Choosing a coffin: what you need to know

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.

Metal coffin

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.

Willow coffin

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.

Cardboard coffin

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.

No coffin

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. 


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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

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

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 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 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.