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Monument Finishes, Lettering and Designs

As we come to the end of our monument design exploration, we touch on the final details- monument finishes, lettering, and designs. These options are what give the monument a complete look. All these options will have a different look, depending on the stone, adding depth and texture to the final design.

Monument Finishes

Monument finishes add the final touch to a monument. The chosen finish will add depth and texture and can be customized to give you the final look you desire. The following finishes are used specifically for granite.


A polished finish is smooth and shiny, often creating a reflective surface. To create this finish, the stone is ground with progressively finer abrasives until the high gloss is reached. The polished finish can be achieved on any color granite and most monuments have at least some polished areas.

This monument is polished on all sides and includes a polished margin on the base.


A steeled or frosted finish is smooth but lacks the high gloss of a polished surface. The stone is blasted with steel shot until it reaches a flat textured surface.

The panel on this stone is frosted.


A sawn or honed finish is a smooth, semi-polished created by cutting the granite with a wire or diamond blade. The surface is smooth but has no gloss.

The angel on this monument is honed, while the rest is polished.

Rock Pitch

Rock pitch is the rough, natural fracture of the stone. It is often seen on the sides and base of a monument.

The sides and top of this monument are rock pitch, showing the natural fracture of the stone.

Lettering and Designs

Monument lettering and designs add the final unique touches to a monument. They allow for ultimate customization and make the monument truly reflective of those it is memorializing. Lettering and designs come in many different styles, adding depth and texture the monument depending on the style chose.


Lettering on a monument comes in all shapes and sizes. Some choose to use multiple styles on one monument, while others may wish to keep the lettering uniform throughout. Lettering styles may look different depending on the color of the granite, if a panel is selected and if a colored litho is chosen. The below photos show just a small sample of available lettering options.


There are several options available to add designs to your monument. You can add a carving, etching and even embellished panels. All these designs and decorations allow one to fully customize their monument and add specific personal touches. Maybe you’d like to add a shamrock to pay homage to your Irish roots, or a music note for your love of singing. The next few sections will tell you about the different design options available and when they are best used.


Most carvings on monuments fall into two categories- shaped and flat. Shaped carvings have a three-dimensional appearance. To create this effect, the outline of the design in sandblasted and the interior is shaped. This is commonly found used for flowers, leaves, praying hands and the rosary. Flat carving is on the same plane as the rest of the polished stone, but with a sandblasted finish. This is achieved by sandblasting the outline of a design, while leaving the design itself flat.


Etchings are used to create designs that require finer detail, such as replicating a photo. Etching does not go as deep into the stone as carving. Etching is suitable for black, deep red or dark mahogany granite.

The dog here is etched into the stone, copied from a photo.


A panel is the contracting area typically behind and/or surrounding the lettering. They add depth to the stone and allowing any lettering to stand out. They can also add decoration, coming in an array of shapes and designs. The most common panel is a frosted panel, which is slightly sandblasted, lightening the color of the granite. A panel is not required for lettering, in which case lettering is cut directly into the surface of the stone.

Designing a monument or marker, whether for you or a loved one, is an important task. Often, it is big step in the grief journey for those who have lost a loved one. For those pre-planning their own monument, it is an important decision for their lasting memorialization. Now that we have discussed all the elements involved, you are armed with the knowledge to begin your monument design process. Whatever your situation, we at Valiant Monument Design are here to help you each step of the way.



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