Choose Your Casket While You Can

The advantage of pre-planning your funeral is that you get to make choices that would otherwise be debated by your family. If you haven't communicated your preferences to your family, you may end up with an ornate solid wood casket instead of the eco-friendly model you prefer. When considering casket choices in your pre-planning, here is what you need to know about the various styles and where you can purchase them.

Casket Retailers

While your funeral home continues to be a good source of information for the various casket styles available, you can purchase a casket from a number of retailers such as:

  • casket manufacturers
  • "big box" discount stores
  • online retailers

You'll experience various levels of customer service from these retailers and you should have a good idea of what you're looking for before you contact or visit any of them. While you may save money with one of these outlets, consider the customer service and support you get when working face to face with your funeral home directly.

Casket Materials

Caskets are made from a variety of materials, from stainless steel to seagrass. The material used has the most impact on the price of the casket followed by the accessories and ornamentation. Here are the primary materials used to make caskets.

Hardwoods - This has long been the traditional casket material. Wood such as maple, ash, cottonwood and elm are often selected for their heavy weight, durability and for the ability to carve ornate designs in them.

Softwoods - Woods such as cedar and pine are used to make caskets because of their lightweight nature. These woods are not good for carving and tend to be highly polished or just left natural.

Veneer - If you want a softwood casket with a more ornate look, veneer panels can be placed over the pine or cedar to make it look like the hardwood models. Some light carving can be done on the veneer surface to make it look like a more expensive hardwood casket.

Metal - You can find caskets made of copper, bronze, steel and stainless steel. These can be highly polished or left with a matte finish. Ornamentation is accomplished by attaching molded or hammered pieces of metal to the basic casket shape.

Fiberglass - Lightweight and durable, the exterior can be made to look like other materials such as metal, marble or wood.

Eco-Friendly materials - Caskets made of seagrass, bamboo and other sustainable materials are becoming more popular. Manufacturers advertise that these are made using a smaller carbon footprint than wood or metal caskets.

Casket Accessories

With all caskets, you have a variety of accessories from which to choose including:

  • lining materials, pillows and linens
  • handles and straps for carrying the casket
  • plaques and markers that can be engraved and secured to the casket

When pre-planning your funeral, be specific about your casket preference. Document all of the features you want. Make sure your family knows exactly what you want so there needs to be no discussion about how to lay you to rest.