The epitaxial growth of graphene on hexagonal silicon carbide polytypes on both the silicon-terminated (0001) and carbon-terminated (
) faces has shown promise in the development of large area graphene production. It is important during these growth procedures to ensure that the underlying silicon carbide substrate is well ordered before the graphene growth. Regularly, this involves the use of a hydrogen etching procedure before graphene growth to remove polishing scratches and other defects from the substrate surface. Here, we present evidence that annealing silicon carbide substrates in argon gas at atmospheric pressure suppresses the onset of graphitization up to a temperature of 1500 °C and allows for regularly stepped terraces and removes surface defects. This allows substrate preparation and subsequent graphitization (by increasing the annealing temperature) to be carried out within a single process under an inert gas atmosphere.