Losing a loved one is never easy, and making funeral arrangements can be tedious – especially when choosing the right casket.
When making a personal decision for a family member or friend, the choice should reflect the deceased’s personality, values, and lifestyle. Caskets (or coffins) today can be customized in numerous ways and make an excellent tribute to your loved one’s legacy.
An excellent way to begin this process is by comparing basic material types available for caskets. Don’t know where to start? We’re here to help.
Let’s look at wood versus metal caskets and reveal their differences, including price, quality, appearance, and environmental concerns.
Price of Caskets
When deciding on a casket, it’s vital to keep your price points in mind. While there are some differences in pricing between wooden and metal caskets, there are options for every preference.
Wooden Casket Costs
Wood caskets can be more affordable than precious metals, but they are not as durable. We’ll talk about the environmental impact of wooden coffins later on. Wood is also more challenging to clean than a metal casket due to its porous nature.
Wooden caskets cannot be painted, which limits colors to glosses and finishes. However, this can provide a warm and natural wood look. Solid hardwood will also cost more than wood veneer.
The cost range for wood caskets ranges from $895 to $4,000+.
Metal Casket Costs
The primary material types used for metal caskets are often more affordable than other metals. In addition, metal caskets present a more modern look than hardwood caskets, and they can withstand moisture from rain or snow and protect against weather-related wear.
For an additional $1000, metal caskets can be customized with photos, colors, and words. Take this custom casket for a photographer, for instance. His family gathered photos he took throughout the years that were then wrapped over the entire casket, creating a beautiful memorial to his life’s work.
The cost range for metal caskets starts at $995 and ranges to $3,000+ before customization.
Modern caskets come in a wide variety of different colors and materials. So whether you are looking for something more traditional, like solid wood, or something more contemporary, like standard steel, there is an option for everyone.
Wooden Casket Appearance
Wood caskets have a warmer, more traditional appearance. They also tend to have a more elegant, less flashy appearance. Wood can be adorned with almost any type of external decoration you might desire—various kinds of wood, ranging from dark cherry wood to lighter colors such as oak and ash.
Types of Wood Caskets
Some of the available hardwood casket materials include:
- Poplar – Poplar wood is commonly used in furniture and is known for its elegant finish, and is one of the most popular materials for caskets. Poplar caskets come in several finishes, including white.
- Walnut – Walnut wood is known for being durable and robust. When purchasing walnut caskets, you can be assured you’re receiving quality.
- Mahogany – Mahogany wood is set apart from other woods with its dark color and is available in various finishes. Due to its scarcity, mahogany casket prices are slightly higher than other woods, making this a unique and beautiful choice for a loved one.
- Maple – Maple trees, popularly known for their syrup, have a lovely reddish tint that makes maple caskets an attractive option.
- Cherry – Cherry wood is a premium wood with a straight grain with a reddish, sometimes reddish brown, finish. Cherry caskets are beautiful but less durable than oak.
- Cedar – Cedar wood is instantly recognizable with its numerous small notches in the grain and is widely known for its durability and longevity.
- Pine – Beyond its affordability, pine is also a wood that decomposes quickly, making it a more environmentally friendly option. Pine is often used for cremation caskets, as well.
- Oak – Oak is a common wood that has a recognizable grain. Oak caskets are mid-range in price and affordable for many.
Metal Casket Appearance
Metal caskets provide a more modern and austere appearance. Metal caskets are popular not only because of their durability but also because they come in different colors. In addition, metal provides an advantage over wood in this category in that it can be molded and stamped with almost any type of design that one might desire for the eternal resting place of your loved one.
Types of Metal Caskets
Metal caskets are available in a variety of materials beyond standard steel, including:
- 20 Gauge Steel – These are the most affordable metal caskets available. They are not as thick as other steels or as durable as some precious metals, but they are still a quality choice.
- 18 Gauge Steel – Despite the lower number, 18 gauge steel is thicker than 20 gauge. They are at a higher price because of the increase in shell thickness.
- Stainless Steel – Stainless steel caskets offer an option that is impervious to rust without necessarily using a special coating.
- Bronze & Copper – These are the two strongest metals available for caskets. These metals will patina but never deteriorate or rust. Their price is higher than other metals, but they are built to last and have a beautiful finish.
Quality and Environmental Concerns
Families and people making funeral arrangements may have different goals regarding quality and environmental impact. Let’s look at the difference between wood and metal caskets regarding protection from the outside elements and decomposition.
Wooden Caskets Quality and Environmental Impact
Wooden caskets are built to last, but since they are made of the natural resources of a tree, they will decompose over time. In addition, the wood is not coated with any chemicals, so it will eventually decompose into its base elements like water, carbon dioxide, oxygen, and organic matter.
Metal implements such as hinges, nails, rails, and corner barriers can be replaced by environmentally friendly alternatives such as glues, pegs, joints, and other nature-friendly fasteners and connectors.
Metal Caskets Quality and Environmental Impact
Metal takes much longer to break down and return to ecological basics than wood. The metal casket is the obvious choice if you want protection from the outside elements. It can be coated with various chemicals to prevent rust and corrosion. Some coffins are hermetically sealed with a rubber gasket to provide maximum environmental protection for your loved one.
You can decide the level of protection from natural forces since metal coffins come in various thicknesses ranging from 14 to 24 gauge metals. Crushproof caskets are also available and almost entirely impervious to outside influences.
Final Comparison of Wood vs Metal Caskets
Both solid wood and steel caskets offer benefits, depending on what people want. Both metal and wood caskets can be a special memorial to your loved one to be appreciated by the guests at their funeral service. Wood caskets tend to be lower in price, but metal caskets offer a modern casket that is durable and protective from outside elements.
We’re Here to Help
The team here at Sky Caskets is here to support you during this time of grief and help you celebrate your loved one’s life. No matter what type of casket you choose, we will work with you to create a day of remembrance and a beautiful funeral service for you and your family.