Marble Bar Top Acidic Spots

by Jayne Salvatore
(Delmar, IA)

QUESTION:

New marble bar top used for party. No coasters, when I wipe with damp soft cloth I feel stains and see a dullness on the spots.


How do I polish or buff? Anything already around the house I can use?

ANSWER:

You are right. The acidic alcohol, fruit juice and soda drinks set on the marble bar top have etched the surface. Etching is like a burn... it is actual physical damage to the surface and not a stain where something is absorbed into the marble counter top.

The shiny polish on a marble counter top is created by intense grinding and friction on a big industrial machine. It is not the result of a chemical application.

So, restoring the polished surface will again require physical change to the stone surface via friction (i.e. marble polishing)... think of it like sanding wood smooth, although it is much more difficult with marble.

Having said that, light and mild etch marks can usually be successfully removed using the ETCH REMOVER / Marble Polishing Paste specifically designed for this purpose.

However, you say you can "feel" the stains... not good. As I mentioned, etching is physical damage to the surface... corrosion... the acids eat into the marble. It starts instantly and the longer the acidic substance remains on the marble the more damage it does.

If the etch marks "feel" rough and/or you have multiple spots, then you very well may need a professional to restore the polished finish.

Small, light etch marks that are dull, but still "feel" smooth can be removed pretty easily with marble polishing compound suggested. The rougher the spots, the less successful you'll be.

Professional restoration is going to be expensive and you'll want to take your time finding the right person to do it (experience and skill are very important in restoration), so you may want to try the Etch Remover first and see what happens.

My Best Advice

Marble, travertine, limestone or onyx is never a good choice for a bar top unless you expect and don't care that it will get etched all over again and again.

Whoever installed this for you should have warned you up and down 10 times not to do it for this very reason.

An argument can be made for installing marble kitchen countertops (not generally recommended, but great for baking), but a polished marble bar top is a recipe for unending frustration.

I recommend you have a professional hone the surface. The marble will still etch, but you won't notice it as much. The downside is that honed marble is more susceptible to staining than when polished, so you'll need to seal it well and test it every year to know when to seal again.

The upside is that most often stains can be removed using household products without the need for a pro.

Really crummy to have this happen right after installation. Of course one other option is to just let it go and learn to love it as it ages au naturale... but probably not what you paid all that money for.

Let us know how it goes.

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