The material utilized for countertops, tiles and fireplaces has to be dense. The darker the color of soapstone the denser the material. Hence all material is green in its color palette. It appears light charcoal gray until it is oiled. There is actually a material that appears oiled and never has to be but the hues to this material are in the green family. You can oil it so much it appears black to the naked eye.
Since soapstone is softer than marble and granite the fabrication and installation can be installed with tools any handyman would already have. Soapstone slabs weigh approximately twenty pounds per sq. ft. the slabs can be cut in to sizes that should allow two people to lift and handle. Caution is recommended.
When cutting a slab make sure it is flat and fully supported underneath to prohibit breakage at the end of a cut. Using 2 x 4ís or 4 x 4ís on the driveway or garage floor works well if you donít have sturdy benches or tables to work on. Carpenters levels and straight edges clamped to the stone make it easier to cut nice straight and even edges.
It is best to use a medium priced ($50) 7" or 8" Turbo diamond dry cut blade to make the cuts, you can get one in most hardware stores or building supply warehouses. You can cut the soapstone with a circular saw with at least 13 amps. Make sure to put masking or duct tape on the metal foot of the saw to avoid scratching the stone as you cut. Always be aware of dragging tools and such across the stone as it may scratch.
If possible we recommend always trying equipment on a practice piece of stone to familiarize yourself with it, to see how it works with your tools.
Be aware when cutting the stone as there will be a fair amount of dust, this means protective eyewear, a respirator and an outside or open location to work in. |
Let the diamonds do their work, donít force the saw, as it will only heat up the blade and make the saw "walk" away from the straight edge. If you use light pressure on the saw you will be rewarded with a clean, straight cut. When you get to the last 5" of the cut go slowly so it doesnít break off because of the pressure.
To finish edges the most popular method is to sand the face till the saw marks are removed and then sand the top and bottom corners down. This can be achieved by hand using a sanding block and use 80 grit sandpaper carefully rounding the sharp corners to an 1/8 inch radius, then finishing with 120 grit and 220 grit to match the top surface. You can use power sanders but be careful, try it on an extra piece of stone to make sure the power sander doesnít remove the material to fast thereby ruining the edge. Routers can also be use to get different profiles such as bevels, bull nose and ogees using tungsten bits but again test first and remove the material in degrees, not all at once, to ensure a clean cut.
|When marking the sink cutout add a ľ" overhang past all around the sink (we recommend you use ĺ " plywood where you seam the sink) as it us a good look an easier to clean and maintain instead of a flush cut with the sink wall.
When putting in an under mount sink use a hole saw to cut the corner radiusí then use the circular saw to cut the straight lines. You can also use an 4 Ĺ" angle grinder with a turbo diamond blade to cut and shape the larger radiusí and then to clean up the corners. Make sure the sink cut out is fully supported, as it will drop down when the last few cuts are made. Finish the edge like you did the front countertop edge, you should relieve the top and bottom sharp edges in the sink cutout.
The soapstone sinks do not require a cut out just hang the counter slabs a ľ" over the edge of the sink and put a soapstone rail in back of the sink to joint the right and left countertop side slabs. Use a hole saw for the faucet holes, a hole saw for wood will work or a tungsten grit hole saw will cut faster.
If assembled properly, after you sand the countertop seams they will be very hard to see, in fact most people donít see them unless they are pointed out. Scarify the edges to be seamed with your angle grinder by cutting 1/8" slices horizontally to give the seam a mechanical bond as well as an adhesive bond.
Use knife-grade black stone-glue (polyester resin with a cream hardener) as the stone will go black in time and clear glue or colored glue wonít change with the stone color. Tenax makes this material.
Dry fit the countertops first making sure everything fits and looks good because once you glue it, itís done. Make sure the counters are level and seams are even. You can use glaziers horseshoe shims to level the countertops if the cabinets arenít perfect. Use them every 6" or so, so the slabs are fully supported underneath. You may se the slabs with good construction adhesive or silicone. You are going to seam the counters in place, do not seam them elsewhere and move them to the cabinets.
Make a test mix of glue to see how much time you have to work with. Ambient conditions such as temperature and humidity can change the pot life and set up time for the glue.
Separate the pieces to be seamed about a Ĺ" put masking tape down the sides of the seam about ľ" from the cut to keep the excess glue off of the soapstone. Follow instructions to mix glue, it should be black already so there is no need to mix color with it. Mix in the hardener (2%) with a spreader knife on a piece of tile or stiff plastic board with a plastic spreader knife. Butter both sides making sure the glue gets in the scar cuts and push them together. Use a spreader knife to take off the excess glue coming up from the seam, be careful not to dig any glue out of the seam. Once the seam is as tight as can be carefully remove each tape strip on the side of the seam taking away the excess glue and let it set up.
|Once the glue has set up sand an area about 8" to 10" on either side of the seam with 120 grit and then 220 grit and you will see the glue disappear to a thin line.
After the seams are sanded you can put a bead of black silicone along the cabinets and sink.
Note: some people re-sand the countertops down to 120 grit or even 80 grit for more of a matte finish.
Should anyone, with the experience needed, choose to do their own installation, our specialist will help guide them through the steps needed.
We recommend a 3-2-1 process for the first month repeat this process three times a week, the second month two times a week, the third month 1 time a week. After that initial three-month process use mineral oil as needed to keep the patina of the stone uniform and new looking. This will insure uniform oxidation or the richest patina.
Clean your soapstone counters as you would a normal counter. Usual kitchen detergents will not damage the soapstone counters or sinks.
When scratches occur mineral oil can be applied to the area or it can be sanded lightly by hand with 120 grit sandpaper until scratches disappear, then re-apply mineral oil to the area for a good as new look.