Since most people don’t go casket shopping very often (if at all), it’s understandable that there’s a lot of confusion around different caskets and what they mean. One of the common questions when discussing different types of caskets is the difference between a half-couch and a full-couch casket.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What’s a Full-Couch Casket?
- What Size is a Full-Couch Casket?
- How Much Does a Full-Couch Casket Usually Cost?
- Main Types of Full-Couch Caskets
- Where Can You Buy a Full-Couch Casket?
With people hesitant to talk about death, let alone talk about different caskets, it’s never been more important to take a closer look into this question. When you’re buying a casket, you need to have an understanding of how caskets work.
A full-couch casket is a less common choice, leading to even more confusion around this process. What exactly is a full-couch casket, and how does it compare to a half-couch casket? In this guide, we’ll explore these caskets, their price, size, and different types.
What’s a Full-Couch Casket?
When you think of a casket, you are likely thinking of a half-couch casket (like this one) since these are more popular. While the name might imply that full vs. half-couch relates to the cushion on the interior of the casket, this isn’t actually the case.
The term “full-couch” and “half-couch” actually references the lid. If the lid comes in two pieces, this is a half-couch. If it’s just in one piece, this is a full-couch casket.
A full-couch casket opens all the way, exposing the entire body in the case of an open-casket funeral. These caskets are used for traditional and natural burials. They're often used for closed-casket funerals, as well, since there’s no need for an opening compartment.
Difference between a full-couch casket and a half-couch casket
The key difference between a full-couch casket and a half-couch casket is the lid. If the lid has two separate pieces, each covering the lower and upper halves of the body, it’s a half-couch casket. This is the only difference between the two types.
Half-couch caskets are more often used for open-casket funerals, and this is likely why they’re the most familiar type of casket. When used in an open-casket service, the upper piece is left open to expose the head and torso to the family. Both pieces open for the funeral home staff to place the body within the casket, but it’s unlikely that both will be open for the service.
This difference likely sprung from the popularity of open-casket funerals in the 20th century. While it’s possible to have an open or closed-casket funeral no matter the type of casket used, this is one thing to consider during the planning process.
Do these caskets function differently?
A common misconception is that there’s a functional difference between the full and half-couch casket. In reality, they both work the exact same way. As mentioned above, the only difference is whether the top of the casket is split into two pieces.
Otherwise, the caskets are usually made of the same materials. There is no difference in the burial process or how the casket is used. The only decision for the family to make is whether they’re having an open or closed-casket funeral, and whether they’d like only half or the full body exposed to guests.
What Size is a Full-Couch Casket?
Caskets come in a variety of sizes, depending on the individual. There are smaller caskets for children, and there are even oversized caskets for those who don’t fit the typical size. However, standard caskets are 84 inches long, 28 inches wide, and 23 inches tall.
There is no difference in size between a full-couch and a half-couch casket. Again, the only difference in the structure of these caskets is whether the lid splits into two different pieces. Otherwise, they are the same length, width, and height.
The size of the casket you choose depends on the size of the deceased. If you’re wondering how much a casket weighs, this depends on the material and size.
How Much Does a Full-Couch Casket Usually Cost?
Another important question is how much the casket costs. There is generally no difference between a full-couch and a half-couch casket in terms of price. The price depends on several factors including but not limited to:
- Commemorative panels
- Interior liners
- Memory tubes
- Exterior features
Most caskets fall into the $900-$2,500 range, depending on the materials you choose. Natural caskets made of materials like hemp, cardboard, or bamboo can sometimes be less expensive. These are more likely to come as a full-couch vs. a half-couch. (We like this wicker casket that you can buy on Amazon.)
Otherwise, there are more expensive materials like bronze or certain types of metals. You can talk to your funeral home to determine the best type of casket to fit your budget.
Main Types of Full-Couch Caskets
There are several different types of full-couch caskets to choose from. This list is the same for both full and half-couch caskets, and it’s important to know the difference in types before making a choice.
1. Metal caskets
Metal caskets are amongst the most popular today. Metal caskets are the most durable, and they’re more protective of the body within. These typically use a gasket to seal the casket from outside elements, so they’re popular in places with harsh, extreme climates.
There are a few different metals to choose from, each with its own pros and cons. The most durable and expensive are bronze and copper, which will run at a higher price tag. For a more affordable metal option, stainless and carbon steel are common.
2. Wooden caskets
Wooden caskets are a classic choice. Humans have used wooden caskets for thousands of years. They’re timeless, and they come in a variety of materials and styles.
There are both hardwood and softwood caskets. Hardwood is the most durable choice, but it’s also more expensive. This includes woods like cherry, mahogany, maple, and pecan. Softwood is typically cloth-covered fiberboard, pressed wood, or wood veneer. (We like this full-couch pine casket.)
3. Alternative caskets
Last but not least, there are up-and-coming alternatives that can be used to create caskets. These are typically natural, eco-friendly materials that come at a lower price tag and carbon footprint.
Where Can You Buy a Full-Couch Casket?
You can buy a full-couch casket from any casket retailer. This includes both in-person and online options. Your funeral home is a great resource but feel free to shop around to get the best price.
As mentioned above, your first line of defense for finding a full-couch casket is usually the funeral home.
Your funeral home can help you find one within your price range and budget. However, they might not have the best prices around.
The world of online shopping really does include just about anything nowadays. You can find a number of online retailers with caskets in all price ranges.
From big-name stores to smaller merchants, there’s something for everyone online. However, remember you’ll also need to include the cost of shipping in your budget.
Build your own
If you’re crafty or know someone crafty, you can actually make your own casket.
This is a touching final tribute to someone you love, but it does require quite a bit of elbow grease. There are a number of free or low-cost casket guides online to help you along the way.
Finally, if you’re struggling to afford the cost of a casket, some organizations can help. The Department of Veterans Affairs, for example, can assist with finding and paying for a casket.
In addition, many organizations and groups help with funeral and burial planning for those in need. Read our guide on charities and nonprofits that help with funeral costs.
Half-couch and full-couch caskets aren't your only choices for final disposition, whether you're set on burial or open to other options, like cremation. Here are some of our favorite alternatives to traditional caskets.
- Burial shroud. A burial shroud is a simple cloth "cocoon" and an ancient method of burial. Natural burial shrouds are biodegradable and eco-friendly.
- Water burial. Water burial typically consists of spreading ashes at sea or using a water-soluble urn. But a new, less common method involves burial an entire body at sea without cremation.
- Cremation stones. If you opt for cremation for yourself or your departed loved one, you have many more options when it comes to the final disposition of your remains. One option is solidifying all of the cremains into cremation stones that you can hold in your hand and place anywhere you'd like.
- Cremation diamonds. Another unique option for storing cremains is transforming them into beautiful, natural diamonds with Eterneva.
- Living urns. If you want to add back to the earth with your burial, consider using a biodegradable urn that grows a tree, plant, or flower as it decomposes.
Is a Full-Couch Casket Right for You?
While you likely think of a half-couch casket when you think of the typical funeral casket, you have more options than you think. A full-couch casket can be used for any type of service, whether the casket is open or closed. It functions much in the same way as a half-couch casket, though it’s less common with the rise of visitations and open-casket funerals.
Choosing a casket for yourself or a loved one is a highly personal choice. Though it can be intimidating, it’s important to learn your options and understand each part of the casket. By making an informed decision, you’ll feel more comfortable knowing your loved one rests peacefully in the casket of your choice.