A comprehensive study on the hydrogen etching of numerous SiC polytype surfaces and orientations has been performed in a hot wall CVD reactor under both atmospheric and low pressure conditions. The polytypes studied were 4H and 6H-SiC as well as 3C-SiC grown on Si substrates. For the hexagonal polytypes the wafer surface orientation was both on- and off-axis, i.e. C and Si face. The investigation includes the influence of the prior surface polishing method on the required etching process parameters. 3C-SiC was also studied grown in both the (100) and (111) orientations. After etching, the samples were analyzed via atomic force microscopy (AFM) to determine the surface morphology and the height of the steps formed. For all cases the process conditions necessary to realize a well-ordered surface consisting of unit cell and sub-unit cell height steps were determined. The results of these experiments are summarized and samples of the corresponding AFM analysis presented.