When loved ones die, the memorial that marks their final resting place is often the last physical link you have with them.

A granite headstone is a solid and beautiful reminder for friends and family. It is meant to stand as a lasting testament that the person whose name is literally etched in stone was once here on this Earth.

Protecting your headstone from the elements is important not only from a sentimental standpoint. A granite memorial stone is an investment and it is much more cost-effective to maintain it than to replace or repair it.

Tips for maintaining a granite headstone

For the last hundred years or so, most cemetery memorials have been made of very dense granite. It stands up well to the elements, but it still can be damaged if handled incorrectly. Here are some tips to maintain the integrity of your stone:

  • Use water to clean the headstone.

  • Use a soft nylon-bristled brush if necessary to remove a stubborn spot of dirt.

  • Avoid bleach or abrasive household cleaners.

  • Take care not to scratch the stone. Do not scrub it with a wire brush or steel wool pad

It is best to avoid any kind of soap on a granite headstone, especially one that has been polished to a slick, reflective surface. Unless you are able to rinse every little bit of soap off the stone, the effects of the sun and wind can create clouding of the surface.

Granite may seem incredibly hard and durable, but remember that water can eventually wear down any stone. It is important to eliminate chips and scratches in the surface of the stone where water could find its way in and, over time, wear down the integrity of the granite.

Provide a solid foundation for the headstone

The greatest threat of damage to a granite gravestone is the stone toppling over. When you visit a gravesite, watch for these warning signs:

  • Erosion of the soil around the base of the stone

  • Cracking of the cement base that the gravestone sits upon

  • Leaning of the gravestone

If the soil around the base of the gravestone is eroding and a noticeable portion of the bottom of the stone is exposed, you can fill it in to the previous level. However, it is a good idea to contact the owner or manager of the cemetery to report the situation to ensure that there isn't an unseen problem, such as shifting or underground water seepage.

If you notice cracking of the cement base under the gravestone or that the stone is leaning, contact the cemetery management and follow up to make sure the situation is dealt with immediately. Not only do you risk damage to the stone if its base is undermined, but someone could be injured by a toppling stone.