When designing and choosing a headstone, you will need to consider the shape and design of the headstone, the material from which it is made, the type of finish applied to the headstone and any inscription you’d like to have applied, as well as your available budget.

The price of a headstone fluctuates a great deal depending on the choices you make. Having compared prices to find the best funeral director for you, it’s a good idea to discuss the headstone design with your chosen director. They’ll be able to offer useful advice and information regarding your options, and will often have monumental masonry services that they can vouch for and can put you in touch with.


How to choose a headstone design

Headstone designs can be separated into three broad categories – upright headstones, flat headstones and kerbed headstones. Which you choose will largely depend on personal preference and budget.

  • Upright headstones are the most traditional of the three, usually stand at around 45 inches tall and are supported by a thick concrete base.
  • Flat headstones come in a large variety of shapes, sizes and designs and can either be laid flat or at a slight angle.
  • Kerbed headstones are full length designs that lie flat across the ground and are often used in conjunction with an upright headstone.

Remember: Some cemeteries and churchyards have very specific regulations as to the kind of headstone that can be placed on a grave. Before settling on a final headstone design, first check with the cemetery or church that it meets their requirements.


What material should I use for a headstone?

When designing a headstone, popular materials include granite, marble, limestone and bronze. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages and you’ll need to think carefully about what is best suited to your situation.

  • Granite is an incredibly flexible and adaptable stone that is produced in a number of different colours and finishes and is proven to last.
  • Marble often boasts a fantastic finish, but isn’t permitted in all burial grounds due to its lack of strength and longevity.
  • Limestone is a traditional stone that changes drastically over time but still remains a very popular option.
  • Bronze is incredibly durable but isn’t always permitted in burial grounds and is one of the more expensive options.


How do I choose a finish for a headstone?

There are four main types of finish for a headstone – polished, part-polished, honed or eggshell, or pitched.

  • Polished – A smooth and shiny finish that will require some maintenance and could also look out of place in older graveyards.
  • Part-Polished – Only those parts of the gravestone you want emphasised, such as the inscription, are polished and a different finish is applied to the rest of the stone.
  • Honed or Eggshell – This finish is achieved by removing a layer of polish to leave the stone smooth but not shiny.
  • Pitched – This rough finish gives the headstone a more aged look that can help it fit into more traditional churchyards.


How to choose an inscription for a headstone

If the deceased left no guidance relating to their headstone, inscriptions should be highly personal and attempt to encapsulate something important about the deceased and their life. For this reason, people often turn to poetry, religious texts or words that have consoled others in time of bereavement.

You’ll need to think long and hard about what you want to have written, as well as the font you require and whether you’d like the inscription engraved directly on to the stone or on a memorial plaque.

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