There are many different headstone types available these days, but the basic headstone materials used for most grave markers have remained the same for centuries. Here are a few of the most common gravestone materials you may see around the local cemetery.
One of the most popular headstone materials is the natural stone appearance of granite. Available in a variety of colors, granite is pulled out of the earth in huge chunks, then cut down and polished. In addition to being beautiful, granite is a fairly hardy material, able to withstand acid rain pollution, low temperatures, and high heat. While it can be challenging to clean due to a white filmy build-up that can occur over time, a good polishing will restore its luster. Granite is also one of the most practically priced gravestone options, giving you a well-tested material without a painful price tag.
Most popular from about the 1850s to around the 1920s, marble is another classic gravestone option. It was so often used partially because it was cheap and partially because it was easy to cut and carve with the available tools. However, one major drawback to marble is that although it polishes well, moisture will gradually erode any carvings. This can lead to blurred names and dates and so-called ‘sugaring’ (a gradual but steady dissolution of the surface), resulting in a harsh crystalline appearance.
Typically used for making tools and weapons, this copper alloy can add a lot of elegance to a headstone. While rather beautiful in its new, clean state, bronze can often form a green patina over time, which may not give the effect you’re looking for. Restoring bronze can be done, but it takes a considerable amount of elbow grease and several chemical treatments. That said, bronze is surprisingly sturdy against most weather conditions.
Well-liked for their ability to be easily shaped into various forms, concrete headstones are fairly common sight these days. However, one major drawback to concrete is how susceptible it is to mildew and mold. Concrete grave markers have to be cleaned more often to avoid this sort of issue.
Popular during the Victorian Era, iron grave markers can last for generations. Special foundries and well-trained blacksmiths must make these sorts of grave markers.
It’s always important to check with the cemetery you’re considering before deciding on a grave marker material. Some cemeteries have rules regarding what kinds of markers can be placed on the grounds, and it’s always better to know this sort of thing ahead of time, so no one is left scrambling to change a marker at the last minute.