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Buying a casket for a loved one can be overwhelming.
Not only is it something you’ve probably never done before, but it can be very expensive and often takes place at the funeral home where you may feel pressured into purchasing one that costs more than you feel comfortable spending. Adding more stress to the situation is the fact that you have to make the decision relatively quickly, and you’re likely in a heightened emotional state.
As it is a big decision, and likely the most expensive cost you’ll encounter while planning the funeral, we’ve compiled some tips below to help you with the process.
Keep in mind that as with most things, you can also buy a casket online and have it shipped anywhere in the continental US within days. All funeral homes are obligated by law to accept casket and urn purchases from third parties, and many people feel more comfortable with this option as you can browse, compare and purchase from the comfort of your own home.
How Much Does a Casket Cost?
The cost varies greatly depending on the material and hardware used.
The average casket costs over $2,000, but if you look around, you’ll find a wide range of prices from $500 to $10,000. If you purchase online, caskets are usually $1,000 to $2,0000, but shipping costs may or may not be included in the price, so keep that in mind when comparing costs. If you purchase through a funeral home, shipping costs will likely already be built into a funeral home’s caskets price.
What is the Difference Between a Casket and a Coffin?
The terms are generally interchangeable nowadays, however, the technical difference is in the design of each. Coffins are generally tapered at both the head and foot. Caskets are rectangular and generally made of more expensive materials (see below). Due to the nature fo the design of a coffin, they are generally made of wood, rather than materials such as metal.
Where to Buy a Casket or Coffin
In the past, you could only buy caskets from funeral homes and it wasn’t uncommon for their price to be marked up considerably. Today, by law (learn more about the FTC Funeral Rule), funeral homes must accept caskets purchased from third-parties, and they cannot charge an added fee for doing so. This allows you to shop around for the best options and prices available.
Shopping for caskets online can give you access to more inventory, save you money, and allows you to search from the comfort of your home. Next day delivery is also commonly available. Note: If you choose to buy online, before you purchase, let the funeral home know you will be purchasing from a third-party and find out what address the casket should be delivered to as well as a delivery date window. Confirm with the casket company (or read their shipping policy) to make sure the delivery will work with the funeral home. Most online companies can ship the casket and get it to the destination in a matter of days.
If you prefer to buy one in person, you can visit a local retailer or purchase one from the funeral home, but be sure they show you a price list of all of their caskets, and not just the ones in their showroom as those tend to be on the higher price scale.
Regardless of where you choose to buy, we recommend browsing online so you know your options and can get an idea of what different kinds of caskets cost.
Determining whether you want to purchase a metal, wood, fiberglass, fiberboard, plastic or “green” casket is a matter of personal preference. Keep in mind that no casket, no matter the material, will protect and preserve the body forever.
Metal caskets are machine-made and can be made of steel, bronze, copper or stainless steel. Bronze and copper caskets are priced by weight per square foot. A solid copper or bronze casket will be more expensive than one that is just plated. Stainless steel caskets are categorized by their thickness (gauge), most commonly 20-gauge steel or 18-gauge steel.
Wooden casket selections vary greatly and can be made from hardwoods such as maple, ash, elm, poplar, and cottonwood. Pricing varies considerably depending on the quality and the source of the wood that is selected. Standard and lesser expensive caskets are made from hardwoods such as pine, poplar, and cottonwood. The highest-end and most expensive woods are walnut and mahogany.
Eco-Friendly or “Green” Caskets
Caskets made from eco-friendly materials such as bamboo, banana leaf, wicker, seagrass, cardboard or a simple wood like pine, break down and decompose more easily and cause less impact on the environment.
Casket rental is common when a person will be cremated but the family chooses to hold a traditional funeral service where the body will be displayed in a casket before it is transferred to a simpler container for cremation, such as a cremation casket.
What are Cremation Caskets?
Cardboard caskets are frequently used for cremation and green burials. They are usually made from biodegradable cardboard and are considered eco-friendly. By law, you are not required to use caskets for cremation. Funeral homes that offer cremations must tell you that alternative containers are available, and make them available.
The take away is that caskets can be very expensive, but there are lots of options out there that could help save you money, and still guarantee you a beautiful final resting place for your loved one. Not many people realize they can buy a casket online, but the process is easy, you can save a lot of money, and you can choose from many more options than buying through a funeral home. If you do decide to purchase through a funeral home, it may help to first do some research online, so you can make a more informed decision when it comes to purchasing the right one for you and your family.