When you come to plan a funeral, it’s highly unlikely you will know every element there is to consider, and selecting the kind of coffin that you want is probably on that list.
That’s where your funeral director can help, by offering advice and information on the options available to you. To start you off, here’s our introduction to choosing a coffin.
For centuries, coffins have traditionally been made from wood. But more recently, coffins made from a range of alternative materials are available, such as metal, cardboard, wicker and even bamboo.
When selecting the material, think about the kind of funeral you are planning – a solid wooden coffin is usually appropriate for a traditional church service, while a bio-degradable wicker coffin can complement an outdoor ceremony.
Solid wood coffin
Usually made from oak – although redwood or other FSC-certified timber options are increasingly available – a solid wood coffin features metal handles and carved decorative flourishes. It’s also possible to add engravings, decals and even select painted wooden coffins to add an element of personalisation.
Veneer and chipboard coffin
These are a low-cost alternative to a solid wood coffin, although they can look very similar to the solid wood coffin. These will usually feature metal or replica metal handles and are a lighter option compared with the traditional version.
Made with stainless steel, steel bronze or copper, a metal coffin is more durable compared with a solid wood coffin. These can, however, be expensive materials.
Also known as wicker coffins or basket coffins, these are often hand-woven by artisan craftsman. Other biodegradable materials include banana leaf, seagrass, rattan, wool and bamboo. These coffins are usually around the same price as veneer and chipboard coffins, and are suitable if you are looking to arrange an environmentally friendly ceremony or are planning a private land burial.
Also biodegradable, a cardboard coffin is lightweight and reasonably low cost. They offer an opportunity to add personalised designs – either from an existing selection or by creating your own.
Other considerations include:
To make sure you order the right size coffin, you will need to know the approximate weight and height of the deceased. In some cases, a custom coffin might more exactly fit your requirements.
Planning a funeral can incur several costs, from selecting the coffin to ordering flowers and printing the order of service. Draw up a 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 the UK, there is no legal requirement to use a coffin at a funeral, however, the law requires that the body must be covered in a public area and most crematoriums will expect you to use a coffin or a shroud. Opting for a shroud means simply laying piece of fabric over the body, and this can be decorated with flowers and other mementoes.
For extra information, a funeral director will talk you through the options available. Click here for our online search function which can help you find someone local.