What’s the difference between a coffin and a casket?

A wooden casket in a funeral home.

Aren’t coffins and caskets the same thing? Here, we explain the difference between the two so you’re aware of your choices when arranging a funeral.

Is there a difference between a coffin and a casket?

Yes, there is a difference between a coffin and a casket. Though people often use both words to describe the same thing. The main difference between a coffin and a casket is the shape. Though the materials they’re made with can vary too. While the differences aren’t huge, it’s worth knowing as they can have a significant impact on price.

The differences between a coffin and a casket

Coffin Casket
Tapered shape Rectangular shape
Can be made from various materials like wood, cardboard, metal, willow, seagrass, and wool. Usually made from metal or wood
More affordable option More expensive option

Note that coffin and casket costs will vary depending on where you buy them from and the type you choose.


What is a casket?

A casket is a rectangular container that holds someone who’s died. Caskets can also have a lid which can be opened so you can see the person who’s passed away. This could be when you visit a chapel of rest or it could be at their funeral or wake. Caskets are generally made from wood or metal so they can be heavier than a coffin. They usually have a long handle that’s about the length of the casket which the pallbearers use to carry it. And they also tend to have more luxurious linings than coffins – for example, they could be made from materials like silk.

And what is a coffin?

A coffin is shaped differently to a casket. It’s tapered – it follows the shape of the body. So it’s wider at the shoulders and thinner at the feet. Traditionally coffins also have small individual handles instead of one long one like a casket does. These handles can be decorative so they’re not always used to carry the coffin. Coffins can be made from lots of different materials ranging from wood, to metal and cardboard, as well as other natural materials like willow or seagrass.

Which is cheaper - a coffin or casket?

A coffin can cost a few hundred pounds up to several thousand pounds. The cost varies a lot because there are many different designs and materials a coffin can be made from. All of this affects the price. So if you’d like an affordable coffin, a material like cardboard is a good option.

Although coffins differ in price depending on what you choose, caskets tend to be more expensive. This is because they are usually made from more expensive materials and have more elaborate construction and design. But it’s always worth doing your own research and talking about all your options with a funeral director if possible.

Trying to decide on a coffin for a funeral you’re arranging? Read our article on how to choose a coffin to help narrow down your options. 


Photo by Pavel Danilyuk.