Cloth Caskets Explained: Cost, Features, & More

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Cloth caskets are some of the least expensive types of caskets. You may have seen one without realizing it. 

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If you are pre-planning your own funeral or making the final arrangements for a loved one, we’ll explain what cloth caskets are and the options you have to consider when choosing them.

Cloth-covered caskets help those planning a funeral on a budget. Look for tips at the end of this article on other ways to conserve money when saying goodbye to someone you love. 

What’s a Cloth Casket?

A cloth casket is made of fiberboard or pressed wood. That outer structure is then covered with a heavy-durable cloth. Even though you may hear of this type of casket referred to as a cloth casket, the more accurate label would be a cloth-covered casket.

While cloth-covered caskets are certainly some of the least expensive options on the market, you can find other budget-friendly choices. Sometimes fiberboard or pressed wood caskets are covered with a veneer, which gives the casket a wood look without purchasing the heavier solid-wood option.

If you are concerned with how much the casket weighs when planning your loved one’s funeral, you may consider this choice. 

Here are the different types of cloth-covered caskets to consider. 

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12 Different Types of Cloth Caskets

You won’t find many different types of cloth caskets but you can consider a few options. 

First, will the service include an open-casket visitation? If so, you should consider the type of lid and the interior colors of the casket.

Second, is the color of the casket important? Perhaps you are looking for a particular color to coordinate with a flower or outfit that your loved one will wear.

Finally, while fabric-covered caskets are generally affordable, you may be able to make choices that lower the cost even more. Check with the funeral home director to see if one shape is less expensive than another. 

Let’s discuss the features and details of this inexpensive casket option.

1. Colorful caskets

A cloth-covered casket is usually available in various colors. Of course, metal caskets come in different colors as well, but they are generally more expensive than the cloth-covered varieties.

Cloth-covered caskets come in every color of the rainbow. While almost all of the cloth-covered caskets on the marketplace are made of a solid color, one retailer sells a casket covered in camouflage material. You may also find one that features an animal print. 

Cloth-covered caskets typically come in pastels, jewel tones, and muted colors. 

2. Full-couch cloth-covered casket

A full-couch casket refers to the style of lid. A full-couch top does not split in the middle, so when opened, the deceased’s entire body is revealed.

A full-couch casket lid can also be placed on a wood or metal casket. 

3. Half-couch cloth-covered casket

Most of the time, families who choose to have an open-casket visitation or service will choose a half-couch casket for their loved one. Half-couch lids split in the middle, so only the top half of the individual needs to be exposed. 

Again, half-couch lids are also used on wood or metal caskets.

4. Round-top cloth-covered casket

Most people don’t put too much thought into the shape or structure of a casket. In fact, you may think that there are only two basic shapes — the rectangular, modern casket, or the type that narrows at the head and the legs.

The reality is that there are many different nuances in the shape of a casket. A round-top cloth-covered casket gives the appearance of having a roomier interior. Instead of a flat top that rests on the walls of the casket, the lid is rounded. 

5. Octagon-shaped cloth-covered casket

The difference between a modern octagon-shaped casket and a rectangular casket is subtle. The top and bottom usually narrow slightly in the currently constructed versions. 

6. Cremation cloth-covered casket

Some retailers label their cloth-covered caskets as ideal for cremation. You may want to check with the staff at the crematory before buying the product. While cloth-covered caskets are relatively inexpensive, you can find even less expensive caskets made of heavy-duty cardboard. These are made specifically for cremation. 

Even if you choose to have an open-casket viewing before the cremation occurs, many funeral homes allow you to rent a casket for the event. 

7. Felt-covered caskets

Most of the time, cloth-covered caskets aren’t labeled by the specific type of material used. However, you may see references to felt-covered caskets. 

Felt can be made of natural or synthetic materials. It is generally soft to the touch, but it is relatively durable.

8. Doeskin caskets

Even though the name of this casket implies that it is covered with the skin of an animal, doeskin also refers to a piece of medium-weight wool fabric. 

9. Brocade cloth-covered caskets

Brocade is a type of material that is woven with a raised design. It can come in a variety of patterns. This type of material is sometimes used for cloth-covered caskets. 

9. Eco-friendly caskets

Cloth-covered caskets are not typically viewed as eco-friendly. Adhesives are generally used in the construction of such caskets.

You may be able to find an eco-friendly version of this type of coffin. There are more eco-friendly caskets available, but they may cost more than a cloth-covered casket. 

10. Rental cloth-covered casket

Even if your loved one chose to be cremated, you could still have an open-casket visitation or service. Most funeral homes now allow you to rent a casket for this brief use.

While the caskets available for rent may be of higher quality than a cloth-covered casket, you could perhaps request one should you want a particular color or fabric.

11. Cloth-covered casket with a complimentary interior

As we mentioned earlier, you can purchase a cloth-covered casket in a wide variety of colors. But you may not have considered that the interior colors can be altered as well. 

If you would like to create a particular design for an open-casket service, consider the colors of the exterior and interior of the casket, as well as the colors that your loved one wears inside. 

12. Personalized caskets

Did your loved one always cheer for the local baseball team? Or was her faith an essential part of her life? Some companies allow you to personalize caskets with an image. 

A team logo or the image of folded hands may be placed on the interior lid of the casket. You may also ask if you can customize the exterior of the coffin as well.

Even if having an image is not available for a cloth-covered casket, you can always personalize the casket by choosing a specific color for the exterior and interior. You can also bury your loved one with an item that was important to him, such as a fishing rod or Bible.

Alternatives to Cloth Caskets

If you like the idea of a cloth casket but none of the ideas above appeals to you, here are some alternatives that might suit you better: 

  • Burial shroud. A burial shroud incorporates the concept of cloth, without the casket. It's a highly eco-friendly—and inexpensive—burial method. You just have to find a cemetery that allows for burial without a casket. 
  • Biodegradable caskets. Another eco-friendly and unique option is a biodegradable casket. This lends you the appearance and function of a casket, while also creating a smaller footprint on the Earth. We like this wicker casket on Amazon
  • Green cremation options. If you're concerned with the eco-footprint of your final disposition, you might want to consider some "green" cremation options. For example, you can plant your ashes in a bio-urn, which ends up growing a plant or tree. 
  • Unique cremation options. If you're mainly interested in a unique form of final disposition, you might want to consider some of the unique options for ashes. For example, you can transform ashes into a real diamond with Eterneva or into cremation stones with Parting Stone. Or you can store the ashes in a one-of-a-kind urn from Foreverence.

Other Ways to Save Money When Planning a Funeral

We know that discussing finances when planning a funeral makes some people uncomfortable, but you must consider it. If you have a limited budget, you need to decide how the money is spent on your loved one’s final goodbye.

One of the least expensive options is having your loved one directly cremated after death. After you say your final goodbyes at your loved one's deathbed, the body is directly cremated and the cremains returned to you. At this point, you can choose to scatter the cremains during a private moment with a small group of family or friends. Generally, this is one of the least expensive ways to say goodbye.

If your loved one chose to be buried, purchasing a cloth-covered casket is one of your least expensive options. If you schedule the funeral quickly and decide to have a closed-casket service, you may be able to save on the cost of embalming. You may also be able to find cemetery space outside of a metropolitan area less expensive than buying a plot in the heart of a city.

Remember, the amount of love that you had for the deceased has nothing to do with how much you spend on the funeral. You can still honor and show love for your family member even if you don't spend a lot of money on the service. 

Commemorate the life of your loved one by sharing stories and looking at pictures. Have a potluck and ask that everyone who attends brings a dish that was a favorite of the deceased. Gather at a local park and celebrate the life of the person who brought you joy.

If you're looking for more casket buying resources, read our guides on casket materials and natural burials.

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