How Much Does a Headstone Cost?
Published Dec 14, 2020
The moments following a loved one’s death can be extremely stressful, both emotionally and financially. Not only do you have to deal with the grief of having lost someone dear to you, but you have to carry out their end-of-life services too. With so many things going on at once, the last thing you want to be doing is last-minute scrambling to arrange everything. What’s worse is that you can easily get blindsided by all these costs that they create a huge dent in your finances. To avoid any surprises and manage expectations, we’re here to talk about how much you can expect headstones to cost.
What is a headstone?
Headstones are those stone slabs that typically stick out of the ground in cemeteries. They may also be laid flat on the ground; nonetheless, both serve the same purpose. Inscribed on this slab are essential details about the person it represents, namely their name, date of birth, and date of death. It’s not uncommon to see other headstones with similar details of a complete family. Furthermore, some headstones also contain epitaphs to honor the dead, a bible verse, or a quote of some sort.
How much does a headstone usually cost?
The cost of a headstone will vary according to its complexity. Complexity refers to the overall design, lettering, art, and most importantly – the material. Everything that goes into the finished product, no matter how small, will contribute to its cost. Allow us to elaborate on these different elements.
First, let’s go over the most important one, the headstone’s material. While stone may look like a cheap, low-quality material at first glance, there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes than you know. The stones typically used to make headstones have literally taken thousands of years to form, making them rare and adding to their value. This aging process has allowed these stones to be not only durable but nonrenewable as well.
Traditionally, these headstones are made of marble, granite, or fieldstone. However, manufacturers are using a whole lot of other materials these days, including bronze, concrete, wood, limestone, and other similar materials.
Most headstones these days are made out of granite because it’s a classy and beautiful natural stone. It comes in many different colors, but the most widely used one is gray. Different color granite stones come from various parts of the world, so it’s also something to consider when thinking of total costs. More exotic stones have to be shipped in and taxed, further adding to the costs. Most people opt for granite headstones because they’re not only durable but cheaper as well. Expect to spend an average of $400-$500 with this option.
For those concerned with the stone’s durability, you’ll want to pay close attention to its grade. Grade refers to the material’s density and structural integrity. Higher-grade materials will withstand the elements and take well to processing, specifically cutting, crafting, and finishing. Higher-grade materials will look better fresh from the craftsman and in the years to come under punishing weather. The grade is not as obvious an indicator as color, so be sure to ask your memorial provider about it.
Engraving is the most common design method in creating symbols and lettering on a headstone. Engraving can be a bit pricey because it requires trained professionals to create these beautiful designs. The traditional process of engraving was with a hammer and chisel. But these days, sandblasting seems to be the preferred option. Other methods include etching, both by machine or hand, but they’re far more expensive and detailed.
Headstone engraving will typically cost you around $20 per character for up to 30 characters. Any characters in excess will cost you lower at about $10 each. If you want to include all the standard details of the departed’s name, birth date, and death date, then that could cost you roughly $600.
Another alternative is that instead of engraving directly on a stone, you have the text engraved on a bronze or aluminum plaque. This alternative is the more cost-efficient one without having to sacrifice the aesthetics. Many people opt for plaques because they add something extra to the headstone compared to direct engraving. They can still be stunning while adding a bit of color contrast to the headstone. Bronze plaques average at about $200, depending on the simplicity and design.
The type of headstone
Headstones are generally classified according to their orientation with the grave.
- Flat or lawn-level headstones are those lodged so that they lie flush against the ground. These are the most basic and least expensive option, costing an average of $500.
- Bevel or pillow headstones stick up slightly from the ground at about 12 to 18 inches. Typical prices of this variation range anywhere from $400 to $3,000.
- Slant headstones are cut at an angle to allow people to read the inscriptions from afar. This type will cost you in the four-digit range, starting at $1,200 and up.
- Upright headstones are the most expensive of the bunch. They are also the largest and can be molded to fit the customer’s preference. An upright headstone starts at about $1,000 to $3,000 but can cost as much as $10,000.
Correctly installing the headstone is an integral part of the process, and cemeteries usually offer this at a cost. However, if your cemetery does not provide this service, think about calling a professional to do the job. Installing a headstone yourself is not only difficult, but you could actually be doing more harm than good in the process. After spending (assumably) thousands of dollars on it, you won’t want to let your investment go to waste, now would you? It’s best to leave this part of the process to the professionals. You should expect to spend around $150 to $450 for this service, depending on the headstone’s size and the amount of work required.
About The Author
Terrence Tan Ting is an industrial engineer by profession but a full time writer by passion. He loves to write about a wide range of topics from many different industries thanks to his undying curiosity.