Unfortunately, most people are required to make a decision about buying a coffin when they are feeling very emotional, and this means their decisions are not necessarily sound.
The choices available when deciding on a coffin or casket are many and varied, and your choice will depend on many factors:
- The wishes or personality of the deceased
- A preference for either a contemporary or more traditional style
- The shape, design or colour of the coffin/casket
- Religious or cultural background
- Whether the funeral is a burial or cremation
- Environmental considerations
Solid Hardwood: The coffin or casket is crafted entirely from solid wood, usually from the same species of tree and grown on plantations. They are often chosen for the character and beauty of the wood grain, and their warm, natural beauty. They are also unique as no two solid hardwood caskets are exactly the same.
Composite Board: This term refers to medium-density fibreboard (MDF) and particle board. The coffin or casket is made from engineered wood products that are produced by breaking down hardwood or softwood residuals into wood fibres, and combining them with wax and a resin binder. They are then finished with either panels of wood veneer (thin slices of wood) are glued to the surface, or painted in a metallic, pearlescent finish to enhance their appearance. They are less expensive than solid wood.
Most funeral directors will have a basic particle board coffin with no enhancing finish that can be covered with a church pall, a flag or a lovely fabric for the budget conscious.
Metal: Metal casket options include solid steel, stainless steel, copper, and bronze and different designs have varying features and advantages. Bronze and copper are among the most durable of metals, which makes them ideal for the construction of metal caskets with protective qualities. Manufacturers offer varying timeframes regarding the degree of resistance to the entrance of air, water and outside elements. Metal caskets also have the advantage of having either a full or half hinged lid for viewing purposes. These are usually more expensive than wooden caskets, and cannot be used for a cremation.
Metal caskets have protective qualities, and the advantage of having either a full or half hinged lid for viewing purposes. These are usually more expensive than wooden caskets, and cannot be used for a cremation.
Cardboard: In recent years cardboard coffins have become a popular option. They are seen as eco-friendly and modern, and using modern digital printing can be decorated in high quality designs as varied as your imagination. They can also be personalised with photographs, wording or you can paint and decorate the coffin yourself. There is a wide variance in pricing due to the many options available. Once you have approved the design, a personalised coffin does not take much longer to produce than it would any other coffin, and is worth the wait of another few days.
Hand Woven: Hand woven coffins are made from environmentally friendly products that are sustainably raised from renewable resources (usually willow and sea grass), and then hand woven without glues or metals. Willow coffins are some of the most environmentally friendly coffins available. Willow is a highly renewable crop harvested each year, which requires minimal processing. It degrades rapidly in the soil and helps to lock carbon emissions into its willow stems. Their colours are the natural plant pigmentation, so the colour tone may vary from batch to batch.
Handles and Linings: Coffins and caskets come with a variety of handles and linings. The quality of the materials is in accordance with the cost of the chosen coffin/casket, and they are usually not interchangeable, unless the coffin/casket is being custom made. Handles can be made of plastic, metal or even rope. If the coffin is to be carried by the family as part of the funeral service, it is usual to have 6 handles.
Some coffins have no linings at all, whereas the more expensive caskets are supplied with a mattress, pillow and are lined with padded satin.