How Much Does a Headstone Cost In 2023?

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A headstone is just one of many items that go into funeral costs. In addition to the price of a casket (average cost of $2,500 according to the latest NFDA report on funeral costs), a headstone can easily be the second-most, if not the most expensive item you need to plan for.

From the size and stone color to the type of material and even the amount of lettering you choose, headstone prices can cost a few hundred to several thousand dollars. With such a wide range in cost, it’s common for people to seek guidance in this piece of funeral planning.

Whether you are currently pre-planning a funeral or needing a grave marker for a loved one at this very moment, this article will provide helpful guidance on what you need to know about purchasing a headstone in 2023 and the potential costs.

What Is a Headstone?

A headstone is a memorial placed at the head of the deceased’s grave, marking the final resting place. Headstones typically include an inscription of the deceased’s name, year of birth, date of passing, and often a short epitaph.

Many headstones include decorative touches, such as floral designs, religious images, or memorial quotes. You can even request headstones with portraits or full-color photos of the deceased.

What's the Difference Between a Headstone and a Grave Marker?

A headstone is a type of grave marker. Headstones are any monument or device used to mark a deceased individual’s final resting place. However, some funeral homes and monument makers may refer to grave markers as plaques that lay horizontally on a stone base. In contrast, a headstone will typically stand vertically at the head of the grave.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “headstone” originated in the 1600s. The term is often used interchangeably with tombstones, gravestones, and grave markers. However, tombstones and gravestones were once used initially to secure tombs or graves. For example, a tombstone was typically a stone lid for a tomb.

You may also see the words monument and memorial, along with gravestones and tombstones. But, no matter what you call it, they all serve the same purpose: marking a grave.

Types of Headstones

The design of the headstone is an important decision, as it will impact a large part of the total cost of the grave marker. There are several varieties of designs and customization options to give headstones a different overall look. Here are the different types of headstones to become familiar with:

  • Flat 
  • Bevel
  • Slanted
  • Upright
  • Bench
  • Kerbed

Flat Headstones

A flat headstone is a grave marker with a level top that lays flat on the ground. Flat headstones can come in many different sizes but are generally always in the shape of a rectangle and are typically 2-4″ thick.

Out of all types of headstones, a flat grave marker tends to be the most affordable as they don’t require much material than, let’s say, an upright monument.

However, they can become quite expensive depending on the size and if you choose to have the top portion of the headstone mounted in a bronze plaque. For example, a 24″ x 12″ all bronze with a 3D image mounted on a granted slab can run upwards of $3,000.

Additional names for flat type headstones include:

  • Flat Grave Markers
  • Grass Level Markers
  • Lawn Level Markers

Average Flat Grave Marker Prices

DimensionsWeightAverage Cost
12" x 8" x 3"30-40 lbsLow: $279 / High: $699
16" x 8" x 3"40-50 lbsLow: $299 / High: $899
20" x 8" x 3"60-70 lbsLow: $399 / High: $1,199
24" x 12" x 3"90-100 lbsLow: $549 / High: $2,099
24" x 12" x 4"120-130 lbsLow: $699 / High: $2,249
28" x 16" x 3"135-145 lbsLow: $649 / High: $2,600
28" x 16" x 4"180-190 lbsLow: $1,049 / High: $3,399
36" x 14" x 4"200-210 lbsLow: $1,449 / High: $4,049

The table above represents the average low and high costs of various granite flat headstone dimensions. Prices will vary based on the color of the granite and any extra features added to the headstone.

Bevel Headstones

Bevel headstones are similar to flat headstones except that the stone is cut at an angle.

The back of the marker is taller than the front giving it a downward slope or pitch. In addition, the top of the stone angles forward instead of facing upward, allowing the engraving to be read without standing directly above the headstone.

Bevel headstones tend to cost more than flat headstones due to their larger size requiring more stone to make.

Additional names for bevel type headstones include:

  • Pillow Headstones
  • Bevel Grave Markers

Average Bevel Headstone Prices

DimensionsWeightAverage Cost
20" x 10" x 6"120-130 lbsLow: $1,000 / High: $2,099
24" x 12" x 6"175-185 lbsLow: $1,250 / High: $2,565
36" x 12" x 6"260-270 lbsLow: $1,000 / High: $6,100
36" x 12" x 8"350-360 lbsLow: $1,850 / High: $6,199

The table above represents the average low and high costs of various granite flat headstone dimensions. Prices will vary based on the color of the granite and any extra features added to the headstone.

Slanted Headstones

Slanted headstones closely resemble bevel options but with a much taller design. The stone may measure 16 to 18 inches in height with a slant on top to angle the engraving.

The very top of the headstone will often have a serpentine design, a curved shape that is very common on many headstones. 

Most slanted headstones will also sit on top of a 2-6″ thick stone base made of granite or marble called a “nosing.”

Additional names for slant type headstones include:

  • Slant Headstone
  • Slant Grave Marker
  • Serp Top Slant Headstones
  • Slant Tombstone
  • Cemetery Slant Marker

Average Slant Headstone Prices

DimensionsWeightAverage Cost
20" x 10" x 16"210-220 lbsLow: $1,650 / High: $3,249
20" x 10" x 16"
430-440 lbsLow: $2,300 / High: $6,499
24" x 10" x 16"250-260 lbsLow: $1,850 / High: $4,350
24" x 10" x 16"
510-520 lbsLow: $2,700 / High: $6,600
30" x 10" x 16"310-320 lbsLow: $2,250 / High: $6,750
30" x 10" x 16"
615-625 lbsLow: $3,100 / High: $10,400
36" x 10" x 16"375-385 lbsLow: $2,550 / High: $9,250
36" x 10" x 16"
730-740 lbsLow: $3,800 / High: $13,200

The table above represents the average cost of various granite slanted headstone dimensions. Prices will vary based on the color of the granite and any extra features added to the headstone.

Upright Headstones

An upright headstone or monument headstones are the most traditional design and what most people think of when they picture a cemetery. Because they stand vertically, the average height on an upright headstone is 20 to 48 inches, but they can measure much taller.

Upright headstones are much larger and often cost more than the other headstone options. There are generally two parts to an upright headstone: the bottom base and the upright stone, referred to as the “die or tablet.”

Due to their large size, you will often have more space for adding accessories and design customizations, such as additional headstone engraving, images, or a headstone vase. Many monument makers also offer upright headstones in different shapes such as a heart, teardrop, cross, angel, etc.

Additional names for upright type headstones include:

  • Traditional Upright
  • Tablet Headstone
  • Serptop Headstone
  • Upright Monument
  • Cemetery Upright
  • Grave Headstone

Average Upright Headstone Prices

DimensionsWeightAverage Cost
14" x 4" x 16"230-240 lbsLow: $720 / High: $2,500
14" x 4" x 16"
(w/single vase)
250-260 lbsLow: $820 / High: $2,600
18" x 6" x 24"430-440 lbsLow: $2,300 / High: $7,100
18" x 6" x 24"
(w/double vases)
540-550 lbsLow: $3,000 / High: $8,900
36" x 6" x 24"865-875 lbsLow: $4,050 / High: $11,000
36" x 6" x 24"
(w/double vases)
990-1000 lbsLow: $4,950 / High: $13,200

The table above represents the average cost of various granite slanted headstone dimensions. Prices will vary based on the color of the granite and any extra features added to the headstone.

Bench Headstones

Bench headstones include a seat, often accompanied by a headstone. Benches are often used as a memorial marker for a couple buried in adjacent plots, as most designs have adequate space for multiple inscriptions and images.

Additional names for bench type headstones include:

  • Memorial Bench
  • Monubench
  • Pedestal Bench

Surround Headstone

Surround grave markers include a line of stone called a Kerb that forms a rectangle around a portion, but often the entire burial plot.

The head end of the kerb connects to a headstone, which is often of an upright design. The structure that surrounds the burial plot contains four walls forming a bed.

The bed will often be filled with decorative stone but may also include soil where grass or flowers can be planted. You may even have the bed covered with a solid granite or marble slab.

Kerbed memorial beds are not as popular in the U.S. as in Europe. In addition, most cemeteries have strict guidelines on the style of the surround they will allow, limiting your options. Regarding pricing, it is best to contact monument makers directly to get a quote as there is a lot of customization that can go into the grave marker.

Additional names for surround types of headstones include:

  • Kerb Headstone
  • Kerbed Memorial
  • Cover Surround Memorial

How Much Is A Headstone?

So, how much does a headstone cost? The average cost of a traditional granite upright headstone in 2023 cost between $1000 and $3000. However, the price will vary depending on any optional features selected features, along with the type of headstone and materials picked.

Here are the average costs for different types of grave markers:

  • Flat: $280 to $1500
  • Bevel: $1000 to $1850
  • Slant: $1700 to $3800
  • Upright: $720 to $5000
  • Bench: $2000 to $7500
  • Kerbed: $2000 to $10000

Other Factors that Determine Total Headstone Costs

  • Weight and size
  • Material and texture
  • Type of finish
  • Engraving
  • Accessories
  • Delivery and shipping
  • Cemetery permit fees
  • Installation fee

Here is the full breakdown of the different factors in pricing a headstone.

Weight and Size

The type of headstone impacts the weight and size, which is a considerable cost factor. Larger, heavier monuments cost more to make as it takes more time to design and requires more material.

An upright and bench headstone costs significantly more than a flat, bevel, or slanted monument. Surround headstones are often the most expensive option, as they include stone lining around the entire gravesite and a headstone at the head of the grave.

Benches are often used for companion graves and have an average length of 36 to 44 inches x 14″ wide. They generally stand about 12″ tall. Therefore, the cost is often comparable to a large upright headstone. However, upright headstones include more design options that can increase the price.

Material and Texture

In addition to the weight and size of a headstone, the material used to make the headstone will play a prominent role in the overall cost.

Common materials used to create headstones include:

  • Granite
  • Marble
  • Bronze

Almost all headstones are made out of stone, primarily marble or granite. Marble headstones were a popular past option as most of today’s headstones are made of granite because of their durability and lower cost.

In addition, granite comes in various color options, such as black, grey, red, pink, and blue. Marble headstones offer a luxurious look of white with gray swirls or black with touches of lighter whites and grays.

While marble headstones offer a luxurious look, the actual marble does not hold up well compared to granite. Without proper care, the surface can gradually erode and blur the engravings.

Bronze is another material commonly used in grave markers for centuries. However, without annual cleaning, a bronze marker will gradually form a green patina due to exposure to moisture.

Overall, bronze and granite headstones are the most popular, durable options and are often used together. Granite by itself is the more affordable choice, while bronze is one of the more expensive materials and is commonly used for smaller flat headstones or plaques used on a more prominent headstone.

You may pay several hundred more dollars for a bronze marker than a granite marker of the same size.

Type of Finish

Most headstones are polished or semi-polished to create a smoother surface. A fully polished headstone has a shiny, reflective surface, while a semi-polished headstone is often polished around the engravings. However, some cemeteries do not allow polished headstones, as the glossy surface can reflect sunlight.

A steel or frosted finish is often used when a cemetery does not allow a polished grave marker. It involves sandblasting the surface to create a smoother look. You may also choose a sawn finish, a semi-smooth finish that is achieved using a diamond saw blade. Both options may be a little cheaper compared to a polished finish.

The most expensive finishes are specialty options, including axed and honed. These specialty options involve more work. An axed finish is created by chiseling the surface. A honed finish involves polishing the surface and then removing a portion of the polish using dust to create a less reflective surface.


Engraving is the process of carving a design using sandblasting or laser etching lettering into the monument. Grave markers include engravings to display the deceased’s name, date of birth, and date of death.

This standard inscription is often about 20 characters in length. However, you can add more inscriptions, such as an epitaph that may include a bible verse, favorite saying, or quote.

The average engraving price is about $20 to $25 per character for the first 20 to 30 characters. After reaching a threshold of 20 or 30 characters, most masons charge $8 to $10 for each additional character.


You can customize the look of a grave marker with a wide range of accessories. Each of the following options increases the cost of the monument:

  • Flower vase holder
  • Flag holder
  • Solar lighting
  • Ceramic headstone pictures
  • Custom designs

Adding a flower holder, flag holder, or solar lighting to a headstone may increase the cost by $50 to $150. Solar lighting often includes a small statue illuminated by solar light.

Ceramic headstone pictures are available in full-color and monochrome designs and may cost $100 to $300. The image is typically set on a base on the face of the headstone and incorporated into the overall design.

Some monument makers may also allow you to request custom designs, such as modifying an existing design or creating a design from scratch. However, a custom design may add hundreds to the total cost of the grave marker.

Delivery and Shipping

Whether you order a headstone online or buy from a local monument maker, you may need to pay for shipping or delivery. If you buy the monument locally, the delivery fee for transporting the headstone to the cemetery may be included in the installation fee.

Purchasing online could result in shipping charges. However, while researching headstone costs, we noticed that many monument makers offer free shipping.

Cemetery Permit Fee

Cemeteries may charge a small fee to cover administrative tasks and an inspection of the headstone to ensure compliance with all requirements. The fee may be anywhere from $50 to $100.

Installation Fee

Installation is generally offered at no cost by most cemeteries. However, if the cemetery does not provide free installation, the average installation cost is $100 to $500.

A small, flat headstone that does not require a concrete base may only cost about $100 to install. However, a large bench that requires a concrete foundation may cost closer to $900 to install.

Tips On How to Purchase a Headstone

One of the simplest ways to purchase a headstone is to complete the purchase through a funeral home or the cemetery where your remains were to be buried. Representatives from either of the two places can guide you through the process, make recommendations and show you their available options.

While most people commonly use those two options, it may not be the best option to offer the cheapest cost on headstones.

One of the best tips for shopping for a headstone is to utilize the help of the Internet. Several monument makers from all over the United States offer their headstones through online retail and can often ship throughout the country free of cost.

As a consumer, having the option to shop for a headstone online offers many advantages. For example, you can customize a headstone to your liking and compare prices to get the most affordable cost, especially if you are trying to stick within a budget.

Regardless if you want to explore your options in person with a funeral home, cemetery, or a local monument maker, you should follow these steps:

  • Talk to the cemetery
  • Set a budget
  • Choose a design
  • Select your customizations
  • Order your headstone

The first step when choosing a grave marker is to contact the cemetery that you have selected. The cemetery will have a list of requirements for grave markers, which you should keep in mind when picking out a headstone.

You should also set a budget for the monument. As mentioned, a traditional upright headstone will likely cost between $1000 to $3000 or more. Your budget will also influence the types of headstones you can choose, along with customization options.

It may take one to six months to complete a headstone. However, the time of the year, the headstone size, and the customization amount may result in a longer wait time.

What to Look for When Purchasing a Headstone

The main details that you want to pay attention to when shopping for a headstone include:

  • Cemetery restrictions
  • Quality of past work
  • Customization options
  • Cost and payment options
  • Customer reviews

Review the restrictions of the cemetery that you choose for burial. If you have not already selected a cemetery, you can contact several cemeteries to discuss potential grave marker restrictions. Purchasing the headstone first may limit your burial options.

The restrictions may cover:

  • Sizes
  • Colors
  • Memorial material
  • Photographic materials
  • The type of edge and design

Most cemeteries have restrictions on the minimum and maximum sizes of grave markers. For example, one cemetery may require headstones with a 24×16-inch base, while others require a 24×18-inch base.

After reviewing the restrictions, start searching for the right company or stone carver to make your headstone. You should pay close attention to their past work, available customization options, and cost to find the right fit.

You may even want to view examples in person. A local monument maker should be willing to arrange a visit to showcase examples of their work.

You can also narrow your options with an Internet search. For example, search for monument makers in your local area and read customer reviews. One of the best ways to find a local monument maker is to search online using the keyphrase “headstone maker near me” or “monument maker near me.”

By utilizing these key phrases, your search results will return a list of all local headstone makers within a radius of your home.  

How to Save Money Purchasing a Headstone

By shopping around and comparing companies, you can save money purchasing a grave marker. You will likely find lower prices when buying directly from a monument maker rather than purchasing a headstone through a funeral home or cemetery.

You can also select a smaller headstone and limit the engraving. Smaller headstones with basic designs cost less, requiring less work and material. Remember that granite is often the most affordable material.

Avoid adding extra features, such as flower vase holders or ceramic photographs. Each accessory may add another $100 or more to your total.

How Life Insurance Can Help Pay Headstone Cost

The average cost of a funeral with a service, viewing, and burial is $7,848 in 2023. That price does not include the headstone cost, which can add an extra $200 to $10,000 more in additional costs.

An expense of that size can create a financial burden on anyone, especially when unexpected. A life insurance policy is one of the most common ways people pay for funeral costs.

For example, life insurance policies work by paying a death benefit after the policyholder passes. Beneficiaries can use the payout payment however they choose, including covering the cost of a grave marker and other funeral expenses.

Any life insurance policy can help pay for funeral expenses. However, many seniors choose to obtain burial insurance as these plans focus on paying for final expenses such as the cost of memorials, funerals, caskets, grave markers, and other minor end-of-life expenses.

Burial insurance policies are permanent whole life insurance plans. These life insurance plans offer limited coverage amounts, generally no more than $50,000, making it perfect if you do not need a large policy and need something that will last forever at an affordable price. 

Best of all, burial insurance does not require any medical exams. Instead, approval is widely based on your answers to the health questions listed on the application for coverage. Since there are no medical requirements, coverage can often be obtained quickly, removing the financial burden of an unexpecting passing.

Alternatives to Buying a Headstone

Instead of a traditional headstone, some individuals may prefer a different type of grave marker. Common headstone alternatives include:

  • Wooden crosses
  • Cement grave marker
  • Birdbaths
  • Sundials

Before choosing an alternative to a headstone, you should check with the cemetery where you plan on placing the grave marker. First, you need to ensure that it meets the cemetery’s requirements.

Questions About Headstones - FAQ

The following questions and answers should help address any remaining concerns about purchasing a headstone.

What Is the Cheapest Type of Headstone?

The cheapest headstone choices are often flat grave markers made from gray granite. Flat headstones are the smallest option and do not usually require a separate base, resulting in lower costs.

Granite is typically the cheapest material for grave markers. While some may prefer the look of marble or limestone, granite is more affordable and durable than marble.

As you also pay for engraving, choosing an inscription with as few characters and limiting optional designs will limit the cost of the grave marker.

Do You Need to Buy a Grave Marker from a Funeral Home?

You do not need to buy a grave marker from a funeral home. A funeral home may help you find a trusted local mason and cemetery. Instead of dealing with the funeral and burial separately, a funeral director can assist with everything. However, you are free to buy a headstone elsewhere.

Buying a headstone from a monument maker instead of a funeral home or cemetery allows you to compare options. You can ensure that the headstone fits your budget and preferences. However, if you purchase a headstone on your own, you must check with the church or cemetery regarding their guidelines on grave markers.

Where Can You Purchase a Grave Marker?

You can typically purchase a headstone from any of the following:

  • Cemeteries
  • Funeral homes
  • Monumental masons
  • Online monument makers

Most grave markers are made by stone carvers specializing in monumental masonry, designing and creating monuments such as headstones. Many cemeteries work with local stone carvers to sell grave markers. However, you can also buy directly from a stone carver.

Does the Color of the Headstone Increase the Cost?

In addition to the type, size, and material used to make a headstone, the color you choose will also determine the final cost. For example, granite is used to make most of today’s headstones. 

Granite is offered in a wide variety of different colors. However, some colors are more expensive than others. Here is a breakdown of the different granite colors, starting with the least expensive to the most expensive:

  • Grey
  • Imperial Gray
  • Imperial Black
  • Mahogany
  • Imperial Red
  • Blue Pearl
  • Desert Pink
  • Emerald Pearl
  • Bahama Blue

Does the Cost of a Headstone Vary from State to State?

The cost of a grave marker varies from state to state. Hawaii residents are more likely to pay than residents in other states. Other states with higher-than-average prices include California, Oregon, Alaska, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Massachusetts.

Can You Add a Headstone Later?

You can typically add a headstone at a later time if you choose. Most cemeteries will not allow a headstone to be placed until 6-12 months after a burial allowing time for the ground to settle.

The requirements may vary depending on the cemetery. For example, a cemetery may require all gravesites to include a permanent marker within a specific timeframe, such as within three years of burial.

If you add a headstone later, the cemetery may allow a footstone as a temporary marker. A footstone is placed by the foot end of the grave and is typically a small, flat monument or plaque.

Who Installs Headstones?

Headstones are generally installed by the cemetery or the mason who makes the monument. Cemeteries often have specific rules for the installation process and will install the headstone at no cost.

If you choose a local mason, they will likely have experience with local cemeteries and may already know the installation requirements. Headstone installation costs an average of $100 up to $500. Very large monuments can be a bit more expensive.

How Are Headstones Installed?

Most grave markers are installed using steel dowels inserted deep into the ground.

What Is the Best Material for a Grave Marker?

The best material for a grave marker depends on your specific needs. If you want the lowest-cost option, go with granite. If you want the most durable material without concern for costs, choose bronze.

Do Headstones Need Cleaning or Maintenance?

Headstones often need cleaning, maintenance, or restoration to maintain the appearance of the stone and decrease the risk of deterioration. You can clean the grave marker yourself or hire a company to perform maintenance.

Some cemeteries may offer a maintenance service for an additional fee. However, headstone cleaning is not the responsibility of the cemetery. They maintain the grounds.

What Are Companion Headstones?

A companion headstone is a monument that memorializes a couple, such as two spouses or even an entire family. Companion grave markers are larger than a traditional headstone, as it is made to cover two or more graves using one monument.

Do You Need a Headstone or Grave Marker?

Some cemeteries may require a grave marker within a specific time frame after burial while others may allow graves to remain unmarked. The requirements vary from cemetery to cemetery. However, if a grave marker is required, you can often wait six months to three years before needing to install it.

Will a Cemetery Allow Any Size Headstone?

Most cemeteries have requirements for the minimum and maximum sizes of monuments. They may also restrict the type of headstone that you can choose. For example, you may need to choose a specific lot to install a bench monument.

Can You Get a Headstone If You Choose Cremation?

Yes, depending on the cemetery, you may get a headstone if you choose cremation. The interment of ashes is the process of burying cremated remains in the ground or placing them in a columbarium. However, not all cemeteries allow the interment of ashes.

Can a Veteran Receive a Free Headstone?

Veterans may be eligible for a free headstone or marker from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA has a program for requesting a free monument for installation at any cemetery, including private cemeteries. However, you must still cover the cost of installation.


Headstones are grave markers that come in various sizes and shapes, resulting in a large swing of different prices. If you want the best value, remember to compare all your options.

Most importantly, before buying any headstone, check with the cemetery and their requirements.

Jeffrey Manola - Life Insurance Expert

Jeffrey Manola - Life Insurance Expert

Jeffrey Manola is the founder of No Medical Exam Quotes, an online insurance agency that strongly focuses on helping people shop for the perfect life insurance policy. He is a licensed life insurance expert and content creator for the website.

Before becoming a life insurance agent, he served in the United States Marine Corps, transitioning from serving his country to helping families find affordable life insurance coverage beginning in 2009. Since starting a career as a licensed life insurance agent, Jeffrey has helped thousands of families with their life insurance needs.

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