How to Make a Temporary Tile Headstone

Written by irene a. blake
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People often use handcrafted headstones to temporarily mark the grave of loved ones while waiting for the completion of permanent headstones. Handcrafted temporary headstones not only act as low-cost alternatives to prefabricated grave markers, but also as personalised and unique remembrances of the deceased. Because tile materials offer a diverse range of design pattern options, many people choose to adorn easy-to-obtain interior design products found in D-I-Y and hardware stores to make a temporary headstone.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Measuring tape
  • Tile
  • Flat, concrete or stone slab
  • Plastic dust sheet
  • Flat workspace
  • All-weather adhesive
  • Stencils (optional)
  • Paint supplies (optional)
  • Gloves
  • Grout
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Pre-mixed grout (optional)
  • Grout float
  • Sponge
  • Sealant

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  1. 1

    Design a temporary tile headstone marker on paper or in desktop publishing software. For example, the design might consist of an abstract tile pattern, the last name of the deceased written with tiles inside of a tile border or a single large tile with painted text surrounded by small tiles. As you design the headstone, decide on the type, size, shape and/or colour of the tile(s) that you want to use and be sure that your design includes seams/joints for application of grout between the tiles.

  2. 2

    Choose and purchase any tile needed to complete your project from your local D-I-Y, hardware or tile store. In addition, purchase a flat concrete or stone slab to serve as the headstone base.

  3. 3

    Prep your work area. Lay a plastic dust sheet over your flat work surface. Lay your concrete or natural stone slab on the plastic.

  4. 4

    Glue your tiles with an all-weather adhesive to the slab and wait for the adhesive to dry completely.

  5. 5

    Stencil or hand-paint the surface of your tile(s) using your paint supplies if applicable. If the temporary headstone doesn't include a painted design, skip this step.

  6. 6

    Mix the grout with water in a bucket unless you've purchased a pre-mixed product. Put on your work gloves and then apply grout to the tiles and tile seams with a grout float.

  7. 7

    Remove any excess grout from the top of your temporary headstone design. Sweep the edge of your float across the surface and then follow with a damp sponge. Repeat as needed until the design's surface appears smooth/flat---the seams of the design should be even with the tiles.

  8. 8

    Set the completed headstone aside to dry. When completely dry, clean with a damp sponge to remove any residue and then apply sealant following the sealant's instructions. Set the headstone aside again to dry completely before taking to the grave for placement.

Tips and warnings

  • Always check with the cemetery association or township to confirm any limitations or requirements in regard to temporary headstone materials and/or stone placement.
  • Always follow the drying instructions that came with your adhesive, grout and sealant products to guarantee that the products set completely. Changes in temperature and moisture levels can cause the tiles to loosen or break free of the grout/slab if any of these products haven't set.

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