Grave markers, also referred to as headstones, gravestones or tombstones, are made of metal or stone and are placed on a grave to identify the person who is buried there. A grave marker’s size and shape can vary greatly, but granite is the most popular material because of its beauty and longevity. Before selecting a marker for a grave it is important to learn about all of the options available. This will ensure that you choose the highest quality marker to memorialize your loved.
Even though the purpose of grave markers has not changed, the material used and designs have improved over time. Granite and bronze grave markers are currently the most popular type of monument due to their beauty and longevity. Today, specialized machinery makes it possible to engrave complex text and designs on stone grave markers. Also, the process for casting brass has improved resulting in more detailed and beautiful brass markers.
Depending on your budget you may be limited to certain types of monuments. Typical grave markers cost anywhere from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars. Below is more information on the types of grave markers available, which will be a good starting point for choosing the perfect marker to memorialize the life of your loved one.
Flat markers, also referred to as Grass Markers and Flush Markers, sit flat on the ground. They are less expensive and easier to maintain than upright monuments. Standard flat markers are 24″ x 12″, but sizes can vary. Standard markers are recommended to be 4″ thick to withstand the weight of lawn mowers that run over the markers. Some companies will sell flat markers that are 3″ thick to reduce costs, but you should first check with the cemetery to see what they require as the minimum thickness. For example, cemeteries in California may only require 3″ thickness, but other states may require 4″ thick stones.
Bronze Markers, also referred to as Flush Bronze Markers, sit flat to the ground. They are similar to stone flat markers, but have a bronze component. The bronze marker is typically placed on a granite base. You should check with your cemetery first to see if they require you to purchase a granite backer and if they have any other regulations. Bronze markers are very popular because they are less expensive than purchasing an engraved granite marker.
Bevel Markers, also referred to as Pillow Markers and Hickey Markers, sit closer to the ground, but have a slight bevel slant from the back to front of marker. The back is usually 2″ thicker than the front of the marker, which produces the slight slope. Standard bevel markers are 6″ to 8″ thick, but some more expensive markers are 10″ or higher. Check with the cemetery to see if they have any height restrictions for bevel markers. Typically, bevel markers are only polished on the top to save money, but it is possible to purchase markers that are flat and polished on all sides.
Slant Markers, also referred to as Mini Upright Markers, are shorter and thicker than upright monuments. They give the appearance of a more expensive upright monument, but without the high cost. Standard slant markers are 16″ wide and have a slight slant. The length and height of the marker can vary greatly and it is important to check with the cemetery first to see if they have any size regulations. Because of the marker weight a concrete foundation is required. The marker can sit directly on the foundation or have a granite base. Typically, slant markers are only polished on the front to save money, but it is possible to purchase markers that are flat and polished on all sides.
A Companion Marker is a larger marker that allows you to commemorate the life to two people, typically a husband and wife. Flat, bevel and slant markers all have a companion option. Sometimes the companion marker is simply a wider version of the marker. Or, it may be two markers that are flat on one side and can sit next to each other to appear as if one large marker.
Baby Markers and Child Markers are similar to adult markers, but are smaller in size. Flat, bevel and slant markers all have a smaller option for a baby or child.
Some monument companies will offer the above markers shaped into designs. The most common specialty makers are shaped as a heart, cross, or praying hands, but other options may be available.
There are a lot of options to consider when looking at grave markers. Typically your budget will be one of the most important factors in your decision, but cemetery regulations may also play a part. You should then consider the size, shape and style of marker that will best memorialize your love one’s life. Any of the markers listed above will create a beautiful permanent memorial to commemorate a life.
Updated: January 20, 2013