Remove Water Stains on Carrara Marble

QUESTION:

We are getting water stains that we cannot clean off.


How do you remove water stains from Carrara marble?

ANSWER:

Water stains cannot be “cleaned” off. Water stains are removed by repolishing the damaged area. The exact method of repolishing depends on the severity of the stains and the type of surface finish as explained below.


water stain etch mark on marble vs. true stain - text overlay - removing water stains on carrara marble



So, the "water stains" you are seeing on your Carrara marble are not from water and they are not true "stains".

Let’s first correctly identify and clarify the problem and then we’ll discuss the solutions.

Jump to Solutions section

“Water stains" are a common issue with marble countertops but pure water will not stain or damage marble.

Etching is the cause of these seemingly transparent or chalky dull spots (as seen in the photo at the top of the page).

It happens on all marble including Carrara marble, as well as, travertine, limestone, and onyx. All these stones are related and have similar characteristics.

Marble is made of calcium carbonate and reacts chemically with acidic things like coffee, juice, soda, wine, fruit, dressings, sauces, alcoholic drinks and the list goes on.

So, it's a known marble maintenance issue and a real nuisance for cleaning marble kitchen countertops since it's impossible to prevent etching in the kitchen. Just too many acidic foods to avoid contact.

Note: etching also occurs when cleaning marble with the wrong type of products. That's why you should only use safe products for cleaning marble.

Etching is like a chemical burn. This caustic reaction "etches" or corrodes the surface eating away the polished or honed surface layer causing the appearance of the clear but dull spots.

People often call these “water stains" because they seem to be caused by water and look clear. Water can, in some rare cases, cause etching when the city water or well water is acidic but water is not the cause in 99% of cases.

Etching is most noticeable on polished marble. Honed marble has a matte surface which will still react and etch, but the result (dull spot) is not as visible since the surface is already somewhat dull… not reflective like polished marble.

Water Stains vs. True Stains


It's confusing that the word "stain" is used for a few different types of spots
or cleaning issues on marble.

Here's how it breaks down....

As explained above "water stains" are a misnomer. These spots and rings are etch marks. Not stains and not caused by water.

True marble stains are a totally different animal and this is a HUGE point of confusion not only for homeowners but for many in the stone industry, if you can believe it!


dark oil stain in marble countertop


Stains are dark spots where a liquid has absorbed. Etch marks are light or chalky spots where chemical corrosion of the marble has occurred.

You'll often read or hear that "marble stains easy...". This is NOT true. Marble etches easily and people get the two different types of spots confused.

And hard water stains are in a third category. These can have a similar chalky look like etch marks but are not stains or spots at all. Nothing has absorbed and the surface is not damaged.

hard water stains on kitchen countertop around faucet


Hard water stains are simply calcium deposits (left by evaporated water) stuck to the countertop surface.... on top of the countertop or tile. These occur mainly around the sink and in showers.

How To Remove Water Stains on Marble


What we are really discussing, then, is how to remove etch marks since water doesn’t actually cause these dull spots and they are not actually “stains” but rather “etch” marks.

The repair for water stains is a matter of restoring the surface finish vs. “removing” the spot. Nothing is on the marble. The surface has been damaged so it must be refinished.

On polished marble countertops and floors, you can repair these spots using this ETCH REMOVER / Marble Polishing product made specifically for this purpose.

Very easy-to-use DIY product and will restore the shine and color almost instantly. A must-have product for marble owners.

For honed marble surfaces restoring etch marks is different than on a polished marble. Unfortunately, there's no product to use, but the DIY fix is cheap and relatively easy.

Complete instructions provided in the Restoring Marble Etching e-book.

If etch marks are rough to the touch you may need to hire a professional to refinish the surface. This is more severe etching that requires different treatment but rarely occurs.

Applying a sealer does NOT prevent physical damage to natural stone like scratching or etching. This is a common misconception. Sealing helps prevent staining only.

Comments for Remove Water Stains on Carrara Marble

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water marks not etching
by: Anonymous

OK, let's not call them water stains, but I definitely have water marks (no etching) on my Carerra marble island.

=== Countertop Specialty comment:

Well, it may be that you have "hard water" marks. That is... light spots or rings of hard water mineral deposits kind of like spots on glasses from the dishwasher.

These are difficult to remove with a standard cleaner. Of course, you need a specialized and stone-safe cleaner like this Hard Water Deposit & Soap Film Remover. It's primary use is in the "bath & shower" since that is where these problems occur most, but works anywhere they occur.

Clear, light-colored or white spots, rings or dull spots on marble are etch marks 95% of the time, but a similar-looking mark can occur with hard water.

However, in such cases, the water is usually very "hard" and you'd get noticeable build-up (dull, whitish, crusty) around the sink and faucet primarily... and then also random spots and glass-rings where water evaporated leaving the minerals behind.

If you have random water marks and rings, but nothing around the sink/faucet, then almost certainly it is etching.

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Carrera Counter is Stained After Backsplash Installed
by: Chris

Hi! I was wondering if you could tell me if I have a stain or an etch on my polished Carrara kitchen countertops.

We had our marble backsplash installed a few months after our counters were installed. While the installers were working, I noticed that they were dripping/smearing cloudy water everywhere, which I assumed was water mixed with the powdery residue from the backsplash tile.

After they left and I went to wipe down my countertop, I noticed what I thought were stains or etches.

I tried gently cleaning and wiping the area, but it hasn't helped.

I'd say it resembles an etch in that there are little splotches clustered together everywhere that are more visible when the light hits at the right angle, but it's definitely darker/grayer and murkier in appearance and almost looks like it has "set" into the stone itself.

The texture is smooth, but I can slightly feel a bit more friction on those areas than on the unaffected parts.

Other than the mastic and the grout that was used during installation, I'm not sure what else it could be or how to remove it.

Do I polish it away hoping it's an etch or do I use a stain remover? Or perhaps it's technically a hard water stain?

Thanks for anything help you can offer!

=== Countertop Specialty comment:

The description of a splotch that is more visible from certain angles or in certain light is an etch mark. Classic presentation.

However, if the spots are also darker than the marble color itself, then you also have a stain (something absorbed into the marble).

This can occur... stain and etching in the same spot caused by the same substance, which etches the marble and then absorbs to stain.

You'll need to remove the stain first and then repair the etch marks with the Etch Repair / Marble Polishing Product recommended in the above article.

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Water - whatever
by: Christina

My countertop is not a week old and I need help. I knew to be careful with wine, lemon, oil, tea , coffee and other acid liquids/foods - but the quick white water spots and water rings knocked me over.

It didn't take long, but I was forewarned and I'm not giving up. Please, what would you recommend to make me happy with my gorgeous kitchen marble?

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

Well, I'm glad to hear that you were warned about etching and how it is impossible to prevent on a marble kitchen countertop.

Just too many foods that will etch it. And etching occurs the instant of contact.

Marble is gorgeous, but it's a pain to maintain (in pristine condition that is) in the kitchen.

So, you'll just have to learn to deal with it effectively by be vigilant about minimizing contact with damaging foods and drinks and then always keep a bottle of Etch Repair / Polishing product on hand to restore the color and shine of the marble etching. This is for use only on polished surfaces though.

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Honed Marble
by: Ross

Great stuff on your website. What about water ring marks on honed marble kitchen counter tops?

I have learned to accept it as just enhancing the patina and aging of the marble but is there anything that can be done?

It is particularly worse around the sink. I also read somewhere that a scotch pad with light abrasion can remove stains and it actually worked in an area where my daughter got nail polish on it but it also seemed to expose some porosity.

====== Countertop Specialty comment:

There isn't a product you can use to restore etch marks on honed marble. There is a method to progressively sand out the marks or call in a professional to repair and re-honed the damaged area.

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Do you think my marble counter was sealed?
by: Krista

I have just had my bathroom vanity installed with Statuarietto marble.

I put a glass of reverse osmosis water down on the counter and it left a water ring.

The ring has evaporated.

Do you think I need to seal the counters?

The company said that they treated it but I'm not sure I believe them as I haven't experienced this with other marble counters.

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

Water may absorb into marble or any stone causing a temporary dark spot or glass-ring. The water will then evaporate along with the dark spot. This is normal.

It could mean the marble needs sealing depending on how long it took the water to absorb and create the dark ring / spot.

If water absorbs in less than 15 minutes, then consider applying a quality sealer.

Learn more about how to correctly perform the sealing test (click here).

Note that a sealer must be properly applied in order to "effectively" seal the marble. If not applied correctly, then it won't do the job.

But it doesn't really matter. The above "sealer test" will tell you what you need to know to decide if you should seal the marble bathroom vanity or not.

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Seams in Carrara marble are staining
by: Anonymous

How to clean the seam area in Carrara marble counters - they are seamed at the sink and getting dark. Thanks!

=== Countertop Specialty comment:

Well, seams are typically filled with glue. So, if they are getting stained, the glue may simply need to be removed and the seam refilled. Can't really clean it if indeed it is stained.

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Dark mark
by: Anonymous

Water was spilled on bathroom counter and wasn't dried up all the way. The next morning there were dark gray marks were the water once was. The counter was sealed. How do I get this dark marks away?

===== Countertop Specialty comment:

If indeed it was water, then it will evaporate and the stain will disappear.

However, if the dark spot remains, then it was not just water that was spilled but some other substance that either has coloring or oil in it.

Sometimes liquid soap can leave such a stain. Stains can be removed following instructions in the Stone Stain Removal guide.

It's pretty easy but need specific ingredients for that type of stain.


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