1. Where is the soapstone quarried?
All of the soapstone that we use is quarried in Quebec, Canada, and comes from the same quarry that produces soapstone for our wood and gas stoves. TOP
2. Why is it called “soapstone”?
Good question! Soapstone has a very high talc content, and it feels soft and slippery to the touch-almost silky (if that adjective can be applied to a rock). Sometime, many years ago, someone called it “soapstone” and the name stuck. The name “soapstone” was much more descriptive than the chemical name-magnesium silicate. Many people assume that soapstone is a man-made material because of the “soap” prefix, but it's not. Soapstone is quarried just like granite or marble, then cut and fabricated. TOP
3. Does soapstone come in different colors?
Because the stone we use is from Canada, it is all predominately gray, with subtle tones of green and blue. Each piece of stone does have a unique grain, but remains within the same basic color palette. Soapstone from other countries may have a somewhat different color palette. For example, soapstone from Brazil tends to be dark gray or brown. Some soapstone from Africa is almost pink. It is the variation of trace minerals found in soapstone that determines the color and overall hardness of the soapstone from different quarries and areas of the world. TOP
4. Why do you recommend soapstone for kitchen counters?
Soapstone is heat resistant and non-absorbent, so it's the perfect material for kitchens-where hot pots and pans and occasional spills are inevitable. It cleans easily, especially if a sealer has been applied. It has an earthy look and feel that other solid surfaces just can't match. TOP
5. How does soapstone compare to granite?
Soapstone has a more interesting grain than granite and has a warmer look and feel. It is softer than granite and, unlike granite, it is not polished to a high-gloss finish. Choosing which stone to use in a kitchen application (soapstone, granite, slate, etc.) is a lot like choosing what type of wood to use for floors or kitchen cabinets. You will want to consider durability, maintenance, and price along with the “look, tone, and feel” of the material. We are biased in favor of soapstone (obviously), and we use it to build wood and gas stoves as well as countertops. In an ultra-modern kitchen, granite would be a great choice. But in a kitchen designed to radiate warmth and hospitality? It's soapstone every time! TOP
6. Can soapstone be left untreated?
Natural soapstone is beautiful. However, in a kitchen counter application we prefer to apply a sealer to the finished counter. A sealer will maintain the natural grain and color of the stone without darkening it, and make cleaning spills and stains almost effortless. An alternative to sealer is to apply mineral oil. Mineral oil will darken the stone considerably and require periodic re-oiling to maintain the dark finish. If you are uncertain which you will prefer, you can try applying mineral oil to the underside of one of the counters before you install it. TOP
7. How often will I need to re-apply the sealer or the mineral oil?
We recommend washing the counter and applying a new coat of sealer approximately every two years. Mineral oil will require more frequent maintenance. Areas that receive heavy use (around the sink, for example) or repeated cleaning will need more frequent oiling-perhaps every six months. TOP
8. How durable is soapstone?
Soapstone is extremely durable if it is treated properly. Most people invest in stone counters because they like they way they look. Your soapstone counter will look as beautiful in 50 years as it does when you first install it-provided you use a cutting board for cutting, a hot pad for hot dishes (to protect the oil finish), and you wash it with warm, soapy water periodically. Soapstone requires basically the same care needed to preserve any beautiful countertop material. TOP
9. Doesn't soapstone scratch easily?
Soapstone is relatively soft and yes, it can be scratched if treated carelessly. But, any scratches the soapstone sustains can be easily removed by buffing with fine steel wool. One of the things that we really like about soapstone is that it is possible to repair almost any serious damage. A severe chip or gouge can be repaired with two-part epoxy mixed with soapstone dust and small pieces of stone. After this filler sets, it can be sanded down and blended with the surface so that it virtually disappears. This is something that you can't do with hard stone or synthetic countertop materials. TOP
10. How will the stone be shipped?
We ship countertop stone by truck. The stone is shipped standing up on a pallet. It is braced on the sides and thoroughly cushioned on the bottom, on the sides, and between slabs to prevent breakage. We insure each shipment against damage. If the stone arrives damaged, you will receive a prompt replacement. TOP
11. Can it be delivered to my house?
It is less expensive, easier, and safer to pick up at a terminal, or to have the shipment delivered to a business. A pallet of countertop stone can be very heavy and difficult to unload at a residential address. Large tractor-trailer trucks are often not welcome in residential neighborhoods, and the expense of a residential delivery is considerable. We have helped thousands and thousands of stove customers arrange for delivery over the years, so if you have any questions about arranging delivery, please call our Customer Service Department at (800) 866-4344 during normal business hours. TOP
12. Who will do the installation?
A soapstone countertop can be installed by any capable carpenter or contractor. Installation requires careful measuring, fitting, and seaming. Shimming is sometimes necessary, and the surface should be polished after installation. These are the same basic steps that you would go through to install any stone, composite, or wood counter. Soapstone is softer than granite or marble, and is easier to work with than those materials. The edges of soapstone can be routed and the stone itself can be cut with good quality carbide tools. We will do as much, or as little, of the fabrication as you want. We can fabricate the whole countertop, including building a soapstone sink to fit, or we can just ship stone slabs with one side sanded and you or your contractor can fit and finish the counters. TOP
13. Can I do the installation myself?
Yes-if you are mechanically inclined. If you would be comfortable installing a countertop made of Corian or Formica, you could certainly install a soapstone countertop. We will provide you with thorough written instructions, a DVD, and toll-free telephone back-up from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., six days a week. Don't be intimidated by the newness of the material; just call us and we'll walk you through it. And if you are not mechanically inclined, any competent contractor or business specializing in kitchen design and installation can take on the project. TOP
14. Do I need a template?
Yes! You will either have to send us a template or send us a sketch from which we will make a template for you. Either way, we produce a template for every finished countertop we ship. It's the best way to verify your measurements and make sure that the counter will fit exactly the way you want it to fit. To get going, simply make a drawing of your existing (or planned) countertops from a top view. Include any cut-outs for sinks, stovetops, or other structural parts of the house. We can use this to give you an “estimated” price. The next step will be to determine the size and location for holes for faucets, spigots, soap dispensers, and so on. If you are installing a new sink, most sink manufacturers will provide you with a template for the sink opening. Lastly, you'll have to decide how much of an overhang you want on the front of the kitchen cabinets (normal is about 3/4 ”) and over the sink (if the sink is an “undermount” sink). TOP
15. How much does soapstone weigh?
Soapstone weighs 180 pounds per cubic foot. The 1-1/4” countertop weighs 19 pounds per square foot. A typical 26” x 48” slab of countertop stone weighs about 165 lbs. TOP
16. What is the thickness of your countertops?
Our countertops are 1-1/4” thick, and backsplashes are 3/4 ” thick. If you have a particular need for a different thickness, please contact our Customer Service Department at (800) 866-4344 and we can discuss your requirements. TOP
17. How do you join two different pieces?
We use a two-part epoxy to join pieces of soapstone. If two pieces are carefully seamed with clear epoxy, the joint is almost invisible. Remember, we have complete instructions, an installation video, and telephone support to make sure that all of your questions get answered-even while the job is underway! TOP
18. What is the maximum size slab that I can buy?
Most of our countertop slabs are 48”-54” long. We will cut the slabs to whatever width you need. We occasionally have large or odd-shaped pieces, so if you have special needs please contact our Customer Service Department at (800) 866-4344. TOP