Many families face the task of preparing a headstone for their loved ones. When that day comes, an important thing to consider is whether you should have the headstone etched or engraved. These methods sound similar, but several factors make them very different.
The following differences between etched and engraved headstones will help you make an informed decision.
The crafting process
Headstone engraving is made with either a traditional hammer and chisel or a sandblasting tool. Artisans engrave individual letters and symbols by slowly chipping away at the stone. Sandblasting creates the same effect by using highly-pressurized air to shoot sand particles into the stone’s surface. Using a hammer and chisel is less precise compared to a sandblasting tool.
Headstone etching is done by hand or with a laser. Etched designs are a lot more intricate than engraved ones, so they require a highly-skilled artisan with plenty of time and patience. The other method uses a laser to burn an image into the stone. Computer software allows the laser to replicate an exact copy of any image you want. For this reason, laser etching is far more precise than headstone engraving.
The detail of your design
The level of detail in your design will help decide if you should have your headstone etched or engraved. Headstone engraving is more suitable for those who only want to display the name and dates of life. Engraving can also create short epitaphs and minimalistic symbols. Engraving tools create little detail, but they provide much more contrast by cutting deeply into the stone.
By contrast, people can make any design they want with headstone etching. The highly-precise lasers are capable of replicating portraits, pictures of homes and intricate artwork. People often wonder if etched or engraved headstones look better, and the answer is etching when you want high levels of detail. The shallow cuts provide very little contrast, so etching isn’t the best option for simple designs.
The costs for each method
Families have to consider other factors besides whether etched or engraved headstones look better. People who wonder if they should have their headstone etched or engraved need to assess their budget first. Headstone engraving runs somewhere between $20 and $25 per letter, number or symbol. In total, engraved headstones cost an average of $500 to $1,500.
Headstones etched with a laser tend to be on the cheaper side. The average headstone etching may cost between $150 and $350. Etchings by hand will cost way more, usually $900 at the very least. Headstones etched by hand are so expensive because they require a lot more time and skilled artisans are hard to come by. Between etched and engraved headstones, laser etching will save you the most money.
The choice between headstone engraving and etching is completely up to you. Some families may choose to combine both techniques for simple lettering and intricate portraits. The artisans at Steedley Monument Works use precise laser etching tools to create any design you want. We even have team members who can etch by hand.