News and Advice

Choosing a Coffin

Choosing a coffin for someone close to you can bring great comfort to you and helps with the grieving process. This short article outlines the practical considerations for choosing a casket or coffin and gives an overview of the choices available to you.

Choosing a coffin

Practical Considerations when choosing a Coffin or Casket.

Coffin or Casket?

A Casket is rectangular with a hinged lid. They are typically more traditional in appearance and are most often used for burial. Caskets are also available with a split lid if required – so the body can be viewed at the service or wake.

A coffin has a removeable lid and is tapered at the shoulder.

Type of Ceremony

Many coffin types can be used for either burial or cremation. Solid wood or metal caskets are generally better for burial, whilst lighter options such as cardboard, ply or eco materials are often more suited to a cremation. Your funeral director can advise you on the types of coffin suitable for your ceremony.

Traditional or Personalised

Whilst a funeral is always an emotional event, do think about how it can reflect the life of your loved one whilst considering their wishes. A wooden casket or coffin can bring suitable gravitas and closure in a traditional service and burial. Alternatively, an eco-friendly choice of coffin can suit an outdoor ceremony celebrating the life of your much-loved family member.

Read more: Alternative Funeral Options: Are They Right for Me?

The Deceased’s Wishes

Your loved one may have left specific instructions about their coffin. You could also choose a coffin that reflects their values and personality. There is a great choice of environmentally responsible materials – including wicker, bamboo and even wool; whilst cardboard coffins can be easily personalised to celebrate the life of your loved one.


It is important to order the right size of coffin. This is easily achieved by knowing the approximate weight and height of the deceased. Coffins and caskets are available in a wide range of sizes and a custom measured coffin can be made if required,

No Coffin?

In the UK, the body must be covered in a public place by law. Many crematoriums will expect you to use a coffin, but a shroud is an option. A shroud is a piece of fabric, traditionally wool cloth, placed over the body and can be easily decorated with mementos and floral tributes.

Willow Curved Coffin

Types of Coffin

Solid Wood

A solid wood coffin is traditionally made from oak, although there are other options – including FSC certified woods. A solid wood coffin can be customised, you can often choose different styles of carrying handle and add an engraved plate. Designs can be plain or ornate and heavily carved. You can also choose a painted finish.

Chipboard Veneer

A chipboard coffin is a lighter, less costly option. The outside is veneered to give a solid wood appearance and there are designs available with metal or wooden handles, which gives it a traditional finish.

Metal Coffin

Metal coffins are heavy, strong, and more durable than a wooden coffin. The coffin is usually manufactured from steel although also available in other metals: copper, bronze, and stainless steel. Depending on the metal you choose, a metal coffin is a more expensive choice.

Basket Coffin

A basket coffin can be made from a range of natural materials including wicker, bamboo, seagrass, and banana leaf. These are increasingly popular eco-friendly materials and in many areas of the UK you can choose a basket coffin made by hand by a local craftsman. A basket coffin is around the same price as a chipboard veneer coffin. These types of coffin are very suitable for woodland burials or if you plan to have an environmentally friendly ceremony.

Cardboard Coffin

Cardboard coffins are biodegradable and less costly than other options. They are available in lots of different designs and can also be personalised. You can arrange to have a cardboard coffin printed with your chosen theme, or you could decorate it yourself. Some families choose to write dedications and glue pictures and memories of their loved one on their coffin.

Our team of local Funeral Directors are always on hand to help advise and support you. For more information simply call or email us.

Member of the National Association of Funeral Directors The national society of allied and independent funeral directors

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