Casket Types: The Most Common Casket Varieties Explained

Choosing the right casket can be a challenge, especially when you have such variety to select from. Whether you’re planning for a loved one’s funeral service or helping a friend choose the right burial case, it can be challenging to select a casket that best suits your needs. 

Here are the most common casket varieties available: 

  1. Wood Casket
  2. Metal Casket
  3. Cloth-Covered Casket
  4. Half-Couch
  5. Full-Couch
  6. Green Casket
  7. Stainless Steel Casket
  8. Cremation Casket

In this article, I’ll go over each casket type in more detail and break down the differences between them. 

1. Wood Casket

As there are so many different types of wood to choose from, wood caskets can be made using a combination of different base materials. However, remember that the price of wood varies based on the type you’re using. As such, wood caskets can be the most expensive or the cheapest type, depending on the material you choose. 

Various caskets exposed in a casket store.

Common Wood Caskets 

  • Mahogany or Cherry. If you’re willing to spend a significant amount of money on a casket, consider investing in the more elegant mahogany or cherry varieties. While these materials are expensive, they have a timeless, sleek look that can help impart a sense of grounding at a funeral. 
  • Oak. If you’re looking for something a little more reasonably priced, oak is the ideal in-between option for you. While it’s not as shiny as mahogany or cherry, oak caskets will still give you the elegant look you’re going for. So if you want something decent without investing too much, consider getting an oak casket.
  • Pine and Poplar. For cheaper options, you can always turn to pine or poplar caskets. While both types of wood are less shiny, they are used to craft caskets that are reliable and functional.

Wood is perhaps the most popular choice for a casket, although metal seems to be catching up pretty quickly. 

Wood caskets tend to be so popular as wood is a natural element and signifies a sense of the human body returning to the Earth where it belongs. Additionally, wood is also sleek, robust, elegant, traditional, and timeless – all qualities that one seeks when preparing a body for burial.

2. Metal Casket

Casket manufacturers designed metal caskets to preserve the dead body for a longer time. Unlike wood caskets, metal caskets are sealed to preserve the body and to prevent outside elements from expediting the decomposition process. 

It is crucial to note that metal caskets (like any other casket type) don’t protect the body forever. Over time, water will still seep into the casket and affect the body. 

However, water takes a lot longer to affect the body when it’s sealed in a metal casket. Thankfully, the colors and overall design of metal caskets have evolved with time. Now you won’t have to choose between elegance and protection as most metal caskets today offer both. 

Prices for metal caskets differ based on the kind of metal being used. Cheap steel commands the lowest price while you can find far more expensive versions that use gold. Like wood, the cost can vary based on the kind of material and design specifications you’re looking for. 

And if you’re looking for something that mimics the earthy feel of a wood casket, consider investing in a copper or bronze casket. 

3. Cloth-Covered Caskets

Cloth-covered caskets are the least expensive choices on the market today. These caskets are composed of fiberboard and often covered in elegant clothing. So if you’re looking for something unique, cheap, and yet elegant, this is perhaps the best choice. 

Most cloth-covered caskets go for an average of about $600, which is comparatively less than most other casket types. The best part is that cloth caskets come in a variety of colors and designs and it’s easy to create the look you want.

You can paint metal or wood in unique colors, but these designs often cost a lot. On the other hand, you can paint cloth-covered caskets in various colors and patterns, even aligning the design with your loved one’s personality. 

Cloth Caskets Can Be Customized

You may be surprised at how much variety you can choose from when selecting a cloth-covered casket. Aside from the many color-customization options, you can also select different designs. 

For starters, you can opt for caskets with a flat or curved lid based on the aesthetic you prefer. Additionally, you can purchase cloth-covered caskets in full-couch or half-couch designs, which we will discuss in more detail. 

Cloth caskets are ideal for cremation as well, as they provide an elegant look at a reasonable price. These caskets can also be burned completely, so there’s no need to move the deceased and place them in another container. 

4. Half-Couch

You’ve probably seen a half-couch casket before, as most people choose this casket type. 

Half-couch caskets are identifiable by their two-piece lid. These caskets allow families to reveal the upper body of the deceased during the funeral service. Studies show that seeing the body of a loved one who has passed away can help with the grieving process. As such, half-couch caskets can be effective to initiate recovery after a loss. 

Why Half-Couch Caskets

While it’s a familiar concept, many people wonder why we reveal only half the body during a service. Well, there are two main reasons why it’s common to only reveal the upper half. 

  • People tend to focus on faces. Seeing the face of a loved one is important during the grieving process, and most people don’t care about other aspects of the body. An entirely open casket may distract from the face of the deceased and half-couch caskets prevent this distraction. 
  • Morticians have trouble putting shoes on the deceased. Sometimes morticians have difficulty dealing with dead bodies, especially once rigor mortis sets in. It can be challenging to adjust the foot and put shoes on, so the bottom half is best left covered. 

Half-couch caskets hide the lower part of the body and also help secure it in place. The funeral director may ask some people to move the casket, and without a secure base the body may move around more than necessary. As such, half-caskets also help prevent awkwardness at a funeral service.  

5. Full-Couch

Full-couch caskets have a lid that consists of one solid piece. This means that if there’s an open-casket service, a full-couch casket will display the entire body of the deceased. While this casket type is a less popular option for a funeral service, it’s still pretty common. 

Full-couch caskets are particularly common in Pennsylvania and other nearby regions. However, most people prefer not to reveal the entire body, and are hesitant to choose a full-couch casket. 

However, the upside of this casket is that it allows you to place things inside along with the deceased. As such, a full-couch casket leaves more room for flowers or other gifts anyone wishes to place next to the deceased.

Which One To Choose

Overall, the cost difference between a full-couch and half-couch casket isn’t too significant. In fact, some people may spend more on half-couch caskets as they sometimes choose to decorate the casket with flowers and other memorabilia. 

However, half-couch caskets can save you money when there are issues of sizing involved. For example, if the deceased is too tall for the casket, it can be difficult to find a ready-made full-couch casket, and everyone can see that the body doesn’t fit.

Half-couch caskets allow the funeral director to bend the knees of the body, helping it to fit into the same space without anyone knowing. This modification isn’t an option with full-couch caskets as they reveal the entire body.

6. Green Casket

If you’re environmentally conscious, green caskets are probably your best bet as they are designed to be safe for the Earth. These caskets consist of materials that decompose easily and leave no toxins behind.

Green caskets also tend to be less expensive than other types of caskets because of the materials used to build them. Additionally, manufacturers also don’t paint or add decor to these caskets, which may be harmful to the environment.

Some common green casket material includes bamboo, hemp, willow, and seagrass. The price of these caskets vary based on the material you choose, and pine is the most expensive green casket option available. 

Most funeral homes don’t offer green casket options, so you’ll have to look at outside retailers to find one.

Complete Disintegration

Often during a time of great loss, we aren’t conscious of our impact on the environment. If the recently deceased was adamant about environmental health, getting a green casket is perhaps the best way to honor their memory.

Aside from reducing your impact on the environment, green caskets also cost a lot less than most other regular types, especially if you’re using cheaper materials.

Green caskets also come without metal parts, and will fully disintegrate into the soil. As such, investing in a green casket ensures that your loved one will return to the earth. Their body will decompose along with the casket as it disintegrates.

7. Stainless Steel Casket

Stainless steel caskets have set themselves apart from ordinary steel caskets, and deserve their own category. Stainless steel is more expensive and durable than ordinary steel and is the ideal material for preserving the dead. 

Image of a stainless steel Casket with Flowers

This material lasts significantly longer than other casket types as it’s rust-proof and won’t break down as quickly as regular steel. Stainless steel caskets often come with seals which ensure that outside elements do not find their way into the casket. 

If you aren’t too happy about the appearance of stainless steel, you may consider covering the casket with a different skin. Today, you can opt for a wood veneer for your stainless steel casket as this will help you achieve the traditional, elegant look of a wooden casket with the durability of stainless steel. 

8. Cremation Casket

If you are considering cremation for your loved one, it’s best to opt for a cremation casket during the funeral service. Investing in a casket is essential as crematoriums won’t cremate a body without a casket to hold it.

The practice of cremating the body in a casket is standard to help preserve the respect and dignity of the deceased and maintain the health and safety of the staff. 

Morticians can’t cremate the deceased in caskets with metal parts as the metal won’t burn during cremation. As such, it’s common for bodies to be held in one casket during the service and moved to another for cremation. What makes cremation caskets unique is that the body doesn’t need to be moved after the funeral and can be cremated once the service is completed. 

Green caskets are also combustible and you can use them as cremation caskets. So if you’re planning an environmentally-conscious cremation, a green casket would be ideal.

You Can Rent a Casket for Cremation

While it sounds absurd, it’s possible to rent a casket for the cremation process instead of buying one and burning it up. Instead of investing in a casket that will inevitably go to waste, you can rent one that will give the funeral an elegant appearance while significantly cutting down your costs. 

You may be wondering how renting is any different as the casket will be burned anyway. Well, the process involves more than what meets the eye. 

There’s an interior layer to this rental casket, often made from cheap wood or cardboard. As such, the body of the deceased will be in a separate case and won’t touch the casket that is rented. 

Once the funeral is over, the mortician will remove the interior box containing the body and move it over to the furnace. The mortician will then cremate the body in this cheaper box, and the rental casket will be cleaned up and offered to other families.

As such, while it may seem a little out of tradition, a cremation casket is a convenient, inexpensive way to ensure that your loved one is cremated properly. This type of casket commands a much lower price than the others on this list, and you won’t have to worry about shifting the body or investing in multiple caskets. 


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Alex Noel

Hi there! I'm Alex Noel and live in Indianapolis, Indiana. I started this website to share my experience. My goal is to provide Americans a more fulfilling goodbye.

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