Please help a newbie with soapstone!

geauxtigersNovember 24, 2012

We are remodeling our kitchen and have dark, scraped wood floors and will have some sort of off-white/antiqued glazed cabinets. I have seen a few kitchens with soapstone and a thousand pics of it, and I just love it, I think it will look great with the traditional look of the kitchen compared to granite. I've read dozens of threads on here about it and I'm overwhelmed and confused,and most of the threads are very old so I'm not sure if the types of soapstone I'm taking notes on are even still available.

I am a terrible designer but know what I like when I see it. I like the counters that have some movement to them (hope I'm using that term right... I don't like the ones that are almost solid grey/black with just a random vein here or there). But I don't like things that look super busy either. From pics on the internet I think I like Minas, but don't know if that's easy to find?

I like the patina and am ok with scratches, but persistent water marks I may not be ok with. Looks like those disappear in a few months, or maybe they are a wax/oil issue? Is that correct?

My DH wants granite but has basically left it up to me, but if I accidentally choose one that chips a lot or is a ton of maintenance, he will not be happy and I'll feel terrible.

I've also seen honed/antiqued Virginia mist granite that looks similar to me, so would I just be safer to go with something like that?

I live in the Baton Rouge area and have been told that there is only one place here that handles soapstone... they had one slab in stock and I did not like it... when I asked what kind it was she told me that there is only one type of soapstone and they are all identical! So, no hope there. I'll travel to New Orleans and texas if necessary, but time is a luxury around here too, so I need to know what I'm looking for before I head out on the road.

Any advice on where to start? Any types that you can recommend? Thanks for anything that you can say to point me in the right direction... and pics of yours with the name would be wonderful to see also!


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Are you doing this yourself or having them done by a fabricator? Here is a link to a thread started last winter with lots of examples of DIY soapstone. I did my soapstone with the help of my DH. It was really fairly simple and not too hard. Currently (this very minute) I am cutting soapstone remnants I got from a local stone yard. I am making a sink. So far so good. For the heavy parts I need a man to help me lift. I do all the cutting, drawing of plans, and finishing work. It is really fun to work with. The stone is heavy.

Last year I put soapstone counters in my kitchen. I ordered mine cut to the counter depth I wanted and approximate lengths. I trimmed up the lengths a bit because they got chipped. If you have some building skills, even if untapped, you can do this. The stone is crated and shipped to your address.

Here is a link that might be useful: DIY soapstone counters

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 3:03PM
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My DH is fairly handy, but we hadn't considered doing this ourselves. Once I know what we're getting and what the price will be, then I may consider it, but I'd rather have a fabricator, makes me too nervous!
What kind did you get?

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 3:26PM
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geauxtigers: As for which variety, I heartily recommend you get a "sampler pack" from a soapstone supplier or two. These contain a little sample of each stone that supplier has in stock at that time. I got one pack from M. Teixeira, and another from Dorado. I also got a single sample from Vermont Soapstones.

If your DH is not completely on board with the soapstone concept, then I think you should consider one of the harder varieties. Belvedere is a popular one on GW. Here is a good thread on hardness of soapstone varieties.

My understanding is that you are correct -- water rings, etc., are a wax/oil issue. Some treatments seem prone to water rings, but most are not. (In the unlikely event you need to, you can always remove your wax or oil with a scrubbie and some solvent, probably mineral spirits is the best.)

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 4:11PM
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I got a soft variety because I felt it would be easier to cut. I have Minas a nice gray color with some light veining. If oiled it is black. Angie offers a good idea about getting sample packs. Even if you go with a fabricator, you can see the differences in 4 or 5 varieties regarding the character and color. Good luck to you and your project.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 4:27PM
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We have Beleza soapstone, which is quite hard and has subtle green and blue veins. See link below for photos. We leave the soapstone unoiled.

Here is a link that might be useful: Natural Cherry and Soapstone Kitchen

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 11:14PM
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Endurance, I thought Minas was a harder one... I've done so much reading I'm confusing myself! Prospect711, your kitchen is beautiful and my DH really liked the countertops! Have you had any problems with chipping? I have 3 kids so I am concerned about that. I can handle scratches but would be frustrated with chips. Thanks for the suggestions on where to get samples Angie, I'll definitely start there.
Thanks for the info!

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 9:42PM
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Well I was concerned about chipping too. I ended up getting an over mount stainless steel sink to help with that fear of mine. I figured the sink area would be the place I'd get chips. One thing that happened for me was that the stone I selected online had a transition to a harder type of soapstone in the slab. That is the piece that is at the sink, not planned but worked out well in my case. I was new to this whole DIY thing but was determined to get the slab I saw on the company's web page because of the nice veining I saw at the top. I just assumed they would skip the ugly area, right? Duh, the sink run was cut from the ugly area. He had tried to talk me into another piece, so I can't blame him. Though he didn't explain the reasons he was suggesting a different slab, this may have been the reason. But I got the pieces delivered and we installed them. The nice thing is that the section of sink that was different from the softer stone is really hard and is tolerating the pots and pans just fine.

I am sure you could be very happy with the honed Virginia granite that you like.

I can empathize with your love of soapstone. I first saw it at a local restaurant 10 years ago. They still have it. They have it at their bar, the coffee bar, and some built in buffets that don't get hard use. The bathrooms have soapstone counters and sinks. I asked the owner about his decision, before I took the plunge. He said he would do it again but not the sinks (I think because the oil gets washed out and don't stay oiled very well). They keep their stone oiled all the time so it is black. The texture is like velvet. I figured this was a once in a life time event for me so I went for it. I ended up doing it my self after the fabricator that was recommended didn't want to do it because "I wouldn't be happy".

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 7:26AM
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No chipping on the Beleza during the year that we have had it(however, we have no children at home). We got samples and abused them thoroughly before selecting the Beleza. It does have some scratches (like where DH slid a 6-gallon glass carboy full of homemade wine across the counter) but they are not obvious. We used one of the samples to crack hickory nuts on (with a hammer) and it does have some small dents now.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 11:39AM
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Well, I spoke to my fabricator and he said he couldn't find another slab in the entire state, the closest would be Austin which is 7 hours away. DH is not happy going there, but will. The fabricator also steered me away from honed granite b/c of the stains... I have 3 kids so I imagine it will be bad. He suggested leathered granite instead. I'll go look at it but I'm not sure. I suspect we'll just be driving to Austin!I'm going to order samples tonight.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 7:09PM
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Hi Geaux,
Have you checked with Triton down on Choctaw?
I used to live in BR.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 8:33PM
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