Caskets: Everything You Need to Know Before You Begin Shopping

Choosing a casket for your loved one can be a difficult and expensive process. There are so many styles to choose from that it’s often hard to narrow it down. Not to mention the fact that you are probably in a more emotional state than usual, making the decision-making process even more overwhelming. This is why it’s always recommended to make funeral decisions as far in advance as possible. This doesn’t always take the emotion out of it completely, but it can certainly help. This is especially true if you can buy your own casket well in advance to spare your family some of the grief that goes along with it. No matter who you’re shopping for, here’s everything you need to know.


The average funeral costs around $7,000, so it’s important to know your budget before you start shopping. Make sure this number is firm and try not to deviate from it. Ask the salesperson or funeral director to show you a price list ahead of time. Then, let them know your budget and ask to only see caskets in that range. Try not to let guilt and emotion make this decision for you.

Types of caskets

Caskets come in a wide variety of woods or metals, and the choice usually boils down to personal preference. Wood Caskets are made of all different types of wood, including mahogany, walnut, oak, poplar, pine, and cherry. Hardwoods, such as mahogany and oak. are usually a little more expensive, while pine and poplar can cost quite a bit less. You can also get caskets in wood veneer or pressed wood if your budget is extremely tight, but these, of course, don’t have the same look as finer wood.

Metal caskets withstand the elements a little better than wood caskets. They also usually use rubber gaskets that more thoroughly seal the casket. While this does not slow down the decomposition process, it does give it another layer of protection from outside elements. Metal caskets can be made of bronze, copper, or steel. Steel is usually the least expensive option in metal, and you can get it in different gauges. Metal caskets are also sometimes a lot heavier than wood, so you’ll need to take that into consideration if the pallbearers are expected to actually carry it.   

Casket features

Caskets come with a variety of different features. You’ll be able to specifically choose the lining, lid type, and other extras before you make your purchase. Casket lining can be made out of velour, velvet, satin, linen, or other fabrics, but the most popular are satin or crepe. This is because they are a little less expensive than velvet. You can also choose the look of the liner. It can be ruffled for a fluffier look, or it can be tailored to look more streamlined. In addition to fabrics, you can customize the casket interiors. They can have embroidered names or sports mascots under the lid, or even specialty colors that reflect their interests.

Other casket features include memory drawers, custom shapes and corners, and lid types. The lid types are full couch or half couch. The half couch, with the two-sectioned lid where usually only the top half is opened for viewing, is the most popular type of casket. The full couch has a one-piece lid.


About half of all Americans choose cremation as their means of burial, but this doesn’t usually affect the choices available. This is because even when someone is cremated, their loved ones still want to have a funeral and viewing beforehand. Caskets for cremation are, however, specialty caskets that are fully combustible. When this is the case, your salesperson or funeral director will show you the line of caskets made especially for this purpose.