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Metal Caskets Compared: A Simple Buying Guide

open metal casket

Compare various metal caskets to help you decide which to buy. A simple buying guide explains the differences in metal caskets so you can make an informed decision.

Types of Metal Caskets

The types of metal caskets available offer you choices of stainless steel, carbon steel, bronze, and copper. Each type of metal casket can be customized on the interior and exterior. Costs below are based on national averages.

Metal Caskets at a Glance
Material Durability

Rusts/
Corrodes

Cost
Stainless Steel

Least durable

No $2,000
Carbon Steel More durable Yes $2,000
Copper More durable No $3,000
Bronze Most durable No $3,000

Carbon Steel and Stainless Steel Caskets

The main difference between stainless steel and carbon steel caskets is simple.

  • Carbon steel is stronger than stainless steel and is also more durable.
  • Carbon steel corrodes and rusts when exposed to moisture/rain.
  • Stainless steel does not rust or corrode.
  • The high chromium properties found in stainless steel serve to form a protective barrier against the corrosion and rust that weakens steel over time.

Gauge also matters. Metal casket thickness is determined by the steel gauge. The thicker the gauge, the lower the number. That means that a 16-gauge steel casket is thicker than a 20-gauge steel casket. The range of steel gauges for caskets are 16-, 18- and 20-gauge steel. The average steel casket is 18- to 20-gauge.

Bronze and Copper Caskets

The most durable, non-rusting metals are bronze and copper. They are also the most expensive metal caskets. While both of these metals will oxidize with the elements, they are the metals that last the longest. Unlike steel, copper and bronze are measured by their weight per square foot. The higher the ounces, the heavier the metal. For example, a 48-ounce bronze casket is going to weight more than a 30- ounce bronze casket.

Gasket vs. Non-Gasket Metal Caskets

Most metal caskets have a rubber gasket that wraps the lid and box to ensure the casket seals against elements and protects the casket interior. Legally, gaskets aren't required. Gaskets will seal the casket but cannot prevent the natural process of decomposition. Having a gasket on a casket is usually an option that increases the cost. Non-gasket metal caskets are made from 20-gauge steel and are the most economical to purchase. They usually have square corners and may be spot-welded together.

Metal Casket Sizes

Pay attention to the casket dimensions.

  • Standard casket interior measurements are 84"L x 28"W x 23"T.
  • Smaller and larger caskets are available.
  • Oversized caskets are typically 31" in width.
  • Some casket manufacturers may have varying measurements for their standard sizes, so it's important to check the casket dimensions.
  • Most manufacturers provide both exterior versus interior measurements.
  • Ordering a non-standard sized casket may increase the cost.

Additional Factors Affecting Cost of Metal Caskets

The price of your metal casket will depend on the various features you choose. These include things such as lid options, fabrics, custom patterns/designs, customized corner ornamentation/symbols, and customized lid inserts such as a sport or military pattern.

  • The half couch lid for a casket is the popular choice. The half lid is designed for one-half open for a viewing. The full lid is the same length as the casket.
  • Casket lining is either tufted, ruffled, or tailored with choices of silk, stain, crepe, linen, velvet, or velour. Customized fabrics are available at an additional cost.
  • Hidden memory drawers are in the lid and are used to place personal mementos.
  • Casket detailing, such as casket corner shapes or symbols, can be added.
  • Casket lid inserts for personalized/custom designs are available.
  • Record tube is also known as an identification capsule or memory tube and houses identification information about the deceased.

Metal Casket Purchasing Options

Most people purchase a casket from a funeral home. However, you may want to shop around as a way to curtail funeral expenses. Retailers such as Walmart and Costco may have affordable caskets available. Choose a reputable brick and mortar or online casket retailer.

Metal Casket vs. Wood Casket

Metal caskets are more durable than wood caskets. With the green funeral popularity on the rise, many people opt for a wood casket so it can eventually decompose and return with the decomposed body back into the ground.

Other differences include:

  • Wood caskets don't have the protective seal of a gasket like metal caskets.
  • Ornaments and other carvings can be done with wood.
  • Hardwoods such as walnut, mahogany, cherry, popular, pine, oak, and maple are some of the popular choices.
  • Wood veneers offer a cheaper wood casket price.
  • Pressed wood and fiberboard (cloth covered) are the cheapest wood caskets available.
  • Many wood caskets are eco-friendly and ideal for green burials.
multiple wood caskets

Simple Guide for Comparing Metal Caskets

A simple guide that compares the types of metal caskets provides you with actionable information. Consider the value each has and if it meets your expectations and budget.

Metal Caskets Compared: A Simple Buying Guide