If you ever wanted to learn how to make homemade foam tombstones, this post is for you! For years, I’ve wanted to create a front yard cemetery, but I was intimidated by not knowing where to start. Well, this year, I got an early start and I’m so pleased with the results!
It’s no secret that I love Halloween! For me, Halloween isn’t a day of the year, it’s a mindset. On November 1st, I think about what I want to add for next year, brainstorm and try my best to make it happen. I’m a fan of all things gothic, haunted and creepy and I knew realistic homemade foam tombstones would be a fantastic feature in our Halloween decor.
Items You’ll Need for Homemade Foam Tombstones
- 2 inch insulation foam board
- Dremel tool with attachments
- Dry Lock Paint – in gray
- Green, brown, black acrylic paint
- Water bottle
- Level & Measuring Tape
- Gorilla Glue
- Paint brushes , small for outlining text & rollers help
- Blow torch or heat gun
- Skill saw – optional
- Protactor – optional
Plan, Design & Do the Damn Thing!
I used Canva to help create text with gothic typography, add in dates, etc. I also perused some historical sites like the Salem Witch Museum to get inspiration for designs. Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia as well as any cemetery in New Orleans, LA can provide inspiration for shapes, statues and designs.
Cost, Time & Skillset Needed to Make Homemade Foam Tombstones
I completed the tombstones over the course of three weekends. The first weekend, I planned the designs, made sure they fit and traced them onto the foam with a sharpie. For me, this was the most annoying part. If you have a stencil or even a cricut machine, this may save you a ton of time. I taped the printed text to the foam and just traced over it with pressure to indent the foam and transfer ink. Then I removed it and went back and traced again before using the Dremel.
The next weekend was full of carving, shaping and sanding. A skillsaw really helps with carving out your shapes and saves time. The coolest thing about making them yourself is you can make any shape, size, design you want! Add in a wide base, make a Celtic cross, a monument, the possibilities are endless! If you haven’t used a Dremel before, they’re very easy to navigate and having a few different heads helps. I used the spiral flat end heads for all the foam tombstones. This is where you want to add your cracks, holes, objects, trim, etc. And have fun with those cracks!
Lastly, you’ll use a blowtorch or heat gun on the foam. This applies a weathered look and adds a ton of texture. It also widens the text, which was nice because some of my letters and numbers were very small. Then, you’ll paint the tombstones with the dry lock paint to give you the stone texture and waterproof finish. I used two coats on all sides. Once dry, you can spray and brush on watered down brown, green and black acrylic paint. This is where it gets fun! We used thicker paint to let it run down and used a water bottle to thin it out.
Tips, Tricks & Ideas?
First, staking them into the ground is important and necessary. My homemade foam tombstones are large and needed extra support, so we drilled a bracket into a small piece of insulation so we could run stakes through them.
Also, I’m not a huge gorilla glue user, so I forgot how much time these would need to set. For instance, adding the base to the cross required two ours for the glue to set. Not a big deal, but I didn’t plan ahead for that time.
I used a kitchen blow torch for applying heat and I loved this technique. Honestly, I’m going to forgo any sanding next time and let the torch do the work for me.
These are such a blast and I’m so happy with the results. I hope you know how to make homemade foam tombstones and I can’t wait to see your designs and photos! If you’re in the mood for a creepy read, check our Simone St. James.
Huge shoutout to Van Oaks Props! Their video is an incredible step by step process!