Headstone Paint Has Changed in Chemistry
Litho chrome paints are the paint of choice when filling in engraved letters or art on granite headstones. The headstone paint has changed in chemistry over the past 10 years. Here in California with some of the highest EPA standards for paints and chemicals which are highly regulated for toxic chemicals. These litho chrome paints do not meet the longevity expectations that was achieved prior to EPA regulations. There are many items that cannot be sold in the state of California and will not be shipped by suppliers within the state. Hence we have to work with these modified products in the environment that we have.
Of course paint longevity is also affected by the location of the marker in the cemetery, the placement on the grass in a low lying area that collects a lot of water or directly under a tree that collects droppings and sap or best on a vertical monument where it barely sees water collecting in the deep engraved painted letters. All these factors can help deteriorate the paints ability to stay on the stone. We find that with today’s EPA paints the typical life time on many granite flat markers are anywhere from 1 year to 5 years. Paints are now seen to be flaking off or chipping from the engraved letters prematurely.
We take care in prepping all of our stones when doing re-inking in the field by properly drying the stone which is challenging in some low areas of the cemetery especially if they have frequent watering schedules. We also believe that 2 light coats is best rather than a thick coat of paint.
All paints have a curing time and this cannot always be achieved if watering is done on the lawn immediately after we leave the job site. There are many factors that affect a good paint job.
The only solution today for consumers is to have their markers cleaned and re-inked as needed to keep them looking good. Manufacturers of headstones cannot guarantee the life of the paint due to the many environmental challenges placed on the paint once they are installed in the field. Stones are porous and will absorb water from the ground watering. This water is sucked up from the ground when sitting flat on the ground. The water is also flooding the cavities from the top as well during watering scheduled times. The paint has very little ability to survive this harsh environment 24/7. We visit many wonderful cemeteries around the Los Angeles and Orange County areas and find many gravestones that have sunk below grass level with water and mud covering the markers.
Eliminate the Headstone Paint Problem
One way of eliminating the paint problem on Granite headstones is to design the marker with no paint. This can be done with the right designer and selection of granite color, engraving techniques such as deep cut in a sanded panel where the sanded panel offers a sand blast dull back ground against the glossy polished surface and can provide a paint free surface with very minimal annual cleaning required to make the stone look new again.
The industry is going to be challenged with customer complaints and expectations from painted litho chrome markers here in California.
At American Headstones Company we employ the best quality techniques available to us when engraving and painting Litho Inks on granite. We start with a properly dried piece of granite before engraving and painting. We always try to deliver the highest quality of stone we can offer.