Why Are Caskets So Expensive?

In the United States, the cost of a traditional funeral is between $8,000 and $10,000, and that doesn’t include the price of the burial plot and other cemetery fees. A casket alone runs $2,500 on average, making it the biggest single expense of saying goodbye to a loved one. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of caskets has skyrocketed over the past 30 years, outpacing the inflation rate for other consumer products by more than double. So, why exactly do caskets cost so much? When it comes to the price of a casket, there are a lot of variables. A no-frills casket can start as low as $900, while a high-end casket will set you back as much as $6,000. The biggest differentiator is the material with which the casket is built, and there are two main types of material: wood and metal. A mahogany, hickory, or walnut casket is going to cost far more than pine or oak. For metal caskets, the less expensive models are made of 20-gauge steel, while the priciest are constructed from semi-precious metals like copper or bronze. For both wood and metal caskets, the quality and details of the craftsmanship — rounded corners instead of welded, for example — will also determine price. The average metal casket costs $2,500, while wood caskets run about $3,000. Then there’s the price of the material inside the casket. A crepe interior is going to be less expensive than velvet. For a military burial, the family might want to customize the interior with an Army or Navy seal. All of those upgrades and details can add up. What many Americans don't know is that you have the right to supply your own casket for a loved one's funeral, and funeral homes are prohibited from refusing to handle a casket purchased by the client from a third-party retailer like Costco. Because of the expense of caskets today, the cremation rate has risen 60% so far this year and is predicted to reach 80% or higher within the next decade.