Statuary with Black Marble or Soapstone in the Kitchen?

theglampadNovember 28, 2012

This is my first time to post a query via GardenWeb, but I have been stalking it for months now! My husband and I are in the process of gutting and completely renovating our 1973 home, and I have done tons and tons of research on marble for our kitchen. I know all the pros and cons, and I am prepared for the reality of etching. We will use DuPont Bulletproof sealant once installed.

I had my heart set on honed Statuary marble for our center island and backsplash areas, and Barroca soapstone for the peripheral cabinets. Then I found the most amazing black marble at our local granite/marble wholesale. The color and veining looks just like Barroca soapstone, but at almost half the cost of soapstone, and it is beautiful. Can anyone offer pros and cons on black marble vs. soapstone to help me make my decision? Is there any particular reason black marble is not a popular option for kitchens?

I also am now reconsidering honed and getting polished. That polished black marble was STUNNING! From my research, I have gathered that polished helps prevent staining a bit more than honed. Etching will happen regardless, it just doesn't contrast visibly if marble is honed. The marble slabs I'm looking at come polished, and I don't really want to spend more to have them honed. I figure if I regret the decision, I can either have them honed in the future, or have the polish refinished. Right??

Please let me know your thoughts on if I should 1) go with the polished Statuary and black marble, or 2) stick with my original plan of honed Statuary and Barroca soapstone. And if option 2, how much does it cost to hone polished marble? Thank you!!

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Black marble will etch to GRAY. Etching is much more apparent on dark marbles than light. And no, polishing marble doesn't make it etch any less. It actually makes the etching show up more because it is a contrast of the dull against the shiny. The duller more matte surface of honed marble disguises etches much better---in a light marble. Not much of anything disguises etches in a dark marble. It will always show up as a ligher duller area.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 7:55AM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

I have black marble (New St.Laurent) tile on a counter, and in a small backsplash area on another wall. It was very inexpensive, from Lowe's, but I invested a lot of time and energy, honing and hand polishing the tiles, which originally were highly polished. I did a lot of experimenting with acids and stains, as well as dropping objects from various heights, to test chipping/breaking.

After almost two years of use, I still love it. I used Miracle 511 sealer, but I don't think staining would have been a problem--it seems to be one of the denser black marbles. It also has a lot of variegation with black/gray/white. It etches, but the hand polished finish allows me to use a fine sanding sponge to smooth out the etch. Unless you are planning a very modern kitchen, I'd recommend honed, and honestly, if soapstone was in my budget, I wouldn't have considered marble. I have to admit, though, that the whole experience of honing, cutting and laying the marble tile was great fun for a DIY junkie such as myself. ;)

Ramses_2 has in his/her kitchen. More photos of Ramses_2's kitchen in the FKB/in progress--scroll down.

And, here is a recent thread on gray marble in the kitchen.

Finally a picture of my counter:

Oh, and I have to add a story that I've posted before. When I was researching black marble in a stone forum (before I found GW), I asked if anyone had used black marble in a kitchen. One 'kind' poster said, "Only if I were going to be doing alien autopsies." LOL

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 9:18AM
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We have a Danby marble island and Barrocca soapstone perimeter. The black marble would look gorgeous, I'm sure. But, you will then have no surface that you can use with acids, red wine and iced beverage glasses (that leave a ring on the marble).

We have 'trained' our kids and guests to use the soapstone for most of the hard work of cooking, not the marble.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 10:22AM
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Wow, thank you for the responses! This site is so fantastic!! mama_goose, your black marble is GORGEOUS!!! I had actually read your thread from a few years back, and for some reason I thought you had only used a black marble tile on your backsplash. I really appreciate your pictures and your advice. And I looked at the pictures of the black marble in the kitchen of Ramses_2 It really is just stunning!!! Any word on how it is holding up? And wow, that grey marble that caminnc posted is simply beyond! I am curious as to what they decided to do. However, after reading this feedback, I think I have decided against the black marble. It is so beautiful, but I really want a peripheral surface I can "abuse" and will serve as a workhorse since we will be babying the marble island surface, to partyof7's point. My husband and I cook... a lot... and we love red wine.

So now I have more questions about the soapstone. I have read that because it is soft, it can chip. Also, has anyone had any trouble with it staining due to its porous nature? I read that you can actually set a hot pan straight off the burner on soapstone with no problems! I had also considered black granite but I read posts from people who hate it... it shows water, fingerprints and crumbs. Plus I love the veining in the Barroca soapstone, as it looks like a reverse image of the veining in our marble. Just curious if anyone would actually recommend black granite over soapstone. Also, has anyone chosen soapstone and regretted the decision? There was a recent post by cosmocat voicing regret over choosing the soapstone, along with advise on how to resolve. I'm curious how that all worked out. I don't want to baby my soapstone, but I'm fine with routine maintenance and minor imperfections.

Now back to the Statuary marble for the island and backsplash areas: honed vs. polished?? As I mentioned, it comes polished. Is it going to be expensive for me to have it honed? How does that work? I am thinking of just leaving it polished and embracing the etching, but would that look weird with the "dull" finish of the soapstone? Decisions, decisions!!!

Here is a link that might be useful: soapstone regrets

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 2:26PM
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Soapstone is rather dense and NON-porous, which is why there is no need to seal it. It is, especially Barrocca, soft. But, in my opinion, that is NOT a negetive.

We got our soapstone from Bucks County Soapstone. They can add a Franklin edge, which is a custom applied edge treatment so it is not a perfect 90 degree corner (kind of like controlled distressing). They also leave you with some fine sandpaper. I got a few scratches on the counter over Thanksgiving from people dragging roasters on the surface and such. I gently sanded the area, re-oiled and it dissappears. It's awesome! Almost nothing will permanetly mar the surface (though I've only had it 1 month!). And yes, you can put things on it right out of the oven, but I'm too scared to. They make griddles and pizza stones out of soapstone!

BTW we looked and looked for a statuary at a reasonable price, but around here, our 5 ft island was going to be around $9,000. So, no. But boy did we LOVE those slabs!

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 3:16PM
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Thank you, partyof7!! I think I am going to stick with my original plan of the soapstone and Statuary marble mix. I found a great resource for the Statuary at a very reasonable price, but as I mentioned before, it is polished. BTW Partyof7, honed Danby was actually my first choice, but I cannot find it here in South Florida. Is your Danby honed or polished??

So now that is the one thing I am torn about. Leave the marble polished, or hone it... If I hone it, how much will that cost? And if I leave it polished, will it contrast or look weird with the dull soapstone finish? I would greatly appreciate any advice.

This post was edited by theglampad on Wed, Nov 28, 12 at 16:15

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 4:10PM
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partyof7 - what grit sandpaper did the fabricator leave for you to sand your soapstone? That was great that they did that. I have Barocca, but I've not tried to sand on it. I have been able to cover most little scratches with oil, and they blend in. Thanks!

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 9:59PM
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Glam- Our Danby is honed. I knew my husband would not be able to deal with etching on a polished surface. I don't know what the cost was to hone it, as that was included in the price quote. I would think if it is an experienced shop, it won't add too much to the price. Lucky you, finding a great price on statuary! Wish I was in S. Fla on a cold day like today!

Lake Girl- It is Abranet P150 5 inch disk. It's a mesh. I just did a Google search, and they are easy to find that way. It has worked beautifully for me.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 11:32PM
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Glam - we have soapstone on our island and white macabus quartzite on the perimeter. I wanted the quartzite honed but our fabricator would not do it and I also worried about the shine of the stone against the soapstone. Honestly, it is a nonissue and we have a ton of natural light shining on the quartzite. Don't worry about the two different finishes!

As you can see the soapstone is not dull - it does have some reflective ability.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 10:49AM
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muskokascp your kitchen is gorgeous! Thank you so much for sharing, that is most helpful. That quartzite is stunning!!

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 12:53PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

theglampad, thank you! I don't have any soapstone advice, but I'm looking forward to seeing your counters. My black marble backsplash is also honed and hand polished. It's behind the sink, and I've had no issues with it--I wipe it down when I'm cleaning the counters, and once in a while I polish it, to give it a rich sheen.

My carrara island is also DIY honed and hand polished. It was a used dining table top that had a hard polish, but had never been sealed. I've never sealed it, and I use the sanding sponge to rub out any new etches. I'm not sure about Statuary or Danby marble, but the carrara doesn't seem to stain, and the only ding it has is a small 'star' from the claw of a hammer (my bad), really not even noticeable. The honed surface reminds me of crusted snow.

Back to stains--my 5yr old grandson has left food, ink, and non-permanent marker stains, and they've all cleaned up completely. Carbon from a candle wick washed off with water and dish liquid, and bright red dye from one of those powdered drink packets (I didn't know it had been included in a treat bag!!) came off, too, even though when I saw the mess, I was sure the marble would never be the same. I think I used a baking soda poultice on the drink mix.

And I'll tell a story that might be better suited to one of the more 'philosophical' marble threads. A couple of years ago my daughter brought home a friend from college--a young man who graciously offered to cut up tomatoes for salad. I handed him a small cutting board and sharp knife, and watched to see what he did. He placed the board on the island, where he helpfully, and happily, cut the tomatoes, as the juice ran off on the marble. I knew that I could later sand out the etches, so I didn't say anything, except 'thank you.' I was surprised to find that I was somehow comforted to know that this boy hadn't been raised in a home where someone was constantly admonishing, "Not on the marble!"

Incidentally, that young man surprised me last Wednesday, by traveling from Washington,DC, to spend the night, and Thanksgiving, with us. (Daughter was in on the surprise.) :)

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 2:06PM
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mama_goose, that is a great tip about the baking soda and for sanding away any etching. Do you think the Abranet P150 5 inch disk partyof7 uses on her soapstone would work for honed marble too?

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 6:06PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

I guess it depends on how honed you want the finish. I've never used Abranet, but I can tell you that I started with 80 grit to rough up the hard polish, then wet-sanded my way through 250, 400, and 600 grits. I bought the 400 and 600 grit sand paper in an auto supply store. And I also used a car buffer, first with the 600 grit paper, then with a fuzzy bonnet, to give it that hand rubbed 'glow.' In between sanding and buffing, I used dampened alumina powder with the fine sanding sponge. I think 150 grit would be too abrasive (for me.)

I think I've mentioned this on another thread, but sanding marble makes a lot of fine dust. If you can't carry the island top outside to hone, wear a mask, and hold a vacuum close to catch the dust at the source. My palm sander has a reservoir, but I find it to be useless.

BillVincent gave good advice on the thread linked here; buy a few pieces of marble tile at Lowe's or Home Depot, and try all the different grits and techniques. It will give you confidence!

This post was edited by mama_goose on Thu, Nov 29, 12 at 19:20

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 7:12PM
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I have honed calacatta and not statuary, and polished black absolute, not soapstone, but you can get an idea from it nonetheless.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 9:17PM
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KevinMP your kitchen is STUNNING! Thank you SO much for sharing! I am so incredibly grateful for this forum!! I am definitely sticking with my soapstone, and I'm feeling good about leaving the marble polished, although I'm still curious what would be involved if I decide to have it honed later on down the road. Thank you again for all the help and gorgeous pictures!!

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 11:34PM
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