Choosing a casket is one of the major tasks of the funeral planning experience. There are many choices not only of the outside but also of the inside. Funeral directors offer these choices to make the casket more personal to the deceased. Some families make a choice based on presentation: they may feel that they must choose an expensive casket so as to “keep up appearances.” Is that necessary?
I have been asked is a casket and a coffin the same thing? There is a small difference: Coffins tend to be wider where the shoulders are and taper down to where the feet are. Caskets do not. The taper provides for the use of less wood and tends to make it more economical.* I have not seen many coffins, so I am going out on a limb here by saying that the industry primarily uses caskets.
Caskets are made primarily of wood or metal, though there are fiberglass caskets available by special order. There are also some caskets made of cardboard which are good for cremation and burial economy. With so many choices, knowing what some of the differences are can help the consumer to make an informed decision.
Metal caskets can be made of copper, bronze, stainless steel, and standard steel. Copper and bronze caskets are grouped by weight per square foot; for example 32 ounce copper. Steel caskets are grouped by the thickness of their metal. For example, 16 gauge, 18 gauge or 20 gauge steel. The lower number gauge the thicker the steel, and generally the higher in cost. The caskets come in various colors so the family can choose something particular to the deceased.
Wood caskets are made of hardwood that are classified into three primary groups:
- Premium Hardwoods – include cherry, mahogany, and walnut
- Standard Hardwoods – include oak, ash, elm and maple
- Common Hardwoods – include poplar and cottonwood
All of the hardwoods perform well; it is up to the family preference.
Each type of casket contains fabric covered panels, a pillow, and filler material that comes in various colors and fabrics. These elements coordinate with the casket to give maximum presentation appeal. The family can create that special memorial for the visitation and funeral service. Each element of the casket can help to contribute to final cost, so if cost is a factor the above information can give you the education needed to make a choice with the greatest value.
*“Coffins and Caskets” coffins123.com
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