Soap Stone

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-Counters-Before

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.

Kitchen-Soap-Stone-Counter-Overall

After installing the pieces, I applied an oil to bring out the character.

Kitchen-Soap-Stone-Counters-Detail

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.

Kitchen-Soap-Stone-Toward-Ovens

With white perimeter cabinets and a light backsplash planned, we wanted dark counters for contrast.  I think they’re perfect.

Kitchen-Soap-Stone-Counters-and-Sink

Of course, there are still to do’s, but let’s focus on what is finished.

Kitchen-Soap-Stone-Counters-and-Sink-Side

For a seamless edge, we carried the stone to the inside edge of the sink.

Kitchen-Sink-with-Soap-Stone

Kitchen-Soap-Stone-and-Sink-Dishwasher-Side

Kitchen-Soap-Stone-Above-Dishwasher

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?

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16 thoughts on “Soap Stone

  1. My only experience with Soap Stone is working with an artist Sandy Cline from Canada in a classroom setting…He brought approx. 4X4X6 in pieces for us to work with and make loons. http://www.sandycline.com/ this is a link to his web site that he will explain how to care, how to repair, how to how to.. 🙂 I love my loon… and you can see pictures of him working with schools and such on his facebook link. http://www.facebook.com/sandy.cline.9?ref=br_tf I hope you enjoy your counter tops.. I’m slightly jealous.

  2. My husband is a welder and I do know that soap stone is used to make marks on metal (let’s say, it’s welders chalk) reason being, it doesn’t burn. So, that’s one thing you won’t have to worry about.

    1. Hi Teresa!

      Yes, that was one of our questions. We read more at home and soap stone is often used in Chemistry labs because it is non porous, chemically inert, and doesn’t burn. It seems the only thing that will change the appearance is oil and it can dent/scratch. But, I think it’ll work out well. 🙂

      Thanks!
      Amanda

    1. Hey Esther!

      Honestly, I think it’s because they’ve had the remnants there for a while and wanted to get the off the lot. And the guy we dealt with is the owner so he has a lot of power to negotiate, but he threw out that price completely unprompted.

      Thanks!
      Amanda

  3. Wow! Great deal and *beautiful* stone! How exciting!

    This might be obvious to some; I don’t have a lot of DIY experience- but why didn’t you paint the walls before putting everything in? Or are they being covered with something (maybe tile?).

    Anyway, everything is coming together beautifully!

    1. Hi Ashley!

      Thanks!! We are going to install a tile backsplash, so that will happen once we get our last upper cabinet installed. The tile will cover any small gaps between the counter and the wall for a seamless finish. 🙂

      Thanks!
      Amanda

      1. Oh my gosh- a giant wall of tile will be amazing! I am clearly not thinking as grand as I should be! So excited to see that come together!

  4. We are building a new house and I have decided 100% on soapstone. My husband still wanted quartz so we went to a stone yard and talked to their fabricator. He said that the material he gets the fewest service calls on is soapstone because owners can do a lot of the repairs themselves, like sanding or oiling, whereas quartz is near impossible to repair because they can’t match the resin colours. (We aren’t fans of granite since it’s porous so we didn’t ask about that.)

    He showed us a new slab they had just received from Brazil and we both fell in love. Hope you have a good experience with yours!

    1. Hello Courtney!

      Ooh, that’s really great to hear. We nixed quartz for the same reason. So far, we’re super happy with the soapstone. It’s great to work on and is very easy to maintain. I hope you love your soapstone!!

      Thanks so much!
      Amanda

  5. We picked up our soapstone slabs on Monday to do DIY counters. Your variety looks to me like Santa Rita Venata. Does it have a slightly greenish hue? I can’t believe what an awesome deal you got on it. They’re gorgeous.

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