Prices for Headstones, Tombstones and Grave Markers - How Much Should You Expect to Pay in 2023? — Brown Memorials (2023)

Written By Bran Oswalt

Headstone prices, like so many other things in the world today, are constantly changing. So, what will a headstone cost you in 2023? In 2023, the average price for a single upright headstone will be between $1000 and $3000. The average price for a double upright headstone will be between $2,000 and $5,000. However, each monument is unique, and the cost will vary depending on the design you select. Size, material, finish, and engraving style are all factors that influence the cost of a headstone. This article will cover all of the factors that go into determining the cost of a headstone.

The following are the average prices for various types of headstones and grave markers:

  • Single upright headstones: $999 - $2,999

  • Double upright headstones: $1,999 - $4,999

  • Single Grave Markers (flat): $599 - $799

  • Double Grave Markers (flat): $1,249 - $1,999

  • Single Slant: $949 - $1,649

  • Double Slant: $1,499 - $2,999

  • Grave Ledger: $3,249 - $5,999

Headstone prices include regional installation, basic engraving, and quality guarantee. *Other monument companies may add these fees to the total cost.

Prices for Headstones, Tombstones and Grave Markers - How Much Should You Expect to Pay in 2023? — Brown Memorials (1)

The two main costs are size & material

The size and material of the headstone are the two most important factors that influence its price.

Because stone is purchased from the quarry per cubic inch, the size of the headstone is an important cost factor. Even minor size changes can cause the price to increase or decrease. Larger monuments require more materials, such as stencil, and, more often than not, more production time. To install a larger headstone, more specialized equipment and a larger crew may be required. All of these elements can influence the price of a headstone.

There is a wide range of memorial grade granites available, and each material has a different price. This is largely due to the fact that granites are quarried all over the world. The labor, processing, and freight costs associated with the material are reflected in the material cost. The price you pay is determined by where the granite is quarried and where you live.

Another common type of memorial is the bronze grave marker; in fact, some cemeteries require all memorials to be made of bronze. Many people think that bronze markers are inexpensive because they are flush with the ground and have little presence; however, this could not be further from the truth. Bronze is an expensive metal made up of more than 80% copper. A standard size 24" x 12" bronze grave marker is typically five times (5x) the price of a 24" x 12" grey granite marker. Before you buy a cemetery lot, make sure you understand the memorial requirements. If you're on a tight budget, bronze might not be the best option.

  • The average price for a single bronze grave marker is $2,699 - $3,499

  • The average price for a double bronze grave marker is $3,999 - $5,999

Prices for Headstones, Tombstones and Grave Markers - How Much Should You Expect to Pay in 2023? — Brown Memorials (3)

The finish and type of engraving are also important considerations

Granite headstones typically have five visible sides: front, back, left, right, and top. The front and back of the headstone are typically polished or matted velvet (steel). The price is usually unaffected by whether the front and back are polished or velvet. The finish on the remaining three sides (left, right, and top) will oftenimpact the price. The amount that the edge finish influences the price is frequently determined by whether the stone is imported or domestic. Finer finishes on domestic stones are significantly more expensive than the same finish on imported stones. It all comes down to labor costs.

Other architectural details or more creative shapes can improve a monument's appearance and finish; however, More detail and more complex shapes yield higher production costs.

Prices for Headstones, Tombstones and Grave Markers - How Much Should You Expect to Pay in 2023? — Brown Memorials (4)

Every monument includes the inscription of the deceased's name, birth date, and at-need death date. Headstone prices include a basic ornament design, such as a flower or cross, as well as the first 12 words of an epitaph, verse, or quote. Custom design elements will be charged extra.

Sandblasting is the technique used to add lettering and other basic decorations to stone. The stone is covered with a rubber stencil with the approved design. The stone is then placed in an enclosed room where high-pressured sand carves the exposed areas, creating the permanent design. Sandblasting will provide the most long-lasting results at the lowest cost.

The most common type of sandblast engraving is called flat or line carving. The next level, shape carving, adds subtle dimension to the ornament and design. The third level of detail, relief carving, involves tooling back the area behind the design element, leaving the ornament suspended in relief. Sculptural details are then added to the ornament. Each level of detail will add to the price of the headstone.

Prices for Headstones, Tombstones and Grave Markers - How Much Should You Expect to Pay in 2023? — Brown Memorials (5)

Adding a death date to a cemetery monument is extra

Engraving stone in a controlled environment, such as a workshop, is always preferable, but this is not always possible. A cemetery engraving is the process of adding a carving to an existing monument in a cemetery.

Headstone prices include everything from the initial project requirements to installation. Many double headstones are created and installed while one of the spouses is still alive. When the second spouse dies, the family must hire a monument company to add their date of death to the monument. The current average cost of adding a cemetery engraving is $350.

A cemetery is isolated in nature, and the engraver must transport a large amount of special equipment to the cemetery and frequently work around inclement weather. During rainy or cold seasons, a cemetery engraving may be impossible to complete because the stencil won’t adhere to the stone. Trying to add a death date in less than ideal conditions could destroy the expensive monument.

If you want to add anything to a monument that has been in place for months or years, expect to pay for the extra service.

STONE ETCHINGS will add alot of detail

Stone etchings are extremely popular in contemporary memorial design.This is primarily due to the fact that stone etchings add a level of personalization and detail that other types of carving do not.

Etching stone can be done by a laser or a skilled artisan. Because the amount of time and skill required to do an etching is greater than that required for many other types of engraving, etchings are priced at the higher end of the spectrum. Furthermore, because an etching can only be done on dark, premium stone, the entry cost for a stone etching is higher than for standard carvings. Small etchings can cost between $300 and $400, while large etchings can cost thousands of dollars.

Prices for Headstones, Tombstones and Grave Markers - How Much Should You Expect to Pay in 2023? — Brown Memorials (6)

The two most common add-ons are memorial portraits and flower vases

Most headstone designs allow for a variety of additional, personalized elements, the most common of which are flower vases and porcelain memorial portraits. Each additional memorial portrait or vase will cost $349 on average. Some larger or more premium options will be more expensive.

A personalized headstone vase can be designed to match the theme of the monument, or a standard vase can be used. A memorial portrait, too, can be personalized and turned into a collage or other creative image. A verse or signature can be added to a memorial portrait.

Other optional add-ons include:

  • Artisan texture

  • Ornament in bronze

  • Granite or marble statuary

  • Acrylic display cases

regional delivery and installation is included

Every headstone or grave marker purchase includes regional delivery and installation. If you buy a grave marker from an out-of-state online retailer, you will almost certainly have to pay a local monument company or cemetery to install it.

A single monument company cannot travel to every state in the country to install small monuments and grave markers. Shipping is a good option for settings and installations that extend beyond regional boundaries. Additional shipping and handling fees will apply in this case.

If you want to save money on a small grave marker or slant, you can pick up the stone from the production studio and install it yourself. Pick-up orders are only suitable for small, single stones. While this is an option for those on a tight budget, most families prefer to have the installation handled by professionals.

Prices for Headstones, Tombstones and Grave Markers - How Much Should You Expect to Pay in 2023? — Brown Memorials (7)

Some cemeteries will charge extra fees

There is at least one perpetual care cemetery in most communities. Perpetual care cemeteries charge a fee based on the size of the monument you select. Most cemeteries are open about their fees, but some try to conceal them or pass them off as "the monument company's fee" which is simply not true. Your perpetual care fee is paid directly to a cemetery trust. According to the law, this trust can only be used after a cemetery is full and no longer generates revenue.

The cemetery's perpetual care fee should cover the following items:

  • The removal of trash and out-dated flowers

  • Maintaining a clean lot appearance including grass trimming

  • Realigning and leveling markers

  • Removal and replacement of markers if needed for future internments

  • Reasonable repair or replacement should the cemetery damage your monument

The fee paid to a perpetual care cemetery should provide you with the assurance that your lot will be in good condition for many years to come. When talking to a cemetery about their fee, make sure that they provide you with a written copy of what is included. They should also tell you their rate. Rates can vary between $0.10 per square inch and $1.00+ per square inch. The fee is determined by the square inches of the monument’s base and square inches of grave markers.

Once you've determined the rate and the size of the monument, use the example below to help calculate the perpetual care fee.

Prices for Headstones, Tombstones and Grave Markers - How Much Should You Expect to Pay in 2023? — Brown Memorials (8)

While the perpetual care fee can be costly, most rural, family, and church cemeteries do not charge it. A cemetery may charge additional foundation or supervision fees on rare occasions.

Establish a budget and talk to an expert

With so many ways to personalize a headstone, it can be hard to pinpoint the exact amount that you will have to spend to create the perfect memorial. No two monuments are exactly the same and everyone’s needs are different. The best first step is to establish a comfortable price range, and talk to a reputable monument maker about your wishes for the memorial. The monument maker will have knowledge of current market conditions and will guide you to the best options for your budget.

Custom designs can be created in almost any budget. With a custom design, a designer will interpret the details about your loved one into a tangible concept. A custom headstone design can be just as unique as the individual it memorializes. Since a custom design usually starts from scratch, a final price cannot always be figured until the design is close to final. Since the monument maker will be expending time and resources, a deposit will often be paid to retain their services during the planning and design phase.

Your best source is a reputable monument maker

The most qualified monument maker is someone with a full-time commitment to designing and producing cemetery monuments and gravestones. Monument makers source stone directly from quarries, so dealing with them directly may save you money by cutting out the middle man.Working directly with the monument maker will often result in a better consultation, design, and finished product too.

When looking for the right monument maker, ensure that the quality of previous works in their portfolio is appealing and well-crafted, and that their reputation is supported by positive reviews and testimonials. Find a company that does their own work because someone who gets their headstones from a third-party monument maker will not have the same level of expertise. A monument is only made once, so don't settle for a company that can't meet your unique needs - it could be a costly, permanent mistake.

One group of monument makers stands out from the rest. The American Institute of Commemorative Art is made up of the top 50 retail headstone designers and manufacturers in North America. A monument maker must adhere to the highest business and design standards in order to become a member of this group.

Some cemeteries and funeral homes sell monuments, but they rarely specialize in the craft and are rarely regarded as experts in the field of headstones. They provide entirely different services than monument makers. If you intend to buy a headstone or grave marker from a local cemetery or funeral home, inquire as to who creates their monuments. If you want to do something truly one-of-a-kind or believe that the funeral home or cemetery cannot provide the best headstone planning service or design, go directly to the monument maker. It is not uncommon for some cemeteries and funeral homes to overcharge for headstones.

Conclusion

It can be overwhelming for some to consider all of the options and factors that influence the price of a headstone, but don't let that deter you. A quality headstone, tombstone or grave marker can be made for any budget. All you need is sound guidance, which an honest monument maker will provide.

Prices for Headstones, Tombstones and Grave Markers - How Much Should You Expect to Pay in 2023? — Brown Memorials (9)

Need help finding a monument maker in your area?

Compare designs and prices on these popular styles

Single Upright Headstones

Double Upright Headstones

Single Markers, Slants and Ledgers

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Bran Oswalt

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