Here is a question people commonly ask us: “What causes ring-shaped marks and white spots on marble?” Questions like these usually follow: “Is there a product I can use to get rid of this type of stain?” and “Is there a sealer I can apply to restore the shine and prevent this problem?” Sometimes people believe that when surface damage happens, it means they will need to replace their marble. Let’s unpack these concepts.
The Cause of Ring-Shaped Marks and White Spots on Marble
Some people refer to ring-shaped marks on marble as “water rings.” These marks and spots on marble are likely not stains, but acid etch damage. If the discoloration is lighter than the stone, it is an etch, not a stain. Marble contains calcium carbonate, a substance that chemically reacts with acids in certain types of food and drinks, and this is what causes acid etch damage on marble surfaces.
Product for DIY Etch Removal
A high quality marble polishing powder can be used to remove etch marks from polished marble, as long as the damage is not too severe. Run your finger over the area you intend to treat. If it feels smooth and has no rough texture compared to the surrounding finish, then you can use the polishing powder and a clean white cloth to remove the spots. Note: Marble polishing powder should not be used on marble with a honed / satin-matte finish. Although it will remove mild etch damage, it will also change that area to a polished finish that is inconsistent with the surrounding honed finish. If the etch damage is too severe to handle on your own or your marble has a honed finish, professional stone restoration services can give your marble a like-new finish.
What Sealers Can and Can’t Do
A common misconception is that the impregnating sealers commonly applied to marble countertops can prevents stains and etch damage and restore the shine. If sealing is recommended for your stone, it will simply buy some time to wipe up spills before they become stains, and it should only be applied by your professional stone restoration technician. When impregnating sealer is applied to marble, the appearance of the finish does not change at all. For complete stain and etch protection, as well as elegant finish options, etch protection treatments and protective films are ideal solutions. Unlike impregnating sealers that penetrate into the stone, protection treatments and films form a barrier between marble and acidic substances.
Don’t Replace Your Marble
Replacing etch damaged marble would be costly and completely unnecessary. Use a marble polishing powder to remove etch damage or have it professionally restored. For more information about marble care or stain management, download our free Stone and Tile Care Guide and use our Stain App under the Resources tab on this site. Contact us for specific product recommendations, answers to questions about your marble, or to schedule services.
This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of Surface Care PRO Partners.