What to Look For When Shopping for a Casket
If the body will be buried, you will need to choose a casket. There are many types of caskets to accommodate varied tastes, sizes and budgets. They can be made of metals, woods, and fiberglass. The casket’s interior fabric can be of varied materials, colors and designs.
The types of caskets are:
Caskets made of metal typically are more durable than those made of wood. The term "protective" is sometimes used in connection with the merchandising of metal caskets.
Bronze and copper are the most durable metals and are non-rusting. They are measured by weight per square foot. Therefore, a 48 ounce copper casket is 50% heavier than a 32 ounce model.
Stainless and carbon steel are less expensive and come in different gauges of thickness, usually 16- 18- and 20-gauge. The smaller number is thicker and heavier, therefore, 16-gauge steel is thicker than 20-gauge.
Metal caskets are available with gaskets to seal the casket to help prevent outside elements from entering.
Hardwood caskets are made of solid wood, such as mahogany, walnut, cherry, maple, oak, pecan, poplar and pine. The cost of hardwood caskets varies with the quality of the wood used.
Caskets made of wood veneers are less expensive than hardwood caskets. Cloth-covered fiber board or pressed wood are the least expensive caskets.
The primary features of caskets are:
Half Couch refers to a two-piece lid of equal lengths. Typically only one lid piece is opened for viewings to reveal the deceased from the waist up. Half couch is the most commonly used lid style (see photo).
Full Couch refers to a one-piece lid extending the length of the casket.
|Casket Lining Materials|
Fabrics, such as crepe, velour, linen and velvet, are used. Styles, such as ruffled, tufted or tailored interiors can be chosen. You can select from various colors.
Cost will vary according to the material, with crepe being the least expensive.
|Special Casket Features|
Memory drawers are a “hidden” compartment in the lid of the casket. It usually looks like a small drawer that can be used to place small personal items to accompany the deceased. Items left in the drawer after funeral services will be buried with your loved one.
|Other Casket Options|
Caskets are available in a variety of shapes such as square or rounded corners and contoured sides. With certain models, you can choose “casket corners” that attach to the corners of the casket. Casket corners are a thoughtful way reflect the life of the person, whether it is a symbol of a favorite hobby like golfing or fishing, or a symbol of public service such as a firefighter.
Casket lid inserts or cap panels, are also a way to make the casket unique to the person. Personalized designs, such as Military style, are readily available, and other designs can often be custom ordered and produced within a few days time.
Caskets for Cremation
Crematories normally require that remains be enclosed in a fully combustible, rigid, leak-proof, covered container. The purpose of the container is to protect the dignity of the deceased and ensure the safety of the operator who will be working at the cremation chamber. This container does not have to be a casket but it will likely be the same one that is used to transport the body to the crematory.
Cremation caskets are similar in design to traditional caskets but they meet the criteria necessary for processing in the cremation chamber. That means fully combustible with no non-combusting metal. There are many beautiful and practical choices available at a reasonable cost. In addition to cremation caskets, you may also choose from a variety of alternative containers. Like caskets, alternative containers encase the body. These can be made from a variety of materials such as unfinished wood, cardboard, fiberboard, or composition materials. The alternative container may or may not have an outside covering. The key criterion is that the container be rigid enough to be safe for the operator.
Many people who choose indirect cremation (a cremation where a funeral service is held ahead of time) select a cremation casket that can be used for both the service and for the cremation. It is also possible to rent a ceremonial casket for use during services and purchase an alternative container for the actual cremation.
If you are purchasing through the funeral home, The Funeral Rule will apply. That means that you must be provided with a price list before you take a look at the options available. If you order online or through a casket retailer, The Funeral Rule is not a factor. You should also note that you are not required under any circumstances to purchase a casket for cremation. You have the right to select an unfinished wood box or alternate container.