Have you ever look at those dull spots and rings on your marble countertops or floors and wondered how they got there? Perhaps more importantly, why they won't the dull spots come off when you try to clean them?
Acid is the number one way the marble way marble because damaged and dull. Most of this kind of damage is from accidental spills or using improper cleaning products.
Here’s the breakdown (in order of frequency) of the events that damaged their stone:
1. Accidental Spill of an Acidic Substance (orange juice, lemonade, wine, vinegar, etc.)
2. Use of acidic Cleaning Chemicals (including accidental exposure)
3. Contact with Cosmetic Products (facial cleaners for acne, citrus based soaps, shampoos, etc.)
4. Embedded Watermarks and Stains from Cups, Glasses, and Bottles
5. Personal Accidents Around Toilet Bases
6. Pet Accidents (urine or vomit).
7. Oils Stains (food substances, cooking oil, butter, etc.)
Acidic spills (juice: Orange, lemon, grapefruit), wine, vinegar, Margarita mix, and acidic tile cleaners and bathrooms cleaners are the single-largest cause of etching. It doesn’t matter whether or not the marble is sealed properly or not, they will etch the marble immediately upon contact and they will not improve with standard cleaners or techniques.
Etches can be classified into three categories:
1. Minor: Results in loss of shine / reflectivity. No roughness can be felt on the etched area when a thumbnail is scraped across the surface from an undamaged area into the affected area.
2. Moderate: Results in loss of shine / reflectivity. Slight roughness can be felt on the etched area when a thumbnail is scraped across the surface from an undamaged area into the affected area, but there is no visible pitting or “cratering”. If the etch has caused a crater, you will feel (and sometimes see) a drop-off when performing the thumbnail test.
3. Severe: Results in loss of shine / reflectivity. Significant roughness can be felt on the etched area when a thumbnail is scraped across the surface from an undamaged area into the affected area, and there is visible pitting and/or “cratering”. Severe etches over 1/16 of an inch deep will require an epoxy patch or replacement of the stone.
You must make every effort to ensure that acidic substances (like those listed above, and others like them) do not come into contact with your marble. If they do, remove them immediately from the surface by wiping them inward on themselves to avoid spreading them to uncontaminated areas.
The good news is that you can remove some minor etches yourself without tools or special expertise by using Lustro Italian Etch and watermark remover (we are not a sponsor).
To learn more copy and paste it into your web browser:
As I stated earlier, there is no acceptable method to completely stop acid etching on marble surfaces. There are topical, film forming sealers available that will stop acid etching, but they cause more problems than they solve. This class of products is not recommended, nor do we sell or use them in this application for the following reasons:
· Nearly all have problems adhering to polished surfaces – they chip, flake, and peel.
· They are easily scratched - more easily than the stone, itself.
· They require more routine maintenance than the stone itself would.
· They must be stripped and re-applied on a routine basis.
· They look terrible – even when new they give marble a “fake” look
Non-Acidic Water-Based Stains
Again, unimpregnated (unsealed) marble can stain if it comes into contact with colored, water (or other)-based substances. Tea, coffee, soft drinks, sauces, juices, wine, and just about any other colored substance you can think of can create staining that cannot be removed by routine cleaning techniques. In fact, just plain water (depending on the mineral and chemical content) can cause staining or color leaching on unsealed marble surfaces. Worse yet, if the substance is acidic, you can get an etch and a stain at the same time!
To avoid these types of stains, please keep your marble surfaces properly impregnated (sealed)! There is no reason not to do it. With one notable exception, “watermarks”, (that we will discuss in the following Section), proper impregnation will stop staining.
Watermarks are the trickiest problem of all to deal with on polished marble. They manifest themselves as discolored areas that conform to the shape of the cup, glass, bottle, or other wet object that was placed on the stone, then allowed to reside there until the fluid fully penetrated the surface.
Please note that watermarks can occur even on properly impregnated and engineered waxed surfaces! How could this happen, you ask? Because the discoloration is formed under the pressure of the object residing on top of the stone, driving the fluid in. Marble sealer and waxes are designed to function at atmospheric pressure, only. They are not designed to stop fluids that are under (hydrostatic) pressure. They will lengthen the time it takes for the watermark occur, they will lessen the severity of the watermark – but they will not stop it if the object remains on top of the stone, forcing the fluid in under pressure. However, they still remain your single best defense, and can make the difference between a watermark that can be removed - or one that becomes a permanent eyesore on your stone.
Watermarks can be stains (depending on the fluid under pressure), or they may be chemically induced loss of color (leaching). And, yes – even plain water (depending on the chemical and mineral composition) can cause both leaching and/or staining on marble surfaces.
The best offense against watermarks is a good defense! Here are some sound tips for avoiding them. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure…
· Always use coasters when placing cups, glasses, or bottles on marble surfaces.
· Keep a soft cloth handy on bath and bar counters to place wet containers on.
· Do not allow wet objects to reside on marble surfaces.
· Keep your non-flooring marble surfaces properly impregnated (sealed) and waxed.
· Keep your marble flooring properly impregnated (sealed).
It is important to apply these techniques properly and for larger or more severe challenges to employ a professional marble cleaning service to reset your marble to a state that you can maintain for the future.