In this article:

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 coffin costs, materials and uses.

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 biodegradable wicker coffin is a popular choice for a natural burial.

Solid wood coffin

This type of coffin is made of real wood and usually has metal handles and carved decorations. You can also add engravings and decals or have it painted to make it more personal. 

How much is a wooden coffin?

Wooden coffin prices range from around £400 for a coffin made from reclaimed wood to as much as £4,000 for an American-style casket coffin.* 

What wood is used for coffins?

Solid wood coffins are usually made from oak – although redwood or other FSC-certified timber options are available. 

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. 

How much are veneer coffins? 

The average cost of a veneered coffin is about £400, with prices ranging from around £300 to £700.* 

Are chipboard coffins environmentally friendly?

Veneer and chipboard coffins are not the most eco-friendly options. This is because the chipboard is typically made using chemicals that can be harmful to the environment.

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. 

How much is a metal coffin? 

Metal coffins are among the most expensive coffin types. Even the most affordable options will set you back around £1,000. Premium options can cost upwards of £20,000.* 

Wicker coffin

Also known as willow coffins or basket coffins, these are often hand-woven by artisan craftspeople. Other biodegradable materials include banana leaf, seagrass, rattan, wool and bamboo. They’re a good choice if you want to have a more environmentally friendly funeral

How much is a wicker coffin?

Typically, wicker coffins cost less than wood or metal coffins. They’re usually around the same price as veneer and chipboard coffins. 

How are wicker coffins sealed?

Wicker coffins are not usually sealed. Instead, they’re often lined with a natural, biodegradable material such as cotton. 

Are wicker coffins suitable for cremation?

Yes. Wicker coffins are suitable for both cremation and burial.

DSC 1110
"He’d seen a documentary that had a wicker coffin [...] It felt like the right choice for him. Softer, less traditional. Less stark."

Cardboard coffin

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

How much is a cardboard coffin?

A cardboard coffin is a reasonably low-cost option. You can expect to pay between £170 and £700, depending on the complexity of the construction and design. 

Can you be buried in a cardboard coffin?

Yes. Cardboard coffins are ideal for eco-friendly burials because they’re biodegradable. You can choose one for any type of burial, though. 

Can you be cremated in a cardboard coffin?

Most cardboard coffins are suitable for cremation. The only exceptions are coffins that include metal handles or decorations.

Questions about coffin costs and choosing a coffin

How much does a coffin cost in the UK?

The cost of coffins in the UK ranges from around £170 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 the cost of a coffin. So if you’re looking for a lower-cost option, you could choose wicker, cardboard or chipboard and veneer. 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 one of the most common ways for people to save money on funeral costs (SunLife 2024). 

What is the most affordable type of coffin?

Prices of coffins vary, but on average cardboard coffins tend to be the least expensive. Chipboard, veneered and wicker basket coffins are also somewhat affordable options.

What is a biodegradable coffin?

A biodegradable coffin is one that will break down in the soil when it’s buried. 

Most natural burial grounds only accept coffins made of biodegradable materials like cardboard, willow or bamboo. That’s because these materials break down quickly in the soil and won’t harm the environment very much. 

Strictly speaking, solid wood coffins are also biodegradable. However, these can take many years to break down and often include non-sustainable substances like metals and chemicals. 

We’ve put together a guide where you can learn more about eco-friendly coffins

Who makes coffins?

Traditionally, coffins were handmade by skilled carpenters and joiners, though most types are now mass-produced. Willow coffins are still often made by hand. 

Who sells coffins?

Most funeral directors provide coffins as part of their service. They source these from specialised coffin makers. 

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. 

Are coffins a standard size?

Coffin makers usually offer three standard sizes: small, medium and large. However, the exact size of each option varies between manufacturers. 

To make sure you order the right size, 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.

Do you have to be buried or cremated in a 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 a piece of fabric over the body. 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

Photo by The Good Funeral Guide on Unsplash.

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