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How to select a headstone

Designing and erecting a headstone is an important part of honoring your deceased loved one. Understanding the cemetery regulations, setting a budget, choosing appropriate materials, and locating a reputable supplier will make selecting a headstone less stressful.

1. Understanding Cemetery Regulations

Consult the cemetery about regulations on headstone type. Many cemeteries strictly monitor the type of headstone you can erect or the material from which it is constructed. For example, there are cemeteries that allow only bronze or granite headstones.

Try calling the cemetery and ask them if there are any restrictions on the type of headstone or headstone construction materials.

Determine if you will need to hire someone to install the headstone. While some cemeteries offer installation services, others will require that you hire a local monument installer to safely erect the headstone. Be sure to inquire about installation costs if this is a service the cemetery offers.[2]

If the cemetery doesn’t offer installation services, use the yellow pages or internet to locate a local monuments installer.

Know your rights. Many cemeteries charge a variety of fees for installation of the monument, perpetual care, and other add-on services. Some may try to tell you that they are the only ones who can install a headstone in the cemetery, but this may just be a way to dissuade customers from using an outside source and thus increase internal revenue. If a cemetery tells you that gravestones from outside sources are not allowed, ask them to show you their by-laws

2 Shopping for a Headstone

Familiarize yourself with headstone designs and materials. Take a walk through several cemeteries to get an idea of the shapes, sizes, materials, and designs available. Use this to develop a rough idea of what kind of headstone you want.

Try taking photos that you can show to the cemetery, funeral home, or monument dealer.

Set a budget. Selecting, purchasing, and installing a headstone can be expensive. Knowing what your budget is before you visit a monument dealer, funeral home, or cemetery can cut back on unneeded stress and help you make a decision you feel good about.The average cost of a tombstone is between $500 and $2000.

Did your loved one set aside money for funeral expenses? If so, determine what part of this fund can be used toward purchasing a headstone.

Select a supplier-hopefully us (Baker Blasting & Engraving). Headstones can be purchased from cemeteries, funeral homes, monument dealers, and the internet. Take time to explore your options and make sure the supplier has headstones that meet your guidelines. Cemeteries tend to have the highest prices, followed by monument dealers and funeral homes. Internet dealers can be more budget friendly.

Talk to friends and family to get referrals for headstone suppliers in your area. Ask about the company’s dependability and integrity.

If shopping on the internet for a headstone, be sure to carefully read all customer reviews.
Decide on what type of headstone you want. Headstones come in a variety of types and styles including upright, flat, and slants. An upright headstone is a popular, yet traditional design and is usually made from granite, marble, or limestone. A flat headstone is usually made of granite or bronze.

Choose a headstone material. The material out of which a headstone is crafted affects its longevity and durability. It also contributes to the overall aesthetics of the headstone.

Choose granite for overall adaptability and price as it comes in many colors and is generally on the lower end of the price scale.
Avoid limestone if you are concerned about weathering over time, as this will affect the readability of the stone’s inscriptions.

Choose a headstone finish. The finish you choose for the headstone will affect its durability and appearance over time. Some cemeteries forbid polished headstones because of their high reflectiveness, but partially polished, honed, and pitched headstones are all good choices for long term durability.

Try a honed finish to give depth to a tombstone with three or more colors.
For a rustic look, go for a pitched finish. Created with a hammer and bolster, headstones with pitched finished often appear in older cemeteries.

3 Selecting a Headstone Design

Choose an epitaph. An epitaph can say many things, ranging from details about a person’s life to a quote from religious text. Some might detail the circumstances of a loved one’s death, while others celebrate their life with words from the deceased’s favorite author. Consider your loved one’s personality, life achievements, and style when choosing an epitaph.[Consider the size of the monument and the associated font size when choosing an epitaph. For example, a small headstone might not fit the entire religious verse you wish to include.

Choose a font for the inscriptions. The font in which the epitaph and information about your loved one including their name, birth date, and date of death is inscribed is an important consideration in the overall design of a headstone.

Try using a Roman or Old English font for a traditional look.
Reserve italics for epitaphs, including quotes, religious text, and poetry.

Select images for the headstone. While some families will choose a headstone with strictly text, others may want to include images such as religious iconography, animals, or flowers. These images can reflect your loved one’s tastes, life accomplishments, and religious affiliation.

Most suppliers will have a fairly sizeable library of artwork from which you can choose images for the headstone.

Ask for proofs. Once a design is chosen and you have paid the supplier a deposit, they will send you a proof of the headstone to be approved by you and your family. Make sure you go through this important step to avoid ending up with a headstone that meets your expectations. Once you approve the proofs, the supplier will manufacture the headstone.

If you don’t like the first proof, ask for another rendering. Most suppliers will provide you with two or three proofs before adding on additional charges.

If the supplier you are working with does not offer a proof, you might want to consider another supplier.