Although headstones made from granite, marble, and other stone materials can make a gravesite look wonderful, wind, rain, and other environmental elements can cause the headstones to deteriorate into unsightly messes over time. Hoping to extend the life of the stone grave markers, many families turn to sealants to protect the headstones from harm. However, sealing a headstone may worsen the problem. Here's more information about this issue.
Sealants Can Trap Moisture
While sealants such as silicone and epoxy can certainly repel water and air, it can also seal in moisture and other harmful substances (e.g. salt) that would have otherwise been expelled by the headstone. Additionally, the sealant typically only covers the top portion of the grave marker that sits above ground. The part of the headstone that rests underground (or in contact with the dirt) will act as a wick and absorb the moisture and minerals from the soil and distribute it throughout the rest of the stone.
Excess moisture and minerals that would typically be removed by the wind and rain are, instead, trapped inside the stone. As a result, they begin damaging the stone at a faster rate, causing it to become brittle and weak much sooner than expected.
Another Option for Protecting Stone Headstones
As you may have guessed, using a sealant on a headstone is not a good idea, because the stone needs to breathe to expel moisture and other unwanted materials. However, you can extend the life of the headstone while keeping its tiny pores open by having it treated with what's called a consolidate.
This product is similar to a sealant, except it seeps into the stone's pores and bonds with it at a molecular level. When bonded completely, the consolidate slows down the damage caused by the environment but lets the headstone breathe and expel unwanted materials. A consolidate is best applied by a professional headstone repair company, especially if the monument is already damaged or weather-worn.
Another thing that can help extend the life of a stone grave marker is cleaning it every so often. Spending a day removing dirt and grime from the headstone can help eliminate harmful things, such as algae or bird poop, that may exacerbate damage caused by other things in the environment. If you don't have time to maintain the headstone, there are many companies who will do it for you for a small fee.
For more information about options for protecting the headstone on your loved one's grave, contact a funeral home or headstone company like Maurice Moore Memorials.