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Q 2225: Hi! We recently acquired some soapstone countertops that appear to have been varnished. Any suggestions on how best to remove it? Linda, July 15
R1: Dear Linda: That's quite unusual, all right! Never heard of such a thing before! Anyway, it seems to me that you need to use a paint stripper based on Methylene Chloride. Ciao and good luck, Maurizio, USA, Expert PanelistA 1420: What is recommended for protecting and possibly hardening the surface of a soapstone countertop? Please ensure us that there is an experience behind the recommendation and not just theory....Mike. Feb 8.
R4: Dear Mike,
It is highly unlikely that there is a natural process that will noticeably
harden your soapstone countertop. Depending on your mineralogy (established
by petrographic analysis and/or X-Ray diffraction) you might be able to
have it kiln-dried. This will cause some dehydration of the hydrous magnesium
silicates and probably the recrystallization of some minerals into anhydrous
or lesshydrous forms. However, it might also induce some dimensional instability
because that rock variety is commonly mineralogically and texturally heterogeneous.
Elevated thermal conditions could push it and pull it in different ways.
Having said that, your sculptor was quite right in what he said and you
in fact provided the explanation by the word "exposed". It is only when
the stone is opened up that it can be exposed to air and therefore the
process of drying. Most stone when quarried behaves
If you want to make it harder you can try with VIAGRA, but I believe that your best bet would be to dial 1 (800) HEAVEN!!
Soapstone is too dense to take in anything (it's its most touted selling point), including, of course, a so-called stone-hardener that, in my (qualifed) opinion is a marketing hogwash anyway. Maurizio, USA, Expert Panelist
R2: being basically magnesium silicate, soapstone is unlikely to harden to any degree like some limestones. There may be some superficial hardening of the soapstone caused by dehydration of the magnesium silicate, but this would not be great under ambient conditions. It would be interesting to see how much it hardens when it approaches 500-800C. Regards Jim, Australia, Expert PanelistR1: You can't harden the soapstone. All you can do is live with the scratches and what not and say it is a patina that is developing. Or use mineral oil to hide the scratches. Regards, Steven, USA, Expert Panelist
Last week, a sculptor told me that when soapstone is exposed to air, it slowly hardens. Any idea?Have never heard this about soapstone, and soapstone is soft enough that your fingernail will scratch it. Personally, I do not like it for sculptural purposes at all, but as a stove or fireplace liner it is great. JVC, USA, Expert Panelist
Soapstone will harden when excavated from the quarry for a period of around six months. basically the moisture is released. The same with sandstone, granite and marble. Regards, John, U.KI still can't find any research to back up the claim that soapstone hardens into something other than what it is. It is not aging or anything, it is still a rock! As I looked at my answer, I did neglect to say that soapstone is soft. Therefore, you can use sandpaper to remove scratches as well. Sorry for the oversight. And I am sorry for not being able to address what the sculptor told you. Regards, Steven, USA
A 1143: We have a soapstone hearth on our fireplace. It was badly stained and rough. I have sanded it smooth. What do you recommend for a sealer and finish. I would like to have some gloss on it if possible, without changing the color to a great extent. Thanks - bob, USA, Oct 13.R3: Two ways to go about getting the gloss. More and more sanding/polishing with finer and finer grits, or using a color enhancing sealer. Test a small area first to see how the sealer is going to take to the stone. JVC, USA
R2: Dear bob: First off, just forget about the gloss. You can't get it out of soapstone. Forget about a sealer, too. Soapstone is too dense and won't absorb it. Just treat it with mineral spirit on a regular basis.Maurizio, USA
R1: Hi, Forget about polishing. but you can Seal it. Pini, USA
A 1107: Hi... I'm in
NJ. I appreciate any advice you can offer... We have a 120 year old Victorian
home that we're rehabilitating. There's a fireplace surround/mantle
that had 2-3 old coats of enamel trim paint on it. We used "Peel-Away"
to get the paint off and think it might be soapstone. Now
the soapstone is a flat, haze dark grey color... I started hand sanding
the top of the mantle with 150 grit paper and pretty quickly went through
the black to a beautiful emerald green stone, with veining, etc, We were
thrilled. I'm guessing it's soapstone. Then I took an orbital sander
to the front of the surround with 60 grit paper and although I created
a nice layer of dust on the floor, didn't get to any green. I then
went to 36 grit paper and now the finish is a chocolate brown, not black
and I can see some detail and veining, it's much, much tougher going than
the mantle top was. Some places are seeming to lighten a bit to green,
but I've spent over 1/2 hour on about a 1 square foot
section with 36 grit paper on an orbital sander. I'll
be days and days at this rate, not to mention the areas that are detailed,
where I'll have to hand sand. I'm wondering why the stone is so different
than the mantle top? Does heat darken the finish, because the section
I'm on is closer to the fireplace opening than the mantle top? Does
it darken throughout? Might I be sanding for weeks and weeks only
to consistently see brown? I'm wondering is there is any
other way to get through to the lighter stone? Any advice would
be appreciated. Thanks, Tom, USA, Sept 24.
R1: The mantle is probably a different stone then the rest It's common. Pini, USA,Q 954: Is there a way to restore an old soapstone sink? Laura, USA, April 23.
R1: Laura, Tell me what you see. but elbow grease and a scrub brush is probably the place to start. Good luck, Steven, USA