Headstone Prices: What Should You Expect to Pay for One?
When planning a funeral for a departed family member, one doesn't usually consider getting a headstone at that time. They are overcome with the decisions associated with planning a funeral, contacting family members and such. It is usually after the dust has settled that one considers purchasing a memorial to mark their loved one's grave. There are several places where one can buy a headstone or grave marker from, but the biggest factor that usually influences a person's decision to buy is the cost of a headstones.
There are many factors that go into determining a headstone's price. The most common ones are material, size, granite color and complexity of design.
The most common materials for cemetery memorials are marble, granite and bronze. Although marble and granite can be shaped into many unique monument designs, bronze is usually reserved for the flat grave markers that many modern memorial parks require. Speaking in terms of comparative sizes, marble is usually the less expensive while bronze is on the high end.
The size of a headstone definitely affects the cost. The smaller grave markers require less equipment to move them around and shipping costs are substantially lower, but when the size and weight increases so does the price tag. Larger pieces require heavy lifting equipment and shipping costs can increase dramatically. Additionally, a larger memorial has more surface area which can be utilized for a larger design and more engraving.
There a hundreds of granite colors from around the world and while not all of them are suitable for memorialization the ones that are have a diverse price range. For example one of the most popular granite colors is Georgia gray which is quarried from Elberton, GA. This is one of the, if not the most affordable granite colors. That is why you see most cemeteries flooded with gray granite monuments among the manicured gardens. Some of the exotic granite colors such as Wassau red or Blue Pearl can fetch up to 3-4 times as much as Georgia gray granite. Other premium colors such as India Black, India Red, Dakota Mahogany and Barre Gray can easily double the price of the memorial.
Complexity of Design
The design of a headstone usually consists of two factors. The shape of the memorial itself and the artwork/design that is engraved upon it. Traditional shaped monuments consist of a die (the part that stands upright) and a base (the pedestal which it stands on top of). With a straight forward design with minimal polished surfaces the cost is usually at the low end. Polished surfaces can drastically add to the cost of the memorial. If the monument has a unique shape and multiple polished surfaces this will increase the cost of the memorial as well.
The artwork that is engraved will also affect the price somewhat. A simple design with minimal features requires less work than a custom design that is elaborate and intricate. Other design features that will increase the cost are shape carving, laser etched artwork, and ceramic pictures.
Other Headstone Price Variables
Aside from the actual physical characteristics that affect the cost of a headstone, there are external factors to consider. For example, in parts of the country where labor costs are higher, this could increase the average price for a memorial. Other external factors include transportation, regulations and the general overhead a monument company has.
So How Much Does a Headstone Cost?
Well given the fact that there are many variables that affect the total cost it is impossible to give a one price fits all kind of answer. Rather, here are some price guidelines to consider when pricing a headstone. Again you must understand there will be differences in price based on some of factors discussed.
Single flat grass markers measuring 24” x 12” x 4” generally can cost anywhere from about $400 for a basic grave marker in gray up to around $1,000 for an exotic color or laser engraving.
A single upright monument measuring 24”L x 6”W x 24”H on a base that is 36”L x 12”W x 6”H in gray with only 2 sides polished (front and back) can cost anywhere from $900 to around $1,500.
A companion monument of average size measuring 48”L x 6”W x 24”H on a base measuring 60”L x 12”W x 6”H can cost from $1,800 to around $2,600.
Of course, these are just estimates, but you should check with your local sources and even online companies to get quotes.
Don't be afraid to shop around and compare. Also, don't be too concerned with getting the cheapest headstone money can buy. In many cases cheap headstone prices mean cheap quality and quality isn't something you really don't want to sacrifice when it comes to memorializing a loved one. Use your better judgement and ask lots of questions. Remember, the more questions you ask, the more you will learn and be better prepared.