soapstone regrets

cosmocatOctober 6, 2012


Been a while since I've posted. We've had our new kitchen for about a year now. We installed soapstone. I love the look but I'm not a cleaning fanatic and these counters require too much elbow grease to keep them looking good.

They show every drip, even water rings, and in order to clean I need to clean the whole thing, I can't just clean one part because you can see the streaks from one cleaning swipe to the next. And it is a three/four step process. Wet/wipe with dish soap, wipe with water, wipe again to get the soap off. Wipe again to even out the drying. PITA.

We oiled at the beginning (mineral oil), but it was messy and dried too quickly and having to empty the counters of everything was too much of a hassle.

So now i'm thinking about one of the wax/oil combos. I've seen some of the newer walnut oil/wax products that the soapstone dealers sell - maybe something like that? if I use that, will my 'cleaning' clean off the wax/oil?

I do love the look of the soapstone but not the maintenance issues. It is an hour long process to clean all the countertops.

And what then is the best product to clean the countertops. Earlier I had read that soap and water was the best, our soap is Dawn and it seems like maybe that is the problem.

and how to I get rid of the water rings? And why is water 'staining' my countertop?

thoughts? Ideas? help!



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Sophie Wheeler

Your counters sound like they are polished to too high of a sheen and need to be rehoned with a rougher grit. They will still be smooth to the touch, but all of the maintenance issues that you are having will disappear.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 11:25AM
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Cosmocat: In your photos on the other thread, the soapstone looks beautiful, and a teeny bit shiny. Couple of thoughts on the subject, from one who also has soapstone and though I like it, it took me a while to really embrace it.

1) Are you SURE it is finished properly? Mine was done by Gardenstate Soapstone (excellent rep on this site), but it wasn't. It really wasn't quite smooth enough, didn't have that sort of silky, powdery feeling that soapstone should have. And one result was that it seemed to look dirtier and show more streaks and more "patches" of shininess than it should have. Florida Joshua came by and accessed it and said it needed better finishing. $500 later (I have a LOT of soapstone) and it was MUCH better.

2) I did switch from mineral oil to a beeswax/oil mix, which I heat up in the microwave before applying. It seems to need to be done less frequently and last longer.

3) It's still new. In the year after mine was installed, and now the year after it was refinished, it has darkened considerably on its own and is much less prone to showing water marks, etc. As I understand it, the stone actually oxidizes, making it darker. The oil or was/oil process either mimics or hastens (or both) that process, giving you the look that eventually the stone will have by itself. So it is very likely that some of your issues will go away by themselves as the stone ages.

4) The "water rings" and water "stains" you're seeing are probably places where the oil has been penetrated and the soapstone's natural cloudier, more matte finish is showing. All you need to do to restore it is swipe lightly with mineral oil. Won't look exactly the same, until some of it has sunk in again. And as I said above, eventually, this won't happen because the stone itself with darken and oxidize/patina so that it's not the oil that's making it darker and you won't need to oil/wax.

5) You're not a "don't-wear-linen" girl are you? Whether or not you can embrace linen's more organic, less-than-crisp-perfection look is often the analogy made for whether or not soapstone's not-glossy, not-perfect look is for you. Unfortunately, if this isn't a question you considered before hand and the answer is "I'm a pressed white shirt" kinda girl, it may turn out that you're never really happy with the soapstone.

Hope this helps

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 11:28AM
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the pics are without oil.
1) I do not feel that it was finished properly. You can see some of the machining marks and it has never looked just right. I've even questioned whether it really was SS because of the feel - don't get that soapy feel - just soft smooth - like granite!

We live in the Denver area and I don't even know who to ask. We got the stone through Dorado and they really didn't won't consider that something isn't right with the stone. And the installers might be more to blame but they won't admit any wrong doing either. So I don't really know if some of my 'problems' are realated to the stone itself of the fabrication/installation. That being said i've had it for a year now so I don't know what they would do at this point anyways.

Last time I oiled it was 6+ months ago. The sheen is normal w/out oil. The island seems to be the lightest. the little piece to the right of the stove top seems to get the most darkening - mainly from my hubby and his weekely bacon cooking and splatters naturally oiling the countertop! hee hee

I'm not a perfectionist. But all the water glass circles and streaks when I do clean, just make it look like I never clean. And an hour for countertops means that are only 'really' cleaned about once a week - if I'm lucky.

Thanks for the thoughts!

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 12:12PM
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Cosmocat- I do not think that I would like my soapstone as much if it wasn't sealed. I have soapstone in 3 areas of my house; the kitchen, the kids bath, and the laundry room, and have tried 4 products on it; mineral oil, wax, oil based color enhancing sealant, and water based color enhancing sealant. Oh, and I tried no products on one of the counters for a few months and didn't care for the constant dark water marks. My favorite product is the oil based sealant, it keeps the stone dark and makes water bead up so there is no chance of water marks, the water based works well too and has less vocs but my fave is still the oil based. If you have a sample of your counter left over then it would not hurt to try a sealant to see if it makes you happier with the stone. It will probably need to be sealed once with a follow up seal the next day and will need little care after that.
I will link to a test that Billyg did of sealant on soapstone, there is also a pic of my sealed stone.

Here is a link that might be useful: seal soapstone

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 12:43PM
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I have been reading things online on this RealMilkPaint site. Their product seems to be really great.

Maybe this would help you?

Here is a link that might be useful: Real Milk's Soapstone Sealer

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 12:27AM
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Just a few thoughts to add to hollyspring's and melissastar's comments above:
From the photos you posted it surprises me that it's been so long since you oiled it. As others have said, it looks a little shiny, and perhaps needs to be rehoned. We too have had soapstone for over 2 years, but have never oiled it, so it's hard for me to speak to the water glass circles or the streaks when you clean. If Dorado won't even look at it, is there another fabricator in the area you could talk to about rehoning? Or try it yourself? (with lots of good support from all the wonderful DIY soapstoners on this forum)

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 4:52PM
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I would contact floridajoshua (sp?). See if he could do a long distance consult with you.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 8:51PM
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strip the surface with acetone then reseal with an enhancing sealer. The enhancer brings out the color similar to the oil but requires far less maintenance.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 11:05AM
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It does sound like yours was not finished correctly. I've had mine 4 plus years now, and water has stood on it many times without leaving a ring. Hardly a scratch, too!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 5:20AM
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Hi Cosmocat,
We finished our kitchen in the summer of 2011, and never did post our finished pictures (alas, there are still a few finishing details to attend to before we pronounce the project complete). We have soapstone perimeter counters, and marble on our island. The soapstone receives the brunt of everything, and I won't lie, there are some chips on the sink edges--soapstone is no match for cast iron--and the odd scratch here and there. The counters are now and forever beautiful. Here's what I've learned: don't oil; don't worry. I pull out the oil--food grade mineral oil usually, although I have used Boos Block board cream, and even beeswax based Badger Balm--when I want to dress up the kitchen and bring out the deep black lustre of the counter. The water rings and spots only show up on the newly oiled counter. In between oilings, the black fades to a rich deep charcoal grey, still beautiful, but much less prone to water spotting. We prefer slightly less pristine surfaces, which is why we chose the natural stone. We are delighted with both counters. Each has had its surface marred, each is still beautiful, and easier to live with all the time as we relinquish any notions of preserving perfection.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 6:25PM
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