Many headstone manufacturers paint their headstones before they deliver them. This gives the granite a finished, clean look and ensures that the letters can be seen. The most popular color for a painted headstone is white with black engraved letters, though sometimes only the letters are painted. Tombstones are rarely painted colors other than neutrals. No matter what kind of paint manufacturers use, the elements will eventually wear it away. You could either rely on the cemetery managers to repaint the stone of a loved one, or ask permission to repaint it yourself.

Choose stone paint that matches the current color of the stone. Black and white are the basic colors, but if the tombstone is brown or gray, try to obtain a paint chip for comparison. Make sure you buy stone paint, such as Lithichrome. Stone paint is specifically made to coat porous stone and protect it from weathering.

Spread a drop cloth around the headstone to avoid dripping paint on the grass. Gently scrape away loose paint with popsicle sticks, getting off as much as you can. Never use a wire brush on a tombstone; this causes surface scratches and extra places for lichens to develop.

Shake your paint thoroughly to mix the color before opening. Stir with a paint stick to ensure smooth color. Dip your brush into the paint, wetting the tips only; try not to get paint on the metal because this makes the brush harder to clean. To paint the whole stone, use a 3-inch brush or larger. To paint just the letters, use a 1/2-inch, semi-stiff brush.

Work slowly from the bottom to the top, using smooth vertical strokes. If you are painting both the tombstone’s body and the letters, paint the body first and allow the paint to dry before you paint the letters. To avoid smearing, make sure the paint is dry to the touch before you paint on a second coat.

Items you will need

  • Paintbrushes

  • Paint sticks

  • Drop cloths

  • Stone paint

  • Popsicle sticks