In this article:

If your loved one’s headstone is showing signs of age and weathering, gravestone restoration can help get their grave back to its original state. Sun bleaching, water damage and wind damage can make the stone look weathered or worn away over the years.  

Stonemasons and memorial specialists offer all sorts of gravestone repair services to help with this. From lettering to resurfacing and foundation fixing. Here’s some more information on each to help you find the service you’re looking for. 

Do you need permission to restore a gravestone? 

You need to be the grave owner to approve any professional work on a gravestone or other memorials around a grave. If you’re unsure who the registered grave owner is, it’s best to speak to the cemetery directly. They’ll be able to let you know and can also share their specific rules around repairs and restoration. 

How to restore gold lettering on a gravestone 

Restoring gravestone lettering is the most common type of gravestone restoration. As the elements wear away the outer layers of the stone, engraved words are the first thing to age and show signs of wear. You might find that the inscription fades and becomes difficult to read. 

Gravestone lettering repair is a common way to make a gravestone easier to read again. It’s usually carried out by a stonemason or memorial specialist. They’ll be able to restore gold lettering, silver lettering or black enamel lettering using regilding or repainting techniques. Costs usually start from around £1 per letter but can vary depending on the type of work and materials needed. 

When you’re contacting local options, make sure you ask how long it will take. The headstone will need to be removed from the cemetery for this work to be carried out. So it’s a good idea to let other people who visit the grave regularly know why the stone is being removed and when it’ll be back in place. 

Can headstones be resurfaced? 

Lettering isn’t the only part of a headstone that can be affected. The general surface of the stone will weather, including its colour and texture. If you notice that the whole stone looks worn, rather than just the lettering, resurfacing could be the type of gravestone repair work you need. 

Resurfacing bronze headstones 

Bronze oxidises over time, which creates a green or brown film over the headstone. When bronze headstones are resurfaced, they’re professionally polished, which removes this build-up and gives the headstone a brand-new shine. 

Resurfacing stone headstones 

If the headstone is made from stone - like granite, marble, or slate - a professional stonemason can cut and polish it back into its original shape. They’ll also usually re-engrave the epitaph to make sure it’s clear and looks as the headstone did when it was new. It’s good to be aware that this process uses machinery that may not be allowed in the cemetery. This means the stone may need to be removed for resurfacing and then replaced once it’s ready. 

Refixing headstones and repairing foundations

Headstones have foundations that help to keep them in place. If these foundations become damaged, or if there’s subsidence (where the ground under your headstone sinks), the headstone can start to tilt or lean. This puts it at risk of falling and breaking. If your loved one’s headstone has begun to tilt, you may find that the cemetery chooses to place it flat on the ground to reduce the risk of it falling on visitors. Memorial maintenance and repair services can put this right. They’ll fix or replace foundations where necessary and re-fix the base of the headstone so it’s upright and secure. 

Image by RDNE Stock Project on Pexels.