Headstones & Memorials

10 Questions to Ask When Purchasing a Headstone

upright light grey granite headstone with 3 roses engraved in each top corner and there is a small granite flat marker at the base of the upright headstone with a small American flag sticking out of the ground

Purchasing a headstone can be a very confusing process, with so many decisions to make and design options available. Due to the overwhelming grief that often comes with laying a loved one to rest, there are many additional questions, aside from aesthetics, that many often forget to ask. Here are the top 10 questions you should be asking before purchasing a headstone or burial monument for your loved one.

1. What information do I need to get from the cemetery?

Many people already know which cemetery they would like to be buried in. So, whether you are pre-planning or will be purchasing an at need headstone, it is best to contact the cemetery and ask if there are any restrictions or requirements to the size, style, materials, or engraving used for the headstone.

2. How long does it take to produce a headstone?

The time frame for production depends on the design, type, engraving, or other customizations you wish to add to the headstone. On average a flat grass marker takes approximately 3-4 weeks to construct. An upright monument, considering its large stature will take longer, production time is typically around 90 days. Keep in mind, those time frames do not account for any design changes that might be made during the process.

3. What materials are most recommended for headstones?

Granite is the most common choice, and perhaps the best. Granite is very durable, hard, and can with stand the elements. Considering all the wonderful benefits of granite, it is very affordable. In addition, granite comes in a variety of colors allowing for further customization, making it an excellent option. When working with a monument dealer be sure to do your research to ensure they are using good quality granite, the cut and polish will also determine its longevity.

Marble is another beautiful choice, although it is not quite as durable as granite. Over time the elements will wear the marble, causing the surface to smooth out. This can make reading any inscriptions difficult. At some point the stone will need restoration work to revitalize the inscriptions.

Bronze is typically used only as an addition. Commonly, for creating markers to add on to a headstone.

4. Should I add a photograph to the headstone?

Adding a photograph is a personal choice, if allowed by the cemetery. This is a question for your cemetery. Some cemeteries may allow photographs but, have specific restrictions on whether or not they allow full color or only black and white. A picture is a nice touch as it provides a visual element for visitors.

5. What documents should I expect when purchasing a headstone?

During a time of grief, it is hard to handle everything that needs to be done. However, to keep this process flowing smoothly, and avoid any unanticipated delays, consider getting your paperwork in order before visiting your monument dealer. You will need the following forms: Marker authorization forms, photo release forms, setting forms, and concrete border release forms.

6. Can I add to an existing monument or headstone?

Yes, there are many occasions where adding to an existing headstone or monument is necessary. Such as, when two individuals are sharing a headstone but, pass away at different times. Sometimes, you may simply just wish to add on to the monument design at a later time. Most monument companies will require the headstone be cleaned prior to the new engraving. In the event, the original monument company is no longer in business or available to perform any additions, be sure to locate a company that can match the original font styles.

7. Can I pre-order a headstone?

Absolutely, over the years this has become a popular option as it is less of burden during the roughest time in you or your family’s lives. A pre-need headstone can be purchased whenever you are ready, there is no wrong time.

8. How much time do I have to purchase a headstone?

The cemetery never gives a time limit as to when you must have the headstone placed. However, they will say you need to wait for a certain period, typically 4-8 months, to allow the ground to settle. Based on those time frames, you have at least 5 months to work with your monument builder on creating the perfect design for your loved one’s monument. Some religious practices have regulations as to when and how a headstone can be set, with a ceremony following the setting of the headstone.

9. What can I expect to pay?

The price of headstones can vary greatly due to the many different types, sizes and personalization options available. The pricing is primarily based off the size, granite color, and design type. Make sure to ask your monument dealer for the all-inclusive price up front. This price will also include the sales tax and foundation fee.

10. Do headstones come with a warranty?

This is one of the most important questions to ask. A company should always stand behind their work and have a written warranty, of some type, that is provided to you at the time of purchase.

Shopping for the perfect headstone or burial monument to pay tribute to the life of your loved one for all of eternity can feel like a daunting task. However, know what questions to ask and working with the right monument company can help make the process a lot less stressful.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any additional questions you may have. We are here to help and would be happy to help you create the perfect monument for your loved one.

Tim Evanson [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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