Natural Stone Stains vs. Etching - The Difference.

Staining vs. Etching on Natural Stone

Sometimes, things may look the same, but they are two completely different things in reality. This can sometimes be the case with staining and etching on natural stone. For this week’s blog post, Tru-Clean Surface Care will explore the differences between an etch mark and stain on your beautiful granite, marble, or tile.

What is staining on natural stone surfaces?

Natural stone (with the possible exception of soapstone) is considered a porous material. This means that it can absorb moisture and liquid. Any absorbed moisture can cause discoloration in the stone. This discoloration is a stain. Stains normally do not affect the surface of the stone; if you rub your fingers over the affected area, there should be no change to the feel of the surface.

What can cause a stain on natural stone?

There are a lot of different things that can stain your natural stone. Tea, wine, cooking oil, fruit juice, and cleaning agents are just a few of the things that can cause stains on natural stone surfaces such as granite, marble, travertine, and limestone.

What can be done to prevent stains on natural stone surfaces?

  • Make sure your stone is sealed with a quality impregnating sealer. A sealer will not prevent staining by itself. It will slow down absorption to give you more time to deal with the spill.
  • Always make sure to use a cutting board on kitchen countertops.
  • Wipe up any liquid or debris as soon as possible.

What if my stone does stain?

If you happen to get a stain, here are some things you can do.

  • Tru-Clean Surface Care offers various services for staining and etching on natural stone surfaces.  Our professionals can diagnose the cause of the problem and recommend services to help eliminate them.
  • If you experience a spill that can cause staining or etching, immediately use a sponge or wet napkin to wipe up the spill, rinse, and then wipe dry.

What is etching?

Many times, etching is confused with staining when in fact, they are two different issues. Etching happens when an acidic substance comes in contact with the stone and “eats” away at the stone’s surface. The etched mark will look dull and possibly whitish. Etches change the smooth surface of the stone. If you run your fingers over the affected area, it can feel rough. Etches are also often mistaken for water spots.

What can cause etching on natural stone?

Many different things can etch your natural stone. Vinegar, coffee, and soda are just a few of the things that can leave etch marks on your stone.

What can be done to prevent etching?

  • Always make sure you use a cutting board on kitchen countertops.
  • Don’t spread the spill. Blot it up with a sponge or paper towel. Then rinse and dry the area.
  • DO NOT use acidic cleaners on your stone projects. Acidic cleaners INCLUDE vinegar.

What if my stone does etch?

If you do happen to get etches in your stone, it is best to contact the professionals at Tru-Clean Surface Care for help.

While staining and etching are different, they are not mutually exclusive. It is entirely possible for a stain to appear in an etched area of stone and vice versa. That being said, one of the best reasons to use natural stone for your projects is that it is a renewable and restorable material. If it is damaged, you don’t have to replace it. It can be fixed and restored.

(A tip for someone who has not yet purchased their stone: Think about getting a honed finish instead of a polished one. A honed finish is a matte finish and not shiny. One of the reasons etch marks are so noticeable is because they create a dull area on a polished finish. The etch will show much less if your surface is not shiny.)

Tru-Clean Surface Care is a full-service natural stone cleaning, restoration, and sealing company serving clients throughout SW Florida.  We are a Stone PRO Professional, a surpHaces Certified PRO Partner, and a Certified Partner with the prestigious Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC).  We are A+ Rated by the Better Business Bureau and an eight-year-in-a-row winner of the coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award.

For more information about natural stone etching versus staining and our professional services, please visit us online at or check out our Facebook Page at  You can also reach us at 239-541-4888 – Cape Coral and Lee County, 239-206-1935 – Bonita Springs, Naples, and Marco Island or 941-621-2198 – Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte, Florida.

For “do-it-yourself” solutions, please visit our online store at

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