Marble Stain and Etching – Identification and Removal

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Identify: a stain or etch

It is important to first identify whether your marble is stained or etched. First, let’s compare staining vs. etching. Quite simply, if the affected area is darker than the natural stone’s colour, you have a stain. Alternatively, if the affected area is lighter than the natural stone’s colour, you have an etch.

Here are some examples of each to give you a visual understanding:


Notice the large blot in the middle of the counter-top below. You can see the marks are lighter than the stone surface.


Notice the large blot in the middle of the counter-top below. You can see the marks are lighter than the stone surface.

Why the problem?

Okay, so now we can identify etches and stains, but what causes them?

The most important thing to keep in mind about your natural stone is that it is absorbent. Like a sponge, your stone is porous – meaning that liquid spills can seep into the stone and cause these discolourations. Marble staining occurs when a liquid is absorbed into the stone and is trapped beneath the surface. It is essential you ensure your surfaces are always properly sealed!

Stone etching is mostly caused by, but not limited to, acidic liquids. The acidic liquids corrode the stone surface, eating away at the finish, resulting in the etched look. It only takes mere seconds after spilling for these deficiencies appear!

Common household liquids that can be responsible for your discolourations include bleach, citrus, citrus-based products, alcohol and alcohol-based products, sodas, ink, rust, urine, coffee, cooking oils, and hand lotions… to name a few.

Many make the mistake of using improper cleaning products for their stone floors or countertops. Always be attentive about the make-up of the product, as many can lead to damaging the stone, sealer, and even making the affected areas worse. We highly recommend the R311 Spray or MC24 as daily cleaners, which can be found below.

How to remove etching and staining:

  1. Stains – (Poultice) The concept of poultice is to absorb the stain from the natural stone. Our wet poultice can be purchased from the online store. To use the poultice, simply: clean the surface of the affected area, apply a thick amount of poultice with a putty knife, cover up with plastic and tape down all edges, let it sit for 24 hours, lift one large corner of the plastic, let the poultice dry for another 24 hours, remove poultice and clean surface. Learn more about stain removal HERE.
  2. Etches – (Marble Refinishing Kit) The Marble Clinic has put together an all-in-one Marble Refinishing Kit. This kit contains all the items necessary to properly and safely remove etches. Learn more about the Marble Refinishing Kit on THIS PAGE.
The Marble Clinic

The Marble Clinic

Natural Stone Professionals; specializing in the restoration, repair and maintenance of marble, granite, terrazzo & more.

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