Progress update on Project #HGDRemuddleRemodel today! Thankfully, all of the renovation work was done shortly after Thanksgiving, but I’ve been taking my time finishing up some of the details. What can I say? I got a little tired and then 2 weeks of the holidays hit.
Now, I’m finishing up with soft treatments and small details to get ready for final reveal pics to be taken. One of the decisions I’m struggling with is whether or not to oil the soapstone in our Butler’s Pantry/Laundry.
Here is a little sneak peek from the nearly finished space!
To remind you, here is the original inspo board. Head to the post for the nitty gritty on a major space saving tactic.
The Handsome Husband and I both LOVE the natural soapstone and its soft, slightly talc-y feel and mottled grey color. As I largely designed the Butler’s Pantry wall of this space mostly for him (Sweet man that he is, he makes my coffee at 5:30 AM and a cocktail at 5:30 PM … or whenever he gets home on Fridays!), I want it to be the way he wants it.
It’s a gem of a man who would agree to pink puppies on the walls and grass green cabinets!
Yet most kitchens with soapstone counters that you see (like 90%) have oiled stone, as in the below, glorious kitchen by Ashely Gilbreath, whom I profiled here.
The Awesomeness of Soapstone
First, for those of you who don’t know about soapstone — a quick recap of its qualities.
Soapstone is a natural quarried stone. It’s a metamorphic rock that got its name from its tactile, “soapy” feel, thanks to the presence of talc in the stone. While soapstone was historically quarried in the Appalachian Mountains, particularly in Vermont, very little is left. Most soapstone now sold in the United States is imported, largely from Brazil.
Soapstone is a fabulous counter surface (especially in kitchens) thanks to its:
- Ability to retain/withstand heat. That’s why it’s so often used for wood burning stoves, pizza ovens, and hearth surrounds. You can put a hot skillet directly on a soapstone counter.
- Imperviousness, i.e. non-porousness and therefore natural stain resistance and anti-bacterial qualities. No need for a sealer! And unlike marble, no worries about etching with acidic liquids or cleaners here.
- Durability. Soapstone can last centuries, but because it is softer stone, it has the tendency to scratch and chip more easily on the edges. You have to be ok with a little patina, but scratches can be buffed out with fine sand paper.
Joan’s beautiful soapstone counters (which she couldn’t imagine leaving unoiled!) in my profile of her kitchen.
So, why oil if the soapstone has no need for a sealer?
Oiled vs. Unoiled Soapstone Counters
First off, let me say that I think *both* oiled (or waxed, a less time-consuming alternative to get the darker charcoal look, though less “time-tested”) and unoiled soapstone counters looks amazing.
Soapstone comes in various shades of grey, blue grey, and green grey. In its natural state, all of those “greys” will be fairly light in color — i.e. hard to tell which way they will veer when darkened by age and oil. So, BIG TIP: when looking for a soapstone slab, run a wet cloth over it to see what it will look like when dark!
Over years, the oils in your hands and the natural oxidization process will cause soapstone to darken to that “wet” color. And it will do so unevenly, based upon wear and use. But again, that takes YEARS.
Therefore, lots of soapstone companies (including where I got mine) recommend oiling or waxing your counters in order to speed up (AND *EVEN UP*) the oxidization process, like in the below image.
However, after much digging, I did find images of kitchens with unoiled soapstone counters.
Funny how these are both yellow kitchens! See how unevenly the counters in the above kitchen have darkened?
I read in some expired IG caption that Lauren left the above counters unoiled and loved them.
Part of my wanting to do unoiled countertops is the laziness factor. In order to keep that dark charcoal hue, your basic “oiling schedule” for soapstone counters is as follows:
- Once/week for a month.
- Once/month for a year.
- Once a year.
While I’m not opposed to a little elbow grease to maintain my home’s beauty, maintaining unoiled counters is as follows:
- Wipe oil spots with Dawn and let dry.
- Let natural darkening happen.
I actually oiled a big new cherry cutting board on my soapstone counters (Stupid. I should have done it in the garage), but scrubbing with Dawn got the all the big splotches up.
This conversation on Houzz about oiled vs. unoiled soapstone is interesting.
I’d love to hear from readers — what do you think about oiled (or waxed) vs. natural? Should I bite the bullet and pull out the mineral oil or leave the counters be? Anyone with personal experience with your own counters? Why did you choose one way or the other? Please let me know in the comments!
Finally, I’ve been nominated for the 2020 Design Hounds Influencer Awards! This is a first for me. There’s no way in the world I’m winning, but I’m honored to be a part. If you like what you’ve read on Home Glow’s Saturday Blog, I would be so honored for your support. Please head to the link and search for Home Glow and vote!
You can vote every day until January 18! (Hint, hint ;))
A pin to remember me by!
Have a wonderful weekend in the snow, slush, and ice. See you next Saturday!