We’ve splurged on many elements in the kitchen: slate tile floors, a gas cooktop, custom stainless sink, and double wall ovens mainly. Wanting to get it right the first time, regret free, we can justify these expenses. To balance out the large ticket items, we’ve saved money by tackling everything ourselves and finding deals where we can. By leaps, the best score for list price to our deal ratio has been soap stone remnants for the counters.
We’ve been in a local granite and marble supplier to be somewhat friendly with the place. A few weeks ago, on a reconnaissance trip, we started chatting with the owner about matte finish stones. For whatever reason, I really wanted a lower sheen for the counters. He suggested either leathered granite, priced between $80-$90 per square foot, and soap stone. Honed granites aren’t as highly polished as a standard granite, creating a matte finish. But if something slides across, it basically acts as a sand paper, leaving scuff marks. Unlike honed granite, leathered granite is finished with brushes, creating a smooth, but low sheen finish. Leathered granite isn’t very common here yet, so there were only a few options, but I really liked the look. Then he showed us a gorgeous soap stone slab. Love at first sight, people.
Realizing we really liked it, he walked us over to a stack of remnants, where he had 6 pieces of a similar soap stone. We asked about a million questions, he patiently answered each one and told us the pros and cons. Pro: it’s easy to cut and work with, perfect for a DIYer. Con: soap stone is soft and can scratch and chip easier than granite. List price is $82 per square foot. The six-foot by 2 foot section to the left of the sink alone would cost $984. Now add in the $328 for the 4 feet over the dishwasher and another $656 for the small cabinet across from the table. That’s $1968, just for three sections of stone countertops.
Then he made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. One hundred bucks for all six chunks; enough for the kitchen plus a few extra odd sections. Sold, to the couple in the front row. I quickly drove home to get the pick up to haul everything home. I have no idea what particular variety this is, but it has a lot of mottled veining. Here’s an uncut, unpolished piece.
Soap stone is a very DIY friendly natural counter because it’s dense, but soft. Ben has cut granite and marble before, but this was a lot easier. He used a standard circular saw to cut the edges and our orbital sander to finish the edges.
After installing the pieces, I applied an oil to bring out the character.
This step is simply preference, but think of it as a clear coat on wood. It helps protect, but also show off the natural beauty.
With white perimeter cabinets and a light backsplash planned, we wanted dark counters for contrast. I think they’re perfect.
Of course, there are still to do’s, but let’s focus on what is finished.
For a seamless edge, we carried the stone to the inside edge of the sink.
Now that the counters are in, we were able to add cabinet trim and start painting. Most importantly, with the painted face trim, we could install the double ovens. More on that soon.
Having never had soap stone, do you have experience with it?