127 W Walnut St Hillsboro, OH 45133

The Difference Between Laser Etching and Sandblasting for Memorials

As you begin researching possible memorial options for your gravesite (or that of a loved one), you will likely find there are far more options on the market than you might have expected. To avoid some of the headache associated with the search, it’s a good idea to narrow down some of your options.

Two of the most popular options in Hillsboro, OH for specific designs in headstones are laser etching and sandblasting. But what are the differences between them, and which is the better option for your needs?

Let’s take a quick look at what you should know about these approaches.


Sandblasting involves the forcible propulsion of a gritty media (usually sand) against the surface of a material, such as a granite headstone, at a very high pressure. During this process, the surface layer is removed to create an engraving. When dealing with polished granite, it removes parts of the polished layer to reveal the raw stone.

Sandblasting for designs and lettering on a headstone begins with all of the designs being blasted to the same depth according to specifications by a graphic artist, who will use vector software to create a file depicting the design. Because sandblasting is not meant for very detailed work, only simple designs and letters can be created using this method.

The designs and lettering get cut into a rubber mat to create a stencil. That stencil then gets applied to the headstone and held in place while the sandblasting occurs. All exposed surfaces (uncovered by the mat) then get blasted.

Once the designs are all blasted to the same depth, the monument is removed and then hand shaping can occur to smooth out the designs and do more depth work as needed. In some cases, colors may be added to increase contrast.

Laser etching

Laser etching involves the use of a high-powered laser to cut granite or other materials to various depths to create the image. These can be more complicated images because of the technology used, meaning there are many more design possibilities for laser etching than with sandblasting. For example, there are photos or other artwork that could be laser etched on to the monument.

To create the design, an artist will use photo editing software to develop a BMP file with the lettering or imagery used on the monument. Those images are enhanced to ensure all details can be easily viewed.

In general, for laser etching, you want to use darker colors of stones, as this will create a better contrast between the gravestone and the image and help to produce the most visible detail in the resulting pictures. You’re basically creating a grayscale image, and those types of images look much better against darker backgrounds.

To learn more about laser etching and sandblasting differences and what you should know about these forms of creating headstone and memorials designs, we encourage you to contact the monument makers in Hillsboro, OH at Harsha Monument Co. We look forward to working with you.