Whether you are planning ahead or it is more of a sudden situation, time is usually of the essence. This is no exception when it comes to getting a headstone.
How long does it really take to make a headstone?
It takes three to six weeks on average, for the creation of most simple, black granite upright headstones. It could only be a few weeks if you choose a pre-fabricated design & a smaller, flat headstone. Inversely, a custom headstone with imported stone & hand-cut engraving could take some months.
With all the options out there and different quality of stones, it can be confusing.
If you are planning yourself or the deceased has not left behind any instructions, here is some information that will help you in your decisions and some timeframes so you can plan accordingly.
Why does it take so long to make a headstone?
There are many things that could speed up and slow down the process of creating the headstone. How fast it can be done does not fall solely upon the mason/ manufacturers, but most likely you.
Though it may seem like a straightforward process, creating a headstone has a lot of intricacies and the more elaborate you want, the longer it usually takes.
Types of headstones
The first thing that will affect the speed of completion is the type of headstone that you want. The main ones to choose from are a bronze marker, flat, upright, kerbed and a monument.
- A bronze marker can be done the quickest and is the cheapest way to honor your loved one while still looking nice.
- A flat headstone is around the same size as the marker, but instead of having a bronze plate on it, it is all stone and hand or laser etched.
- The upright headstone is the most common one you will see and should not take long as most of the granite ones are already precut.
- A kerbed headstone could take up to a year as they are full body length and require more stone.
- A monument can range widely in time for creation and could take years depending on the size, material, and type of stone. If you are thinking about having one of these it would be best to plan far in advance.
For more information on the pricing of a headstone and other details connected to this, check out my full article on the average cost of headstones.
What do you want on the headstone?
The next step in how long it will take is choosing what you want on the headstone E.g. inscription, font, lettering and images.
This will dictate the minimum size the headstone needs to be and if it can be done on a pre-cut stone or one has to be made.
If it is small enough and they have a pre-cut stone ready, it can be done quickly usually within the month. For larger inscriptions and hand-cut images, it may take up to a few months.
You will also have the choice of engravings, there are stock options and custom designs. The stock options are faster and easier while the custom will take some more time and may need to be done by hand. To find more about the costs of engraving a headstone look through my article.
Also, if you wish to have some religious aspect to the headstone, then you may find inspiration in my list of bible verses for various relatives and relationships to the deceased.
Laser Etching Vs Handetched
Having a headstone laser etched will take significantly less time than hand etching, usually half the time. The amount of time it takes for the laser etching to be done comes down to the stonemason’s schedule and availability.
For hand etching, it is a more laborious process and takes usually six to eight weeks for lettering. It can take longer if you choose to have an image or design engraved as well.
For the maximum efficiency and detail, you could use a combination of the two and have the images done by laser and words done by hand.
Choice of Materials
The most common and readily available type of material for a headstone is black granite. By choosing this it will most likely be quicker to create. The second most popular stone is marble, while still available it may take longer to create as it is a softer stone and cannot be laser etched.
Ordering online is an option, but tends to take longer though as it has to be cut and shipped to your location. You will have a much larger variety of headstones and it is often cheaper as well. If you do order online, make sure that you get a timeframe and purchase from a reputable dealer.
I recommend the following online dealers:
- You can also find deals on Amazon.com
Tips and Helpful Ideas
Here are tips to get the best quality headstone in the shortest amount of time.
- Pay upfront and in full- Even if you put down a deposit most places will not do anything until they have received full payment. They usually ask for a deposit when you choose a design and stone.
- Check with the cemetery- This is often done by the company creating your headstone but you may need to do it in some cases. Not all types of headstones and designs are allowed and you don’t want to have it made and not be allowed to be placed.
- Approve the design- Before they start production on the stone they need to get your final approval. This may be able to be done electronically but is usually done in person. Also, the final payment can be done here.
- Stone material- If time, cost and durability are the issues a granite stone is the best choice for a material that is readily available to be used.
- Premade stones- There are no issues with getting a precut stone, with these you can bypass most of the steps above and have something installed that looks good and will bring less stress on you.
- Got to a professional- They will know what to do and if you still have any questions or are truly in a rush they have services available and can take care of all your needs. It will be more expensive but the peace of mind could be worth it.
- Keep the stone simple- You do not need to have a lavish headstone. It is there for your loved one to cherish your memory. By keeping it simple not only will it save time and grief, but it can really show what type of person you were and how you want to be remembered.
- Have minimal writing- There are no rules to how much or little you have to have written on the headstone. Having only the person’s name and dates on the stone is and an acceptable thing to do and can look pleasant.
- Plan ahead- By having a will and/or getting this done in advance, or at least laying out your wishes to our loved one will be greatly appreciated during this trying time.
When should you order the headstone?
The best thing one can do is to have a will and plan ahead. If you are planning ahead and going in to get your own headstone made, explain the situation and your timeframe. Most places can make it far in advance and the company or the cemetery has options for storing the headstone.
This is often not the case and nothing that you should worry about. These factors are out of your control. When you are up to it go in and order the headstone, don’t rush yourself. If you really feel it needs to get done quickly you can pay to have it expedited, but this will be more costly.
Is there a time of year it will take longer to make a headstone?
Yes, sadly the funeral industry is seasonal. December to February see the highest amount of deaths every year.
It is thought to be from the cold, season affective disorder and the holidays during these months. So, if you are trying to get a headstone done during these months you can be excepted to add a month on to the finish time.
While in the summer months it is the opposite and there is usually no wait time in getting started.
How long does it take to install the headstone?
How long it takes to install and how long you should wait are two distinct differentiations. You should wait six to twelve months for the ground to set before you install the headstone.
This is not often the case and they are installed much quicker. It may not be an issue at the time but could lead to one in the future. Read here to learn more details in my article about erecting headstones.
Do they have pre-made headstones?
Yes, there are pre-made and cut headstones out there all ready to go. All you need to do is to add the details of the deceased and it is ready to be installed.
Do I have to have a headstone?
No, you do not. Usually, while the stone is being made and the ground setting, there will not be any type of marker on the grave.
Cemeteries may have certain rules as to whether or not you need an actual headstone, so always check with them. However, there is no law which states it has to be an expensive marker.
What are pre-need and at-need headstones?
A pre-need headstone is one that you purchase and choose for yourself or loved one before a death occurs. At-need headstones are ones that are chosen when an unexpected death has occurred.
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