A headstone, gravestone, or tombstone is any marker, usually made of stone, placed over a grave. Today, we’re going to use the generic “headstone” for all of these grave markers. Headstones are traditional for burials in the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths, among others. In most cases, the headstone has the deceased’s name and dates of birth and death inscribed on it. There may also be a personal message or prayer and pieces of funerary art details. In many parts of Europe, insetting a photograph of the deceased in a frame is very common. You’ll find there are more options than one might ever have expected concerning the materials that can be used to create headstones.
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Here are some of the most-chosen materials for memorial headstones:
Bronze, a metal alloy, has been used for headstones and grave markers for centuries. When choosing a bronze grave marker, you’ll have plenty of options concerning the appearance and design. Bronze is also a material that is less expensive than other types of metals or other common headstone materials. Preferred not only because of its resilience, but also because of bronze is resistant to metal fatigue. Due to its high copper content, it develops a protective surface film that resists most corrosive environments. Thus, bronze can withstand high temperatures or general wear and tear of environmental exposure. It requires very little maintenance.
Granite is one of the most popular materials for headstones because it combines natural beauty with outstanding durability. A headstone is obviously something you want to last for generations. The popularity of using granite has led to a surge in the number of craftsmen working with it, meaning you can find some stunning, ornately-carved designs for headstones from expert granite workers. Granite is an excellent choice for headstones and monuments since it is heat and water-resistant.
Marble is almost as popular as granite in the world of natural stone headstones. It is the perfect material for carving elaborate, intricate memorial designs. However, marble can be susceptible to the mild acid found in rainwater. This means inscriptions carved into it could become illegible after some time has passed. This susceptibility also means you can’t expect marble to be quite as durable as some other options. Some people will put bronze plaques on top of a marble stone, so you can still consider it a base option. Some people choose marble for tombs, headstones, and statues because of the unique swirling patterns and embedded shadings that can make for a unique appearance.
Wood headstones simply cannot survive for more than 50 to 100 years when exposed to the elements. But suppose a wood headstone is placed inside a mausoleum or other indoor burial space. In that case, it could be a desirable option. Woodworkers are capable of producing intricate designs with their highly specialized, honed skills.
Limestone & Sandstone
Both limestone and sandstone are popular options because they’re easy to work with. Both stones can be cut in many different shapes and sizes, giving you plenty of customization ability with this material. The drawback to this ease, however, is a lack of durability. In addition, limestone does not polish well and often breaks and cracks at the bedding planes. A serious freeze-thaw cycle can destroy small pieces of sandstone. With all of this though, it’s still a somewhat durable option that you can expect to find at a reasonable pricepoint.
Slate was once much more used than it currently is. This was thanks to its easy-to-carve nature. However, it is a very porous stone and not nearly as durable as other stone types. As such, it is not frequently used in the headstone world anymore.
Certain forms of iron can last for generations, but wrought ironwork simply cannot stand up to the passage of time when used as a headstone and exposed to the elements on a day-to-day basis. One should consider where the grave is located, the climate in the area, and whether there is any cover overhead to help protect it from the elements.
No matter what your choice for materials for headstones, though….
At Monument Solutions, LLC, we help to preserve the memory of your loved one’s passing by restoring headstones, resurrecting statues, and maintaining their final resting place. Contact us for assistance today.