What is the average cost of a headstone: What do people pay? (2021)

The average cost of a headstone in the United States is $1,000. This represents the cost of a simple, upright, granite tombstone – including installation. Readers should know that costs can vary a lot depending on a number of factors, chiefly: the kind of stone, the type of headstone, and whether you want to install any intricate designs or engravings within the stone.

The cost of a headstone (sometimes referred to as a gravestone or tombstone) also includes long term maintenance costs. You can expect to pay somewhere between $200 and $500 to get the stone restored every 5-10 years, depending on how quickly it degrades and how well it’s taken care of; frequent cleaning and addressing cracks is sometimes taken care of by the cemetery as part of your eternal care costs.

Check out the rest of this article to see a more detailed breakdown of headstone costs.

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You can order headstones at a lower cost from Amazon

What some may find surprising is that you can actually order headstones online – instead of going to a monument store or funeral home. While there isn’t a huge collection available, the headstones we did find came at a much cheaper cost – often less than $500. Here are a few options we found:

In this article:

  • Cost of headstone by type (flat marker, slant, monument/upright)
  • Cost of headstone by stone type (granite, marble)
  • Cost of headstone engraving
  • Cost of headstone installation
  • Cleaning & maintenance costs

How much does a headstone cost?

Flat markers are usually the cheapest headstone you can buy, costing around $250. Therefore, if your goal is to minimize how much you have to pay, we recommend starting here. The more upright a headstone gets, the more expensive it will generally be (of course withstanding any exceptions and outliers). Here is a breakdown of the average cost of a headstone by its type:

  • Lawn-level/Flat marker: $500 – $700. These units are the simplest headstone you can get, and are typically flush with the ground.
  • Bevel: $850 – $1,000. Bevel headstones are raised a few inches off the ground and will be slightly more noticeable.
  • Slanted headstone: $1,200+. These headstones are cut in at an angle, making them significantly more noticeable at a distance, when compared to bevels.
  • Upright monument/headstone:  $2,000+. These are the most common headstone people think of, and are much more expensive. Upright headstones are completely vertical, and have the most room to be intricate/grand.
Different types of headstones

You should note that the above prices are quoted only for individual headstones. Units for families or companions are typically 60-80% more expensive, since they require double or more the amount of stone. These prices are also included for granite tombstones. If you wanted marble gravestones instead, expect the price to get significantly more expensive as we explain the next section.

Headstone costs by type: Granite vs. Marble

Granite tombstones are the most common and least expensive types of headstones you can buy in the United States. The prices we’ve quoted above were all granite-based. Marble headstones cost, on average, $1,500 and up.

While the upfront cost of marble is more expensive, so is its long term care cost. These stones weather more quickly than granite, so you’ll likely have to invest in the upkeep of these headstones if you want them looking their best. So, why do people elect to get marble headstones? The polished appearance is generally considered to be of a higher quality than granite stones. Therefore, if you want to get something that will stand out and appear more lavish, you should go with a marble headstone.

Other headstone costs: engraving, installation, cost and maintenance

A headstone is just a stone, until it’s installed and engraved – so this is the third and final cost to consider.

You typically have to pay $20 per letter on granite headstones. If you need to get more than 30 letters/numbers engraved onto a gravestone, additional lettering typically comes down in price to about $10 per letter. All-in-all, a typical order (including name, date of birth, date of death) will run you about $500.

Once engraved, the stone needs to be transported to the cemetery and installed. The labor usually costs around $200. Of course, these prices will vary a lot by market. We’ve seen prices as low as $50 while in some markets, they can be as much as $300 or $400. Transporting the headstone is no trivial matter. Larger headstones can weigh as much as $1,000 and need to be handled with care – since any carelessness can lead to damage.

Cleaning and restoration
If your goal is to get a gravestone cleaned, that cost is just about $100 – though it will depend on the state of it. If you have an old, weathered stone, you may need to pay for additional cleaning chemicals. If the stone is in bad enough of a state, cleaning won’t be enough. You may need to get the stone restored. In these instances, prices will greatly vary depending on the damage – starting at about $200.

Frequently Asked Questions

We scoured the web in search of questions people ask when shopping for a headstone. While some of these are topics we covered above, we present these here for your convenience.

How much is the cheapest headstone?
The cheapest headstone can cost as little as $500 – this would include a granite, flat lawn-level marker, with a 30-character engraving. The most expensive headstones can end up costing families as much as $10,000 or more (on the higher end they include things like obelisks or grand family tombs and mausoleums).

What is the average cost of a headstone?
The average cost of a headstone is $1,000.

How long do you have to wait before putting a headstone on the grave?
You’ll want the ground to settle before installing a headstone, so typically people will wait at least 6 months before erecting an upright headstone. Again, this will vary depending on the headstone size as well as the soil you’re dealing with.

Can you make payments on a headstone?
Yes, depending on where you buy your tombstone, some places will offer payment plans. That means you can effectively get a loan and pay down the cost of a tombstone over time (with interest).

Can I install the headstone or monument myself?
Sometimes, families try to save on the cost of a burial by installing the headstone themselves. However, many cemeteries only allow licensed monument installers to perform this task.