Owosso Casket Company Billhead 1916

Casket Prices – Buyer’s Guide + Price Calculator

Introduction

Casket prices vary depending on many factors. Materials, construction, options, and source all play a part. The goal of this article is to help you understand how much a casket might cost and explain what you are investing in. We hope to make this process easier for you during this difficult time.

What you can expect from this article:

  • Average price of every type of casket
  • Free casket cost calculator tool
  • Best casket choice for a reasonable price (by type)
  • Options for all budgets
  • Where to buy caskets
  • Explanation of all the optional upgrades

A Heartfelt Sentiment

Buying a casket will likely be the largest expense of a funeral. Often the decision making occurs at a stressful moment with limited time to research and compare offers. Some basic information can help you purchase a casket with confidence. We aim to provide you with the information and understanding to make a thoughtful and well-informed decision. So let’s walk through the options.

Beautiful Wooden Casket
Source: Casket Builders Supply

How Much Does A Casket Cost?

We compiled data on casket prices to calculate the national average. Casket prices can range from less than $500 to over $10,000, with a quality steel or wood casket at around $1,000 (from online sellers). However, some types can range much higher, such as bronze and copper caskets. Funeral homes charge much high markups than online retailers.

The chart is further broken down to show the difference between average funeral home casket costs as opposed to average casket prices from online retailers. Each source has its own advantages.

Having an understanding of national averages will empower you to know what to expect.

AverageFuneral HomeOnline
Burial Shroud$350$300 to $900
Cardboard$350
Wicker$800 to $1,500$800 to $1,500
Cloth-Covered$500 to $1,500$500 to $1,500$300 to $1,500
Laminate$1,100$1,000 to $1,200$800 to $1,500
Veneer Wood$3,000$1,700 to $7,000$1,100 to $3,000
Pine Box$550$500 to $1,500$500 to $1,000
Softwood$3,000$2,000 to $6,000$2,000 to $5,000
Hardwood$4,000$2,500 to $8,000$1,500 to $6,500
Steel$1,400$2,000 to $3,000$900 to $3,000
Stainless Steel$1,900$3,000 to $7,000$1,600 to $6,000
Bronze / Copper$10,000$7,500 to $12,000$5,500 to $11,000
Shippingup to $600up to $600
Average$2,200
Technical Disclaimer: These prices are estimates based on extensive funeral home price sheet sampling and national averages. in-Valhalla does not make any claim whatsoever as to the validity of these prices, nor imply or guarantees caskets or coffins are available by any retailer at these prices.
How did we determine these casket prices?

Extensive sampling from casket listings from online websites and publicly available funeral home general price lists.

If you’d like to reuse this information, just provide attribution (link back to this page).

Casket Price Calculator

Use this tool to help estimate the expenses of different casket types and other burial options.

Consider the Purpose of a Casket

The casket is not designed to preserve the body of the deceased. Said a different way, no casket or coffin can preserve the body of the deceased forever.

“[The purpose of a casket] is to provide a dignified way to move the body before burial or cremation. No casket, regardless of its qualities or cost, will preserve a body forever.”

Federal Trade Commission

In fact, federal law prevents any casket manufacturer or funeral home from marketing caskets that will perfectly preserve a corpse. This is part of the Funeral Rule, a set of laws critical to the industry, and designed to protect the consumer.

All caskets, once buried, do exactly one of two things: they outlast the body or they decompose with the body.

Considering the purpose of a casket may help you determine what attributes are important to you and your family.

Pricing Guide

Caskets take many forms. Whether it is a simple vessel or a luxurious golden send off, the range of casket options available is vast and the range of prices is equally wide. For the average consumer, regardless of the final choice, the casket will be the most expensive part of the funeral service.

Where’s the Best Place to Buy a Casket?

Source plays an important role in overall casket price.

Funeral homes are not designed to hold large amounts of inventory because they provide many other services. For this reason, they are limited by overhead and offer a small selection of the actual caskets available. At the same time, they may be the easiest and most convenient option.

As the chart above would suggest, it is almost always more affordable to buy the casket from an online seller. We recommend Titan Casket (we’ll explain why down below).

While funeral homes offer convenience, digital businesses can afford to offer much lower prices. Why? Because they have a much lower overhead. They don’t have to run a funeral home. They specialize, so they almost always have a larger selection to choose from.

Shipping is the one concern (it can range from $300 to $600, per the FTC) but many e-commerce sellers have recently moved to offer free shipping.

Skip down to our section on casket sellers; we compare funeral homes, online websites, and big box sellers like Costco and Walmart.

Funeral homes are legally required to accept any casket, including those purchased from outside sources (including online websites). They cannot charge a fee for doing this.

What’s the Best Casket for a Reasonable Price?

Quick answer: balancing value with affordability that appeals to a broad range of tastes, we recommend a standard steel casket from Titan Casket.

We recommend them for many reasons, including reasonable prices, high-quality caskets made in the US, and helpful customer service. Oh, and did we mention free shipping? You can read our complete review here.

Steel Casket

Titan Orion Black Metal Casket
Black Steel Casket from Titan Casket

Wood Casket

Hardwood Poplar Casket
Poplar Wooden Grace Casket from Titan Casket

Different Types of Caskets and Price Points Available

In this section, we’ll go into more depth and present the most economical casket by type. For a more comprehensive look into the different kinds and some guidance on which to choose, read our guide to the different types of caskets.

If you’re interested in a particular color, so far we’ve covered red, white, and blue.

Bronze and Copper Caskets

While both bronze caskets and copper caskets are considered to be the highest quality of caskets available for purchase, some online retailers offer them at very competitive prices—often even lower than popular wooden or steel caskets offered by funeral homes.

Bronze Casket

Bronze Orion Titan Casket
Bronze Orion Casket

Copper Casket

Copper Orion Titan Casket
Copper Andover Series

The bronze Orion casket is my personal favorite. I think you’ll be surprised by the price.

Best Pine Box Caskets

Pine Caskets are a great choice for many reasons. They’re green, they can be cremated, and are available at a reasonable price. They are a simple choice—the choice of the minimalist.

While many families do not feel they are appropriate for viewings or funeral services, they can be great for an outdoor service or closed casket funeral. Pine box caskets are also extremely popular for green funerals.

This six-sided coffin is from The Old Pine Box, a New Mexico-based group dedicated to making handcrafted caskets. They work primarily in pine and cedar, and—though a small organization—their caskets are of remarkable quality.

One customer from Sioux city commissioned us to build him a simple, pine casket. Rope handles, no finish, no handles, no interior. Just a bare-bones box. He told me he wanted to make a statement: the casket is simply a vessel for another vessel that we’re done with. There’s no reason to get carried away.

Loren Schieuer, Woodworker and Cofifn-Maker

Though relatively new to the market, there are also more sophisticated pine boxes—half couch and absolutely suitable for a funeral service and viewing.

Lancaster Traditional Pine Box

Best Rental Casket

We like to emphasize the rental casket option because it is a great choice if you plan to cremate your loved one. And one you may not be aware of. Instead of paying for an expensive casket to be used for the cremation funeral service, you can rent a casket for the service and use a plain (and cheap) cremation container for the burial.

Most funeral homes offer rental casket options. Ask your funeral director. To get a detailed guide on how it works, read our comprehensive article on rental caskets. (Of course, it’s completely sanitary.)

Best Wicker Casket

Another option that is similar to a pine box casket is a wicker coffin. As a side note, caskets and coffins are actually two separate types of funerary box. While most products available are indeed caskets, wicker containers are more often called coffins because of their shape.

Anyway, wicker caskets are an affordable green option. And we believe that bamboo wicker coffins are the most renewable coffin or casket on the market! The only nationwide direct-to-consumer seller we could find the United States is Titan Casket (coincidentally, also our favorite casket seller).

Best Green Casket Options

If you’ve decided to have a wake or viewing (sometimes called visitation), you’ll need a casket in the traditional sense; a funerary box such as a steel or wood casket.

The alternative for a green funeral is to consider a burial shroud, pine box, or other decomposable method of burial.

  • Burial Shroud
  • Cardboard casket
  • Wicker
  • Pine Box

Best Cremation Casket

Many different kinds of caskets can serve as cremation caskets. The most cost effective options are simple cardboard caskets or rental caskets. Other options include:

  • Pine Box Caskets
  • Wood Caskets
  • Cloth Covered Caskets

Families can select any casket they like for the cremation process as long as it is rigid, leak-proof, combustible, non-toxic, and doesn’t feature any metal parts.

Funeralocity

What’s the Least Expensive Casket?

We’ve pulled the cheapest caskets from Titan Casket: the cheapest overall (a cloth covered casket) and the most affordable steel casket. Remember, the prices include shipping, so the price you see is the price you’ll pay plus sales tax. Nothing more.

Cheapest Casket Overall

Cloth Covered Casket

Cheapest Metal Casket

Andover Metal Casket

Relevant Terms to Help Compare Casket Options

Gauge: Thickness of steel. Caskets are available in 16, 18, 20, and 22 gauge. Most common are 18 and 20, the small number being thicker steel.

Gaskets: A gasketed casket is one with an airtight seal. Wooden caskets are not hermetically sealed; only steel, bronze, and copper. Gasket seals actually increase the decomposition speed of the enclosed body, but protect it from dirt, water, and other debris.

Veneer: A base layer (often plywood) covered with a thin layer of finer wood. Veneer is a cheaper alternative to solid hardwood that is virtually identical.

Buying Caskets Online

We recommend buying caskets online.

  • Price
  • Selection
  • Shipping Cost
  • Shipping Time

Despite the cost of shipping (many companies now offer free shipping, including Titan Casket), online casket prices are often less than half the price offered at funeral homes.

Common reasons not to buy a casket online are if they couldn’t ship to your location (Hawaii, Alaska) or your loved one was set on a particular casket or model.

Funeral homes offer convenience. If it makes sense to buy from a funeral home in your situation—by all means, do it!

Time is often a concern, but there are many great 24 or 48 hour delivery options.

The Funeral Law

The Funeral Rule, as it is called, is federal law that places a set of limitations and rules on funeral homes and funeral service providers. Concerning caskets, it states…

  • Funeral homes must accept any casket purchased anywhere (including online). They cannot charge a fee for accepting outside caskets or accepting deliveries of caskets.
  • Funeral homes must (offer to) provide you with a list of casket prices before you see their caskets in stock. The collective price list of all their products and services is called a General Price List (GPL).

To read more generally about the Funeral Rule, read the Federal Trade Commission’s detailed breakdown.

Ordering By Telephone

When ordering by telephone, peruse the catalogue first. You may find a physical price list, website, catalogue, or other medium. Get to know the price range and manage your expectations.

Owosso Casket Company Billhead 1916
The Owosso Casket Company billhead; in the early 20th century, the largest casket manufacturer in the world. (Source: Owosso Historical Commission and Shiawassee History)

Play around with the calculator above to understand what costs more and what costs less. We can’t offer exact prices but hope the range will provide helpful insight.

Once you get on the phone, grab a pen and paper then ask these questions. (Bookmark/Favorite this page to get back to it later).

  • What’s your least expensive casket?
  • What’s your least expensive wood coffin?
  • What’s your most expensive wooden casket?
  • What’s your least expensive 18 gauge coffin?
  • What’s your least expensive 20 gauge casket?
  • What’s your most expensive 20 gauge casket?

These questions will give you a great impression of the range of prices available from this vendor. Additionally, when you price of the specific casket you’re interested in you’ll have hard numbers to compare.

Buying From Big Box Resellers

Big box retailers include companies like Walmart and Costco. Caskets are not a large part of their business—in fact, they’re almost nothing. That’s why we prefer to recommend online sellers that focus specifically on caskets. If you have questions, you can call and talk to an expert. Big box sellers don’t offer that kind of knowledge base.

If you prefer to buy from Amazon, some (but not all) online retailers list their caskets on the platform. You can explore their collection.

Still, they are a valid option for many individuals. Often their markup is higher than online sellers dedicated solely to caskets—but not by too much. We’ve mapped Costco’s casket shipping below.

Costco Ships Caskets

Buying From Funeral Homes

We recommend buying caskets online and not at funeral homes because mortuaries and the like have such high overheads. They have to maintain the building, pay their employees, and buy caskets and other products before they resell them.

Caskets represent high margins for funeral homes. They are big ticket items—almost certainly the biggest single expense of the the funeral. So funeral homes are motivated to sell their most expensive caskets.

Special note: Please know that funeral home operators are professional, knowledgable, and sympathetic to the family and loved ones planning a service. As a matter of fact, they will be your best resource during this process.

What follows is a point of view simply meant to inform and prepare you for what you could experience.

Sales Tactics to be Aware Of

This video—by a life insurance company—illustrates the point that funeral homes are in business to make a profit. We don’t fault them for that and actually want them to thrive. But it is important for a consumers to be informed.

The Ugly Caskets

Yes, there are ugly caskets. In fact, if you’ve been to a funeral home you have probably seen those strangely-colored caskets and wondered who would want them. Who would build them?

The truth is, the manufacturers produce them because funeral homes—not consumers—want them. Some— not many—funeral homes use this tactic to offer cheaper, unappealing options to make more expensive caskets enticing. It’s a cynical viewpoint, but it’s our job to let you know it exists.

“You’ll Regret it Later”

Choosing a casket is a delicate time. One that most people want to avoid altogether or at least hurry up.

“You’ll regret it later” is a line you might hear that is meant to play on emotion.

  • “Doesn’t your loved one deserve a nicer casket?”
  • “You may regret it later.”
  • “You’ve been very frugal with your planning, but the casket is where you can honor your loved one.”
  • “Don’t burden the widowed with this decision.” (To the kids)

For more reading on personal examples, I find this article by Avenidas Funeral Chapel extremely interesting.

Summary

Funeral homes offer convenience and make purchasing a casket very easy. But there is a cost associated with this convenience.

These days online specialists can offer a wider variety of casket choices at more affordable prices – even considering shipping and logistics. Buying online is certainly an option worth considering.

In almost ever other regard, funeral homes and your funeral director are indispensable.

Terminology and Casket Specifications

Casket Parts

Casket Parts Labeled Infographic

It’s fascinating just how complex casket’s have become, isn’t it? Compared to Egyptian sarcophagi—they have evolved. Read more about casket parts in our detailed article.

What’s the Standard Casket Size?

The standard casket size is 81 inches long, 28 inches wide, and 23 inches tall. These dimensions are the exterior sizes. Interior sizes are about half an inch smaller (27.5 inches wide, 23 inches tall, and 80.5 inches long).

A few other useful notes:

  • The maximum weight for standard caskets is 350 pounds.
  • If you have to measure a person, the maximum width is at the shoulders or the elbows.

Oversized Caskets

Very few people require oversized caskets. Normally the width is increased to 31 inches (78.74 centimeters). The length is often scaled to 84 inches (213.36 centimeters).

If you are suspect your loved one might need an oversized casket, read our guide to casket sizes and and then speak to your funeral director.

Some funeral directors may bend the knees of your loved one to fit them into the coffin. You won’t notice this in half couch caskets—and almost all caskets are—because the lower half of the lid is closed during the viewing, service, etc.

Also, casket manufacturers take some liberty with their sizing measurements. It really depends on the caskets you’re considering. For example, skim this sizing guide from Batesville Casket Company.

Warranty

Some metal caskets have a warranty, wooden caskets do not. The purpose of a casket warranty is as strange as it sounds. It is really a marketing ploy: something to buy that is worthless.

This is because every product comes with what is called an implied warranty. All coffins should be able to hold a body for burial. There is no reason for any extra warranty.

“An implied warranty is a legal term for the assurances—written or oral—that a product is fit for the purpose intended and is merchantable, i.e., conforms to an ordinary buyer’s expectations.” (Investopedia)

There have been some legal suits for caskets malfunctioning (breaking) during the funeral, but this is covered by the implied warranty. Decomposition post-burial is a natural part of the process, and unavoidable with any casket.

If you plan to buy a casket with a warranty, ask what it covers beforehand. Don’t buy one casket over another just because it has a warranty.

Additional Features

There are a few fascinating casket features we thought we’d point out: namely, memory tubes and half vs full couch caskets.

What is a Casket Memory Tube?

Memory tubes are like time capsules. They tell the story of the person in the casket in case the casket is unearthed or disentombed. Sometimes this is necessary after natural disasters.

They are little tubes (picture a small test tube) stored inside the casket but accessible without disturbing the corpse. Florida, Louisiana, and possibly other states have laws requiring external identification of the corpse.

Memory Record Tube
The slip of paper is often 1.5 x 6 inches.

These laws developed because of the frequency that hurricanes were disturbing cemeteries. Officials attempting to return boxes to their graves often had to exhume and attempt to identify the remains—not always successful, and certainly not ideal.

Memory record tubes have become standard throughout the United States and world. You’d be hard-pressed to find one a casket without a memory tube. Still, it’s something to double-check.

There was even a patent filed for memory tubes in 1984, described as an ‘identification capsule.’

What are Half vs Full Couch Caskets?

The difference between a half couch casket and a full couch casket is the lid. A half-couch casket has a two-piece lid with only the head portion opened during the visitation or viewing services. A full couch casket has only one lid that exposes the complete body when opened.

We wrote a full articles on couch caskets differences, if you want to learn more.

Adjustable Bed Caskets

An adjustable bed for a casket is a way to incline the platform that the body lies on. Normally this is simple padding or foam, but some of the most expensive caskets will include memory foam or a spring mattress.

This feature isn’t a necessity. But if it’s mentioned, now you know what it means.

Check out this patent filed by Batesville in 1950 (now expired). It’s quite the contraption!

What’s the Most Expensive Casket Ever?

Gold Casket - The Prometheus
Source: Affordable Casket Company

The most expensive casket is—no surprise—golden. The Promethean, offered by Batesville Casket Company, is a casket priced from $24,000 up to $40,000 USD.

Among the stars resting in this shining memorial are: Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, & James Brown. While not solid gold, it is 48 oz. bronze and gold-plated—and a sight to behold.

But a few custom-built caskets get even more expensive than the Promethean. Read our investigation into the most expensive custom caskets.

Industry Trends

Pie Chart of Casket Types (Steel, Wood, etc)

Materials

Raw material determines overall cost, appearances, and function.

This data is from 2007; since then there has been a large movement toward wood and greener caskets, at pace with the green funeral movement.

“The producer price index (PPI), published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is a group of indices that calculates and represents the average movement in selling prices from domestic production over time.”

Investopedia

Think of it as the average price of production. It is not the price from a consumer’s point of view (how much it costs in funeral homes). It’s not even wholesale price. It is the cost the manufacturer pays to create the product (casket).

These charts reveal how caskets have increasingly become more expensive to produce. Inflation contributes to the rising trend.

Producer Price Index by Industry: Burial Casket Manufacturing: Metal Burial Caskets and Coffins, Completely Lined and Trimmed, Adult Sizes Only

Source: FRED / Bureau of Labor Statistics

Producer Price Index by Industry: Burial Casket Manufacturing: Other Burial Caskets and Coffins, Including Burial Boxes and Vaults (Except Concrete and Stone)

Source: FRED / Bureau of Labor Statistics

FAQ

What is the cheapest casket?

Pine box caskets compete for the cheapest casket title with cloth-covered options. Pine caskets are about $800 and cloth covered caskets are about $700 on Titan Casket. Check the links for the most update to date pricing. However, your funeral home and local sellers may have cheaper options. In general pine and cloth-covered caskets are cheapest. (We are not considering burial shrouds. They are difficult to find online; if you’re interested, as your funeral director).pine casket in the grass

What is a memory tube in a casket?

A memory tube is a capsule that identifies the corpse inside the casket without anyone having to open the casket and exhume the body. It is often a vial that screws into the outside of the coffin.

How much does a memory tube cost?

Memory tubes are now standard and included by all major casket manufacturers, in large part because states such as Florida and Louisiana require them by law.

What is the standard size of a casket?

The standard casket size is 81-84 inches long, 28 inches wide, and 23 inches tall, which fits everyone under 6 foot 8 (technically 6 foot 5, but funeral directors can bend the knees so you don’t have to pay extra for an oversized casket).

Do I need an oversized casket?

Almost certainly not. It’s good to check the dimensions before you buy, but caskets 84 inches in length (extremely common) can fit individuals up to 6 foot 8 if you bend the knees of the corpse.

What’s the difference between 18 & 20 gauge caskets?

Gauge refers to the thickness of the steel used to make a casket. 18 and 20 gauge are the most common in casket making. The lower the number, the thicker and more expensive the casket.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading! We hope you find this helpful. If you have suggestions, or feedback, send us an email at info@in-valhalla.com.

Sources

  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
  • National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA)
  • Casket and Funeral Supply Association of America (CFSAA)
  • Many, many funeral homes (referencing GPLs)
  • Avenidas Funeral Chapel
  • Carolina Memorial Sanctuary
  • Funeralwise
  • Trusted Caskets
  • Funeral Basics
  • Everplans
  • Joincake
  • Memorials
  • Madehow

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