For homeowners looking to trim the budget on their kitchen renovation, or simply wanting to take on a challenging project that yields a lot of value, DIY countertops are a tempting project. There are several good options for DIY countertops – tile and concrete are both fantastic and offer a range of looks. But there’s an undeniable appeal to soapstone, with its soft touch and classic look. When we were looking for a countertop to put into our 1930’s bungalow, soapstone topped the list, but I was anxious about what I was about to take on.
So, how much skill does a homeowner need to complete a decent install of DIY material? Here’s what I learned during my installation.
Soapstone is heavy. I would highly suggest having the soapstone delivered near where you’ll be working. You’ll need friends to help you put the soapstone in a place where it can be cut
You can use common power tools to cut it, but there will be dust. With the correct blade on a circular saw, cutting soapstone is easy. You’ll need to go slow and have the help of friends to take care of any dust buildup. We also used an angle grinder for tight cuts and a hole bit to cut the faucet hole. We had enough left over to install a four-inch backsplash, and I cut down the backsplash pieces on my table saw with a diamond bit stone blade.
When installing, remember soapstone is heavy. You’ll need friends to help set the stone in place. When I installed my countertops, the seams were pretty easy to epoxy. I used playing cards to level the counters, which probably took longer for my project than most, largely because I made the cabinets myself and they weren’t quite as level as prefab cabinets would be. But we got to level eventually
You can ease the edges by hand. I just used sandpaper to round the edges. The simple easing has a soft, handcrafted feel. We couldn’t be happier with the result. But if you're looking for something a little more formal, a router will do the trick nicely.
Back to the dust issue. Keep in mind that you’ll need to sand down the countertops after you have installed them. This will produce a crazy amount of a type of dust that doesn’t like to be cleaned up. Be diligent is tarping off the work area.
Go for it. Soapstone is a fun material to work with, more forgiving than some, and probably a little quicker to fabricate and install than tile counters would have been. Is it doable? For the DIYers who are comfortable with using power tools, soapstone is in reach.
We purchased our soapstone countertops from M. Teirxeira Soapstone (www.soapstones.com). They provided the slap, built a custom sink from the same stone, and delivered it all to our garage. I’d highly recommend them as a resource for DIYers. Of course, if you have a soapstone dealer near you, checking out the slabs in person is hard to beat. Best of luck!