One way people honor the memory of their dead is by erecting a gravestone to mark the grave. A memorial stone is a permanent marker, a functional piece of art that typically serves as a testament to the grief of survivors and loved ones. Beyond its primary function, a memorial gravestone also functions as a personal diary in ways that few other artifacts can.
After several years or even decades have passed since the final burial, there comes a time when a stone marker needs attention. There are several reasons that a gravestone may require some type of repair.What Causes Gravestones To Deteriorate?
The first reason is aging. With exposure to the elements, gravity, and extreme weather conditions, all stones will eventually suffer from erosion—water damage particularly weakens stone over time.
Another factor in the deterioration of gravestones is vandalism or defacement. Natural elements may damage a headstone, but they can also be destroyed (or defaced) by human hands.How to Maintain and Restore a Gravestone
Cleaning, polishing, and other care can help restore your gravestone to its original state.
The first step in caring for your gravestone is regular cleaning. Remove surface dust using a soft-bristled brush or cloth to remove any dirt, cobwebs, leaves, etc. Then rinse the stone with water from a garden hose and allow it to dry naturally.
Occasionally, a marble or granite stone may develop a white haze. That is the result of the minerals left behind by water after it evaporates. The accumulation can be scrubbed away using a solution of mild liquid dishwashing soap and warm water. Apply the soapy mixture to the stone with a soft-bristled brush and rinse well to remove all soap residue. How Often Do You Need to Clean a Headstone?
The answer is, it depends on your type of stone. The best way to prevent the moss from coming back is to keep the stones clean. If you live in an area where you experience cold winters, make sure that any debris is cleared before winter sets in.
When spring arrives, use a solution of equal parts white distilled vinegar and water to clean the stones.