Over the last 100 years we have learned more of what materials last better. Because New Zealand is far away from the world’s stone supplies, in the past most monuments were mounted on a concrete foundation. Much of this old concrete is very weak and is now failing. It is always better lasting in a monuments construction to have more stone and the least amount of concrete as possible but today’s concrete is much stronger and will last better than this material did in the past. However, many families are now taking the opportunity to replace concrete bases with granite as our prices are so affordable.
Some of our work
Here is an older marble monument with lead lettering. Marble is a soft porous stone so the fashion was to beat lead into the engraved lettering to enable the wording to be read. The lead is keyed by little holes drilled into each letter.
The family wished to inter another family member in an existing plot. There was no room to engrave more lettering on the monument, so the concrete base was replaced with a sloping granite one. We chemically cleaned the existing plot and re whitened the inscriptions and coloured the flowers.
An inexperienced cemetery cleaner had used a strong chemical on this marble monument eroding the surface and leaving it discoloured. The client then consulted the professionals over his irreplaceable family monument as he was not happy.
Here we have a typical example of substandard concrete and the monument is not that old. The problem is a lack of cement in the concrete making a very weak base. The base is porous so absorbs moisture with the winter frost blowing it’self apart. Rather than a new concrete base, the inscription has been copied onto the slope of a quality granite base.
The best option here for ease of future maintenance would have been to remove all the concrete and start again with a new base and the balance of the plot sown in lawn. With the large ride on lawnmowers used these days, the plot would never be mown so we have re-concreted the top and finished it in white cement plaster. The additional inscription has been engraved by hand to match.
When an internment is to take place in this type of plot with a concrete surround, these days the curbing is removed to allow access by a digging machine. If the ledger top was removed hand digging can occur as there is room for the internment between the curbing but today this does not seem to happen.
The family had another child whose name was never recorded on the monument. With no room to add this name, we have refaced the headstone by grinding off the old inscription and re-polishing the headstone. All the lettering had been re-engraved including the cross tracery. The headstone has been mounted back in the cemetery on a new granite base.
In 1952 when the first burial look place, a full-cover concrete surrounds was usual. Since then the trend is for less concrete for ease of maintenance. We hand engraved the new inscription to match the old, by drawing each letter with a pencil. The old concrete surround was removed and a new concrete base made. This is finished in white cement plaster for extra durability.
The family wished to inter another family member in an existing plot. There was no room to engrave more lettering on the monument, so a sloping granite recumbent desk was added. We chemically cleaned the existing plot and re whitened the inscriptions.