Granite is the most widely used and recognizable monument material on the market today. It was implemented in the middle 19th century and, within a few decades, had swept the nation. The main reason granite is used for making headstones is its durability compared to other stones available. Granite stands up very well against Mother Nature. In fact, the only element able to penetrate granite and cause slight deterioration (over a substantial period of time) is acid rain, but in areas outside cities this is almost rarely a problem.
Granite is formed by molten rock and comes in shades of red, black, pink, brown and most frequently gray. Its hardness is comparable to that of a diamond, making it more durable than other stones.
However, granite monuments were not always the most popular choice for headstones and grave markers in America. Prior to granite’s popularity, there were other materials used as grave markers for the deceased such as slate, sandstone, marble, and wood. While all of these stones have good qualities, none of them are able to compare with the durability of granite.
Slate is very durable and is able to withstand even the harsh wear from acidic rain (granite deteriorates prevalent acid rain). While it’s a beautiful stone and is still used frequently for monuments, it shatters easily and can break off without a substantial amount of force compared to granite.
Sandstone was popular in New England because it was very prevalent in the area and easy to mine. It was frequently used because it’s inexpensive, however, it breaks down more quickly than other stones. Many older sandstone headstones are replaced before the inscriptions are worn off to prevent the grave from becoming an unknown burial site. Newer sandstone headstones are more natural looking and implement elements of granite for the inscription to prevent wear. They remain a suitable choice in areas without extreme weathering.
Marble was the choice headstone material for centuries given its popularity in Greek and Roman times. However, marble stained very easily and deteriorated after a significant amount of wear, especially earlier marble grave markers.
Wood was used for a short period of time during the 19th century because it was so abundant and cheap to use. Wood rarely held up against the elements and many wooden markers were replaced with suitable stone counterparts.
As you can tell, granite remains to be one of the top choices for grave markers and headstones because of its strength and resistance. If you’re looking for a material that will withstand the tests of time, then granite is your stone.