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Close to the Etch

You may not think it intuitively when looking at it, but marble and granite can be more delicate than you might think. In fact, in many ways, it’s more delicate than synthetic countertops and every now and again will require some attention in the form of a repair, seal or missing that a stain removal. If you’ve ever been interested in learning how to tell the difference between etching, hard water and staining, what to do if your granite or marble has a stain, and how to enhance the color of your stone counters, keep reading.

Identifying Etches and Stains

Two of the most common issues with marble and granite are often used interchangeably and confused with one another. Whether staining, hard water or etching, you must first properly identify which problem is plaguing your countertop…as the solutions are quite different.
So, what do we mean by etching?

Etching occurs when an acid literally dissolves the stone surface it comes in contact with.  It is gone.  We see a white area or dull spot in the spot where we have dissolved micro pits into the surface.  The light can no longer bounce true and the damaged stone appears white in color.  The good news…this cannot happen to your granite…but oh will it happen with your marble.  Ring marks, spots, drips, and spill marks will appear when acidic fruits, dressing and drinks contact your marble surface.  And no – sealing does not protect from this attack – it just keeps it on top of the stone.  So good news to have granite in this case.

Fixing this requires a professional to repolish the area and restore a mirror flat surface, and in doing so restore the color to your damaged areas.


Hardware will also appear white, however, this sits on top of your stone and can appear on any surface in which a water surface that is calcium-rich is allowed to evaporate on.  This generally occurs around the sink and faucet areas where micro-leaks occur.  A crusty white material will appear.  The good news is that calcium can be dissolved with an acidic cleaner.  Bad news that same solution will damage your marble which is also made of calcium, so is best removed from marble by shaving it away, but one needs to be careful not to scratch the stone surface else a professional will be required.

This will continue to occur until either the water is softened or the microleak is addressed.  We recommend the microleak repair as this is generally much faster and less expensive.

Stains… Translates to “Oops” I forgot to seal my stone…again.

Stains are 100% preventable.  The solution is simple – seal your stone.  Every stone is porous no matter how hard it may be.  You can quickly tell whether your stone is sealed by simply sprinkling some water on it and seeing if it darkens or the water flatten out as it is absorbed.  If water can do this so can something with color and potential stain.  Save yourself the time, frustration and money by sealing your counters.  Seals are NOT permanent.  Kitchens introduce a myriad of acids which will interact with the seal and wear it away over time.  As such, one needs to reseal every other year, unless you know your counter was resonated.  Unfortunately, there are not standard tests to confirm whether a surface has been resonated during its processing, unless this was spelled out by the fabricator, assume it has NOT been resonated and seal periodically.

The very oils in your hands and arms can create a darkening along the counter where the family leans up against the stone, that will require multiple treatments to remove once in the stone.

There is nothing worse than having to explain to a client that their counter is stained, there are no guarantees it will come out, and it may take multiple applications of a poultice to work it back out, with each application being in place for 24 hours, with a mixture that may not be pleasant smelling.  The alternatives are to live with the stain or replace the counters which is extremely costly.  The stain removal process if feasible but few have the patience for it when it could take 6 or 12 applications.  (Yes, some come out in 1, but everyone assumes this is their case, and gets frustrated as the truth becomes evident.)  There is a reason that professional stir away from stain removal, it is the one service that even if you are successful with leaves a client feeling they have overpaid due to the number of steps that may be required.  Save yourself the hassle, time, frustration and expense by simply sealing every other year with a quality wipe-on wipe-off sealer such as MARBLELIFE Stone Sealer.

Dull Counters

Over time, granite and marble counters can start to look faded or lackluster.  When this happens a call the Stone Care Professionals at MARBLELIFE to bring your surface back to life.  Causes of dullness vary by surface type.  For marble, this is generally evidence that an acidic cleaner or spill has been wiped over the counter.  Wiping up vinegar is enough to remove marble’s gloss.  In the case, of granite, which is generally impervious to acid attack, the primary cause is in appropriate cleaner use.  Cleaner manufacturers often add waxes in order to enhance a surface’s gloss to give the impression of being cleaner than the competition, of course this has 2 major drawbacks in that (1) over time the wax captures and buries dirt and (2) waxes build up and as they do yield a dull yellow appearance.  Getting back to a truly clean and wax free surface simply is not possible with the same wax depositing cleaner, which means you are going to need a more aggressive cleaner and likely a professional to assess the situation.  20% of counter restoration is associated with the use of an inappropriate cleaner.  As such we recommend you utilize a cleaner that is JUST a cleaner not a clean-and-seal or a clean-and-polish product as these will require a downstream professional visit that will make that $10 bargain cleaner not so cheap after a $300-1000 service to restore your counters.  MARBLELIFE Granite & Quartz Cleaner and MARBLELIFE Marble & Travertine Cleaners are designed to be surface safe, effective cleaner, effective acid neutralizers and contain no waxes or acids to harm your surfaces.

For any other questions regarding granite care and maintenance, contact your local MARBLELIFE office and knowledgeable stone craftsmen will be happy to assist you.