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How much should a headstone cost? A price breakdown

For most of us, it’s important that when we pass away, our loved ones have a place they can go to remember us. Likewise, those of us who have lost someone want a calming, soothing place to mourn — one that rightfully honors the person who has passed.

A headstone, sometimes referred to as a tombstone, is one way to pay tribute. It serves as a long-lasting remembrance, marking a final resting place for people to visit for generations.

Purchasing one can be confusing, as there are many different aspects to consider, all of which affect the headstone price.

How much is a headstone?

The average cost of a flat headstone is around $1000, while an upright headstone cost is usually around $2000. However, headstone price will vary depending on a range of factors, including the type of stone, the engraving, and the upkeep costs. For example, the price for a family or double headstone with more detailing can be up to $10,000.

Here’s a breakdown of the different costs involved in purchasing a headstone.

What is the average cost of a granite headstone?

The stone makes up a large proportion of both a flat and an upright headstone cost. Typically, there are two main types of stone used: granite and marble.

Granite is the most popular stone, as it is more durable than marble and costs less. The stone for a granite headstone costs an average of $450. A larger one may cost more, and different colors of granite can also be more expensive.

Some people prefer the look of a marble headstone, as it has a sleeker finish than granite. The average upfront cost of a marble stone is between $1500 and $1800. As well as being more expensive, it is also worth bearing in mind that marble requires more upkeep than granite.

How much does engraving on a headstone cost?

The engraving on a headstone is perhaps the most important part, as it commemorates the person who has passed away. You may simply choose to have a name and the dates of birth and death, or you may want to have a quote or message as well. Some people request what they would like to have engraved before they pass away.

It generally costs around $20 per character for the first 20-30 characters you have engraved into the stone. Additional letters usually cost about $10 each.

Alternatively, instead of lettering, you can have an engraved plaque on top. This costs roughly $100-$300.

Can you install a headstone yourself?

While you can install a headstone yourself, it isn’t recommended. It needs to sit correctly and stay in place for a long time, so it’s usually better to entrust this task to professionals.

Installing a headstone involves measuring the stone and digging a hole of the correct size to lay it in. Medium to large headstones normally require a concrete base as well.

Sometimes cemeteries offer an installation service, or you can hire an external company. Depending on the size, the installation of a single headstone will cost $150-$450, while a companion headstone is normally $300-$600. Any necessary concrete for the foundation will probably need to be factored into the headstone price in addition.

You should wait around 6 months after the burial before installing the headstone, to allow time for the ground to settle first.

What headstones last the longest?

Another aspect to factor into the cost of a headstone is ongoing maintenance. The stone will need to be cleaned and polished regularly to protect against erosion from rain and lichen.

Over time, repair works may also be needed, the engraving may need to be redefined and the foundation may even need reinstalling.

Granite tends to be hardier than marble and can withstand more weathering. Marble surfaces lose their shine and become gritty after about 10-20 years and may need professional restoration.

How to cut costs on your headstone

While the costs of purchasing a headstone can add up, there may be ways for you to lessen or spread the cost.

  • Some companies offer a payment plan for headstones, where you pay in installments. This avoids paying a lump sum upfront, but bear in mind that you will usually have to pay interest.
  • If you organize your own headstone in advance, you can pay for it yourself and may be able to get a better price. This eases the financial and organizational burden on your family when you pass away.
  • Nowadays, you can purchase a headstone online. It’s worth shopping around to see what different companies are offering online.
  • Veterans who pass away may be eligible for a free headstone. Find out more here.

Things to consider when choosing a headstone

Now you’ve seen the costs involved with a headstone, you can start thinking about your priorities and your budget. The following questions might help you with your planning:

  • Which stone type do you prefer the look of?
  • What would you like to have engraved on the headstone?
  • How much upkeep are you and your family able to pay for in the long term
  • Would you like to pay for the headstone in advance, in installments, or as a lump sum?

You might also want to consider other burial options, such as cremation or a green funeral. If you’re considering a traditional burial alternative, you can learn more about the different types that are available today.

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