In this article I will review my experience in care and maintenance of a brand-name marble product called Piedrafina. Piedrafina Marble is the brand name for a man-made marble product, touted by the manufacturer, to be uasable in a multitude of residential and commercial applications such as: Bathroom Vanities, Tub Decks, Shower Surrounds, Walls, Fireplace Surrounds, Furniture Tops, and Stairways. The manufactured stone is comprised of approximately 95% natural marble with polyester resin binders and pigments.
According to the manufacturer, the natural marble in Piedrafina allows for it to have exquisite colors while maintaining the elegance inherent with beautiful marble products. The manufacturer states that special resin binders give Piedrafina Marble the strength, consistency and durability that differentiate Piedrafina Marble from other products. The manufacturer also touts their marble product is eco-friendly and is easy to care for and maintain.
From my experience I have to disagree with their claim for "easy care and maintenance", and the following is my experience and review of the product.
In 2015, I purchased a new home from a home builder which came with Piedrafina on all our bathroom countertops. The Piedrafina marble product was standard installation in my home purchase, so I don't directly know the cost of the material or it's installation.
Upon installation, Piedrafina is a beautiful shiny marble product! It looks expensive because of its beautiful sheen and marble look. Lights reflect off of it's glass-like surface and my wife and I really felt that it made our bathrooms look quite elegant. It feels cool to the touch (like a stone product should) and when you knock on Piedrafina, it feels and sounds solid.
I loved it until a couple months into living in our house when I walked by and saw a dull spot on one of our bathroom countertops. The dull spot is not always extremely readily seen, you catch it in sunlight or from the distorted reflection of a ceiling or vanity light.
I thought the counter was dirty, so I tried to wipe the spot clean. But it didn't come clean.
I was still in my 1-year builder warranty, so I called the builder. They sent a technician from the installation company (see my article on how builders don't actually build your house) to my home to discuss the issue. The technician rubbed on a typical household kitchen and bathroom polish named "Rejuvenate" and tried to tell me he fixed the problem.
At that point our bathroom countertops only had a few of these marks and the one he "worked" on still seemed to be there for me. We argued a bit. He said that was the best he could do, that he sees it all the time in this product, and I should take it up with the builder. I won't get much further into how upset I was that the technician didn't understand this product or about my frustration with the builder for how they handled this issue as I'll leave that for part of my Touchstone Living Home Builder Review.
Not happy with how Touchstone Living, the builder of our home, handled my issue, I ultimately did some research and learned that the spot was actually an "etch". Etches happen when the highly polished top layer of the shiny stone gets damaged. The etch disrupts the reflection of light (like a crack in glass) and you see the spot.
According to my research, it mostly happens when an acidic product comes in contact with the surface. Apparently hard water also causes damage to the Piedrafina marble product, but we have a water softener, so I don't think hard water is causing our stains.
Looking around at the ingredients of many of the products in our bathroom, I discovered many of them contain acidic substances with the most commonly used bathroom product being hand soap. Just about every hand soap product contains Citric Acid.
One person I talked to during my research suggested I put plain unscented original dish soap in all our bathrooms, but c'mon... how silly is that to have to do (I actually did try it and its annoying to wash your hands with dish soap in the bathroom. My wife just gave me a look like I was insane so I didn't even make her use it).
So there's the big issue with Piedrafina: It's beautiful shine is easily damaged from common household products.
I've even got rings on some of our counter-tops from where glass candles and wooden trinket holders sat. I'm not sure why those rings happened.
Well, the next thing I needed to find out was how to get rid of the etches and get that brand new shine back. So I started looking into products.
At the time Piedrafina themselves sold a product named "Piedrafina Marble Etch Remover".
With this product I was able to remove some of the really light etches, and with multiple tries, I could mostly get rid of the slightly bigger etches. However the etch remover product was no match for the deeper, bigger etches.
From what I understand, the idea behind etch removers is that they themselves are mild acids that actually microscopically damage the surface even further but in a uniform correct-amount way that creates a shine (not very technical on my part I know; possibly not even fully accurate). But this acidic product doesn't seem to be strong enough to bring down surface enough to match the deeper etching, and no matter how many applications I tried, the bigger ones remained.
I ended up talking to one of the product engineers at Piedrafina and he said the only way I could get rid of the deeper etches is to start getting into sanding the surface with a fine sand paper. With that, I was told, I'd need to be careful, however, as it apparently takes some skill to uniformly sand the surface.
I never got into the sanding but I fought for a few months to try and keep the countertops shiny with etch removal products, but the etches just became too many and too deep. I was spending an hour every other weekend working on the problem. The amount of work it took to just keep up with the little etches became too cumbersome and I wasn't even getting rid of the bigger etches.
So I gave up. My countertops have marks all over them but it's to the point where there are so many that the overall surface has become dulled enough that the individual spots don't necessarily stand out as much; as a whole, the surface just looks duller. The overall countertops still look decent but they don't have a that shiny elegant crystal clean pop they used to have.
If you were to see my countertops for the first time while having never seen Piedrafina marble before you likely wouldn't notice the etching. It's one of those things you don't really notice until you live with it and see it every day. Having never lived with the product you'd probably see my countertops as a decent looking marble countertop. But... if half of it were shiny new and the other half in its current state, you'd instantly see the difference and say to yourself, "WOW" what a difference. It's sort of like when you look at diamonds. You can look at one diamond and think its beautiful and sparkly, but when you see it right next to a much higher grade diamond, you can really see the difference in beauty and sparkle. Or maybe it can be likened to dirty glasses. You don't realize how much the world is dulled until you clean your glasses.
Someone told me this product is used in Europe and they don't try to keep the marble surface shiny. From what I understood in the conversation, they call it "Patina" and the etching is something they are proud of in that it represents how much love they have for their house by living in it. The more "Patina" in your Pietrafina marble, the more you've loved your home. Personally, I just think it's cognitive dissonance setting in which creates an easy way to dissociate from the extensive maintenance this product requires to keep it looking shiny brand-new.
Luckily, from what I understand, my Piedrafina marble countertops are composite marble all the way through (as opposed to having some type of material in the center to cheaply add bulk, like say a laminate countertop) and someday, likely when we go to sell the house, we can spend the (likely) significant expense to have a good marble restoration company come in and restore the product by sanding it down and polishing it back to a beautiful shine. I haven't looked into the expense or if it can really be done, but I assume it can be done and that it would be quite expensive.
Finally, as a quick note, my wife has all kinds of products on her side, many with color, and I haven't seen any staining yet (ie nail polish stains). In fact other than the etching I haven't seen any staining on any of the countertops in any of the bathrooms. I asked my contact at Piedrafina if sealing the countertops would help fight against the etching and he said that no, a penetrating sealer seeps into the product to prevent staining, it doesn't protect the surface shine.
In conclusion, I don't fully love the Piedrafina Marble product and I don't find it to be easy to care for and maintain. It looks amazing with its beautiful shine upon installation, but the shine gives way quickly to an overwhelming amount of etching from every day products. I don't think it's a good idea to use the product on any surface that has daily use (like a bathroom countertop). After a year or two the etching takes over and the entire top looks dull relative to its brand new shine. After a significant amount of etching, the marble still looks decent, but it doesn't pop the way it originally did; after all a majority of it is dulled from etching.
Even with the stains, because I know most people don't see the etching upon first experiencing the product, I do still like it better than the white porcelain countertops we had in the bathrooms of our previous house. If I had another chance to choose a premium product, however, I'd probably choose something different (maybe granite or quartz).
Possibly my etching issues are so readily apparent due to the light color in our countertops. As you can see in the pictures, I have a light color (I think it's the "Glacier" color). It's possible that the darker colors don't show the etching as much, but I doubt it.
I have found that the care and maintenance it takes to keep Piedrafina marble shiny and looking brand new is too time consuming and expensive.
I was recently contacted by a company that has a product that helps protect against etching. Check TuffSkin.com out and mention "Terry Caliendo's Blog" to get a 10% discount! Then please send me your thoughts on your experience.
Below are some pictures showing the etching in my Piedrafina Marble countertops. If you don't readily see the areas that look like "smudges" in the counter top shine, look for them in the reflection of the pictures lights source. As I wrote previously, the etches really stand out when you catch them in the reflection of a light.
My husband and I agree with the gentleman who wrote the article. We are extremely dissatisfied with the Piedrafina and would NOT install it again. It is always spotted no matter what cleaner is used. After two years it is dull and not pretty. Can't wait to have an excuse to put in granite.
We've had our new house for almost 2 months and my wife was complaining about the etching until I showed her this article. Doesn't bother me but she prefer it was shiny the whole time. Thank you for the article, it has educated us greatly on the piedrafina itself and there is less stress!
I just purchased a newly constructed home and the guest bathroom has a Piedrafina countertop. At the walk-thru the builder recommended that I "seal" the countertop to prevent the types of issues described above and the sealing process should be repeated yearly. I will do this as soon as I move in and hope it solves the problem.
Thanks for the comment Richard... sealing is to prevent staining. It won't help with etching as they are two different beasts.
Piedrafina marble is like any other engineered marble slab product. Like tile and granite as well as engineered quartz you must take precautions:
Be cautious when exposing your marble surface to any chemicals or solvents.
1. Many commonly used household cleaning products may have negative effects on the marble surfacing.
2. Never expose Piedrafina Mable Surfaces to any chemicals that contain trichlorethane or methylene chloride such as paint removers and furniture strippers.
3. When choosing a cleaning agent it is never recommended to utilize any product that contains high acidity (low pH) or high alkaline (high pH). It is recommended to utilize a neutral pH cleaner.
4. If accidental exposure to any damaging products should occur, thoroughly rinse the affected area with water as soon as possible.
Piedrafina does offer a paste for etching and it does work for light etching. However if the etching is deep you might have to lightly wet sand carefully with ultrafine sandpaper (2000 grit) and then polish. (Ask your Peidrafina rep first. This would apply to granite and quartz as well.
I totally agree--our Piedrafina "marble" bathroom countertops have dulled simply from exposure to water over time--we've been in our new home just two years, and I'm starting to think of what we can replace them with. Probably quartz, whatever will stand up to water.
We built a new home ten years ago and used Piedrafina as bath and shower surrounds, which have worked fine. However, we also used it for two vanity surfaces. The installer said nothing about maintenance nor did the seller. We now have vanities with stains from simple products sitting on them and a vanity top that is degrading from just having water on it. It literally has holes in it! It was a beautiful product. It’s going to cost us a lot to replace them. We will never use this product again for a horizontal surface.
We also have piedrafina marble in our bathrooms. We used TuffSkin on the surface to stop the etching from water marks and daily use of household products. I even used on our master shower walls. It's amazing.
Restoration runs about $15 to $18 a sq ft with no guarantee. TuffSkin is a little more at $25 a sq ft but with a guarantee and 10 year warranty the countertops will never etch again.
This article is factual! My countertops are a mess, and I am as particular as the author of this review. My husband set a bottle of Windex (with vinegar, not ammonia) down on the first day we lived with the new countertops creating an oval ring on which I have used everything I could think of to no avail.
It's been downhill since then, spots and dull areas in all three bathrooms. I cannot understand why a builder would choose this product for bathrooms!
I watched the Tuffskin video, but they don't mention if this will work if the countertop is already ruined.
I contacted you via email.
I've had the same experience as all others on this thread. I contacted the manufacturer and a tech was scheduled and arrived this week and was able to grind down the surface, leaving my counters in two bathrooms looking like new again. These counters had a lot of surface scratch's and etching that penetrated the surface. It was well worth the 1.5 hours and $185.
I would appreciate it if you could also email me this information. My poor mother just purchased her new home, and this was installed by the builder. I’ve been here for one week, using the spare bathroom...wow, etching already with just my stay here. I’m used to my quartz, so I had no idea I needed to be so careful. I’ve tried to remove as much as possible, but would love to know if this can be used over the existing etching? Thank you
I, too, have purchased a home with Peidrafina installed in the master bath (both the counter tops and the shower). I have noticed the dulling marks and spots that you posted in your photos and it makes me crazy (especially because, as stated, it is from everyday products - nothing super caustic).
I now have a larger problem: I hired a cleaning company that was supposed to use only green products and the ladies used Lysol bathroom cleaner in the shower, so I now have full-blown etched streaks! I live in Las Vegas and TuffSkin has an location here - I am considering having them protect what is left of the counter, but read above that it does not repair damage, so would I still see the dull areas under the film they apply? Should I try that Peidrafina polish first to restore as much as possible and then call TuffSkin? As far as the shower goes; I have a marble restoration company coming to see if they can repair it and what it will cost - I will keep you posted! Thank you for blogging about this s providing a forum for this discussion.
Thanks for your comment! According to the rep at TuffSkin, the product will cover a lot of etching, but, if needed, they can remove the etching for you as well. I'll connect you to my rep at TuffSkin for more details.
Can I restored piedrafina countertops with a company? Or is too late when you have stains.
Yes, it can be restored. Or you can try using the products I mention in the article above.
I thought that I was alone in my issues with Piedrafina. I blamed the issues with the cleaning products that were being used. My home is 5 years old and was built by KB homes. Shame on them for using a product that is so prone to deterioration that this is. My entire bathroom has this marble, from entire shower enclosure, bathtub deck and countertop. I have marks on the countertop from a cup of coffee and what looks like water spots. The shower is even worse. There are large discolored streaks.
I guess a full renovation is in the near future.
This review is a black mark against KB builders and the manufacturer of this product.
Wonderful article and so relevant. I'm new to a Del Webb community in Las Vegas and have this in our bathroom. OMG it's like aliens live beneath the surface. I'm fighting the building (Pulte) right now to replace this hideous counter and they knowingly sold me something like this without warning. I noted a local Vegas company too in your article - thanks for that. I may even show this article to the Pulte rep who I have been working with to prove to him why I want this countertop removed.
Our experiences with Pedrofina installed by our new home builder Woodside Homes in Las Vegas in 2018 match yours 100%. We knew the product's shortcomings BEFORE we bought, but the builder offered no sensible (affordable) upgrades. During undermount sink installation sink installers used to grindable, polishable granite tops, left unpolished sink edges and damaged some flat top surfaces. All repair attempts failed. The builder replaced some vanity tops due to miscut sinks, but you can NOT make the pedrofina sink edge cuts shine, and etching spots accumulate no matter what you do to stop it. I even put top grade auto waxes and silicon sealers on to create a barrier against etching but they didn't work. All our vanity tops (we have 4 of them) have etching spots, more in the more heavily used sinks. But, we KNEW we'd have this problem and we will replace them eventually. It is a SHAME builder use this product, no doubt because it is CHEAP.
Thank you for the article. I thought we were the only ones. You can't get any information out of the manufacturer as far as a professional to clean and polish it in our area, so I am going to try the etch repair. But this product is very unsatisfactory, and we have been living with this junk for over 10 years. Time to go back to ceramic tile.