Honed Black Granite, Soapstone, or Richlite countertops?

tahoeboSeptember 26, 2007

I've been doing lots of research on this site about countertops and I was hoping for some advice. I really like the look of a matte dark stone and was excited to look into black honed granite but was appalled after touching a sample and seeing all my fingerprint smudges. After reading posts on this forum, looks like that's a common problem. So now I'm really interested in soapstone. Has anyone else tried to decide between the two? And to make things more complicated, I've also stumbled onto black Richlite and Nordic Black Antique granite. I've seen neither of those in person but they look good online! My head hurts. I'm definitely looking for a very warm natural look, not glossy. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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vjrnts

I'm a stoner, and in fact spent some time today rubbing my beloved soapstone with Bee's Oil, a combination of bee's wax and mineral oil. It's totally gorgeous.

I've never seen a fingerprint on my soapstone, it is not a glossy finish, it feels wonderful under one's hands, it's impervious to spills and heat... What's not to love? Mine does scratch, and I wipe the scratch with a little mineral oil, buff for 3 seconds, et voila! The scratch is invisible. I haven't chipped mine yet; they say it's possible, but I think you'd have to give it a pretty hard smack with something really hard.

I love my soapstone.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2007 at 9:16PM
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teachbls

Hi, there -

I was looking for something similar to what you've described, but had reservations about both the honed AB and soapstone. I ended up choosing cambrian (black) granite that has been both "antiqued" and treated with an ager. I think it is quite beautiful, and offers a warm, matte effect without the "issues" of either of the other stones to which you've referred. Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2007 at 9:44PM
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tahoebo

Yay! I'm leaning heavily towards Soapstone right now, so I was glad to read your post. I live in the mountains and a lot of our house is natural cedar and I think soapstone would look just gorgeous. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't making a rash decision since I haven't really seen alternative materials in person (like Richlite or Paperstone, etc) but it looks like soapstone's in the lead. Anyone seen antiqued black granite? Is it different than honed?

    Bookmark   September 26, 2007 at 9:44PM
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kelly_2000

I have black Paperstone (similar to Richlite) which I am very happy with. But---from your description of your home/kitchen/location, sounds like the soapstone would be really lovely. I think soapstone has a bit more of a rustic look than you would get with Richlite/Paperstone (which I think have a bit more modern look). Can't really comment on the granite.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2007 at 10:16PM
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hest88

Like Teachbls, I opted for Cambrian Black antique as well, and for the same reasons. Nordic black antique and Virginia Mist antique are every so slightly more porous I believe, but are also good alternatives if you want a bit more veining.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2007 at 10:24PM
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alexamd

hest88...I looked at Cambrian Black, but then I found a Nordic Black with a nice vein through it and all but decided on it. Now I am worried based on your comment that it is more porous. I really wanted soapstone, but couldn't make it work in our budget and then I was sold on another stone, but the waiting period is too long for our neverending project. I went to a stone yard and saw the Nordic Black with a beautiful white vein through it (like soapstone) and it fit in our budget, but now I am worried that it won't wear well. I beat up samples of soapstone and the Schist I wanted -- both came through with flying colors, but I haven't given the granite the same test...shame on me. I guess that I have some more homework to do. I know that it doesn't show fingerprints like the AB I saw, but I will have to go dump some vinegar on it!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 7:21AM
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stonegirl

The Nordic Black Antique has a wonderful satiny texture to it and a very nice depth of color. We have done a number of really great kitchens with it. It is very hard and dense and does not require sealer. Because it is darker than a regular honed stone, the finger mark issue is not as prevalent on this finish. You could still use a good quality enhancer like MB-6 or Tenax Ager Tiger if you wish. It is a really easy stone to care for.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 7:39AM
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alexamd

Thanks stonegirl. I just had a panic attack. You have reassured me. It is really kind of funny. I have done so much research on soapstone, because that was what I really wanted, but the quotes were so much higher than our already increased budget that I just can't do it. I also liked Ashfield Schist, but it is a small quarry and it is 8 weeks from templating and it is also higher than our budget, but not as much as soapstone. I had looked at granite initially to see what I could get for the money, but wasn't too serious as I was sure I would get soapstone. After the updated numbers came in so high, I decided to look again and that is when I found the Antique Nordic Black and it came in $20 less than my "budget" -- plus my DH who is very weary of this project likes it. Since he is Mr. Practical and I am Pie in the Sky, it was a no brainer decision for him -- it fits in the budget, it is 1-2 weeks from templating and he likes it. For me it isn't so easy...I like it very much and I will be happy...but I LOVE the other two stones. However, at some point there is no more money to overspend.

A quick question for you, since you are so knowledgable. Would you put a dark granite like Blacky Galaxy or Uba Tuba in a kid's bathroom? I am debating it, as it is cheaper than the corian quotes I am getting. I am just hesitant, because of the kids.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 7:50AM
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stonegirl

The kids will not be able to do anything to damage the Ubatuba or the Black Galaxy. There will be finger marks, soap smudges, toothpaste smears and water splashes - and all of those will be very visible because of the dark colors.

Good news is that all those marks will wipe up with no fuss at all. It could be irritating if you are a neat freak though, because those marks will be right back after the kids used the bathroom again :)

See if your fabricator has some lighter, busier material like Giallo Vicenza, Santa Cecilia, Baltic Brown or something if that would be an issue to you. Those materials are much better at hiding kid marks

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 8:08AM
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elljays

We have honed Labrador Black, with an enhancing sealer on it, and it doesn't show any fingerprints. In fact, it doesn't show anything. It does have more of a mottled black look, instead of the solid black of absolute black. I think that depth of color from the mottled black helps camoflauge any dirt/fingerprints. The enhancing sealer definitely helps too.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 8:51AM
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MariposaTraicionera

A friend has Soapstone in one home, and honed granite at her lake home. She prefers the stone 100% more than the honed granite.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 9:36AM
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deee_gw

Here is a pic of my honed dark counters. Mine are more charcoal than black. I used Porous Plus 411 sealer on them and I haven't had any staining problems. A sweating glass left for a long time leaves a bit of a dark spot but it dries quickly. They are much easier to care for than the white Corian I had before.

Here is a link that might be useful: Honed Virginia mist

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 9:38AM
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hest88

Alex, sorry to scare you! When I meant slightly I really meant *slightly*! As Stonegirl said, it's hardly enough to signify.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 10:59AM
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pamelabeth

We just had flamed/brushed absolute black granite put in and we love it. It's a deep black color with no shine at all. The texture is bumpy though but this isn't an issue for us as we have it on the perimeter countertops not the island countertop.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 11:06AM
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alexamd

Thanks hest88. These decisions are enough to drive me crazy. It is just that I have to live with them for the next 25 or so years.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 11:54AM
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agnesackneback

To the OP: Have you ever thought about Slate?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 12:47PM
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tahoebo

Ahhhrg! More decisions! I guess I have to go see more slabs. Hopefully I'll try to see some Nordic black antique and Cambrian black antique before I settle on soapstone. I've seen antiqued marble - is the finish similar? It's much more matte than the honed granite I've seen, maybe that's why it's better for fingerprints?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 12:48PM
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vjrnts

Nah. Just settle on soapstone. Don't bother with the others. You won't like them. You don't need them. Soapstone. So smooth, so velvety, so easy...

Come. Joooooiinnnnn uuuuuuussssss......

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 1:25PM
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carolemed

I agree with vjrnts! My soapstone is being installed at this very minute and it already looks wonderful -- and they haven't put the oil on it yet. It is the best part of the remodel. I think there are lots of varieties of SS. The stone yard calls this "original" and the sample held the first mineral oil for weeks. It feels so comfortable.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 2:46PM
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coleen3201118

My 2 cents - I always wanted soapstone and read all the posts re: maintenance, scratches, blah, blah, blah (or etc) - anyway I was scared off enough that I went and put a deposit on honed jet mist. My wise DH (who had virtually no input on the remodel other than to say he liked what was going on) told me to get the soapstone or I would regret it. So we did. Best decision we made. I LOVE IT. Wouldn't trade it for the world. People can try to compare soapstone to other granites, but I've been there and you just can't. Sorry. Yes, with soapstone you oil it (like Vicki I use the beeswax combo) but it's not that often and the reward you get for doing it is priceless. So, if you love soapstone, just get it. Otherwise you'll spend years wishing you did. My 2 cents.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 2:55PM
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vjrnts

carolemed, you won't let someone else do that first oiling, will you?! Nooooooo! YOU do it, it's a huge amount of fun! Don't let them do it, you watch it bloom!

Ooooh, I would have killed my GC if he'd had the gall to oil my soapstone! Luckily, he didn't know what a dramatic difference it would make, so he was as excited as I was when I oiled it the first time.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 3:04PM
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mayland

Oh dear, I am another who is under the soapstone spell. But we're near the end of a total house renovation, and also near the end of our budget. And although I would never have thought it possible, I am all shopped out - tired of researching and looking and choosing. Suddenly the $4-5K for soapstone is not looking as doable or as justifiable (financially) as it once was (especially as this is not our forever house). _Sigh_

So, like Alexa, I'm thinking of honed or antiqued Virginia mist or Nordic or Cambrian black. I have not been to see any or got prices yet, but I am grateful to hear about them and see the beautiful examples posted here. Thanks for sharing them.

Alexa -- if you haven't already, go to a stoneyard and try to get remnants for your bath vanity tops. We got one black granite (Cosmic i think) and one soapstone remnant for 2 vanities and paid $250 each, including templating, fabrication and installation.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 3:46PM
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hest88

My Cambrian Black antique. See 3rd and 4th pictures. Sorry, they're not great but you get a sense of the slight nubbiness too.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cambrian Black picts

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 3:59PM
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jb1176

When you talk about an "enhancer" or "tenax agar" are you talking about a product that has to be reapplied, like a sealer, to maintain the effect of the product on the stone? I assume an enhancer brings out the color of the stone but doesn't add a gloss. What are these things and what do they do and should all antiqued or honed countertops have this product applied to them?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 4:51PM
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hest88

JB, a sealer just seals, while an enhancer also brings out the color of the stone more. When our granite installation guys showed me the difference on our Cambrian black antique, the enhancer made it more black.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 5:10PM
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elljays

We applied an enhancing sealer (Aquamix) over a year ago. We haven't had to reapply it yet. Our honed granite looked more gray before the enhancer. The enhancer made it look the color it did before honing (black), but without the shine. It also helped to camouflage fingerprints. I had a sample of our honed granite with a regular sealer, and it showed the fingerprints more.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 5:44PM
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alexamd

Mayland...I know what you mean. I really lusted after soapstone...just the feel alone is enough to draw you in, but it was going to cost me about $2K more than my budget. In the grand scheme of things $2K isn't that much, but when you are doing a big project and everything is about $2K more than planned it starts to really add up. I just drool when I see soapstone...sigh.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 5:58PM
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tahoebo

Well, I've been really good at compromising things lately to justify expensive purchases (like changing bathroom fixtures to chrome instead of brushed nickel and then splurging on awesome tub and tile). So since we recently decided on Ikea cabinets, which is saving us a bundle, damn it, I'm getting soapstone! Since we have an open living/dining/kitchen, I should just get the countertop that I want since it'll be a huge focal point for the whole house anyway. Soapstone, you had me at hello. Thanks for all the advice everyone!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 6:51PM
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coleen3201118

Yay! You won't regret it!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 7:01PM
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vicnsb

Does anyone know if Soapstone is in the same price range as Silestone?
I know the Silestone prices I saw were higher than a lot of granites.
Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2007 at 12:55AM
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mayland

Well, I just called a fabricator and they quoted me $78/sf for soapstone, or $68/sf for Honed Virginia Mist. This is one of the more expensive stone places in Atlanta, so I'll call some others, but I thought the price difference would be bigger.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2007 at 3:55PM
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lonestarred

I have honed black granite that is due a refinishing & resealing. Does anyone have a standard operating procedure for refinishing it (it has a few cup marks on it that I would like to remove).

    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 1:36PM
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mary_in_nc

Stonegirl-thanks for sharing your expertise. I am thinking about flamed Absolute Black for a perimeter counter. I saw some in a show room and it is beautiful. Did not notice any fingerprints. What are the pluses/minuses. How would it compare with Nordic Black Antique? Thanks!

    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 9:41PM
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raynag

$78 for soapstone?? A bargain! Mine is costing $90. It is the first thing we put a reserve on, and there is no going back from the $4600. Argh. It is also the only thing I am excited about - go figure.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 10:09PM
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gego

We've considered the same choices as you, but are now leaning heavily towards PaperStone!

    Bookmark   November 6, 2007 at 7:14AM
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vwhippiechick

We are renovating the kitchen of our 1870's farmhouse. As many of you, I am LOVING the soapstone. I am having a hard time finding a supplier in central Kentucky. Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   December 6, 2007 at 10:45PM
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nanapeg

vwhippiechick...
We need to connect and talk. I spoke with florida joshua several weeks ago by phone and he does travel to deliver and fabricate soapstone. My project has hit a few snags and delays so I'm still weighing that option. If he were to do both of our kitchens in one trip we'd both be $$$'s ahead in travel expense. I'm in SE Indiana (just outside Cincinnati, OH.) Let me know if you are interested in talking further. Take a look at Joshua's posts and see his work; would LOVE to have him install my soapstone.
Take care...

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 9:37AM
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vwhippiechick

I have seen FL Joshua's posts and agree that he would do a great job. I would certainly be interested in discussing it but our budget is getting tighter by the day and it seems this would be very cost prohibitive?? Have you picked out the variety of soapstone you want?

    Bookmark   December 9, 2007 at 10:49PM
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stonehengegranite

Soapstone is the ultimate choice for your kitchen countertops. Please visit us on the web @ www.StonehengeGranite.com. You may visit our remnant yard for many choices at deep discounted prices.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 4:15PM
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vjrnts

stonehengegranite, if you would like to participate in the discussion as a stone expert, your input would be very welcome. Your advertising is explicitly not welcome. Search for Bill Vincent's posts or fla_joshua's, to see model participation by knowledgeable professionals. They never advertise here. This is not the place for it.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 5:28PM
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arvin

Hi:
I just had honed absolute black granite countertops installed. Love the look except on the centerpiece island (eating area of 6' x 5')where there are many prominent striations, somewhat like water erosion marks. Is this to be expected? Have I been sold less than top quality (grade) granite. What I was shown in the showroom (a table almost 3' x 8') had a nice even black (mottled gray-black) look that I liked very much. The sample I was given also had an evenness of look. Anyone out there with similar problems? A more basic question. Does granite come in different grades (regular, irregular and reject or equivalent expressions)? How do you resolve such a matter without taking legal action? Help!!
Arvin

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 9:57PM
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ramaswamy_vidya_gmail_com

Like a lot of you, I love soapstone and I lovethe look of antiqued nordic black. We drove over to a soapstone place in vermont yesterday (Green Mountain Soapstone). Their stone was lovely, BUT, because our counter is an L with a diagnol due to a lazy susan, they wanted to charge us for the whole rectangle( and not just the L) - this means an extra 50% is sf-age - feels like a rip-off. So I went to home depot, where theyhave asoapstone called Savonpierre - anybody know much about this? Its a lot less expensive, but I'm nervous because nobidy gets soapstone athome depot.
Nordic Black makes me nervous because the edges atthe stone yard awlays look crumbly and I think becuase itsa large grained granite, its not going to be as tough as Abs. black (smaller is stronger!!).

Sorry for the info dump. But am having a hardtime deciding. Any thoughts?
btw, we have a modest kitchen with a simple L counter and and about 25 actual sq.ft of counter.
Thanks a bunch

Vidya

    Bookmark   August 2, 2008 at 12:18PM
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debbihuggins_hotmail_com

I've had the Nordic Black countertop for about 6 months and the installer sealed it. Recently my husband was using vinegar and did not wipe off the counter. I can now see the outline of the knife and several other circles. Has anyone had any experience with this? Should the stone not have been sealed? (You can only see the spots if the light hits it just right.)
Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 2:05PM
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kdm0503

I too have been in the debate over soapstone or honed absolute black granite. Soapstone is out due to budget and this not being my "forever" house. I have a sample of the honed ab and the fingerprints are really bothering me! I have 3 young sons and I can't even imagine what they will do to this countertop... plus the statements about staining and spots are scarring me away from the honed finish. I definitely am not a fan of a polished finish, it's just too flashy for me, I prefer something timeless and subtle.
I am now thinking about going w/ the absolute black w/ the flamed finish. Does anyone have this and know how it holds up to fingerprints and messes? I would be doing this on the perimeter (I want a solid black look) and the island will be Kashmere White granite, perimeter cabinets are linen and the island cabinetry is black. Any advice will be greatly appreciated!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 10:19PM
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jebranzaru_yahoo_com

I am getting an ulcer over this countertop decision for our kitchen remodel. I want travertine or soapstone or marble, but my contractor is going to make me sign a waiver if I go with any of these as they are supposedly too soft (and will crack and absorb stains) for kitchen wear and tear. so I've been trying to force fit a granite decision that I am just not happy with. should I just sign the waiver and be done with it? I don't know if I can get the DH to go for that... I actually found this site b/c I was looking for honed black granite. I heard it might not be a good choice, but like others I don't like the high polish of all of the others and I just really don't like granite. help!!!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2011 at 11:03PM
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MIssyV

just curious what you decided jebranzaru. :)

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 3:45PM
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wurten

I am new here but have been following your comments and comparisons about soapstone, granite, honed granite, and richlite. Ugh!

I love the soapstone but like others, it is beyond my budget. I live in FL and was quoted $85/sq. ft. The raw material is $30/ sq. ft bought directly from NY, putting the fab and install at $55/sq. ft. That seems high to me since it is supposed to be easier to work with than granite and doesn't require specialized equipment. I am seriously considering a DIY.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 10:55PM
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PRO
Vinayak Exports

The absolute Black Granite is one of the most durable granite. It is the darkest black granite available in market. I would suggest you to use Absolute Black Granite only. Since Granites are the toughest stone.

Here is a link that might be useful: absolute black granite

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 1:14PM
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francoise47

For durability, ease of care, and price I'm a fan of honed Black Pearl granite and other dark honed granites (Virginia Mist, etc.). Use of Method Daily Granite cleaner/polish takes care of any problem with finger prints.

My friends with Absolute Black granite (even more lovely than Black Pearl, in my view) have commented that after about six months the "patina" that develops on the granite ends any problems they've had with fingerprints.

I wonder if others have found this to be true?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 2:56PM
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jennybc

In central ky too... Wondering what you went with. Who you used. What did you get.

Thanks!!
Quickly becoming a soapstone follower...

Jen

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 7:21PM
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