How to choose a coffin: what you need to know

wicker basket coffin with white flowers on top

When it comes to choosing a coffin, it can be difficult to know where to start. We’ve put together this guide to help you understand your options, from material to cost.

Different types of coffins explained

For centuries, coffins were traditionally made from wood. But more recently, coffins made from a range of alternative materials have become available, including metal, cardboard, wicker and even bamboo.

When you’re choosing the material, think about the kind of funeral you’re planning. For example, a solid wooden coffin is usually appropriate for a traditional church service, while a bio-degradable wicker coffin is a popular choice for natural burials.

Solid wood coffin

Solid wood coffins are usually made from oak – although redwood or other FSC-certified timber options are available. This type of coffin has metal handles and carved decorations. You can also add engravings, decals and even choose painted wooden coffins to make them more personal.

Chipboard and veneer coffin

Chipboard and veneer coffins are a low-cost alternative to a solid wood coffin, although they can look very similar. They usually feature metal or replica metal handles and are a lighter option compared with the traditional version.

Metal coffin

Made with stainless steel, steel bronze or copper, a metal coffin is more durable than a solid wood coffin. However, they can also be more expensive because of the cost of the metal.

Willow coffin

Also known as wicker coffins or basket coffins, these are often hand-woven by artisan craftsmen. Other biodegradable materials include banana leaf, seagrass, rattan, wool and bamboo. Wicker coffins are usually around the same price as veneer and chipboard coffins, and less expensive than solid wood. They’re also a good choice if you want to have an environmentally friendly ceremony.

Cardboard coffin

Cardboard coffins are also biodegradable, as well as lightweight and reasonably low cost. They give you the opportunity to add personalised designs – either from an existing selection or by creating your own.

How much does a coffin cost?

In the UK, a coffin costs anything from around £280 for a cardboard coffin, up to several thousand pounds* for a personalised solid oak or metal coffin.

The material you choose can make a big difference to coffin costs. So if you’re looking for a lower-cost option, you could choose wicker, chipboard and veneer, or cardboard. You could also choose not to have a coffin and to use a shroud instead.

It’s a good idea to decide on your budget and always keep it in sight. Remember that it’s more important to reflect the person whose funeral it is than to feel pressured to purchase the most expensive option. In fact, choosing a lower priced coffin is the most common way for people to save money on funeral costs (SunLife 2022).

Ordering a coffin direct

If your funeral director can’t offer you the type of coffin you’d like, you can order it yourself and have it delivered to the funeral home. However, it’s important to make sure you choose the right size and that the material is suitable for either the burial or cremation you’ve chosen.

Choosing the right coffin size

To make sure you order the right size coffin, you’ll need to know the approximate weight and height of the person who has died. In some cases, a custom coffin might be what you need.

Choosing to have no coffin

In the UK, there’s no legal requirement to use a coffin at a funeral. However, the law does require that the body is covered when it’s in a public area and most crematoriums will expect you to use a coffin or a shroud. Choosing a shroud means simply laying piece of fabric over the body, and this can be decorated with flowers and other mementoes.

Get help with choosing a coffin

If you need help with how to choose a coffin, your funeral director will be able to talk you through the options. You can find a funeral director near you with our online search tool.

 

*Coffin costs from several sources, including Google Shopping, Willow and Eco Coffin.

 

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Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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What is a Direct Cremation?

A Direct Cremation is an alternative to the traditional funeral. This involves the cremation of the deceased without a funeral service. A Direct Cremation is generally the most economic option because costs of the coffin, preparation of the body, funeral service and expensive transportation are not included. However, many people choose Direct Cremations for reasons other than expense, for example:

  • - Wanting to have a memorial at a different time to the cremation
  • - Expressed desire from the deceased to not have a ceremony
  • - Individuals with relatives who face big physical or geographical challenges in coming together for a ceremony

The prices quoted for Direct Cremations include:

  • All charges, meetings and paperwork for the cremation
  • Collection of deceased and care prior to cremation
  • A simple coffin and urn for the ashes
  • Cremation fees and delivery of ashes to the family
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Attended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees for an Attended Funeral, which is where family and friends have a ceremony or service for the deceased person at the same time as they attend their burial or cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Taking care of all necessary legal and administrative arrangements
  • Collecting and transporting the deceased person from the place of death (normally within 15 miles of the funeral director’s premises) into the funeral director’s care
  • Care of the deceased person before the funeral in appropriate facilities.
  • Providing a suitable coffin
  • Optional viewing of the deceased person for family and friends, by appointment with the funeral director
  • At a date and time you agree with the funeral director, taking the deceased person direct to the agreed cemetery or crematorium (normally within 20 miles of the funeral director’s premises) in a hearse or other appropriate vehicle

In addition to the Funeral Director’s fee, there will be third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements) to cover the other aspects of a funeral (such as the crematorium or burial fees). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to provide these for you.

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Unattended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees and the crematorium fee for an Unattended Funeral, which is where family and friends may choose to have a ceremony, event or service for the deceased person, but they do not attend the burial or cremation itself. This is also known as a Direct Cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Funeral Director's fees
  • Crematorium fee (for an unattended funeral) as selected by the Funeral Director

In addition to this fee, there might be additional third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to explain these for you.

If you wish to attend the funeral, you should view the “Attended Funeral” price instead.

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Why is this price Estimated?

We work hard to ensure the Funeral Director Fees we display are accurate and up to date. However, unlike with our partners, we cannot guarantee this price is correct today.

Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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Funeral Choice charity donation

To redeem the £20 charity donation all you have to do is select the charity from the dropdown list in the Make Contact form. Once you have confirmed arrangements with that funeral director send us an email to info@yourfuneralchoice.com confirming the service has been arranged. After we receive this email we will make the donation to the chosen charity and confirm back to you.

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