Red Wine Spilled on Absorbent Polished LimestoneFeatured Image: Red Wine Spilled on Absorbent Polished Limestone

When it comes to adding natural stone to your residential or commercial property, in any application, it is important to know and understand its characteristics and be versed in how to care for it properly. With a foundational understanding of how various types of natural stone react to blemishes and certain liquids, you will be more prepared to address any spills and stains that may occur, to help keep your natural stone looking beautiful for years to come.

Once you’ve designed and constructed your space with the elegance of the perfect natural stone, the last thing you want is for it to be marred by avoidable damage. Each stone has a unique composition, which means every stone also has different staining tendencies. Therefore, it’s crucial to understand the appropriate level of maintenance and care needed for your chosen product(s). You will find all the information for stain management below as well as in our stain management guide.

Characteristics of Stains

When talking about “stains” on natural stone, there may be confusion as to whether it really is a stain as opposed to actual damage. A stain on natural stone will always appear darker than the stone itself—this goes without exception. Other marks on natural stone, especially if they are lighter in color than the stone, are either marks of corrosion—also known as etching—or signs of bleaching by a strong base (alkali)—which is a caustic mark. These elements have no bearing on absorbency rates—where staining is a concern factor—but may be actual damage to the surface.

Water Mark Ring on Stone SurfaceImage: Water Mark Ring on Stone Surface

When liquid drips on your t-shirt, it leaves a “dark” spot until it dries—this is an example of absorbency. Now, if it is a liquid with staining power, once the area has dried, a visible discoloration will remain. This is when you may encounter a stain because the staining agent has the ability to change the fabric color—sometimes permanently and sometimes temporarily, if it can be removed. On the other hand, if bleach spills on your favorite black t-shirt, there is no undoing the damage because a chemical has truly altered the surface.

So, when light-colored “water rings” appear on the stone surface, the marks are neither stains nor caused by water,  but corrosion, or etching, likely caused by an acid. There is no “magic fix”  in this scenario because some of the stone is now actually missing, making this a restoration project that may need to be performed by a professional.

Stains on Travertine Bathroom Floor TileImage: Stains on Travertine Bathroom Floor Tile

If your “spot” is truly a stain, first try a quality stone-safe cleaner. Spray it on and let it sit. If the stain doesn’t diminish or disappear, create a poultice. A poultice is a mixture of a very absorbent medium— such as talcum powder, household flour, diatomaceous earth—mixed with a chemical— such as hydrogen peroxide of 30/40 volume, rubbing alcohol, acetone, mildew stain remover, or MAR GEL. View more information here to help determine  the necessary combination for your type of stain, apply the poultice to the area and let sit until fully dry—at least 24 hours. When completely dry, scrape the poultice off and wipe clean. If the stain is gone, the mission is accomplished! However, if it is not gone, you may need to repeat this process several times.

Stains Per Stones

Many maintenance factors are congruent from stone to stone, though some natural stones are more resistant to one thing versus another. For instance, when talking about corrosive factors, not all surfaces will be affected at the same rate. Calcite-based stones, like marble, limestone, onyx, and travertine, are sensitive to acids and can etch within a few seconds of contact. This is because these natural stones are calcite-based, leading to a rapid chemical reaction. Granite, for instance, is much more resistant to acidic stains, with the exception of hydrofluoric acid, which is commonly found in rust removers.

Use a Soft Microfiber Cloth to Clean Your Stone SurfacesImage: Use a Soft Microfiber Cloth to Clean Your Stone Surfaces

While most natural stones need to be cared for the same, some are more resistant than others, like granite, because it has a greater density than, say, marble, which is a more porous stone. However, some stones, even within the same product category, such as granite, , may have varying compositions than other granite surfaces. Different mineral contents allow for staining variation, too.

Limestone has a porosity similar to granite. High-density limestone is a good option because it is more durable. Whereas marble is stunning, but has a lower density and hardness. Then you have quartz, which is sometimes misconceived as natural stone. While quartz is composed of natural materials, those materials are finely ground up and mixed with resin to create a  durable, non-porous, manufactured surface.

You can learn more in our stain management guide we created in partnership with Beyond Stone Solutions for all the information you will need to help you prepare for stain management and spare yourself from stone damage.

Easy Oxy Multi-Surface Oxygenated Cleaner for Stone SurfacesImage: Easy Oxy Multi-Surface Oxygenated Cleaner for Stone Surfaces

Easy Scrub Professional Grade Deep Cleaning Cream for Stone Countertops, Showers, and Floors
Image: Easy Scrub Professional Grade Deep Cleaning Cream for Stone Countertops, Showers, and Floors

Do’s and Don’ts

To prevent staining and surface damage…


  1. Clean your stone surfaces on a regular basis with a stone-safe, soap-free neutral cleaner
  2. Ensure your stone is adequately sealed
  3. Remove any spill immediately
  4. Let the cleaning agent do the work
  5. Use coasters and trivets as a safety precaution


Use Coasters on Your Stone Surfaces To Avoid Beverage Ring Stains
Image: Use Coasters on Your Stone Surfaces To Avoid Beverage Ring Stains


  1. Clean with anything unless labeled safe for natural stone
  2. Use vinegar
  3. Let spills sit too long
  4. Use scouring pads

Can’t Go Wrong

Really, you can’t go wrong with your natural stone selection if you know what to expect by reviewing product information and care and maintenance. If you adhere to the instructions and care, you will be able to enjoy your natural stone surface for a very long time.

When you’ve completed your research and understand the care for natural stone, use our Just ImagineVisualizer to help you gain a better idea of what your favorite selections may look like. Also, make sure to visit an Arizona Tile store or slab yard to see and feel your favorite types of stone. If you have questions for us along the way, our helpful and knowledgeable staff are here and happy to help!


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