Headstone finishes

Simple Guide to Headstone, Monument & Marker Finishes

In addition to choosing the type of stone, it’s color and inscriptions, an important part of the design process is the headstone finishes.  The headstone finish can make a significant impact on how the memorial appears as well as how well it stands up to the elements.

Depending on the cemetery and any guidelines they may have, you might have a limited number of finish options.  However these are the most common headstone finishes that you can choose from:


Common Headstone Finishes


Frosted / Steeled Finish

A frosted finish is smooth but doesn’t appear polished.  Often the borders and insignias on headstones and monuments are given a frosted finish.  The style is achieved by sandblasting a stone that already has a polished finish.


Polished Finish

A polished finish is smooth and shiny and can be described as glasslike.  They can be particularly striking, standing out an highlighting the lettering and embellishments; though due to their reflective surface they are often not allowed in graveyards because they can look out of place between older headstones.  A polished headstone or marker needs regular cleaning to maintain its appearance regardless of the stone type.


Part-polished Finish

A part-polish provides a polished finish at the base area and/or the face of the headstone to highlight images, inscriptions and the epitaph.   The rest of the stone is typically left honed or pitched.


Pitched Finish

A pitched finish (also known as a rock pitch) provide a rough and rustic aged look; almost rock-like.  The effect is achieved with a bolster and hammer.  You can typically find pitched finish headstones and monuments in older cemeteries rather than more modern ones, they typically blend in well with their surroundings, particularly older settings.


Sawn Finish

A sawn finish refers to a smooth semi-polished stone.


Speciality Headstone Finishes


Axed Finish

Axed finish is similar to a frosted finish, but lighter / brighter in color.  If you want to create raised lettering then the stone mason may use an axed finish to help achieve this.


Honed Finish

A honed finish is smooth though not reflective.  To achieve this effect, polish is partially removed using dust.  Foned finishes work well on custom designs and scenes, or where the headstone has three or more colors.  The finish helps to provide more depth to the design.   Honored finish headstones are a common sight in most cemeteries, and typically allowed under their regulations; it requires minimum maintenance and is generally very durable.


Shell Rock

A shell rock finish provides a border or picture frame look to the front of a headstone or monument.


There are some other lesser-used finishes using a range of flaming, sandblasting and specialist chiseling tools.   These finishes are typically used for specific custom headstones and monuments, they not very common.  Your memorialist may suggest using one of these finishes in such situations, and you should consider it if they do.

 For advice and a free consultation in the Westerly, CT area, contact the personalized headstone specialists at Buzzi Memorials.