Etching on Countertops: Its Effects and How to Confront It
December 27, 2023
Gale Kitchen View 2

Summary

Etching is a common issue for buyers of natural stone countertops, especially for marble; learn how to overcome it.

When customers select stones for their countertops, they often envision a perfect blend of durability and beauty. However, the aspect of how these surfaces react to etching is occasionally overlooked. In this blog, we’ll dive into the impacts of etching on popular countertop stones.

What Is Etching?

An etch mark is essentially a dim blemish on a natural stone countertop resulting from physical and chemical changes. This occurs on stones like granite, marble, or dolomite, that contain calcium carbonate. When acidic substances are in contact with stone surfaces for too long of a time, it can damage the stone.

Common Causes

This issue is commonly caused by the spilling of the following:

    • Tomato Sauce
    • Other Condiments
    • Vinegar
    • Fruits and Juices
    • Coffee
    • Wine
    • Cola Products
Etched Marble Countertop

Source: The Kitchn. Marble countertop with etch marks.

Etching on Common Stones

Some stones are very prone to etching and some are quite resistant.

Marble

Marble is among the stones that are very prone. The reason for this is its calcium carbonate composition that reacts readily with acidic substances.

Granite

Granite is relatively resistant to this form of damage. However, if acidic spills are left for extended periods of time, granite can still have etch marks.

Quartz

Quartz will not receive etch marks. This is because it is a very durable engineered stone. It is best, however, to simply clean up spills immediately.

Quartzite

Quartzite, due to its robust composition, is very resistant to etching. It can still be etched, though, if spills are left out for long periods of time.

Dolomite

Dolomite’s qualities are similar to marble’s, but it is still more durable. Dolomite receiving etch marks is possible but less likely due to its lesser susceptibility. 

Porcelain

Porcelain is impervious to etching, meaning it is unaffected. Since porelain is an extremely compact surface, one has no need to worry about acidic substances. In general, it is always wise to clean up spills, however.

Boost Grey Porcelain

Source: Atlas Plan. Boost Grey Porcelain in the Nadel Roizin project in Israel by Atlas Plan.

Negative Impacts of Etching

Let’s take a look now at the ways that etching could negatively impact your kitchen and your home.

Aesthetic Deterioration

Etching can significantly diminish the beauty of stone countertops. Glossy surfaces become dull and matte, and intricate patterns or colors can be obscured. This can affect the overall look and feel of a kitchen or bathroom.

Reduced Durability

Etching can make the surface more vulnerable to scratches and further damage. Over time, this can reduce the countertop’s lifespan and lead to increased maintenance costs.

Lower Property Value

Kitchen countertops are a focal point in home valuations. Etched and damaged countertops can lower the aesthetic appeal and, consequently, the property value.

Countertop Cleaners

Source: The Spruce. Countertop cleaners; left to right: 409 Stone & Steel Cleaner, Weiman Granite & Stone Cleaner and Polisher, and Weiman Granite & Stone Disinfecting Wipes.

Prevention and Management

While etching is a considerable problem with natural stone countertops, there are methods to prevent it and deal with it.

Sealing the Stone

Regularly sealing countertop stones can provide a protective layer, reducing the risk of etching. However, it’s important to note that not all sealants prevent etch marks. Tenax Proseal is a good option that we suggest as a countertop sealer. To learn more about sealers and how to seal your countertops, visit this blog article.

Immediate Cleanup

Quickly cleaning up spills, especially acidic substances, can prevent etching. It’s crucial to use stone-friendly cleaning agents to avoid further damage. The Weiman Granite & Stone Cleaner and Polisher is an excellent product for natural stone countertops.

Etch Removal

Another product by Tenax is called TeEtch. This product is made to remove etch and water marks from natural stone. Depending on how deep your etch marks are, even this may not work. At that point, you may need to sand, repolish, and reseal the affected area. That would require the assistance of a professional.

Conclusion

While stone countertops add elegance and value to our homes, the susceptibility to etching is a drawback when it comes to certain types, like marble and dolomite. Understanding the nature of different stones and taking preventive measures can mitigate these effects. However, the battle against etching is ongoing and requires vigilance and care.

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