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Choosing the Right Casket

At Harbor Caskets, we recognize that choosing a casket for a loved one can be a difficult task. The extensive array of styles and price points may seem overwhelming. Thanks to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Funeral Rule, consumers are legally permitted to supply their own casket and cannot be assessed any penalties or fees by their funeral home. This can result in significant cost savings, with no sacrifice in care or quality.

At Harbor Caskets, we aim to provide our customers with all the information they need regarding the different options available when purchasing a casket. Our goal is to make buying a casket online one of the best ways to alleviate some of the stress of preparing to say goodbye. We strongly want to ensure that our customers feel confident that they are purchasing the highest quality product, at the best possible price. 

Below is an explanation of some of the different styles (coffins and caskets) and materials (metal caskets, wooden caskets, and particle board caskets) available to choose from our collection of caskets for sale.

Casket vs. Coffin

While shopping for a casket, one may notice that the terms “casket” and “coffin” seem to be used interchangeably. In fact, the difference between coffins and caskets lies in the shape of the container:

  • Caskets are rectangular (four-sided) burial containers, often with exterior bars for carrying purposes. Caskets are by far the more commonly used style in the United States and are largely considered to be a more modern choice.  Caskets often play a large role in traditional American funerals and are often referred to as “funeral caskets,” as they are often presented or displayed during funeral services.
  • Coffins are six-sided burial containers. They are widest at the shoulders and then taper towards the feet, to reflect the shape of the person buried inside. Harbor Caskets offers coffins for sale – check out the Harbor Eco Pine Box.


The external materials are perhaps the most important factor to consider when choosing a casket, as each has its own unique benefits. The three most commonly used materials for caskets exteriors are metal, wood/wooden, and particle board/cloth.

A. Metal Caskets

Harbor Caskets - The Harbor American Steel Casket. Casket in Light Blue - Comes in Non-Gasket or Rubber Gasket and 20-Gauge or 18-Gauge

The Harbor American Steel Casket

Metal caskets are usually tougher and more durable than caskets made of wood. These caskets are often referred to as “protective,” because of their sturdiness and resilience. They are also often available in a wide variety of colors.

Harbor Caskets offers steel caskets in two grades: 18-gauge and 20-gauge, with the smaller number (18-gauge) being heavier and thicker than the larger number (20-gauge). It is important to note that most oversized/XL caskets are 20-gauge, as the lighter material helps to preserve the integrity of the wider structure.

With metal caskets, people commonly choose to add a rubber gasket sealer for further protection against the elements outside the casket such as dirt and water. Gaskets have no effect on body decomposition, and the Funeral Rule prohibits any claim that a casket or its features will allow for eternal preservation.  It is also important to note that a rubber gasket is not available with any wood casket.

B. Wooden Caskets

Harbor Caskets - The Harbor Poplar. Casket in Mahogany - Solid Poplar Hardwood Casket - Comes with Gloss Finish, Swing Bars, a Crepe Interior, and an Adjustable Bed.

The Harbor Poplar

Wooden caskets are a beautiful and traditional option for a casket material. There two types of wood caskets – those made from hardwood and those made from softwood.

  • Hardwood caskets are made of solid wood, which comes from angiosperm trees (seed-producing, flowering trees). Hardwood caskets are typically made from Mahogany, Cherry, Satinwood, Oak, and Poplar. Hardwood caskets often come in a variety of available finishes.
  • Softwood caskets are made from the wood of a gymnosperm tree (seed-producing, non-flowering trees which usually have needles and cones). Softwood caskets are usually made with pine. Harbor Caskets offers metal-free softwood collection that is suitable for both eco-friendly, cremation safe, and suitable for Jewish burials.
C. Particle Board/Cloth Caskets


Harbor Caskets - The Harbor Cloth. Standard size Casket. Grey cloth covered particle board with, white satin interior.

The Harbor Cloth

Particle board/cloth caskets are a highly economical alternative to the metal and wood varieties.

Harbor Caskets is proud to offer the Harbor Cloth, a sturdy particle board casket covered in an elegant decorative fabric.  While less expensive than its metal and wood counterparts, the Harbor Cloth provides an equally dignified, high quality casket as a loved one’s final resting place.


Another design factor to take into consideration when buying a casket is the materials and design used for the interior of the casket. The two most popular materials used for the interior of a casket are crepe and velvet. Each fabric has its own distinct texture, which is used to compliment the exterior of the casket, as well as provide a comfortable and luxurious resting place for loved ones after they have passed.

  • Crepe is usually made from silk, wool, or a synthetic fiber which provides a distinctive crimped appearance. This fabric is considered to be traditional and is often associated with mourning.
  • Velvet is usually made from synthetic or natural fibers in which cut threads are distributed to provide a soft, thick, even feel from the fabric.

Half Couch vs. Full Couch

Caskets lids come in two styles: half couch and full couch. The type of couch is important consider, especially when planning an open casket viewing.

  • Half couch refers to a lid that is split into two pieces and allows for a display of the upper body while keeping the lower body covered. The half couch is by far the more popular style of casket lids.
  • Full couch refers to a lid that is one solid piece.  This style showcases the full body when the casket is open.


            There are many options for personalizing caskets to best honor and reflect the spirit of a loved one. Customization options include exterior finish, interior color/style, hardware alterations, interior head panel embroidery, and military or religious imagery. Harbor Caskets can accommodate a wide array of personal choices of caskets for sale – ask us what we can do for you.

How Harbor Caskets Can Help

Harbor Caskets offers a variety of caskets for sale. Harbor is here to assist and guide you through the online purchasing process. Contact us anytime with questions and find out what we can do to save you money and put your mind at ease.