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Advice in selecting a soapstone for countertops?

 
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carol1988



Joined: 09 May 2018
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 10:44 pm    Post subject: Advice in selecting a soapstone for countertops? Reply with quote

Originally I had thought we would select a quartzite-leathered Taj Mahal, but after looking at many completed kitchens with wood cabinetry (ours will be cypress) and a dark floor, I felt the cream looked too modern for the house. (Also there was an $8-10,000 difference in cost between the quartzite and soapstone).

After going through more than a half dozen stone suppliers, I was surprised to find almost all are trying to pass off marble or granite as soapstone. One even had a "white soapstone" (there is no such thing). All have a shiny polished finish. We recently found a small supplier in Indiana that specializes in soapstone and plan to go to select the stone for our countertops. I was wondering if anyone has any guidance they might offer in selecting our piece. Right now we are leaning towards the "barroca" for appearance. Any advice would be appreciated!

http://www.thestonestudio.com/soapstone_inventory
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SREcklund



Joined: 26 Feb 2013
Posts: 717
Location: Redondo Beach, CA

PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2018 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It might help to know something of the residence for which the counters are destined ... ?
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"Youth is a circumstance you can't do anything about. The trick is to grow up without getting old." - Frank Lloyd Wright
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Roderick Grant



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
Posts: 8408

PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2018 12:35 pm    Post subject: Soapstone is not without its hazards Reply with quote

"OSHA has set the legal limit (permissible exposure limit) for soapstone exposure in the workplace as 20 million parts per cubic foot over an 8-hour workday. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has set a recommended exposure limit of 6 milligrams per cubic meter exposure and 3 milligrams per cubic meter respiratory exposure over an 8-hour workday. At levels of 3000 milligrams per cubic meter, soapstone is immediately dangerous to life and health."
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Modmom1



Joined: 03 Dec 2017
Posts: 44

PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2018 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I put soapstone in my Usonian-style kitchen:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/125471081@N02/36748000006/in/album-72157650444413635/

What I learned...I too looked at Taj Mahal quartz but a price quote of $15-$18,000 at the end of a project was way over budget. Have you considered stainless steel? I wanted it but my husband had a bad experience in his office and I wanted a finished kitchen so didn't argue. We both liked soapstone.

I searched through a half dozen stone marts and soon discovered that the stone retailers try to pass off marble as soapstone. there is no white soapstone and even pieces that looked like soapstone but had the glossy finish were not. This may be okay for you but we wanted soapstone so I traveled 3 1/2 hours to a small town in Indiana to a shop that specializes in soapstone. The couple, Pete and Marlene were very knowledgeable and if you are in their area, I highly recommend them.

http://www.thestonestudio.biz/home

I traveled to their studio because I wanted to choose the piece and they had a good selection. They had soapstones from around the world and there are different hardnesses. Unfortunately for me, I fell in love with a piece that was on the softer scale but black instead of on the green side that many were. The talc markings reminded me of sketches. Here is my piece with and without oiling:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/125471081@N02/31778138072/in/album-72157650444413635/

I wanted an oiled look but it takes time so I researched and ended up using a natural beeswax/mineral oil paste (from Amazon) that gave me the effect in a shorter time. My soapstone can get scratches but they can be buffed out. If this bothers you, I would either go for harder soapstone or buy the marble that looks like soapstone. I love our counters and am very pleased with the results. We had our kitchen, dining room and laundry room counters done and the price was just under $5k (in comparison with the $18k of El Dorado quartz. Hope this helps.
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Modmom1



Joined: 03 Dec 2017
Posts: 44

PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2018 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Roderick, Carol is not looking for a job in cutting soapstone but for use in counters. Soapstone is safe for counters.
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 15927
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2018 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a rather uninformative post, Roderick. What's in soapstone that's toxic? Asbestos ? Radioactivity ? "Inquiring minds want to know . . ."

Roderick is absolutely right about the problems with pattern -- as articulated elsewhere today. I'd go further and say that, until he got old and soft, Mr
Wright kept his distance from fabric patterns, seemingly preferring the fiber and the weave to express themselves unaided.

The soapstone M M chose above has an unobtrusive and "natural" pattern; the soapstone in variegate gray represents the kind of "wallpaper" that I
prefer not to include in interiors. Color, form and texture are quite enough for me; simple checks, herringbone, or the like are all that fabrics need;
those are at least "in the nature of the material." Floors need no pattern unless it's the impressed grid in concrete, the natural pattern of random slates,
or the quiet stripe of wood. Rugs, like upholstery, might restrain themselves as well, showing a woven pattern rather than an applied one.

But that's just me -- and Frank Lloyd Wright ?

SDR
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Roderick Grant



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
Posts: 8408

PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2018 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I mentioned this before, but when my late brother remodeled his kitchen, he used a granite called Masscarello imported from Italy. It contained white, red, ochre and dollops of black, and, as I said to him in an unsuccessful plea NOT to use it, it looks like an Italian food fight, lasagna with ripe olives all over the kitchen.

Even when FLW used pattern, as early as Coonley, it was restricted to just part of the area, a trim along one side. At Barnsdall, the living room carpet has a few bits here and there, but is mostly a solid hue. Checks and herringbone work well, too. Yet the classic "Oriental rugs" (I suppose that's not PC, but what does one call them now?) work with their often intricate patterns. The Khayyams of old seem to have latched onto a system of design that never wears thin.
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Modmom1



Joined: 03 Dec 2017
Posts: 44

PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2018 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SDR, Roderick is correct that soapstone contains talc (see the white streaking in my slab of stone above), which has been shown to be dangerous but this is to the folks who cut the stone. They should be wearing a respirator as all modern stone cutters do. My counters do not give off dust and are treated with mineral oil and beeswax, which give the light grey color a black appearance.
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