January 8, 2009

soapstone

After much deliberation, we decided to go with soapstone for the kitchen counters. Granite wasn't an option for us (even though it works very well in numerous applications, neither Bryan nor I were a fan for our own kitchen). We liked butcher block, however since we decided to go with wood cabinets in lieu of white, and since we have wood floors, butcher block would have been wood overkill. White Corian would have looked very sharp, but it is very expensive and a maintenance nightmare for a kitchen. Same with Carrera Marble. We thought about concrete, however several friends and co-workers have said the maintenance is not worth the cost. We also considered slate, however it just was too 'rustic'.

Soapstone is the material of choice for high school chemistry lab counters. It's extremely durable, temperature neutral and pretty much impervious to all chemicals. It has the subtle veining of marble, light grey when dry, however it turns a deep dark charcoal grey when treated with mineral oil (and in terms of maintenance, all you have to do is oil it every month or so, depending on how dark you want your counters to be...).

The soapstone in the photos below will be our kitchen counters (top photo is when wet, bottom is when dry)...

Installation should take place within 2 weeks. Woo hoo!

3 comments:

Little Old House said...

The soapstone is going to look beautiful! You guys are making great progress on your kitchen!

Innkeeper said...

how stain resistant is soapstone?
i am dying to use it in some way, shape, or form when the occasion arises. this is the same stuff restoration hardware uses on their countertops, no? right now we have Carrera marble in the kitchen (it was here when we purchased the house) & it is terrible....even when it's been cleaned it never looks clean. :(

fantastic blog by the way! i'm going to check out the rest now.

ingrida said...

Soapstone is very stain resistant - it can basically handle anything. It's used for chemistry labs counters, so that should give you a general idea of its nature. Wine, vinegar, tomato juice/puree, coffee, grease - it can handle it all. Plus, you also are supposed to be able to put hot pans/pots directly on the surface without damaging it. However, I'd rather be safe and use trivets, just in case...

I don't think I've ever been in a Restoration Hardware store, believe it or not, so I'm not quite sure what they use, however I know in Prairie School homes, soapstone was often used for kitchen sinks, counters and fireplace surrounds.

Maintenance has been easy. Since installation, we've been applying mineral oil once or twice per week. We're into the 3rd(?) week now and we've noticed the soapstone is staying darker (black) longer and the mineral oil seems to be absorbing more evenly.

We went with Minas Black Soapstone. I guess there are several varieties out there. The veining on Minas Black looks very similar to marble - that's why we like it so much!

I love love love Carrera Marble, but I agree with you - in the kitchen it's a maintenance nightmare. It looks GORGEOUS though. Same with honed Absolute Black Granite. It looks really good, but b/c you can't seal it the way you do polished granite, you soon start to see all kinds of spots and ring marks...