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Gravestone Restoration FAQ

How do I clean a gravestone?

The most common kind of staining found on gravestones and cemetery monuments is biological activity, which consists of algae, lichen, moss, and mold. 

In most cases D/2 Biological Cleaning Solution will safely eliminate the harmful growth.


How do I use D/2 Biological Cleaning Solution?

There are a number of different D/2 application techniques. 

It can be applied directly to the stone with any type of hand held sprayer. It should be given time to dwell on the stone for about 10-15 minutes and then can be hand brushed with nylon or natural bristle brushes and well rinsed.

Another option is to simply apply it onto the stone and allow it to penetrate deeply into the pours and it will slowly clean the stone with wet and dry cycles through natural weather. This may take longer, but requires no brushing. 

It can also be diluted with up to 50% water and used on less aggressive biological growth and also as a protective coating to prevent future growth on the stone.

What if the staining is not biological activity?

There are many other possible causes of staining such as atmospheric staining from soot and pollution, which is most often found in cities. Another common form of staining is caused by iron oxidizing and becomes a rust color on the stone.

Additionally there are many other possible forms of staining that may be encountered including: graffiti, and oil from maintenance equipment. 

We carry many specific cleaning products designed for these situations.

Stone Cleaning Products

Can I seal a stone to protect it?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions.

Conventional wisdom would dictate that when a stone is sealed then it would be protected from weathering and the elements of nature. However, monuments, gravestones, and historic masonry must be able to both absorb and expel vapor or else moisture will be trapped within the stone which can lead to deterioration, which will cause more harm than good.

Instead of sealing stone, there are some beneficial treatments that will help protect, preserve, and strengthen stone that do not trap moisture. These include breathable water repellents and consolidation treatments.


Consolidation Treatments

How do I reset a fallen monument?

Cemetery monuments are very heavy, due to stone weighing at least 150 pounds per cubic foot. Great care should be taken not to harm the monument, and most importantly that no injuries occur to the personnel performing the repairs. 

Because there is so much nuance with this subject matter, it would be wise to consult a professional and/or attend a workshop or training seminar before undertaking a cemetery preservation project.

How do I probe for a sunken stone or vault?

There are many situations that occur when we cannot be sure what is located under ground. There are some high tech procedures such as ground penetrating radar which can be employed, but they are time consuming and expensive. 

With a simple probe a great deal can determined about underground features; including sunken stones, burial vaults, and other underground anomalies. By successively probing in a sequential pattern it can often be determined where there are underground abnormalities that may indicate hidden gravestones or foundations. However, rock terrain, tree roots, and hard clay soil can make this process difficult. 

Steel Probe 48"

Should I have permission before working in a cemetery?

Permission should be requested in advance of performing any cemetery preservation work. Depending on the location of the cemetery this may include many different situations. 

Cemeteries that have staff on the sight should be notified in advance of work being performed. 

If a cemetery is maintained by the town then there will be a contact number available for you to reach. 

Abandoned cemeteries represent a unique situation where there is no one simple answer. It would be wise to contact the local historic society, or funeral directors in the region may have information to help determine if there is any stewardship of the site. 

Do I need permission to work on my family's plot?

This all depends on the location of the specific cemetery, and the regulations that are applicable. 

Generally speaking, cleaning of your own family or relative's gravestones would always be allowed.

How do I select which epoxy to use to repair or join a broken stone?

There are a few different options depending on the specific situation. A knife-grade epoxy is preferable over a flow-able liquid. One of the biggest variables between epoxies is how thick they are which will effect their performance when joining broken stones. The Akepox 2010 is the thinnest of the knife-grade epoxies, the Akepox 2030 is thicker, and Akepox 2040 is the thickest with the most fillers in it allowing it to span gaps and is better suited for highly eroded stone.

Knife-grade Epoxies

How do I open a can of Akepox epoxy?

Without the proper tool it can be a bit tricky to open a new can of epoxy. It is best to use a very thin tool such as a margin trowel. Gently push the trowel between the can and lid then slowly ease it all the way around working the lid open. 

Here's a video that demonstrates how to do this, as well as mixing the epoxy.

Opening Akepox Epoxy

What is the best way to mix epoxy?

Akepox epoxies are sold by weight, not by volume.

All Akepox epoxies are consistent with a simple 2:1 mixing ratio.

In a laboratory setting or indoor environment it can be weighed to exact proportions. However working in an outdoor environment, we have found that it can easily be proportioned and mixed with plastic spoons and paper plates. This simple mixing procedure will save you time and money.

Mixing Epoxy

It is recommended to wear protective gloves when handling and mixing epoxy to avoid skin contact.

What is the difference between a gravestone, monument, headstone, and tombstone?

Although the words are often interchangeable, they do have different historical origins. 

In Colonial America the word gravestone was much more commonly used. Gravestones were generally one-piece and monolithic in nature. 

The word tombstone was also more commonly employed from the Colonial to the Victorian era. After the civil war it tended to be used more in the western portion of the United States.

A cemetery monument generally indicates a two-piece memorial including a headstone and a base. After the civil war when the railroads connected America, monuments became increasingly common, and largely replaced the use of one-piece gravestones markers. 


For more information regarding gravestone and monument preservation techniques, visit our informational site - - and check out the articles.