Can Headstones Be Resurfaced?

Posted on 03/10/23 | Articles, News

Headstones serve as a lasting monument for our loved ones, so we can mark their existence with something tangible and have a special place to honor their memory.

Unfortunately, headstones can become weathered over time. This applies regardless of what materials they are made out of. This is why one of the most common questions asked by prospective buyers is, “Can headstones be resurfaced?”

Most headstones are made from granite or bronze. While each of these materials is resistant to damage in its own right, they are still subject to environmental conditions and gradual erosion. Fortunately, it is possible to restore them. Here are some of the ways this can be accomplished.

Bronze Headstones

Bronze is one of the most popular materials used in the construction of headstones. Even if the entirety of the headstone is not built from bronze, many of the crucial components are. For example, etched pictures are usually made of bronze.

Bronze is renowned for its durability, which is afforded by its concentrated copper content. This gives it a fortified layer that renders it resistant to corrosion and various degrees of elemental wear. Because of this layer, bronze headstones and related components have a particularly long lifespan.


Bronze is also favored due to its malleability, which renders it inherently customizable. If you’re looking for some kind of totem, figurine, or etching to position atop stone, bronze is likely the way to go. It provides a unique look that can be shaped into anything you want. Additionally, bronze is a popular choice for plaques.

With bronze, you have a durable and customizable material that will last for years. However, there may come a time when you need to resurface it.

Resurfacing Bronze Headstones

Can headstones be resurfaced? With bronze, the answer is an emphatic yes.
Bronze of all shapes and sizes will eventually oxidize over time. This causes it to develop a green or brown film that makes it look worn and aged. However, it is possible to polish the oxidation away and give the headstone a brand-new shine.

To resurface your bronze headstone, all you have to do is take a soft-bristled scrub brush and gently loosen the dirt on the surface. From there, make a paste using a mixture of 2 cups white vinegar, ¼ cup sea salt, and a dash of flour.

Apply this paste to a paintbrush and coat everything that’s made of bronze with it. When everything is coated, place a plastic bag over the headstone and leave it for at least two hours.

When the two hours are up, take a small amount of dish soap and water and clean the lettering and bronze design with a bronze brush. Once the lettering is scrubbed to your liking, use another soft-bristled scrub brush to clean the rest of the headstone.

When you are finished, make sure to rinse the headstone with water and dry it with a clean cloth.

Resurfacing Bronze with a Finishing Kit

You can also purchase a bronze refinishing kit that will allow you to refinish the headstone. Make sure to read all of the instructions before applying the mixture.

Hiring a Professional

If all of this sounds too complicated to you, or the cemetery you are dealing with has its own rules pertaining to headstone cleaning, consider hiring a professional to resurface the headstone. A professional will know all the latest tricks and will be equipped to handle the job with tact and precision.

Granite Headstones

Granite is a popular choice for headstones. This is due to its uncanny ability to withstand harsh weather, its beautiful aesthetic value, and its malleability. Like bronze, granite can be shaped into just about anything. This makes it perfect for a variety of headstone shapes, as well as for engraving.

Granite can be laser-etched or sandblasted for a variety of appealing aesthetic effects, so customizing it in accordance with your loved one’s memory should be a simple task that will yield spectacular results.

Granite is also notoriously easy to clean. All it takes is a little dish soap, some water, and a clean cloth. However, being easy to clean doesn’t mean it is easy to resurface.

Resurfacing Granite Headstones

Can headstones be resurfaced, even if they are made of granite?

Yes, but unlike bronze, resurfacing granite is a much more arduous task. While it can be polished and re-engraved, doing so requires heavy machinery that might violate your cemetery’s rules. Always make sure to provide proper notification before engaging in or paying for any stone resurfacing.

Granite is resurfaced using a combination of diamond abrasives and water. Together, they produce the smooth finish that granite is known for. However, this is a specialized approach that requires professional experience. For this reason, it is not recommended to resurface granite on your own.

Basic Cleaning

For basic cleaning, granite headstones can be cleaned using a mixture of water and dish soap. Use a soft-bristled nylon brush to remove any residual dirt. When scrubbing, try to be as gentle as possible, so you don’t accidentally scratch the stone.

Some people have suggested using shaving cream to clean a granite headstone. This method is not recommended, as it will erode the granite and cause the headstone to disintegrate.

Yes, Headstones Can Be Resurfaced

In addition to regular maintenance methods, there are a variety of cleaning solutions that can be used to remove dirt, debris, and more from both bronze and granite headstones.

While many of these solutions are environmentally friendly, they should be used with caution. In many cases, it is best to hire a professional to get the job done. Additionally, make sure to consult the cemetery where the headstone is located to make sure you don’t run afoul of any rules.

If you are looking for a custom headstone or monument in the Comstock Park, Michigan, area for a recently deceased loved one, Patten Monument is here to help. Our team understands the importance of preserving a loved one’s memory, and we will work with you to make sure your headstone is everything you want it to be. Contact us today.