17 Sep Our Guide to Headstone Restoration in Birmingham
Memorials are long-lasting tributes to lost loved ones. They are places you can go to think back on precious memories and continue to commemorate friends and family members. Whilst headstones are made of hard-wearing materials, such as granite and slate, they do eventually wear over time.
Before you decide to completely replace a monument, there are many options for headstone restoration in Birmingham. It’s completely normal to feel attached to the original headstone and prefer to restore it rather than replace it. There are many specialised techniques to restore a monument to its original beauty, as well as small jobs you can do yourself to keep it looking its best.
Why Restore a Headstone or Monument?
Monuments and headstones are highly personal and take a great deal of time, care and money to create. You may not want to replace a particularly beautiful gravestone. There is often significant emotional attachment to original memorials and replacing completely is the last option. Renewing a monument is a way of renewing the memory of a loved one, perhaps after a significant anniversary or date. It also preserves a lasting piece of family history for future generations.
Headstones will often need to be restored before a second interment at a dual plot. When partners or families are buried together, the gravestone will need to be thoroughly cleaned before a new inscription can be added. Specialists providing headstone restoration in Birmingham will be familiar with this service and you can easily find an expert to complete the job.
Beyond this, the effects of age, weather and pollutants all have a part to play in the deteriorating appearance of headstones. The surface can become dull or marked, lettering difficult to decipher and cracks and chips can appear. The great news is that there are headstone restoration techniques to address each of these problems.
Methods of Headstone Restoration
There are various methods employed by professionals when it comes to monument and headstone restoration. The technique used will largely depend on what the issue is and the extent of the weathering. There are also some simple preventative measures you can adopt to stop problems forming. These can save you a lot of time and money in the long run and keep your memorial in optimum condition.
Regular Cleaning to Prevent Problems
Regularly cleaning the memorial yourself can prevent the build-up of dirt and debris. Grass clippings and leaves can build up on headstone surfaces and cause unsightly blemishes. Marble is especially easily marked. Cleaning before the long-term damage takes place is a great way to preserve a memorial. If you do it yourself on a regular basis, you should rarely require deep cleans by a professional.
Cleaning headstones yourself is simple and requires very little equipment. Firstly, use a spray bottle to soak the headstone in water. Then, with a plastic or wooden scraper, gently remove any lichen or moss that has built up. You can use a soft-bristled brush to work off any other marks but avoid the delicate lettering. Make sure you don’t use a wire bristled brush as this can scratch the surface of your headstone and cause far more damage. We would recommend just using water, as soaps can damage the natural material of the monument. Thoroughly rinse the gravestone after you have cleaned to give your memorial the best finish possible.
Intensive Specialist Headstone Restoration in Birmingham
Sometimes a do-it-yourself cleaning job is not enough to bring a memorial back to its original condition. To restore granite to a polished shine and remove any marble blemishes, intensive cleaning is a great option. A deep clean can make a monument that is decades-old look brand new. Many specialist techniques depend on the age, material, and condition of the headstone.
At HL Marks, we opt for non-acidic cleaning, as acids can cause a blooming effect, especially on marble surfaces. We use a range of machines and hand cleaning methods to restore monuments of all shapes and sizes. The final stage of the cleaning process closes the pores in marble monuments, which helps to keep out the elements and preserve its longevity.
The least abrasive options are the safest option to avoid any corrosion from harsh chemicals. When consulting with your headstone restoration specialist of choice, ask about the chemicals and equipment they will use.
Over time the inscription on a memorial can become hard to make out. This can be a distressing sight for family and friends. The inscription, name, and date on a headstone are the focal point of most monuments and transform it into a highly personal tribute. Before anything is restored or added, any debris build-up or dirt needs to be removed so that the stonemason is working with a clean surface.
From there, the needs of the individual headstone can be decided. Flat gravestones will wear quicker as they are more exposed to the elements and it is harder for water to drain. Often you will see signs of wear after around 2 years. Upright memorials, if cared for properly, should last for around 5 years before any serious restoration work is needed.
Re-Gilding, Re-Painting and Re-Leading
Depending on your specific monument, the lettering may need some attention to restore the inscription. Letters can be re-gilded, re-painted, or re-leaded to bring them back to their original beauty. In some cases, you can even change the colour. Gold lettering is more susceptible to wear and during restoration people often opt for silver. Silver lasts longer and can create a more modern-looking monument.
Sometimes the issues that need remedying are more structural than cosmetic. Soil type, the depth of the grave and even the amount of rain can affect the structural integrity of a gravestone. Over time, monuments can sink, crack or chip. Check with your stonemason of choice on the exact method of repair they will use for such problems. Sometimes the damage may be so severe that replacement could be your best option.
Restoration vs Replacement
Monuments always have sentimental value, it is important to explore all your options for restoration before making your decision. There are several headstone restoration specialists in Birmingham. You can discuss and compare options and costs with each.
However, if the damage and weathering are such that restoration cannot bring the memorial back to its former condition, replacement is an option. Whilst it can be upsetting to lose the original monument, it can be a positive experience. You can bring family and friends together to remember loved ones and redesign a new memorial. Take inspiration from the original or opt for something completely unique. Seeing the final headstone in perfect condition can bring a sense of relief and peace.
Average costs of Headstone Restoration in Birmingham
The cost of restoring a monument largely depends on the size and style of the headstone and the work that is required. Usually, the cheapest jobs are regilding letters and mending chipped headstones. Larger jobs such as restoring headstone foundations are more expensive and can cost over £200.
It is beneficial to have memorials restored at the first sign of weathering. This keeps costs down in the long-run and stops any problems from worsening. You have many options for headstone restoration in Birmingham, so it’s worth ringing around and getting quotes from a few different companies.
Your Choices for Headstone Restoration in Birmingham
The great news is that no matter the problem, there are many options for headstone restoration in Birmingham. In a matter of days an old, damaged monument can be completely transformed. Cracks, chips, inscriptions, and levelling can all be restored with the appropriate specialist care.
Rather than being a chore, restoring a headstone can be a wonderful way to celebrate the life of someone you have lost. It is a way to restore a piece of family history and reconnect with your heritage.