Pressed Wood Caskets

Alice Wisler
A simple pressed wood casket can be embellished with a cloth covering.

When considering the type of coffin in which to be buried, most think of choosing a hardwood or metal casket for their loved one, but pressed wood caskets are also an option. Like pine caskets, pressed wood containers are more simplistic and therefore, cheaper.

What are Pressed Wood Caskets?

Pressed wood caskets are generally not gasketed, meaning they do not have rubber gaskets, seals, or other features that are created to prevent water from getting inside. Pressed wood caskets also do not have warranties for longevity. While many believe that a metal or hardwood casket will preserve the corpse indefinitely, no coffin is able to guarantee that feature. Since the casket does not have a gasket, this is one of the reasons that this type of coffin is less expensive than a hardwood or metal casket. Pressed wood caskets are made from one or many of the following:

  • Soft wood
  • Wood byproducts (plywood, fiberboard, particle board or chipboard)
  • Corrugated cardboard

These caskets cost considerably less than metal or hardwood caskets. Pressed wood caskets are priced at under $700. Metal caskets are often more than $2,000. Often pressed wood caskets are thought to be more environmentally sound. However, many of these caskets use glues or fillers that contain toxic materials or formaldehyde, thereby making them not completely earth friendly.

Many times these caskets are covered in cloth and have finished interiors. The type of fabric can be selected by the family. Sometimes loved ones are buried with a favorite blanket or quilt.

In the United States, the most popular caskets are made of metal. The next most sold are made from hardwood and pressed wood caskets have the lowest sales.

Clean Pressed Wood

Clean pressed wood caskets are more chemical-free than regular pressed wood caskets. They are biodegradable, making it so the body can naturally return to dust. Descriptions and photos of these caskets can be found at The Natural Burial Company. This company aims to provide earth friendly means of burial. If you are interested in a green burial, this may be the option to think about.

The Funeral Rule

Sometimes the grieving family is taken advantage of by funeral directors when they are quoted inflated prices, overcharges, double charges, or told they need to purchase unnecessary services. Enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, there are rules that funeral providers must follow. Keep these in mind as you are discussing burial and casket choices so that you will be informed of what rights you hold. Remember these federal rules which include:

  • A person has the right to choose the funeral goods and services he or she wants. There are a few exceptions to this rule.
  • The funeral provider must state this right in writing on the general price list.
  • If your state or local law requires you to buy any particular item, the funeral provider must disclose it on the price list, with a reference to the specific law.
  • The funeral provider that offers cremations must make alternative containers available.
  • The funeral provider may not refuse, or charge a fee, to handle a casket you bought elsewhere. (This would include a pressed wood casket.)

Learn and Consider

Now that you know about pressed wood caskets, you may want to consider discussing their benefits with your aging parents or loved ones. The time to think about pressed wood caskets is now. When your loved one dies, many decisions will have to be made and the more plans you make prior to his or her death, and the hard grieving journey that follows, the easier it will be on you.It would be beneficial to you to inquire with the cemetery where your loved one plans to be buried to make sure that the type of casket you are considering is allowed before finalizing your burial selection.

Pressed Wood Caskets