Funeral Caskets & Coffins Buyer’s Guide: What Should You Pay?
If you’re planning a funeral, chances are that a casket or coffin will be your biggest expense.
But this doesn’t have to be the case.
In this guide I will go through everything you need to know about caskets and coffins.
I’ll explain the differences between the two, the different types available, costs, and how buy a suitable one online.
Casket Vs. Coffins
Most of us assume that the word “casket” and “coffin” are interchangeable.
But are they really the same thing?
The truth is…not exactly.
What’s the Difference?
To begin with, caskets and coffins are shaped differently.
A casket is rectangular. Typically it has bars along the side for easy transport.
They are the most popular choice, commonly seen at most funerals you have attended.
A coffin, on the other hand, is six-sided, like the old-fashioned containers you may have seen in old westerns.
The top of a coffin is usually wider than the bottom.
Both containers are traditionally used for displaying and viewing a body and for burial.
Traditional caskets are crafted either of metal or wood.
Both of these materials have pros and cons.
There are also many different types of metal and many different types of wood to choose from.
The material you choose makes a big difference to the look and feel of a funeral ceremony, to the way the remains decompose after burial, and most of all, to your budget.
Bronze and copper are commonly considered to be the highest quality materials available.
That’s because these metals are resistant to rust and corrosion.
For that reason, they have been used for centuries, going all the way back to ancient times.
If you want a high quality casket, but can’t quite foot the bill for expensive bronze or copper material, stainless steel is an excellent alternative.
It’s also resistant to rust, but gives you much better value for your money.
The most economical option of all is standard steel (also known as carbon steel). This material is both inexpensive and durable.
Mahogany, cherry and walnut are the most elegant and luxurious wooden materials available for caskets.
However, oak and maple are also great choices. They are incredibly strong. The graining pattern of oak makes it an attractive option.
Pine, poplar and veneer are the least expensive choices for wooden caskets. However, they are available in a variety of colors and finishes, and can be very attractive.
Unlike metal caskets, the lid of a wooden casket closes smoothly against the shell so it does not need a rubber gasket or sealing key.
These are designed to naturally decompose into the earth, causing no harm to the environment.
A woven or wicker casket is made of biodegradable materials like willow, bamboo, seagrass or banana leaves.
A soft wooden casket can also be designed for natural decomposition, and has the advantage of looking like a traditional casket.
Cardboard is another popular material for biodegradable caskets. These can sometimes be decorated with personal messages, drawings or notes before burial.
With so much variety now available in the choice of a casket, it’s important to be informed about what features are most important to you.
For example, how large is the deceased person? What do you want the interior of the casket to look like during the funeral? How much personalization do you want?
Here’s a roundup of some common casket features and why they matter.
A standard casket is 28 inches wide, 84 inches long and 23 inches tall. This amount of space is adequate for holding the remains of an average person.
If your loved one was larger than average, it’s worth looking into purchasing an oversized casket.
The most common width for an oversized casket is 31 inches. However, this can vary.
It’s always a good idea to ask for the specific dimensions of a casket before purchasing it, because these can vary depending on the model.
The interior of caskets can be lined with velvet, satin, crepe, velour or linen.
Velvet is the priciest of these options; crepe is the most economical.
There are several different ways that the lining can be installed and these can give the casket a variety of different looks.
You can choose from a tufted, tailored or ruffled look.
The choice of color is a great opportunity to personalize the look of the casket. You can choose almost any color, or even choose to display the logo of the deceased person’s favorite sports team.
Two basic styles of casket lid are available: half-couch and full couch.
A half couch is the most common choice. This gives you a two-piece lid which allows the deceased to be displayed only from the waist up.
With a full couch, you get a one-piece lid which reveals the full length of the casket’s interior when opened.
Caskets can come with square or round corners. Some even come with special “casket corners,” which attach to the corners and can be personalized to reflect a loved one’s interests or hobbies. Contoured sides are another popular shape for caskets.
Like caskets, coffins come in a wide variety of types and materials.
Often, they have the traditional sarcophagus shape: narrow at the top and bottom, wide at the shoulders. Sometimes they are rectangular.
They can be made from wood for a classic look. Or they can be crafted from cardboard, which is eco-friendly and allows you to add your own decorations.
Other popular materials for coffins are veneered MDF, willow, and bamboo.
You can even find some coffins which are made of wool.
There are also many unique options for coffins, such as a fabric coffin, which is made of cardboard and covered with a decorated “pall.”
Or you can get one that’s digitally personalized with a photograph or design.
Casket & Coffin Prices
The price of a casket or coffin varies depending on the type and the quality.
A cremation casket ranges from about $100 to over $3000. The average is around $500.
For a biodegradable casket, you should expect to spend about $1500.
A steel casket goes for around $3000, but can be as much as $10,000
For a bronze or copper casket, you will typically spend about $3000, although some can cost more than $10,000.
A wood veneer casket is about $3000, while a hardwood casket costs around $4000.
Buying A Casket Online
Online shopping seems to have become the trend these days, and shopping for funeral merchandise is no different.
In fact, this can be a great way to reduce your funeral expenses, if it’s done the right way.
Have a Budget In Mind
There is a huge range in prices for caskets and coffins. They can cost a few hundred or a few thousand.
Your funeral home is a valuable resource because they are required to give you a price list before showing you caskets. This gives you the opportunity to decide on a price range that works for you.
Also remember that the funeral home is required to accept coffins and caskets from other providers.
Let The Funeral Director Know
Be sure to communicate with the funeral director about your plans to purchase the casket or coffin online.
He or she will communicate any special instructions about the delivery, including the right place to deliver it.
See Some Examples
Visiting a funeral home or a casket retail showroom is a good way to get an idea of the types of caskets available, as well as their prices.
If you don’t have time for that, simply ask your funeral home director to show you some samples.
This will help you understand what you want, as well as what might be available for your budget.
Check Delivery Terms
Always double check that the online provider of your choice delivers to your city and state; some have limited areas.
It’s also important to check that the casket will be delivered in the right amount of time.
Often you can find this information directly on the front page of their website.
In some cases, you can ask for overnight delivery, but be aware that this will probably cost extra.
Check Online Reviews
Do some research on the Better Business Bureau website to find any complaints lodged against the company.
Reviews can also be helpful in getting an overall picture of the quality and integrity of the company.
It also can’t hurt to ask friends or family who have recently made such a purchase about their experiences.
Best Caskets Available
If you’re searching for caskets online, it can be overwhelming.
There are so many and they are all so different! It can be tough to sort out which ones are the best value, and which ones will work for your needs.
To help you make sense of it all, we’re including these reviews of our top picks.
This is a very luxurious and traditional casket, crafted of solid mahogany and then polished to a smooth gloss.
The interior of the casket is lined with elegant white velvet.
The seller has many locations throughout the country and can guarantee one-day shipping in most areas of the U.S.
They are available 24 hours a day to respond to questions and concerns.
The price is extremely reasonable for such a luxurious casket, and is likely to give you significant savings off what you could buy from the funeral home.
The soft silver-on-white sheen of this 18-gauge steel casket gives it a look of purity and simple elegance.
The interior is lined with white velvet, installed in a French-fold design. This is accompanied with a matching pillow and throw, for a look of comfort and luxury.
Like most metal caskets, this one seals with a rubber gasket. It also features swing bars for easy handling and an adjustable bed for added convenience.
The casket also has square corners and continuous welded construction, ensuring security.
The size of the casket is suitable for interment in a standard-sized burial vault.
This casket is perfect if you’re seeking a rich, luxurious look within a tight budget.
It is crafted of inexpensive poplar wood which is then coated with a smooth, glossy cherry wood finish.
The poplar wood is of the very best quality available, specifically chosen for color and grain.
It will look like you paid top dollar, even though you didn’t.
The effect is enhanced by the beautiful cream velvet lining on the interior of the casket. It even comes with a matching pillow and throw.
A swing bar handle and a locking mechanism add convenience and security.
Somber, dignified and patriotic, this is a casket which any American veteran can be proud of.
It is crafted of sturdy 20-gauge steel with a solid black finish.
It is lined with a black poly blend interior, lined with patriotic red.
The Marine Corps insignia is featured on the inside head panel.
The casket can also be ordered for veterans of the Army, Navy or Air Force.
It comes with a rubber gasket for secure closure, as well as an adjustable bed.
The seller ships for free, an important consideration for the budget-minded.
What better legacy to leave to a loved one than an inexpensive burial that also protects the environment?
This casket is affordable, simple and biodegradable.
It’s a plain wooden box with eco-friendly rope handles.
It is one-size-fits-all, so you may need to partially cut part of it off if your loved one was small in stature.
You can use it to inter or display your loved one simply, and in a way that honors the earth.
The casket has all the requirements for burial in a natural cemetery, so it is the perfect choice if that’s what you are planning.
It makes a good cremation casket as well.