Stainless Steel Caskets Explained: Costs, Types + Features

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Caskets come in a surprising number of shapes and sizes. There’s something to suit every need and every budget, and it’s this wide selection that often makes things stressful for those shopping for caskets. 

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One of the many types of caskets is metal caskets, and these are the most versatile and customizable. The casket is your loved one’s final resting place after the funeral. You want something that’s built to last that also respects their legacy and life well lived. 

Metal caskets come in a variety of materials, including bronze, copper, and steel. The most common choice of these is usually stainless steel. In this guide, we’ll share everything you need to know about stainless steel caskets, including their costs, types, and features. 

What’s a Stainless Steel Casket?

A stainless steel casket, as the name implies, is a casket made primarily of stainless steel. What exactly is stainless steel? It’s an alloy of carbon steel and chromium. 

This is fancy science talk, but what you need to know is that it provides a lot of strength and resistance from corrosion. Frankly put, it lasts a fairly long time without getting damaged. 

Why choose stainless steel?

Why is stainless steel such a common choice? It comes down to two main factors: price and versatility. It’s one of the highest-performing caskets in its price range. When you’re looking into how to plan a funeral, you’ll quickly realize the budget is of chief importance. Finding a casket that fits your budget isn’t always easy, and the cost can quickly rise depending on your needs. 

Stainless steel is more affordable than other types of metal, but it still is just as long-lasting. It comes in a variety of qualities ranging from 16-gauge to 20-gauge, which refers to the thickness. Stainless steel is also easy to personalize, and there are different colors, add-ons, and features that could make this the perfect choice. 

How much does a stainless steel casket cost?

Since price is often the most important factor, how much does a stainless steel casket actually cost? It depends on the gauge (thickness or how much the casket weighs), color, and add-ons. A simple one of a lower-quality gauge starts at around $850. These can go up to $1,700 or higher. 

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to cost. Your geographical area will also be a factor, so it’s worth shopping around at different funeral homes or even looking online to find just what you’re looking for. Most funeral directors can walk you through this process to help you find the right stainless steel casket for your needs. 

Are stainless steel caskets indestructible?

One common myth about stainless steel caskets is that they’re indestructible. In reality, there’s no such thing as a 100% indestructible casket, no matter the material used. While it’s true that stainless steel caskets are incredibly durable against the elements, this doesn’t mean they’re entirely unbreakable. 

Contrary to popular belief, caskets aren’t designed to keep the body preserved. Over time, even if the body is embalmed, it will naturally decompose. The casket simply slows down this process. It doesn’t prevent it entirely. 

In some parts of the world, exposure to the elements after burial is possible. This is true if the cemetery is prone to flooding or extreme weather. Otherwise, it’s unlikely that the casket will be compromised anytime soon. As far as durability goes, it’s hard to beat a stainless steel casket. 

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Different Types of Stainless Steel Caskets

As you learned above, there is some variety in types of stainless steel caskets. Not all of them are created equal, so there are some different types to be aware of. Before you make your decision about your casket or your loved one’s casket, keep in mind the following. 

1. Carbon steel

You’ll occasionally hear some stainless steel caskets referred to as carbon steel casket. This is different from higher-quality stainless steel caskets, though they’re made of similar material. 

Carbon steel is still a very strong and durable type of metal. It’s used for things like cars, so you know it’s built to last. The difference between this type of metal and other stainless steel caskets is that it’s usually the lowest cost. While it might not be up to the same high standard as traditional stainless steel, it’s still a solid choice. 

2. Sealed caskets

Metal caskets have the option to be sealed or unsealed. This is an optional choice that affects how the lid closes against the casket’s shell. A rubber gasket is wrapped around the shell creating an effective seal against the elements. 

This can be a good option if you live in an area that’s exposed to harsh weather conditions, especially flooding and storms. However, this seal doesn’t stop the natural decomposition process, so it doesn’t affect how the body is kept within the casket. 

3. Velvet or crepe interiors

The interior of stainless steel caskets is seen as a contrast to the exterior. They’re designed to create the appearance of softness and comfort. This is someone’s final resting place, after all, so it only makes sense that it’s the image of comfort. 

When choosing your stainless steel casket, you’ll need to pick between a velvet interior or a crepe interior. Velvet is the softer choice, and it’s usually the more expensive option. However, they both serve the same purpose, so it depends entirely on your budget and style. 

4. Shell shape

Another choice is between the stainless steel casket’s shell shape. There are three types of shells you’ll see for metal caskets: classical urn, rounded corner, and square corner. These names explain the shape themselves, the first having the traditional shape you see most often, the second having rounded corners for a smooth effect, and the final being the most dramatic. 

There is no functional difference in these shell shapes. It truly comes down to personal preference and aesthetics. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

5. Colored metal

When you think of stainless steel, you likely think of the metallic, silver sheen of home appliances. While you can get your casket in this color, it’s common for the metal to be brushed with a finish treatment to give it a painted effect. 

There are endless colors to choose from. Since this is the most visible part of the casket, it’s often the hardest part of the decision process. Learning the meaning and symbolism behind the colors, as well as the favorite colors of the deceased is a great way to guide this choice. 

6. Extra designs

Last but not least, there’s always room for customizations when it comes to stainless steel caskets. It’s common for these basics above to be shifted to meet the individual’s needs. 

From painting special designs to two-toned colors, don’t be afraid to push the boundaries on “traditional” depending on your specific wishes. This is someone’s eternal resting place. It should be somewhere that feels right to you. 

How to Make Your Decision

If you’re stuck unsure how to make your casket decision, you’re not alone. This is one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever need to make, whether you’re shopping for yourself or a loved one. It’s a highly personal process, and it should be treated as such. 

Knowledge really is key in this situation. The more you understand about different types of caskets using the information above, the easier this process will be. When in doubt, consider the following:

  • Budget: What’s your budget for your casket? Sharing this with your funeral director can help guide your search within your range. 
  • Final wishes: Many people have some idea of the type of casket they want. If your loved one had any final wishes, honoring them can relieve some of the decision fatigue. 
  • Price shop: Since this is a highly personal process, take your time and shop around with different providers. You don’t have to buy the casket from your funeral home. In fact, it’s often cheaper not to. 
  • Know your rights: Did you know the FTC enforces rights within Funeral Homes? It’s true, and you can review your rights as a buyer by exploring The Funeral Rule from the Federal Trade Commission. 

At the end of the day, funerals and caskets are for the living. The deceased is no longer here to give their opinion, so it’s okay to trust your gut as long as you’re considerate of their legacy. 

Is a Stainless Steel Casket Right Best?

There’s no such thing as a “perfect” casket, but you can find the right option for you. When it comes to stainless steel caskets, these are an affordable alternative to more expensive metals that don’t compromise on style and quality.

If you’re in the market for a casket, make sure you know what to expect from the process. Many are surprised to learn just how many decisions there are to make when it comes to finding the right casket. This is the place where someone will rest eternally, so don’t hesitate to take your time. 


Sources

  1. “The FTC Funeral Rule.” Federal Trade Commission: Consumer Information. FTC.gov
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