Installation Takes Common Handyman Tools
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. Since soapstone is heavy have a freind or friends to help lift stone pieces during fabrication.
Cutting Soapstone Slabs
When cutting a soapstone slab make sure it is flat and fully supported underneath to so it doesn’t break at the end of a cut. Using 2 x 4’s or 4 x 4 ’s on the driveway or garage floor works well if you don’t have sturdy benches or tables to work on. Carpenters levels and straight edges clamped to the soapstone make it easier to cut nice straight and even edges.
Saw Blades For Cutting Soapstone
You can use a medium priced ($50) 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 tools out on a practice piece of stone to familiarize yourself with it. 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.
Don’t Force The Saw
Let the diamonds do their work, don’t 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 get a clean, straight cut. When you get to the last few inches of the cut go slowly so it doesn’t beak off because of the pressure.
Finishing Edges Of Soapstone
To finish edges the most popular is to sand the face till the saw marks are removed and then sand the top and bottom corners down. This can be done by hand using a hard sanding block and 80 grit sandpaper carefully rounding the sharp corners to an 1/8″ radius, then finishing with 120 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 doesn’t remove the material too fast thereby ruining the edge. Routers can also be used to get an 1/8′ radius for a larger radius use a diamond bit.
Setting The Stone On A Cabinet
You can put the stone right on the cabinet with out a sub-top of plywood if the cabinets are sturdy and well made. If you have a sub-top you can cover it with a shoe-base molding and finish it the same as the cabinet.
Marking Sink Cutout
When marking the sink cutout add a 1/4″ to 3/8″ overhang past all around the sink as it is an good look and easier to clean and maintain instead of a flush cut with the sink wall.
Under Mount Sink
When putting in an under mount sink use a hole saw to cut the corner radius’ then use the circular saw to cut the straight lines .You can also use an 4 1/2″ angle grinder with a turbo diamond blade to cut and shape the larger radius’ 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.
Sanding Countertop Seams
If assembled properly, after you sand the countertop seams they will be very hard to see, in fact most people don’t 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.
Knife-Grade Black Stone-Glue
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 won’t change with the stone color. We carry this glue.
Always dry fit first
Dry fit the countertops first making sure everything fits and looks good because once you glue it, it’s done. Make sure the counters are level and the seams are even. You can use glaziers horseshoe shims to level the counters if the cabinets aren’t perfect. Use them every 6″ or so, so the slabs are full supported underneath. You may set the slabs with a 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.
Always test mix glue
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 Soapstone Pieces
Separate the pieces to be seamed about a 1/2″ put masking tape down the sides of the seam about 1/8″ from the cut to keep the excess glue off of the soapstone. Follow instruction to mix glue, using a black pigment to color the transparent knife grade glue. 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.
Sanding Glue On Soapstone
Once the glue has set up sand an area about 8″ to 10″ on either side of the seam with 120 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.
Support Is Close By
Should anyone, with the experience needed, choose to do their own installation, our specialist will help guide them through the steps needed.