Marble vs. Granite Headstones: How They Compare

By May 20, 2022 August 1st, 2022 No Comments
marble tombstone example

Make a list of everyone’s favorite things to talk about and we’re pretty sure you won’t find “headstones” on that list anywhere. But talk about them we must if we are to ensure that loved ones are paid the respect they deserve in perpetuity. One of the most common questions that arise with regards to these memorials is which type of stone is better: marble or granite? Below, we will take a look at both materials, their pros and cons, and when to choose one over the other.

Marble or Granite Headstones in Colorado?

Most people believe marble is just about the hardest type of rock in existence, but granite is actually the tougher of the two. That’s because it originates from cooled magma that has undergone millions of years of heat and compression. You can set up a granite headstone today and it will look just as good 200 years from now (once you remove the accumulated dirt of course).

Marble, on the other hand, can trace its origins to limestone which is much softer than magma. That’s why it does not take much effort to scratch marble and why it will react negatively to various acids. Marble is also more likely than granite to chip or crack over time. After the aforementioned 200 years, it may be hard to read the inscription on a marble tombstone.

When thinking of headstones for graves you need to keep durability right upfront because the whole point is to ensure the deceased and their time on earth is not lost to history.

Headstone Appearance

Marble is available in an almost endless variety of colors and patterns with unique veining in every piece, which is one of the big reasons it has held its position as one of the premier building materials for so long. When it comes to gravestones the most popular colors are gray and white, largely because these also happen to be the most affordable types of marble, with more exotic colors being rarer, which in turn causes headstone prices to increase.

Typically, however, when marble is used in a memorial it is used inside an enclosed mausoleum or crypt. That way it is not exposed to the elements and will potentially last for centuries.

Like marble with its veining, each piece of granite is unique in its distribution of color flecks. The most popular colors of granite found in memorials are green, blue and brown. Granite will endure laser etching well which means the customer can customize headstones to their liking with graphic flourishes, as well as letters and numbers. The high-contrast lettering produced by laser engraving will last for centuries even outdoors where it’s exposed directly to environmental factors like rain, snow and windborne corrosives.

Pros and Cons of Both Headstone Options

The following are the pros and cons of using either marble or granite to create a headstone.

Marble Headstone Pros

  • Every piece of marble is completely unique
  • Marble has long been a traditional material for gravestones and other memorials
  • Marble has a certain cache attached to it that granite, for all its virtues, can’t match
  • Marble is easier to cut and polish than granite

Marble Headstone Cons

  • Marble is more susceptible to cracks, chips and scratches than granite
  • Marble lettering will lose its crispness after years exposed to the weather
  • Marble is more prone to discoloration than granite
  • It’s also more expensive than granite

Granite Headstone Pros

  • Granite is about as close to indestructible as a natural building material can be
  • Lettering etched into granite will remain crisp and clear indefinitely
  • It is less expensive than marble, but not by much
  • Granite is a traditional headstone material
  • Each piece of granite is totally unique

Granite Headstone Cons

  • It may be less expensive than marble but it’s not cheap
  • While it is tougher than marble it is susceptible to damage from acid rain

Granite or Marble Headstones: The Verdict

Headstones are an extremely personal choice, but from a purely objective standpoint granite has distinct advantages over marble that should not be ignored. It is both less expensive and more durable. Etched letters and other graphic touches hold up better over the long-term than they do on marble (when marble is used outdoors). And, like marble, each piece of granite is a unique expression of the millions of years of natural forces that went into its production.

That said, some folks in Littleton are looking to make a statement with the memorial they choose and for them, the wider variety of colors offered by marble may be the better choice. One could, for instance, create a memorial structure out of white marble ala the Taj Mahal and then use granite for the nameplate to ensure the lettering etc remain intact through the years. Ultimately, though, it is up to you.

Contact Our Custom Memorial Designers

If you remain uncertain which material would be a better choice for your loved one’s memorial, get in touch with Mile High Memorials. We can provide expert recommendations that will ensure you end up with a headstone that will do your loved one justice through time immemorial.

We provide a full range of custom stone memorials, custom upright memorials, bench memorials, natural stone memorials, flat stone memorials and more. We also perform onsite lettering of marble or granite headstones and we can create distinctive and tasteful pet memorials too. You can find us by searching for “headstones near me” or by calling us at 303-794-3443. If you prefer you can fax us at 303-794-3489.