Caskets are divided into basically two types – metal or wood. The price of a casket is determined by the type of material (i.e. metal or wood), the interior material (i.e. ultra-suede, leather, velvet, crepe or satin) and the type of construction or finish. To fully understand how these factors affect the cost you pay for a casket, please take a few moments to review the helpful consumer information below.
Standard cemetery regulations state that casketed remains must be enclosed in a burial vault.
Type of Wood - The species of wood is the largest determining factor in the price of a wood casket. Mahogany, Walnut and Cherry represent limited availability and relatively high scarcity. Ash, Maple and Oak represent adequate availability with limited scarcity. Pine and Poplar are the most readily available and the least scarce of all.
Amount of Wood - The second largest factor in determining the cost of a wood casket is the amount of lumber or wood contained in the casket. Lumber is measured in “Quarters” – one quarter equals ¼ inch. Most wood caskets are constructed of four (1 inch) or five (1 ¼ inch) quarter lumber. 8/4 lumber is used in the finest Mahogany and Walnut caskets (twice the amount of lumber as compared to 4/4/ lumber used in Pine and Poplar caskets). 5/4 lumber is used in the construction of Birch, Cherry, Maple and Oak caskets. The average amount of wood used to construct a casket is between 125 – 140 board feet (12”x12”x1”). Mahogany, Walnut and Cherry caskets require significantly more board feet of lumber than Birch, Maple, Oak, Pine and Poplar.
Type of Finish - The type of finish is also important when selecting a fine wood casket. There are basically three types of finishes available – Full Hand-Rubbed and Polished; Semi-Hand Rubbed and Polished (Top Only); and Low, Medium or Full Gloss. The Full Hand Rubbed and Polished finishes are reserved for the highest quality Mahogany, Walnut and Cherry caskets and requires a 10 – 21 step process. The Semi-Rubbed and Polished (Top Only) finish consists of a 6 – 8 step process and is used on Cherry, Maple and Oak caskets. Finally, the Low, Medium or Full Gloss finishes are used on most pine and poplar wood caskets.
Type of Interior - Another factor to consider when selecting a wood casket is the type of interior material. Ultra-Suede and Leather represent the highest cost level in casket interiors. Velvet is the standard fabric used in casket interiors, the quality of which is determined by the threads per square inch. Similar to carpet, the denser the threads, the higher the grade of velvet (400 threads per square inch is the highest grade). Crepe and Satin represent the basic fabric and lower cost range in casket interiors. Both are much lighter and less costly than velvet.
Type of Hardware - The final item to consider when determining which wood casket you might want to select is the type of hardware or ornamentation used on the casket. Stamped Die-Cast Zinc/Vacuum Metalized hardware is reserved for Mahogany, Walnut, Cherry, Birch, Maple and Oak caskets. Slush-Mold Zinc/Vacuum Metalized hardware is typically used on the majority of Poplar and Pine products. Finally, plated plastic hardware is used on veneer wood and cloth covered wood caskets as it is the least expensive and least durable of the various types of hardware.
Type of Metal – Bronze is an alloy of copper and therefore is higher in cost than copper. Bronze is considered to be the strongest and most durable of all metal used in casket construction. Bronze has been used by artists and craftsmen for thousands of years and bronze has lasted the tests of time. Copper like bronze is also a permanent and durable material and is usually more expensive than Stainless Steel. One of the best examples of Copper is the Statue of Liberty which has weathered the storms and the environment in New York harbor. Stainless Steel is higher in cost than Carbon Steel. However, Stainless Steel comes in a variety of grades and has become the average in caskets today due to is naturally non-rusting qualities. Carbon Steel is the least expensive of the metal used in casket construction and ranges in gauge; from 16 gauge which is the thickest down to 20 gauge which is the thinnest and lightest. Carbon steel is the type of metal used in automobile manufacturing and is readily available but can also be impacted significantly by the elements.
Type of Shell – An urn shell design is higher in cost to manufacture than a round corner shell because it requires 33% more man-hours to work (sanding & finishing the corners) than a round corner shell and 66% more man-hours than a square corner shell. The square corner shell requires minimal corner finishing work because most square corner units have hardware or ornamentation which covers the corner welds reducing finishing time and ultimately reducing the cost.
Type of Finish – Painted / Highlighted / Brushed caskets are considered to be the hallmark of the finishing process for metal caskets. This is a 5 step process consisting of a color coat, followed by a top coat then a highlight coat is applied. After the highlight coat, the casket is sent through a brushing process whereby the paint is removed from various areas accent the natural beauty of the metal underneath. Then, to prevent damage to the natural metal, a sealant coat is applied to add lasting shine and protection. The Painted and Brushed 4 step process is the second most intense process consisting of all the same listed above except for the highlight step. The next type of finish is a 3 step process known as Painted/Highlighted. In this process, the casket is painted with a color coat then highlighted to add accent lines and then finished with a clear top coat. The least intensive and least expensive finish is the 2 step process known simply as Painted. In the painted process, the casket receives a color coat and then a top coat.
Type of Interior - Another factor to consider is the type of interior material. Ultra-Suede and Leather represent the highest cost level in casket interiors. Velvet is the standard fabric used in casket interiors, the quality of which is determined by the threads per square inch. Similar to carpet, the denser the threads, the higher the grade of velvet (400 threads per square inch is the highest grade). Crepe and Satin represent the basic fabric and lower cost range in casket interiors. Both are much lighter and less costly than velvet.
Type of Hardware – The final item to consider when determining the cost of a metal casket is the type of hardware and ornamentation. Stamped Die-Cast Zinc / Vacuum Metalized hardware is reserved for Bronze, Copper, Stainless Steel and High End Carbon Steel such as 16 gauge steel and some 18 gauge steel. A Slush-Mold Zinc/Vacuum Metalized hardware can be found on lower cost 18, 19 and 20 gauge carbon steel caskets. Lastly, Plated Plastic is used on minimum 20 gauge carbon steel caskets as well as cloth covered wood caskets.
Although most funeral homes offer a wide range of caskets in a variety of styles, colors and pricing, there are basically only two types of caskets – metal and wood.
Most families who select the fine Hardwoods do so because:
Most families who select Copper & Bronze do so because:
The majority of families choose Stainless Steel because:
Those families who choose Carbon Steel do so because:
You should know that many selected styles are available with enhanced exterior protective features.
Lastly, many families will choose a casket that represents the lifestyle, hobby or interests of the deceased. Also, some families select the casket based on the favorite color of their loved one.
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