkling of white marks from a sugar jar's bottom. For the most part I like the way that the counters are aging but if you want counters that don't show any wear you may want to look at some of the honed granite like Virginia Mist.

Mr Bean- if you are really worried about water marks and are not opposed to sealants you can try an enhancing sealant like Miracle 511, it keeps the stone dark and makes water bead up so no chance of water rings.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 4:45PM
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I know this is a very old conversation, but I have found the prettiest soapstone which is cheaper than most places quoted, but is also so soft I can actually scratch it with my thumbnail. Do any of you soapstone lovers have stone that soft and does it really matter? This stone (has no name at the fabricator) is a medium grey with white veins. The only other soapstone available to me is much busier, lots of black against the grey background - almost looks striped. It is harder, and more expensive because the fabricator is more expensive. I don't like it as much - except for the durability maybe. How bad is soft?

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 3:54PM
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I have a soft soapstone (barroca) and I just checked and I could easily scratch it with my fingernail (just a tiny scratch which blends in with everything else). Although I think part of what is actually scratching is the oxidized layer (which is what makes it get blacker as it gets older and can be built up faster with oiling). My soapstone has lots of little scratches. Lots. And little chips here and there.

But "does it matter"? Not to me. I expected and wanted that patina.

"Does it matter" is really a very personal you like things pristine and perfect? Or lived in?

Here is another Gardenweb soapstone thread about this same question...I'm sure there are many, many more.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 7:12PM
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I would consider my soapstone relatively soft, it's called Mariana, and yes I can scratch it with with a fingernail.
Pretty much agree with everything itsallaboutthefood says.
My only regret is that I didn't know about soapstone 30 years counter top I've ever had, love it!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 7:29PM
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We've had our Beleza soapstone for almost three years. It is a hard variety - (or I have soft fingernails). It has a few scratches a small chip, and some patina. We don't oil it, and we really like it.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 10:10PM
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I'm trying to find anyone that has Noire Soapstone countertops.

I was shopping for granite and stumbled across the Noire and immediately fell in love. Then I read the comments on Garden web of the one fabricator who rejected the Noire, and the sample that arrived broken. I also had 1 fabricator I talked to refuse to work with because its harder to fabricate.

That, alone should be enough to turn me off, but it hasn't.

What I really want to hear from is anyone who has it installed and how they like it.

Does anyone have experience with Noire?

    Bookmark   October 17, 2014 at 2:57PM
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