What’s in a Headstone? Choosing the Right Material for a Headstone

What’s in a Headstone? Choosing the Right Material for a Headstone

What’s in a Headstone? Choosing the Right Material for a Headstone

When you visit a modern cemetery, you notice that most of the headstones take on a similar look and shape. Neat rows of granite plaques line the ground—some with engravings and some without, some featuring vases that lift up to provide a convenient place for decorations. In older parts of the cemetery, you are likely to find headstones of all shapes and sizes, some in a much better state of preservation than others.

So what gives? Are modern funeral consumers required to choose from a much smaller selection of headstones, or is there a reason so many of them look the same nowadays? If you are choosing a headstone, what options do you have as far as materials and design go?

Why Most Headstones are Made of Granite

Granite is one of the most popular headstone types—and for good reason. Not only is it a long-lasting and durable stone, it is also cost-effective. Granite comes in a variety of different colors, and can be hand-engraved or carved to include any kind of message or image you’d like. Another consideration (that few people consider) is that it’s a very heavy stone without much resale value to it. This means that the likelihood of it being stolen or vandalized is very low. When you want a low-cost option that will stand the test of time, granite is the way to go.

Other Stones Used in Headstones

What’s in a Headstone? Choosing the Right Material for a Headstone

If you are looking for something a little different, you can opt for marble, fieldstone, limestone, slate, or even sandstone, which was most popular before the twentieth century. Marble is strong and beautiful, but it can be costly and wear down over time. In fact, most of these options won’t be as durable over the long run, though they should remain beautiful and intact for the rest of your lifetime, at least.

Other Materials Used in Headstones

Just because it is called a headstone doesn’t mean it has to be made of stone. Two growing trends in the headstone market are bronze markers and/or headstones made of stainless steel. These materials are durable and easy to maintain, but they come with a higher cost because of it. Through the use of laser metal cutting, they can also be engraved with incredibly detailed images and words. If the cost of one of these types of headstones is beyond your reach, many cemeteries offer a granite/bronze mix that builds a base of granite with a bronze plaque over the top of it.

For something truly unique, wood, cast iron, or even cement can be used to craft a beautiful and personalized headstone. However, most cemeteries have strict rules about what can or can’t be used as a headstone on their grounds, so you may have to put one of these up on private property or find a cemetery that is willing to accommodate unusual and/or handmade headstones in place of the more mass-produced granite ones.

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