Installing a Soapstone Kitchen Counter

Bob discusses installation and care of the new kitchen soapstone countertop and tours the kitchen, showing the cabinetry, storage, future mudroom, and small office.

Clip Summary

Bob discusses installation and care of the new kitchen soapstone countertop with Todd Allen, who has done the work. John easily installs the Moen faucet. Bob also tours the kitchen, showing the cabinetry, storage, future mudroom, and small office.
Hi, I'm Bob Vila. Welcome home again.

It's a beautiful day in Cambridge and today we are doing some outside work.

We're installing a beautiful plum tree in the back yard and also giving you a look at the completed terrace.

Then we're taking you on a tour of the Burpee trial gardens in Ambler, Pennsylvania to look at some really gorgeous plant specimens.

And inside the house, well, we're still working on our kitchen.

We are installing installing our kitchen counters. They are made of soap stone and putting in a new kitchen faucet.

Stick around, its good to have you Home Again.

Bob Vila's Home Again.

This is actually our dining room but we've set it up as staging area for all the carpentry that's going on in the kitchen.

The risers and tread stock are here. We've got a staircase being assembled really and Jimmy is just working on the first step here.

You'll notice the round design of that first riser.

This kind of matches the main staircase just in the main hall there and the way we've done it is to put all these kerf cuts in the back like that a plywood, all the way to the veneer practically.
But then the way it's all glued together with the gorilla glue, it really becomes a very sturdy element. We've got all of these to do. Probably two more day's worth of carpentry there.

But all of these cabinets are in place, and now we're getting to the stage of setting in the counter tops. And we're using a product that's a very New England product. It's soapstone. This is something that was used extensively in the nineteenth century.

It's a sedimentary stone millions of years old, and it's very soft. That's why it's called soapstone. You can work it with power tools right here on site. Cut it, shape it, do anything you want to it, and it's really beautiful.

It is like recess.

Yeah. It's really beautiful when you have to oil it, which is what will be happening here, because it takes on this kind of grey green look and this of course will dry in a minute. But, the way we're installing it, you can look here on the island portion it sits on top of a layer of this plastic material which is called Sintra and right now they're not permanently installed, we're just doing the fitting stages but we've got that to create a reveal here. But let's talk with Todd Allen, who's done all this beautiful work in here. And you've already shaped all of this, right Todd?

That's correct.

And how do you cut the material when you're creating a hole for a sink?

You actually can cut it with a saber saw and as you had mentioned standard power tools.
And then you just clean it up with a belt sander.


And now we're getting ready to install our Moen kitchen faucet and let's watch you cut with that saw because you drill right through it with the whole saw.

That's correct.

Got it?

Now Todd, how come the plumber won't cut..? The hole in here.

But generally the plumber doesn't want to deal with the finished product.

Right, doesn't want to take the responsibility.

I don't blame him.

This stuff is about 50 dollars a foot.

Now you have, I noticed, got a seam there and another one here, why haven't you finished the routing here?

What we do is we wait till after it is epoxied to give it the final edge and then once it's in place and set...

OK, because you're epoxying where these two butt together.


And then at the last minute, you'll make a pass with a router so that you get a nice, even surface.


I got you.

OK, I'll let you go back to work.

I see John's coming here to get started with our faucet.

Hi John.

How are you doing?

Do you like these?

Yeah. Real nice faucet, yeah.

They're easy to install, I believe.

Oh, yeah.

What's the first step?

Well, the first step is put this chrome excursion on .

Then the rubber gasket.

Then underneath the counter, this goes up, push through here, like that.

And that's how it attaches to the bottom of the substrate?



And you just tighten up the nut.
Well, let me put it through here and I will hold it well.
Yeah. Could you, please?

I got it .

OK, Hold it firmly for me.

Yeah, Now the second hold we put here is for soap dispatcher.

Okay, John. Can we test it?

Yeah, go ahead bob, test it.

Not bad .Yeah, What I like is this feature, you can pull this out.

And you can push that, and get a nice shower.

And it works very nicely.

Right next to it, we've got another little gadget that's a soap dispenser.

We'll put liquid dishwashing soap in there.

Notice where we're getting this wet, and let me explain this.

This is a very absorbent stump, and this is more less what is going to look like, when it's treated with mineral oil, and that's the key.
You don't wanna put any kind of harmful oil, like a linseed oil or anything like that, on a kitchen counter that's gonna take food products around it.

But, when this finished and properly maintained every few months with the mineral oils, it will always have this kind of look. But it's so absorbent, I mean, I just did this here a minute ago, it is already dried out.

There is some back splash sections still to be put in here, which will be used using three-quarter inch stone.

But, let's go over towards this end of the kitchen. We haven't been here in a while.

OK, this is the kitchen entrance to the house the way we'll be coming in and out all the time, and there's a funny story here.

When we started the project, we ordered a custom door. A replica of the door that had originally been here but in a smaller size. It's been delivered by the millwork Not once, not twice, but three times and each time they've gotten a size wrong.

But, the real reason why we haven't able to complete the work here
is that the deck that is to be built here is designed to go all the way to the edge of the property line which is, I think about 5 or 6 feet.

In order to do that, you have to have a variance from the zoning board of appeals. And because the zoning board of appeals is an agency that's composed of volunteers ah, you know, members of the community, we haven't been able to get a hearing because, for the last three months, they haven't been able to get a quorum, enough people to show up to do it.

So, anyway we are hoping tonight's the hearing. We're hoping we'll have a kitchen door and a deck out here in a week or so.

But let's take a look at the function of this space, because you walk in here, and we have, right in front of us, we have cabinets. We'll have more of that soapstone around here.

We'll have little drawers for everybody to have their gloves and their keys or whatever, and above we got more storage and some nice old fashioned rounded corner storage.
And then in this section here, we have the equivalent of a mudroom.
We'll be building a bench here with a drop lid on it, and inside we'll have a bin for dog food.

And you can sit there, take off your boots, and then along the top we'll put in a nice shaker peg for hanging jackets and the like.

But this is the area that we really call the main pantry for the kitchen, because all these cabinets will provide storage space for the staples, the daily staples that we'll use. And then in this area, we'll have the little kitchen office.

But anyway, we've got to break for some messages. Stick around. When we're back, we'll be visiting the Burpee Seed Company.