I spend every waking moment building haunted houses (Terror Behind the Screen starts Oct. 3!) so people call me all the time for advice. Here's how to make tombstones for the front yard:


  • 1

    Buy attic foam

    Available at every Home Depot or Lowe's in a variety of sizes and thicknesses. I recommend the 2-inch thick stuff.

  • 2

    Get your hands on a foam cutter

    A foam cutter is a heated blade or wire. They're hard to find. You can achieve the same result by heating a wire. A fine-toothed blade will also cut it nicely, but a foam cutter will save tons of time.

  • 3

    Trace out the writing and embellishments

    This is where the heated blade comes in really handy. But really it's just carving, like with a pocket knife. First draw an outline for what you want, then carve it out like a Swiss craftsman.

  • 4

    Paint the foam

    If you use spray paint, you must use a roll-on primer (spray paint will eat the foam). I recommend using a brush with water-based paints.

  • 5

    Use black shoe polish to "age" the stone

    Your tombstone will just look like foam painted gray until you use the black shoe polish. For a granite look or lichen, dab a little white, green or maroon paint with a sponge. The black shoe polish will give the stone texture and darken the differences in elevation making your lettering and embellishments stand out.

  • 6

    To make it GLOW IN THE DARK use neon paint and black lights

    People are always asking me what kind of glow-in-the-dark pain I recommend. I don't. I recommend painting with white or neon colors and purchasing a cheap black light. That will make the paint glow and pop better than anything else and it's roughly the same price.

  • 7

    Secure to the ground

    I recommend cuts of rebar. Pound it into the ground then push the foam down onto it. If you've got metal spikes of some other kind try it, but I don't think wood will be enough.