A visual graphic of a headstone tablet and base. The headstone (top part) is labeled and the base (bottom part) is labeled as well. Every tablet gets a base.

Every upright monument has a die and a base. There may be other parts of the memorial as well, but the die and the base are the basic building blocks of an upright memorial.

In the monument world you will often hear the term “die” or “tablet” to refer to the top part of the upright memorial. The die is attached the base using a special adhesive called “setting compound”. 

The base is the bottom part. It looks like it sits on top of the ground, but looks are deceiving! The base actually sits on top of a dry pour foundation. 

Let's Start With Tablets.

Communicating the details of the memorial you would like to order is important. 

It is a given that the front and back of a tablet will be polished. However, we need to know what to do with the other sides of the memorial. 

If the front and back are polished and the top and sides are left unfinished (ie rocky), it is a P2 memorial. 

If all sides are polished, it is a P5 memorial. 

Occasionally you will see a P3 memorial- where the front, back and top are polished and the outsides are left unfinished.


A visual graphic of how to determine the number of sides that are polished on a headstone. A headstone can have up to 5 sides polished (front, back, top, left side and right side)
A graphic visual of three common headstone shapes- a straight top, a serp top and an oval top

The Serp Top is the most common die shape. However, the three shapes on the left are the most popular. There is no price difference between the serp, straight or oval top. 

Understanding how to measure a tablet and communicate the dimensions is important.


  • Length is measured between the longest points
  • Height is measured from the bottom of the tablet to the tallest point on the stone
  • Measurements vary +/- 1″ (so a stone that is 25″ tall was likely ordered as 24″ tall and it just came in oversized by 1″)
A visual graphic of a headstone tablet (top part) and base (bottom part. Explains how to measure a tablet's size.

Now Let's Talk About Bases

When you order a base, you need to list the proper terminology in order to “build” what the client wants. 

The most basic, and least expensive base option is shown to the left. With this option you have one piece of granite with a polished top and a rocky bottom. 

The top is called a top, but the bottom portion is actually called the balance.

In standard monument terms, the top is listed as follows:

-Polished Flat Top (PFT)

and the balance is listed as follows:

-Balance Rock Pitched (BRP)

To communicate that you want the base made just like this, with a polished top and a rocky bottom, you would list on the order PFT, BRP


Believe it or not, having the balance rocky pitched (ie rocky) serves a purpose. 

Out in the cemetery the threat of lawn equipment striking the base is ever-present. Weed eater strings and lawn mowers often bump into them, causing scratching and even chipping. 

Having the balance rock pitched hides any unsightly damage that may be caused. However, having the balance completely rock pitched tends to dress most monuments down as opposed to dressing them up. 

To gain a more polished, overall look, we often add a 2″ polished margin to the very top of the balance. So, if a base is 6″ tall, we would have a 2″ polished strip around the top and the bottom remaining 4″ would be rock pitched. 

So we would build the base as follows:

-Polished Flat Top (PFT)

-Polished Margin (PM)

-Balance Rock Pitched (BRP)

When you order, it would be PFT, PM, BRP

A visual graphic of a monument base with the different components of the base labeled.
A visual graphic of a headstone foundation, headstone base and headstone tablet. The graphic shows how all three are combined and installed.

The graphic to the left is a brief overview of how we install most of our memorials. Of course, some specialty memorials require a different foundation. And, some cemeteries require a different foundation. 

However, generally speaking, this graphic shows the basic installation. 

We use a dry pour foundation because it slowly adheres to the base as the ground water mixes with the dry cement. This is preferable to a wet pour.

Granite is porous and will soak up freshly poured wet cement, thus causing staining. But the adhesion with the dry pour is gradual and slow, thus not causing staining. 

error: Content is protected !!
AI Chatbot Avatar

Get More Information

Please provide as much information as possible so we may better assist you