Caskets and cremation containers come in a wide variety of materials, designs and costs. The type of casket or ceremonial cremation container selected will determine its value and cost. Generally, casket prices range from least to most expensive according in these types:
Cloth-covered caskets (right) are made from corrugated fiberboard, pressed wood or softwoods, which are then covered with cloth and have finished interiors.
Steel gauges used for caskets: Steel commonly used in the production of caskets is 20-gauge, 18-gauge or 16-gauge. 20-gauge is the lightest steel commonly used in casket production while 16-gauge steel is the heaviest.
Non-gasketed steel caskets are normally made of 20-gauge steel (some companies are experimenting with 22-gauge steel). Twenty-gauge steel is the same thickness used in many automobile body panels. These caskets may be spot-welded. They are usually the least expensive metal caskets available and are usually square-cornered designs. Some nongasketed steel caskets include interior coatings.
Most hardwood caskets (left) are made of solid wood, finished in a satin or gloss coat. Some may be hand polished. Their design may be square-cornered, round-cornered or round-cornered urn shapes. Typically, select woods (poplar, willow) will be the least expensive wood caskets, followed by pine, oak, birch, maple, cherry, black walnut and mahogany. Other species of wood used in the manufacture of caskets are ash, elm, redwood, cedar, etc. It takes 130 to 150 board feet of lumber to produce a typical hardwood casket. Some caskets require more wood if they are made of 3" or 4" plank material. While normally in the third cost quartile, hardwood caskets are sometimes the most expensive caskets manufactured. Solid hardwood caskets are manufactured like fine furniture. They are assembled by craftsmen; sanded for painting or staining. Some have hand-rubbed finishes. Most recently, Batesville Casket Company has introduced an engineered wood product that the company has trademarked as "Marquetry".
Veneer-finished caskets are generally less expensive than solid wood caskets. Stainless steel caskets are most often square-cornered or squarecornered urn designs. New products designs developed in the 1990's include round-cornered and roundcornered urn stainless steel casket designs. Stainless steel caskets often are comparable in price to midrange hardwood caskets and bridge the price brackets between cold-rolled steel caskets and semiprecious metal products such as copper or bronze. Stainless steel caskets have become increasingly popular in the 1990's and continue to outsell copper or bronze caskets into the 2000's.
Copper or bronze caskets may be found in square-cornered, round-cornered or urn shaped designs. Rather than gauge, copper and bronze caskets are measured by weight. A 32-oz. copper or bronze casket means that the copper or bronze used weighed 32-oz. per square foot. There are also 48-oz. copper or bronze caskets.
The Casket & Funeral Supply Association of America estimates that of the 1.7 million caskets sold in 2007 production by type was about:
10.8% cloth-covered caskets (including products used in cremation)
15.6% non-gasketed steel
47.3% gasketed Steel
4.0% stainless steel
2.2% copper or bronze
1.9% Infant & Children (14 and under)
Less than 1% of all caskets are made from composite materials.