A casket is a final resting place for a loved one. It can also be much more an expression of pride, a remembrance of love, even a celebration of a loved one’s interests and passions in life. Caskets can come in many different colors and shapes and be customized in many ways. The variety of materials, that combination of design materials and workmanship helps determine the ultimate value of the casket.
Selecting a casket is easier if you understand what makes them different from each other, those differences are based on each casket’s combination of five factors; material, size, design, fabric, and the ability to personalize that casket with reminders of your loved one’s life.
Wood caskets are the preferred choice for many families, the natural warmth of a wood casket can evoke memories of home or the beauty of fine furniture.
What types of wood are used for caskets?
The type of tree is an important factor in the price of a wood casket. It can be made from exotic and costly varieties, such as mahogany, walnut, cherry, and maple, or from strong and beautiful native woods, such as Oak and Ash. Softer woods, such as Poplar and pine are also available along with veneers that combined beauty and affordability.
Alternatives to wood caskets
Metal caskets offer families an even wider range of colors and finishes than wood caskets. They can also be more durable and include gaskets or other features designed to help protect against the elements. The most durable are made from bronze and copper. Two semiprecious metals that are completely resistant to rust. These metals have been used in jewelry and sculpture for thousands of years.
Another rust-resistant metal used in caskets manufacture is stainless steel. I think from household appliances to the famous St. Louis arch, stainless steel, combined strength, durability, and beauty at a lower cost than copper or bronze. Finally, some caskets are even made from standard carbon steel. The steel is available in three grades, heavyweight or 16 gauge, medium weight or 18 gauge, and lightweight or 20 gauge.
What does gauge mean in caskets?
When referring to casket gauge, the lower the number the thicker and sturdier the metal. However, a 20 gauge casket can perform the same task as an 18 gauge for much less money.
If consumers can opt for a lower gauge casket, they will find that the overall price is much lower as these caskets take no more labor to construct or paint compared to higher gauge ones.
Another factor that can affect the price of your casket is its size to accommodate the needs of everyone in our community. It’s possible to buy caskets that are up to 60% larger than the standard, however, these larger sizes require more labor and material to build and naturally command a higher price.
The design of a casket can also affect its price or value. Skilled craftsmen can create beautiful round and earn shaped corners with graceful sculptural shapes, in contrast, simple shapes and square corners require less time and craftsmanship for a more affordable casket. The same is true of hardware where designs range from the simplest fixed handles to the most artistic and sculptural creations.
Casket linings and cost
All of these design elements combine to create a distinctive style for each casket. The interior of the casket is upholstered with a range of fabrics and colors. The most luxurious caskets feature, rich softer velvets, simpler caskets are often upholstered in crepe or other lightweight cloth. Finally, casket manufacturers offer you the ability to customize or personalize a casket to reflect the interest, taste, or devotion of the person being honored.
One special way that a casket can be personalized is with customers. In the cap panel and throw, casket manufacturers offer dozens of different emblems, inscriptions, and symbols to make the casket more related to the honoree’s life.
Another way to personalize a casket is through the use of custom corner art. These beautiful sculptural corners can celebrate anything from a love of nature to a career in the military.
They are available on a number of caskets, all fitted with special hardware to accept these interchangeable corners.
What to expect from the casket buying process
Unfortunately, when most people go through the process of buying a casket they are in the midst of intense grief. Funeral homes can really monopolize on this and exploit the natural connection in our minds between spending money and showing respect to the deceased.
In some cases, comparable products can be made out to be worth vastly different sums of money through subtle tricks of the trade. If you are wise to this, you can significantly reduce the cost of the funeral you are planning.
Let’s imagine the scene where a funeral director is showing a grieving spouse or child their in-house casket packages.
You’re going to be taken into the casket selection room, which most funeral homes have. The first thing, when you walk in the door of that casket selection room, you’re going to see something like a solid copper casket. It’s going to be absolutely spectacular.
I mean, they got special lighting in the center of the room shining down on their solid copper casket, and you what? It’s gonna look beautiful with a velvet interior shine. And it’s going to have a price tag probably well over $8,000. I’ve seen them go for as high as $12,000.
Right next to that, you’re going to see a solid cherry or solid mahogany casket. That mahogany casket is going to be carved wood around the whole thing. I mean, imagine the sort of thing they would bury the Presidents of the United States in.
This really isn’t in the price range for even a middle-class family. What the funeral home is doing here is setting the bar really high. They’re merchandising. Although not illegal, it’s certainly a sales tactic that you should be aware of.
The next line of caskets are going to see are the 18 gauge steel caskets. These things are beautiful. They got car finishes on them. They’re metallic. The funeral homes will use names for their colors like Onyx Black, Pearl white, midnight blue, just like the car industry. Again tapping into those sale tactics
These caskets will look very impressive with a back panel on the casket which, when the lids are open, can have to border inlay on it, and some motif like an angel. You can even get these customized for anything connected to the deceased, from car images to dogs. You may even encounter other features such as removable corners where the actual corner of the casket comes off and can be replaced with different statues and ornaments.
During the funeral, the crucifix, little bass fish with a fishing pole on it, or little boat that’s been made for these corners can be removed before burial. At the funeral, the director walks up to that casket with a black velvet bag and takes off all four of those corners to give to the family as a keepsake. Do you really want a piece of your loved one’s casket as a memento? Sure sounded like a good idea on the showroom floor, right? You’re just buying stuff.
And then the next line of caskets after the 18 gauge steel case. That can be personalized in any way you want to, and then you’ll have the 20 gauge or 22 gauge steel caskets. When it comes to steel gauge, the higher the number the thinner, it is.
What some funeral homes will do with these lower gauge caskets is to paint them horrible colors because these are the less expensive cans. They don’t really want you to buy these.
So, more often than not, a family will forgo the more affordable (and more practical) casket because of how they look and opt for a much more expensive casket that is just going to be buried anyway.
As a consumer, you should always ask to see the full range of caskets on offer, which is legally required when demanded and let your wallet rather than your heart make the purchase.
What is the difference between a gasketed and non gasketed casket?
A gasket, when talking about a casket, refers to a rubber seal that runs the length of the lid. When the casket is closed, this produces a tighter seal. Non-gasketed caskets are sealed with latches but have a reduced barrier to external matter.
If there is particular concern about keeping matter, odors, or fauna out of the casket for longer, a gasketed or sealed casket may provide slightly better performance. Ultimately though, apart from the metal varieties, all caskets will eventually degrade and mix with the soil they are buried in.
What is the difference between a coffin and a casket?
The main difference between a coffin and a casket is its shape and design. A coffin fits the outline of the deceased’s body more whereas a casket is a basic rectangular container. Coffins are wider around the shoulders and taper to a narrower point at the feet. A casket has straight lines in its design and is much more common in North America.
Is there a standard size for coffins?
Caskets and coffins come in several sizes, with the standard size matching the average dimensions of a grave or burial vault. Most wood coffins and caskets will be between 22″ and 28″ Wide and 76″ and 84″ long. Metal caskets generally start at 23″ wide and 78″ long and are 76″ and 84″ at the higher average size.
When buying a casket, you need to consider the size of the deceased and check with the cemetery or crematorium you plan to use. A standard grave is dug 72″ deep, 30″ wide, and is 96″ in length. Make sure you ask as most cemeteries can accommodate slightly larger graves if needed.
Can you pick your own coffin?
Funeral homes and casket manufacturers offer a range of customizable caskets for sale. This means that you can make a casket as unique as your budget allows. In fact, this is one of the biggest secrets that funeral homes don’t like to talk about.
It’s important to remember that you can also purchase your casket directly from a manufacturer yourself. This can help reduce the cost incurred by dealing with a funeral home. Luckily, American law means that funeral homes have to accept this container and are not allowed to charge you a handling fee to do so.
I recommend that you look into purchasing a casket from an online retailer, my preferred retailer is Titan Casket, and have them deliver it to the funeral home. This can save you thousands in funeral home fees.
It’s also becoming more common to pre-purchase a casket before death. This has its benefits as you have more say over what you are going to rest in peace in and you can prevent your family from overspending on this purchase. I talk more about buying caskets as part of your pre-funeral plan in this article here.
What is the cost of a coffin?
A standard casket bought as part of a funeral home package will cost from $2,000 to $10,000 depending on the finish. Casket bought from retailers, both brick and mortar and online can start from less than $500.
For more information on the cost of caskets and where to find the most affordable, please refer to this article I wrote on the topic. What Is The Cheapest Casket Available And Where To Buy It?
Can you buy a casket online?
Buying a casket from an online retailer is becoming more and more common as it can dramatically reduce the cost of casket purchases. On average, you will save $1,000 to $3,000 on similar models sold in funeral homes. I recommend Titan Casket as an excellent online vendor as well as Trusted Caskets.
For more information about buying caskets online and what to expect, feel free to refer to this article about that very topic.