Sunset Memorial & Stone FAQ’s
Sunset Memorial & Stone FAQ’s admin November 23, 2021

Sunset Memorial & Stone FAQ's

Common Questions & Care

Many people ask “How much are headstones?” or “How much does it cost to build a columbarium?”. Here are the answers to many of your common questions. If you don’t see the answer to your question, contact our sales team.

General, Product & Cost Questions

  • If this is the first time you’re buying a memorial monument, we’ll help you through it. Whatever type of cemetery headstone or memorial monument you decide on, we’ll help design something that will honour and cherish the person’s memory.
  • It’s a good idea to talk to someone from our sales team about what type of grave marker or memorial monument you’re looking for. You can talk over the phone or come and meet with someone in person.
  • Our sales team are kind, caring, and they don’t work on commission. You won’t ever feel rushed into making a decision or spending extra money on things you don’t really need. They’ll explain all of the steps, what you need to do, and you can ask as many questions as you want. We want you to take your time and think about all the information so you make a decision that you feel good about when you’re choosing a memorial monument.
  • A columbarium is a special type of memorial monument. It’s an above ground, outdoor structure with small compartments called niches, that hold cremated remains.
  • Family columbaria are memorial monuments that are designed to hold the cremation urns of one or more family members.
  • Commercial columbaria are larger structures designed for cemeteries and churches. They’re manufactured to hold many cremation urns in niches.
  • Memorial monuments are usually made of granite and they’re placed over graves in cemeteries. Memorial monuments might also be called grave monuments, grave markers, cemetery headstones, or headstone monuments.
  • We offer many different types of memorial monuments and each one can be personalized with art, accessories, and bases. If we don’t have a design that’s exactly right for you, contact our sales team about creating a custom-designed grave marker or memorial monument.
  • At Sunset, we also manufacture accessories for headstone monuments (e.g., vases, porcelain photos, lights, lanterns), memorial benches, and statues. Accessories are a nice way to make a grave monument personal and unique.
  • Sunset also offers installation services and we can even restore memorials that are old or damaged.

If you’re looking for a way to make memorial monuments more personal or unique, think about adding an accessory. At Sunset, we have these types of accessories:

  • porcelain photos
  • bronze appliqués
  • memorial monument vases
  • memorial monument lanterns
  • memorial monument lights

If you have something specific in mind or you’re not exactly sure what type of cemetery headstone you want, contact our sales team. They have lots of knowledge and experience to share.

  • We don’t have standard pricing for headstones because every memorial is different. How much a headstone costs depends on what you want.
  • There’s no quick answer to the question “How much does a headstone cost?” There are many factors that affect the price of a monument. The style (e.g., flat, upright, pillow), colour, size, and shape all affect the price. The cost also depends on how complex the design is and where the granite comes from (e.g., Canada, USA, India, China). If you want custom artwork or laser etching, this also affects how much headstones cost.
  • Please call us to talk about exactly what you want and we can tell you about different options and how much the headstone will cost. All delivery, installation, and permit fees are included in your quote.
  • Sometimes we’re able to install a monument within weeks. It depends on whether we have the monument in stock, when you approve the design, where the monument will be installed, what the weather conditions are like, and what the cemetery’s timeline for installations is.
  • If you need a monument installed quickly, we can install it within 48 to 72 hours if we have the stone in stock (a surcharge will apply for this service).
  • Talk to the sales team if you have certain requests around the timing of having a monument installed.
  • We offer a no-hassle warranty if there’s an internal flaw in the granite itself. If this happens, we create a new monument (including the inscription) for no cost.
  • We can add inscriptions to monuments even if you didn’t buy them from Sunset.
  • To do this, the monument can stay where it is. Our team goes to the cemetery and traces the writing on the monument. This is called a rubbing. We do it so the new inscription will match. Once we know that the font/design matches, we go back to the cemetery and sandblast the stone on site using a template that’s been created. The grave/ground is not disturbed during this process. Rarely, we have to bring the monument to our shop to do this the work. If this happens, our team will re-install the monument once the added inscription is done.
  • If you have any questions about certain monuments or cemeteries, talk to our sales team.
  • The colour of the granite you choose can affect how much the headstone will cost.
  • Certain granite colours come from specific places. Sunset works with suppliers around the world and we can get different colours that aren’t commonly offered in North America. For example, red colours (e.g., India Red, Panda Red) come from countries like India and China, blue colours (e.g., Blue Pearl) come from Norway, and some black colours (e.g., Absolute Black) come from Africa. Each monument needs detailed cutting and polishing. Factors like shipping costs and the rarity of the stone will affect how much a headstone costs. Because Sunset has excellent working relationships with suppliers all over the world, we’re able to get high-quality stones at the best possible prices.
  • At Sunset, our service is based on exactly what you want or need. Our sales team don’t work on commission, so there’s no pressure for you to spend extra money or to rush in making your decision. We want you to take your time and make a decision that’s right for you when you’re ready. Meeting your needs is our top priority.
  • When you ask us “How much does a headstone cost?” you know that you’ll be getting a high-quality product designed and manufactured by our expert team for the best price.

Every columbarium is different and there are many factors that affect how much a columbarium will cost, including:

  • how complex and customized the design is
  • how many columbarium niches you want
  • the granite colour
  • the size of the foundation footprint
  • shipping and installation needs
  • currency exchange rates
  • At Sunset we know that every columbarium design is unique. If there’s a model that appeals to your board or committee, we can usually give you a quote within a few business days.
  • We provide our customers with a firm columbarium cost that we will honour for 6 months from the date of the quote. If you can tell us which columbarium model you prefer, the number of columbarium niches you’d like, and what granite colour you’d like, we can give you a total price (including installation and shipping fees). If you’re looking for a certain size or number of columbarium niche configurations, we have lots of options with most of our standard models because of our custom design and manufacturing capabilities.
  • Buying columbarium niches in larger quantities can lower the average cost of a columbarium, however we recommend that you build your cemetery or church columbarium garden in phases so you don’t invest in too much inventory all at once.
  • We value long-term relationships with clients. We want to make sure you get the best rate of return on your investment and ensure the average cost of a columbarium niche is at the lowest rate possible. We can help by giving you the best columbarium niche configuration possible to reduce the overall columbarium cost for your location.
  • Landscaping is a very important part of staging a columbarium garden.
  • If you’re asking, “How much does it cost to build a columbarium?” you’ll need to think about the costs of landscaping requirements (e.g., foundation, sidewalks, benches, foliage). This part of the columbarium garden investment affects the overall columbarium cost, but this investment adds value to the cemetery or church columbarium. In our experience, a well-designed columbarium garden attracts attention, impresses visitors, and attracts future customers.
  • At Sunset our service is based on exactly what you want or need. Our sales team don’t work on commission, so there’s no pressure for you to spend extra money or to rush when making your decision. Meeting your needs is our top priority. You don’t need to worry about dealing with a high-pressure sales team when you’re looking for the average cost of a columbarium. We work around your timeline and needs.
  • If you’re wondering how much it costs to build a columbarium, fill out the contact us form (or call us toll-free). Tell us the model you prefer and your columbarium niche numbers and the address for delivery. We can give you a quote and talk about planning for the cemetery or church columbarium garden you want to create.

We have many grave markers and memorial monuments on display in our showroom at our head office in Calgary. Many people find it helpful to come and see all of the different sizes, shapes, colours, styles, and accessories. We’re open Monday to Friday during regular business hours. If you can’t make it during these times, contact our sales team about setting up a different time or you can see many of our cemetery headstones online.

Maintaining & Restoring Granite Memorials:
What To Do

When it comes to monuments, we have seen and heard it all. Or at least enough to help you maintain your monument like it was brand new. If you do have questions, contact us and we will try and answer them for you.

It’s always best to call Sunset if you need to clean, secure, or restore a memorial. We have lots of experience and our headstone restoration services will get the memorial back to looking like it should. Sometimes people decide to do the work themselves and end up causing more damage.

Did you know there are special ways to clean a memorial? If you plan to clean a memorial yourself, here are a few things you should know.

  • Strong chemicals and cleaners with dyes can stain a monument.
  • If the stone has a polished surface, it’s usually okay to use a glass cleaner.
  • If you use a pressure washer on a polished or unpolished (sawn) surface, be very careful and don’t use the high-pressure setting because it may remove paint from the artwork.

Over a period of time memorials will accumulate a layer of deposits resulting from hard water, dust, dirt, lichens, mold or fungus that grow on porous stone. A gravestone should be cleaned and maintained carefully so as to avoid getting it scratched or tarnished.

Before cleaning a memorial you must first evaluate to make certain it is in stable condition with no flaking, cracks or risk of further deterioration from the cleaning process.

Granite and Marble Memorials
When cleaning granite memorials and due to granite’s durability, it is all right to use a more aggressive scrubbing technique.

  • water
  • buckets
  • natural brushes/tooth brushes
  • non-ionic soaps/detergents avoid detergents that contain compounds like sodium bicarbonate, sodium chloride, sodium sulfate, ammonium carbonate, and trisodium phosphate (TSP or Calgon)
  • cuttle bone to remove hard water or calcium build-up

Below are items you DO NOT want to use when cleaning memorials as they may cause damage:

  • wire bristled brushes or metal instruments
  • acid or acidic cleaners
  • cleaners/detergents containing compounds like sodium bicarbonate, sodium chloride, sodium sulfate, ammonium carbonate, and trisodium phosphate such as TSP, Calgon, Ivory, Borax, Clorox, Fantastik, Formula 409 (Spic and Span, or any other abrasive cleaner)
  • pressure washers
  • waxes or sealants of any kind

Bronze Tombstones
Bronze markers consist of a bronze plaque mounted to a base usually of granite or concrete. Since bronze markers consist of two components you can utilize the cleaning method for polished granite for cleaning the base.

The bronze plaque is finished with an applied coating to seal and preserve the original appearance. Over time this finish will eventually deteriorate and is accelerated through neglect or improper care.
When cleaning bronze you will need the following items:

  • water
  • buckets
  • soft cloths, especially for new markers which should only be cleaned
  • with a soft, damp cloth to remove top soil and grime
  • nylon brush

You can finish with a light application of WD-40 or car wax to put a sheen on the marker and protect it from the elements. When using these to finish the bronze, be sure to carefully cover any granite or marble to avoid staining.
Here are some items you DO NOT want to use or to keep in mind while maintaining your bronze marker:

  • brushes, especially wire-bristled brushes or metal instruments on new markers
  • steel wool as it may scratch it
  • chemicals or oils to new markers (accelerates the breakdown of the protective coating)

Candles are a great addition to nearly any memorial, but, unfortunately, candlelit ambiance sometimes comes with a mess. Do you have stubborn dried candle wax on your granite that you can’t seem to remove?

Unfortunately candle wax is absorbed into the granite, leaving a stain that is nearly impossible to eliminate, and candle wax will absorb into the granite even if the candle is not lit. The best solution for this is to use a votive or a holder between the granite and candle. Another solution is to use a lantern, created specifically for candles on a memorial.

Most cemeteries have regulations within their grounds. A cemetery can insist on specific requirements such as material, size, and type of headstone.

What You Need To Know

  • What type of memorials are allowed?
    For example: Uprights, flat markers, pillows, etc.
  • What are the sizes allowed?
    A cemetery usually has a range of sizes they allow. Make sure the size you purchase is within their range, including the base or plinth for a total height.
  • Are accessories allowed?
    Some cemeteries allow flower vases, lanterns or lights. Make sure your cemetery allows these before selecting any of these options.
  • Are there any color restrictions?
    While most cemeteries do not regulate the colour of the granite or any colour in the artwork, some might stipulate the colour of granite allowed especially for bronze markers with a base.
  • Are any permits required?
    Cemeteries often have special forms such as a permit or authorization that need to be filled out prior to the installation of a memorial. These forms are usually signed by the lot owner or next of kin before they accept a memorial for installation.
  • Is there an installation fee?
    If the cemetery will install the headstone then there is most likely an installation fee. This is normal as they are performing a service.

Before you order a memorial it is very important to become familiar with the requirements set by the cemetery. They can and will refuse any memorial that does not meet their requirements and permits.

Sunset can assist you with this paperwork. We work with you to complete the forms and help acquire the required information. Contact us if you have any questions.

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