How to Choose a Casket

Choosing a casket for a family member is a decision that most people make just once or twice in their lifetime, often during a time of grief. Over the years, Dignity Memorial® providers have heard from the families we serve that they feel unprepared to make this decision, overwhelmed with options and lacking the knowledge they need to make an informed choice.

There are many options for caskets, and they can be customized to fit your unique personality and budget. From a plush, fabric-lined bronze casket to an eco-friendly “green” casket option, our professionals are here to help you learn more about caskets, the options available at Dignity Memorial locations and what to consider when choosing a casket for yourself or your loved one.

What is a casket?

Simply put, a casket is a container which holds the body of someone who has passed away. A casket is generally used during the visitation part of a funeral service to allow family and friends an opportunity to say a final goodbye. After the service, the casket is transported to the final resting place and then buried in-ground or laid to rest aboveground, as in a mausoleum.

Casket materials and features

Caskets come in a wide variety of materials with many different features. Though no caskets are able to permanently preserve a body, the features and materials of the casket bring lasting honour to a loved one’s legacy. With such a wide variety of options available at our Dignity Memorial locations, we will help you find the right casket for your family’s plans and budget.

The most common casket materials are listed below.

  • Cloth-covered caskets are the most economical options and are made from pressed plywood and covered with cloth.
  • Laminate caskets are made from plywood and covered in a hardwood laminate.
  • Veneered wood caskets are made from high-density fibreboard and then painted with a wood veneer.
  • Steel caskets are available in various thicknesses, from 16 gauge (the thickest) to 20 gauge (the thinnest).
  • Solid wood caskets are fashioned from solid wood varieties including mahogany, walnut, maple, cherry, oak, poplar or pine. Their price can range depending on the variety of wood and features of the casket.
  • Solid copper or bronze caskets are also an option, though they are typically more expensive than wooden caskets.
  • One of the newest casket options is an earth-friendly “green” casket designed to easily decompose when buried. Green caskets are sustainably produced with materials from renewable resources and don’t add toxins to the Earth as they decompose. Some common green casket materials include cork, banana leaf, recycled cardboard, organic cotton and hemp.

Some of the more popular casket features include:

  • A partial opening (half couch) or full opening (full couch) to make it easy for family and friends to see your loved one for a final time during a viewing, visitation or open-casket funeral.
  • Different styles of fabrics to line the interior of the casket, usually polyester, velvet or satin, and various embroidery options for the interior of the casket lid.
  • Exterior ornamental features like handles, designs and emblems.

Casket options vary by location and availability.

Is a burial vault needed?

When a casket is buried, the need for a burial vault or outer burial container is dependent on cemetery regulations. An outer burial container is a sealed container which houses the casket underground. It helps protect the casket from damage that may occur from the weight of the earth above it, water or heavy machinery that may be necessary to reach other nearby burial spaces. It also protects the beauty of the cemetery by preventing unsightly settling of the earth over the burial location.

Please note that no outer burial container can provide full protection from the elements. Outer burial containers do not come with any guarantee.


Wide shot of fountain, private gated estates and cemetery grounds outside at Palm in Las Vegas.

Choosing a final resting place

One last thing to consider when choosing a casket is where the final resting place will be. Your local Dignity Memorial provider is available to discuss the options available for your family. Depending on your location, below-ground options may include monument and memorial gardens, private and semiprivate estates, and others. Aboveground options include private and semiprivate mausoleums. When choosing cremation, an urn can be buried in a traditional plot. There’s no right or wrong choice for the final resting place, so talk with your family, consider the wishes of your loved ones and work with your Dignity Memorial expert to make a personalized choice for your family.

We’re here to help

Choosing a casket doesn’t have to be hard. By understanding the common materials, features and options for your loved one’s final resting place, you can feel confident in making the best decision for you or your family member. Your Dignity Memorial expert is always available to discuss the many options available to you—and can help you accommodate your family’s wishes to commemorate a life like no other.

To learn more about the topics discussed in this article or to find a Dignity Memorial provider, call 800-34-DIGNITY.