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November 14, 2018

Acid Etching: What to Know About Choosing a Kitchen Countertop

Choosing the right material for a bar or kitchen countertop can be a challenge, since you want something that will look good when you install it and will meet your expectations over time. The final choice will be different for everyone and completely dependent on the owner’s preferences, but there are a few factors that everyone should consider before making their decision.

Whether you’re a homeowner selecting materials for a kitchen, or a restaurant owner selecting materials for your restaurant, the two main things to think about are the aesthetic and the amount of maintenance you are willing to deal with.

In addition to thinking about how you want your countertop to look, think about the foods you prepare and how they might affect your stone surface. Acidic foods, such as tomatoes or lemons, can alter the composition of your countertop over time, requiring more maintenance and changing how the stone looks.

Let’s have a first-hand look at how these different stones react to acidity. For presentation purposes, we’re using acid to speed up and dramatize the results. The effect you’ll see here is equivalent to what you might see after prolonged exposure to lemons, tomatoes and other acidic foods.

o LIMESTONE – You can see that this reacts to acid. Limestone is not suitable for kitchen countertops.

o DARK MARBLE – POLISHED – Note that the surface is eroded.

o WHITE MARBLE – POLISHED – Note that the surface is eroded, and the finish is removed – but it is less visible in the white marble than the dark marble.

o WHITE MARBLE – HONED – Note that the surface is eroded, but it is less visible in white honed marble than with dark or polished marble.

These materials are reacting to the acid because they are what’s known as calcium or magnesium carbonates.
Some people like the worn, or patinaed look that occurs with these natural stones. Others want a material that will remain less changed over time. So let’s see what happens to alternatives to marble:

o QUARTZITE, BASALT, GRANITE, SANDSTONE, SCHIST AND ENGINEERED STONE – These materials have a different makeup (they are not calcium or magnesium carbonates) so they won’t react to acid. You’ll see no chemical change to the surface of the material.

In addition to looking at acid sensitivity, it’s also important to take a few other factors into consideration, such as the material’s abrasion resistance or likelihood to scratch, as well as its porosity and likeliness to absorb oils and liquids. And no matter which material you choose, remember that any natural material you use will have to be sealed prior to use and maintained over time.

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