Humans have used wood to bury their loved ones since the earliest civilizations. This classic, inexpensive choice is a flexible, personal way to express your loved one’s legacy.
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With so many different types of caskets to choose from, how do you choose the best option for your needs? While wooden caskets are a great, classic choice, it’s not usually as simple as choosing wood on its own. These caskets come in different shapes, sizes, and materials.
Whether you’re planning to purchase a wooden casket for a loved one, a beloved pet, or even yourself, this guide explores the best wooden caskets to simplify that decision. This is the place where someone will be laid to rest for all of eternity. It should be a choice you feel confident about.
What’s a Wooden Casket?
As you might expect from the name, a wooden casket is typically made of wood. However, there’s a surprising amount of variation amongst types of woods and add-ons. Most caskets aren’t 100% wood. They also have liners made of fabric or other materials, so they aren’t completely made of wood.
Compared to other types of caskets like metal, wooden caskets are generally more affordable. They also offer a classic, traditional appearance. Since this is what most humans had access to for generations, many people are familiar with using wood to bury loved ones.
Hardwood vs. softwood caskets
The first difference you’ll find between types of wooden caskets comes down to two distinct categories: hardwood and softwood.
Hardwood caskets are made of certain kinds of wood harvested from broadleaf trees. This includes walnut, cherry, mahogany, and oak.
Poplar is also considered a hardwood, although it's not as "hard" as the other types. Hardwood caskets are more expensive because these trees grow slowly, with poplar usually being the least expensive in this category.
The other type of wood, softwood, comes from conifer trees, which produce softer, more flexible wood. This includes pine, fir, and spruce. These are less expensive, but they’re also less durable than their hardwood counterparts.
The appearance also differs between hardwood and softwood caskets, so it’s a good idea to explore both types depending on the style that appeals to you.
Here are some examples of hardwood and softwood caskets to check out:
How much do wooden caskets cost?
The cost of a wooden casket depends on a few different things. How much a casket weighs or the thickness of the casket is the biggest factor. Larger, heavier wooden caskets can be upwards of $2000. Meanwhile, lighter or smaller caskets, like those used for pets, can be under $500.
There is a lot of flexibility in pricing when it comes to wooden caskets. This is likely what makes them such a popular choice. More expensive woods like mahogany, oak, and walnut will come at a higher price tag ($1,000 - $2,000+).
It’s also important to keep in mind that your wooden casket might need additional add-ons, like a liner or burial vault. It’s a good idea to talk to your funeral director and cemetery about what specifically is required. Aside from that, don’t be afraid to shop around for the best price near you or online.
How durable are wooden caskets?
Wooden caskets are very durable, though they’re not quite as strong as a metal casket. While metal does more to protect against the elements, wooden caskets still get the job done.
Most of the variation in durability comes down to the specific type of wood. Using hardwood ensures there’s greater stability and that the casket lasts a long time within the earth. In addition, using a burial vault or liner can add additional security from the elements, as can choosing a casket that's gasketed, or "sealed."
It’s important to recognize that there’s no such thing as a casket that’s fully indestructible. Caskets don’t stop the decomposition of bodies. If anything, they just slow down the process or alter how decomposition occurs. They’re simply a way to honor loved ones in their final resting place. Therefore, at the end of the day, no casket is designed to last forever in perfect condition.
Can you build your own wooden casket?
Hundreds of years ago, it was very common for families to build their own caskets for loved ones. This was a way to dedicate a final tribute in their honor, and it also kept the price low. While less common, many people still choose to build their own caskets today.
As you might expect, the easiest type of casket to DIY is a wooden casket since there’s no worry about handling expensive, tricky metals. Since a casket is just a rectangular box in its basic form, it’s surprisingly straightforward to create one yourself.
If you’re a skilled carpenter, you could likely handcraft a coffin for your loved one, pet, or even yourself. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to use a DIY casket kit or to work with a carpenter.
If cost is your biggest factor, building a casket on your own is likely to save you big. It also gives you full control over the look and material of the casket.
Types of Wooden Caskets for Humans
Now let’s take a closer look at the different types of wooden caskets designed for humans. This guide should help you make an educated choice no matter who you’re shopping for or your budget.
1. Plywood casket
The most inexpensive option when it comes to wooden caskets is a plywood casket. Since plywood is really inexpensive, it’s usually covered with cloth to make it appear thicker.
These can be stained any color, and they’re an affordable choice. You can also make one yourself for a personal touch.
2. Laminate casket
Most people are familiar with laminate in furniture, and these caskets are similar in nature. Laminate is plywood that’s covered in a thin layer of hardwood, making these caskets appear higher-quality than they are.
While they aren’t as sturdy as more expensive types of wood, they are a very affordable choice that doesn’t compromise on style.
3. Wood veneer casket
For a more classic look, a wood veneer casket is the best of both worlds. It’s a high-density wood fiberboard that’s painted with veneer to give the appearance of high-quality wood without the same price tag. These can look very similar to traditional wooden styles, but they’re typically less expensive.
4. Alternative materials
For an affordable alternative, more builders are turning to alternative materials that are more eco-friendly and sustainable. These include willow, bamboo, and even pressed cardboard. Though they don’t have the same appearance as solid wood, they are a green option that’s also inexpensive.
Tip: We like this reinforced corrugated cardboard casket, which is covered in cloth.
5. Solid wood casket
Finally, you can choose a solid wood casket made of any of the woods mentioned above. This includes mahogany, oak, cherry, walnut, maple, poplar, or pine.
Some woods are more expensive than others, but solid wood caskets are typically the most expensive option in the wood category.
Types of Wooden Caskets for Pets
Wood is also a common choice for pet caskets. There are many types of cemeteries designed for pets or that are pet-friendly, and burying your furry friend can be a source of peace.
6. Pine casket
Wood tends to be on the more expensive side when it comes to pet caskets. However, pine is the lowest-cost option, and it still looks just as high-quality. These caskets are typically lined to give a similar appearance to a human casket.
7. Hardwood casket
If you’re willing to splurge on a higher-end casket for your furry friend, there are many hardwood options (like this one, which is made of oak).
Like with human caskets, you’ll find that these are usually made of cherry, mahogany, or oak. Though more expensive, these make a touching tribute for a special pet.
8. Alternative caskets for pets
Like with humans, there are many eco-friendly alternatives that are perfect for pet burials. These include seagrass, cardboard, and other plant-derived materials. These are also the most affordable as well.
Choose the Best Wooden Casket
No matter what type of casket you choose, this is one of the important steps in discovering how to plan a funeral. Wooden caskets are a traditional, popular choice that fit all budgets and styles. Since the early days of civilizations, people have used wooden caskets to bury their loved ones.
From hardwood favorites to new, up-and-coming alternatives, these wooden caskets above all make the perfect resting place for your loved one, pet, or even yourself. At the end of the day, regardless of design or price point, these all serve the same purpose. When it comes to an eternal resting place, you can trust wood to last for decades to come.