concrete counters
Kathe Roth
July 14, 2013 in Design Dilemma
what is their durability compared to stone?
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PRO
Main Line Kitchen Design
There is maintenance with concrete tops. They are porous and need to be sealed with bees wax. Around here they are more expensive then the lower level granite tops and it is difficult to find good installers. Installed incorrectly they can look bad and crack. Make absolutely sure that the person you hire has done many tops.

Etched with different acids they can look fabulous though.
1 Like   Thanked by Kathe Roth    July 14, 2013 at 5:57AM
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olldcan
   Thanked by Kathe Roth    July 14, 2013 at 6:01AM
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Kathe Roth
The installer I am considering is experienced and I have confidence in him. Price is a concern, though, and I will be looking at stone as well. But I am really concerned about the maintenance aspect. When I look at comparative tables on the different surfaces (through a Google search), it seems that concrete requires a bit more maintenance than stone, but every surface requires resealing. Is this not true of stone? Also, is it true that none of these surfaces will stand up if I place a hot pot on them (from the stove)?
   July 14, 2013 at 6:13AM
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Main Line Kitchen Design
You shouldn't get in the habit of putting a hot pot on any countertop. Sealing tops takes 15 minutes. I would seal Granite every year, marble every week to start then every month, soapstone every two weeks (just use mineral oil), and concrete every month or as often as they direct. Acrylics like Corian and man made Quartz tops like Zodiaq or Cambria never need to be sealed
   July 14, 2013 at 7:07AM
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feeny
Soapstone can take a hot pot directly from the stove (they make wood-burning stoves out of soapstone) and is not porous, but it also is the softest of the natural stones routinely used for counters and has comparatively the most maintenance. So there are tradeoffs.
   July 14, 2013 at 7:18AM
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Main Line Kitchen Design
Sorry Feeny- Soapstone countertops are in fact very porous and need to be sealed with mineral oil regularly otherwise they look grey and can get oil stains. If any stone wasn't sealed well and had an imperfection like a crack or seam that got water in it, putting a very hot pot on it could cause it to crack or chip when the water boiled. Soapstone is the least likely for this to happen, which is why it is used in labs and other high temperature commercial applications, but your kitchen countertop you usually want in the best condition possible so I wouldn't get in the habit of using my soapstone top that way unless I liked a used look.. Some people like that look in soapstone and marble though.
   July 14, 2013 at 7:45AM
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feeny
Actually, soapstone is NOT porous, though it does react on the surface to oil and water. But the marks are not permanent and do not soak into the stone (which is the definition of porous). First FAQ from a national soapstone supplier's website:

"Does soapstone need to be sealed?
Stone sealers are meant to seal porous stones. Since soapstone is a very dense non-porous natural stone , it does not need to be sealed."
http://www.soapstones.com/soapstone_faq.html

Oiling or waxing soapstone is optional, and is not technically a method of sealing. Rather, it darkens the finish and makes it even, so you can't see the temporary oil and water marks.
2 Likes   July 14, 2013 at 7:53AM
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Barbara Purdy - Purdy & Associates Design
Soapstone also has natural anti-bacterial properties...It is excellent for kitchen use, and applying mineral oil is really easy. A bit of sanding down the road might be required which is not difficult either. As far as hot pots are concerned, that is not a problem on soapstone, but depending on the company selling it, they may discourage it. Any of my clients that have had soapstone, absolutely love it.
1 Like   July 14, 2013 at 8:26AM
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Main Line Kitchen Design
Feeny - I know what you have read, but the soapstone suppliers just want to sell stone. The soapstone countertop fabricators all tell you to seal / treat your tops with mineral oil because they will get the customer complaints. Working in kitchen showrooms with soapstone tops for 20 years I can tell you that we needed to seal our tops every other week if we wanted them to be presentable. And we weren't even using the tops. Of course if you don't care what they look like sealing them with mineral oil is optional.

I don't want to fight about this, but I worry that someone will buy a soapstone top and not be prepared for sealing / treating it.
   July 14, 2013 at 8:26AM
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feeny
I'm sorry, Main LIne, but this is a question of accurate terminology. It isn't just soapstone suppliers who define soapstone as a "non-porous" stone. It is geologists. We've had soapstone counters for four years and researched them extremely thoroughly before going ahead with installing them. I completely understand your desire not to mislead customers into choosing soapstone and then being unhappy with the amount of waxing or oiling required to keep the finish even, but it is NOT because the stone is "porous," and the oiling and waxing do NOT "seal" it. I am not trying to talk anyone into soapstone (as I made clear above in emphasizing how soft it is and how much maintenance it needs to keep the finish looking even). I just think it is important to communicate accurate information using accurate terminology. So since you don't trust the authority and objectivity of a national soapstone supplier...

From a geological website:

"Physical Properties of Soapstone
Soapstone is composed primarily of talc and shares many physical properties with that mineral. These physical properties make soapstone valuable for many different uses. These useful physical properties include:
soft and very easy to carve
nonporous
nonabsorbent
low electrical conductivity
heat resistant
high specific heat capacity
resistant to acids and alkalis"
http://geology.com/rocks/soapstone.shtml
   July 14, 2013 at 8:37AM
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sstarr
Soapstone is not considered to be porous, but is soft. I own a soapstone stove, but really don't want it for my countertop. I want something very hard which can take heat. That rules out engineered quartz, which is actually stone particles suspended in resins. A hot pan burns the resin.
   July 14, 2013 at 8:41AM
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Main Line Kitchen Design
Yes you are 100% right. Technically you are not sealing the stone when you treat is with mineral oil, but that doesn't change the need to apply it regularly to keep the top looking good and from darkening unevenly. Let's both let it go. Any Soapstone buyers are certainly now well informed.
   July 14, 2013 at 8:45AM
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Kathe Roth
OK, does anyone else have anything to say about concrete???
   July 14, 2013 at 9:31AM
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Kathe Roth
sstarr93, you "want something very hard that can take heat." So, what have you used?
   July 14, 2013 at 9:32AM
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