The influence of a thin film substrate material on the etching of a thin layer of deposited tin (Sn) by hydrogen radicals was studied. The amount of remaining Sn was quantified for materials that cover a range of electronegativities. We show that, for metals, etching depends on the relative electronegativity of the surface material and Sn. Tin is chemically etched from surfaces with an electronegativity smaller than Sn, while incomplete Sn etching is observed for materials with an electronegativity larger than Sn. Furthermore, the amount of remaining Sn increases as the electronegativity of the surface material increases. We speculate, that, due to Fermi level differences in the material’s electronic structure, the energy of the two conduction bands shift such that the availability of electrons for binding with hydrogen is significantly reduced.