What is Etching?

Etching as it relates to Marble, Travertine and Limestone, is when an acid reacts with the calcium carbonate, their primary composition, and literally eats or dissolves the surface. If you spill anything acidic on your natural stone floor, liquid or solid, you run a risk of etching your polished surface. What this is in laymen’s terms is the dissolving of the surface of the stone. This will not only remove the polished shine you once had, however it will also leave the area rough, causing soils to get trapped in the now rough etch and thus outlining it like you see here. The solution depending on how severe, or how deep the etch goes, is diamond hone and re polish to match the surrounding finish. Often if you spill something acid on your Marble, travertine or Limestone, you will readily notice and dark areas. The area will actually be lighter in color with a loss of any shine. As time goes on the rougher texture of the etch attracts soil and the etch will become pronounced. Never use acid based cleaners on natural stone floors, including vinegar(aced-acid).
As you can see from our inspection lights we use, this is a much deeper etch as in the previous picture. This was a garbage can in a kitchen that may have been leaking over a period of time. Depending on the severity of the etch damage, we may fill with special epoxy repair or diamond hone to repair.

The picture on the right is a marble shower ledge. Over time, the glass cleaners containing vinegar had dripped down to the marble, completely dissolving the surface. Often times in showers we see the damage goes un-checked, and often contributes the problem.
This a natural stone shower where someone has been using an acidic based cleaner to clean the shower. The lines are so prominent because they were spraying the wrong type of shower cleaning liquid above the brown (Emperador brown) marble mosaic and the grout lines acted as channel. If you have a natural stone shower, BEWARE, whether it be Marble, Travertine or Limestone, you must be careful using products touting hard water deposit removal. Most of these products contain an acidic compound designed to remove hard water and soap scum build up. Marble, Travertine and Limestone are basically a million year old hard water deposit. An acid cleaner doesn’t know the difference.

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