Where Are Caskets Made? Analysis of the Common USA Brands


Casket manufacturing has come a long way over the years. From the traditional wood boxes to the intricately designed caskets of today, they have to come from somewhere. So, where are caskets made here in the USA? 

The common USA brands of caskets are made in Indiana and Pennsylvania. The largest USA casket manufacturing company, Batesville Casket Company, is based in Indiana. Matthews International, the second-largest manufacturer of caskets, is based in Pittsburgh, PA.

Let’s talk more about where and how manufacturers make caskets and discuss some of the leading casket companies here in the USA. 

Where Are Most Caskets Made in the USA?

Most caskets made in the USA come from Indiana and Pennsylvania. The leading casket companies in the USA manufacture caskets in these states. So, there is a good chance the casket that you choose came from one of these states. 

Let’s take a closer look at each casket manufacturing location and which companies produce caskets in those locations. 

Indiana

Batesville Casket Company is currently the largest manufacturer of caskets in the world. Based in Batesville, Indiana, this company leads the country and the world in casket manufacturing. They sell other funeral products as well, like urns and other products commonly sold by funeral companies. 

Batesville has been in business since 1884, manufacturing caskets and other items for funerals. 

Originally, they made classic wood caskets, but they have since expanded into metal caskets and other items. So, they lead the USA and the world in casket sales. 

Batesville isn’t the only casket company in Indiana. Aurora Casket Company is another large casket manufacturer that also handles funeral arrangements. They feature many different types of caskets. Part of what makes them so popular is their variety. Aurora offers a wide variety of oversized caskets and religious caskets and handles a lot of unique orders. 

With a leading casket manufacturer and the largest globally, Indiana is where most of the caskets we use across the USA come from.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is another state that manufactures several caskets. The second-largest casket manufacturer in the USA, Matthews International, creates its caskets in Pittsburgh. 

Matthews International doesn’t just focus on caskets but also sells urns.

They specialize in manufacturing caskets and engraving headstones and plaques. So, they are a one-stop-shop for many people planning a funeral as they offer a variety of necessary items. While they are behind the sales of the largest manufacturer Batesville, they still provide plenty of caskets to grieving families. 

How Many Casket Manufacturers Are In The USA?

There are 30-35 casket manufacturing companies in the USA, which is a significant drop from the 1950s when there were an estimated 700 or more casket manufacturers. Today, there are significantly fewer casket companies than were around years ago. 

This can be difficult to understand because there are many in-depth studies showing how much casket companies make. Let’s talk about why there are so few casket manufacturers now compared to 70 years ago. 

FTC Regulations On the Casket Industry

One of the reasons there are fewer casket companies in the USA is that the Federal Trade Commission set regulations for the casket industry. In 1982, the FTC added significant regulations to the casket industry, making it more difficult for new casket companies to enter the market. 

These regulations meant that the new and existing casket manufacturers needed significant capital to stand on their own in the industry. Since the FTC put these regulations in place, there has been a significant decline in the number of new and existing casket manufacturing companies in the USA. 

Familiarity With Names

While regulations have significantly impacted the ability of new casket companies to survive in the USA, that isn’t the only reason. 

Often, there is little preparation for a funeral. We don’t often like to think about our deaths, let alone plan specific details for them. When people are grieving, they may not make the best decision regarding funeral preparations, which means that people may not make the wisest choices when buying a casket. 

So, people may spend more money on a casket than they should, not realizing that they can shop around. 

Even more than the price, sometimes people choose the trust and stability of a known company when it comes to funeral preparations. Familiarity can be a comfort during a time of grief. So, the largest casket companies in the USA stay on top partially because people trust a well-known company. 

Funeral Homes Sell Name-Brand Caskets

Many people buy their caskets from funeral homes. 

They may do this for ease going to one place for all their needs or because they aren’t aware that they have other options. Either way, people regularly buy their caskets from funeral homes. 

The problem for new casket companies is that funeral homes tend to use well-known casket manufacturers that they know are dependable. This makes it difficult for up-and-coming casket companies to reach people planning a funeral. 

The typical business tactics of using ads and word-of-mouth will not be as effective for casket manufacturing companies. 

The best way to help small casket companies is to prepare for a funeral ahead of time, which allows you to take your time finding a small company to purchase from and find the right one. If you wait until the person passes, you may be stuck buying a casket from the funeral home to ensure it is ready in time for the funeral. 

So, try to plan ahead. 

How Are Caskets Made?

Caskets are made from metal or wood. Manufacturers do this by carefully constructing the casket body before applying additional parts. They complete the entire hands-on process in factories, inspecting for imperfections as they go.

Let’s break down the process a little further. 

Frame Construction

The frame is constructed first, and for metal caskets, workers shape large pieces of metal with a press that creates the casket’s overall shape. From there, they fold the metal sheets to help form the sides and top of the casket. 

Once all of the metal pieces are finished processing, manufacturers weld the pieces together, creating the frame. 

Wood caskets require a different design. Rather than a few large pieces formed together like metal caskets, wood caskets actually consist of separate, thin planks. Manufacturers glue these individual planks together to create the top, bottom, and sides of the casket. 

Once the glue dries, those individual pieces are glued together, in the same way, creating the frame. 

Preparing the Frame

The manufacturer then must clean the frame. For wood caskets, this means removing any extra glue that seeps from the cracks and edges of the casket. This ensures that the casket is clean and ready for the next step in the process. 

They then sand the wood to ensure that it is smooth and even. 

For metal caskets, welding can cause a lot of rough areas all over the casket. Welding uses high heat to melt the metal. The melted metal combines with a filler material which the welding process fuses together, creating a bond. 

Once welded, the surface of the casket will be rough in places, so manufacturers must grind the surface to make it smooth. 

Half-Couch or Full-Couch Design

Once they create the desired look by smoothing the caskets, the manufacturer can begin to form the desired type of casket. 

Metal and wood caskets both come with a half-couch or full-couch design option. A full-couch design represents a solid lid that is one piece, while a half-couch design features a halved lid allowing only half the casket to open at a time. 

The halved lid of a half-couch casket allows funeral directors to reveal the upper half of the body during the funeral service, which is a common practice in the USA. So, at this point during the casket manufacturing process, the lid of the casket is either kept whole or cut in half. 

Coating the Casket

After the caskets have been welded or sanded, they need a topcoat, and for wood caskets, this means a coat of wood stain. Once they fully put the casket together, manufacturers apply a wood stain with a hand-held airbrush. This ensures that every part of the casket gets an even coat. 

Once applied, the painters will use a cloth to spread the stain and ensure it is even. 

The metal casket coating process is a little different. Rather than putting together the entire casket, manufacturers keep the bottom and top separate for this step. The individual pieces go through a machine that applies a thick coat of powder paint. 

The coating covers many stains from the welding process that weren’t ground out during the previous step. 

Water-Proofing Metal Caskets

This step is unique to the process of manufacturing metal caskets. 

Part of what people desire most about metal caskets is the protection they offer the deceased from outside elements. So, this next step is unique to metal caskets as it ensures a tight seal. 

Once they apply the powder paint and allow it to dry, they then seal the bottom of the casket to ensure water and dirt can’t make their way inside. They do this by adding a layer of glue to the bottom of the casket. 

The glue fills any cracks or openings in the bottom of the casket. 

After the glue dries, they sit the casket in a shallow amount of water, inspecting it to ensure there are no leaks. If not, then the process can continue. If they find any leaks, then another coat is added to ensure maximum protection. 

Painting and Handles

After the assembly and coating are complete, the manufacturers add all the additional pieces, including painting the casket. Painting isn’t necessary, as some people prefer to order caskets in natural tones. 

However, if the customer specifies that they want a different color, it will be painted before adding any accessories. 

After the assembly and painting process, manufacturers will begin attaching the extra parts of the casket. First, they will paint and attach the handles, which help people securely carry the casket. They have to be screwed in tightly to ensure that they can hold the weight of the casket and the body inside of it. 

The classical wooden casket displayed in a casket store.

There are three common types of casket handles that you can choose from. 

First, the stationary bar is a typical handle that protrudes from the casket allowing it to be easily moved and transported. Next, the bail handle is a slightly less common option, which swings freely to allow space for your hand but is still attached to the casket for safety. 

Finally, the final casket handle type is the swing bar. While it is similar to the bail handle, it is not as loose. The swing bar is on a hinge. You can lift the bar to carry the casket, but the bar only extends so far. 

The hinged bar will move back into its original place once you set the casket down. 

Casket Interior

Most manufacturers make the casket’s interior from crepe, though this isn’t universal. They tend to use crepe because it is easy to form when heated, which means that they can easily form the ruffled edges of the casket lining. 

Once the crepe cools, the shapes stay there permanently. 

For the top part of the casket, the manufacturers will fold the crepe and either staple or glue it to the casket to ensure it stays. The intricacies of the interior casket design tend to reflect the price. 

So, manufacturers may spend a lot of time creating the perfect look for the casket lid, as many people will see it during an open-casket service. 

Final Thoughts

Many USA manufacturers make caskets right here in the USA. In fact, the largest casket company in the world runs its business in Indiana. Local companies manufacture many of the caskets we use. 

Manufacturers spend a significant amount of time and manpower to make caskets. However, most of the process involves direct human contact and inspection. 

So, whichever USA-based company you choose, you can ensure you get top-quality products. 

Sources 

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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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