Headstone Engraving vs. Headstone Etching

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Creating a custom headstone for your loved one can be a difficult process, especially in your time of grief. However, it can also be incredibly rewarding to finalize a design that perfectly captures their memory.

In addition to the style, material, shape, and color of the headstone, another important decision you must make is whether you’d prefer etching or engraving. 

These processes are similar in that they both carve words and images into the surface of the material. This allows visitors to read the name and the birth and death dates. Artworks, quotes, religious passages, and portraits are also available.

How can you choose which is right for you? In this article, we will explain the key differences between headstone etching and headstone engraving. 

What Is Headstone Engraving?

Engraving is the process of chiseling deep cuts into the surface of the monument. It is perfect for hard materials such as granite and is visible in both light and dark varieties.

Traditionally, engraving was performed with a hammer and a chisel. While some artisans still offer this method, it is most often done today with sandblasting. 

This method uses highly pressurized particles of sand that erode the material in precise lines. Sandblasting is far more efficient and accurate, lowering the cost compared to traditional engraving.  

Engraving is best used for bold letters due to the high contrast it produces. It digs deep into the headstone for high legibility, even from far away.

This method is the most common option for headstone customization, which makes the prices a little more affordable. However, keep in mind that prices will vary from business to business. 

What Is Headstone Etching?

Etching, on the other hand, creates a much more shallow cut. This is the preferred method to achieve intricate details and different shades within the headstone. 

The most affordable etching option is completed with a laser. A computer inputs an image that the laser can replicate, down to the finest details. 

Hand etching is still performed by many artisans, but it is far more expensive. The images are produced one dot at a time, making it a delicate and time-consuming process.

The benefit of hand etching, however, is that you don’t need an exact photo to reference. You can provide the artisan with several reference photos, and using their creativity, they can compose something totally original. Hand etching displays best on black granite memorials. 

If you are choosing to add a portrait, landscape, animal, or intricate symbol, etching might be the right choice for you.

Custom Granite & Bronze Monuments in MD 

With all the options on the market, it can be overwhelming to know what is the best choice for you and your budget. Merkle Monuments can help. 

Our compassionate experts can walk you through the process and help to narrow down your options. Whether it’s a traditional granite headstone, a slant memorial, or a fully customizable bronze monument, we can create the perfect product for you.

We are proud to have served Maryland for nearly 100 years. Call now to begin your project.