What causes cemetery stones to wear out over time?

4 October 2018
 Categories: , Blog

Stone is a popular material for gravesites because it's durable and convenient to use. Special messages can be engraved on stone to carry the memory of your loved one for many years to come.

As durable as stones and rocks are, forces of man and nature tend to wear them out over time. Indeed, chemical reactions, outside weather conditions, and the nature of the stone itself will play a role in its overall lifespan.

That is why cemetery restoration is so important. Restoration techniques can make your gravesite look as good as new. The specific restoration process used will depend on how much your stone has worn out and which forces have been acting on it.

Here are some of the most common materials that cause cemetery stones to wear out over time.


Calcite is a mineral contained in most carbonate rocks. Rocks such as limestone and marble are formed from the crystallisation of minerals over many years. These minerals are present underneath the earth's surface, where high temperatures and pressure cause them to crystallise into a solid form, thus forming rocks.

Calcite is one of the major mineral components of these rocks. When used on gravestones, rocks such as marble appear clean and polished. However, the low temperature and pressure on the surface of the earth (as compared to underneath the ground) cause calcite to slowly disintegrate over the years. Calcite is also soluble in water, and thus, frequent rain and moisture will wash away calcite from gravestones. This is what ultimately causes marble, limestone, and carbonate rocks to disintegrate over time.


Water can be a gravesite's worst enemy. Events such as flooding and heavy rains cause water to sip into the crevices of cemetery stones. As previously mentioned, any soluble minerals within the stone will be gradually washed away.

In addition, water reacts with other chemicals in the atmosphere (such as sulphur and hydrogen) to form acids. These acids can further corrode minerals and increase decay.


Granite is a popular stone used in graveyards. Its fine particles make it convenient to carve out special messages using a variety of techniques. For example, laser etching is a useful method for designing unique and memorable messages.

Granite (and other stones such as schist) contains a mineral called feldspar. Feldspar reacts with common items such as water, acids, and oxygen to form clay. As you probably know, clay is lumpy, soft, and non-sturdy. The degradation of feldspar is a common reason why granite and other similar rocks tend to decompose over time.

With these causes of stone degradation, cemetery restoration is important in restoring the appearance and memories of your loved ones for many years to come.