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Your Guide to Coffins and Caskets

How to buy a coffin and casket?

Coffins and caskets are both used for burials in Australia. The main difference between the two is the shape, price and the opening mechanism of the flat lid.

Deciding between the two depends on a range of factors. This could include selected funeral services, today’s prices and personal preferences- as well how these interact with your funeral budget, what type of funeral service you’d like and any existing prepaid funeral plans.

How much does a coffin & casket cost?

Purchasing a coffin is one of the most expensive items for any funeral, and many people either don’t have the means to pay for a coffin or would prefer not to spend such a large sum of money.

The term coffin is derived from the Old French word ‘coffin’ meaning basket. In today’s funeral industry, a coffin is a narrow box used to hold a deceased body for burial or cremation. It has a hexagonal shape and widens out from the top and narrows toward the feet. It originally had a removable lid, but now, can include attached hinges.

There is no standard coffin price in Australia. Price will vary depend on the coffin material, design and size. Today’s prices range from around $300 for a simple cremation capsule up to $10,000 for high end caskets. The price you pay will also vary according to where you make your purchase, and generally, the more money you spend the more elaborate customisations you can have.

Choosing a Coffin

Coffin designs come in all different shapes and sizes. When choosing what type of coffin you would like you’ll need to consider a number of different factors, depending on what type of funeral plans you have in place. The most important consideration will be whether or not the coffin will be used for a cremation or whether it will be buried or placed in an above-ground burial or crypt.

There is a wide range available on offer by suppliers. Coffins vary in materials and costs depending on your choice and budget.

Cardboard coffins/ Cremation Capsules: Price: $300 – $700

Cremation capsules or cardboard coffins are the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly option for burial services.

Cremation capsules come as a flat-pack made out of cardboard or fibreboard with cotton rope handles. They are primarily used in direct cremations as they are not on display to the public so they don’t need all the bells and whistles some caskets come with. They also have the fastest-burning time of any coffin or casket, and consequently release around 90% less emissions than MDF coffins or timber coffins and caskets.

Cardboard coffins are therefore a good alternative for more of a sustainable funeral, as they are often 100% biodegradable, meaning they break down in the earth much quicker than other coffin types. While they are the most budget-friendly option, this doesn’t have to make them boring or impersonal.

You and your family have the option to make personal, customisable decorations to these coffins. And, if your trying to spread the payout of funeral insurance or a funeral bond to cover the cost of your funeral- the need to pay less for a coffin can save money for more meaningful funeral services.

Budget Coffins: Price: $800 – $1,200

More traditional coffins are constructed out of a plywood or medium density fibreboard (MDF). They are typically constructed in a similar flat-pack style to cremation capsules or cardboard coffins with plastic handles. MDF coffins were introduced as a cost-effective alternative to hardwood coffins.

The benefit of using MDF coffins is that they can be used for cremation or traditional burial. However, these coffins are constructed using a binding agent which contains formaldehyde – a toxic substance which contaminates the soil upon being buried or the atmosphere when burned. This makes a budget coffin less environmentally friendly, and could conflict with the deceased’s wishes or values to minimise this impact.

Wicker Coffins: Price: $1,000- $1,500

Wicker coffins are another good alternative if you and your family want to pay less, and also have less of a harmful impact on the environment. They are made using natural fibres and constructed using an ancient weaving technique used to manufacture outdoor furniture.

Wicker coffins can be constructed out of willow, rattan, rush, reed or bamboo and don’t use adhesives, glues or varnishes as a binding agent. They also offer a carbon neutral option for cremation.

Mid-range Coffins: Price: $2,000 – $4,000

Mid-range coffins are usually constructed out of MDF and occasionally out of steel. Compared to cheaper coffins they have extra embellishments like metal handles, tiered lids and varnished finishes.

More Expensive Coffins: Price: $6,000 – $10,000

More expensive coffins are often hand-constructed out of solid wood or solid copper or bronze. Popular choices are mahogany, walnut, cherry, maple or oak. They have tiered lids and bronze, copper or other metal-plated handles.

They tend to be lined with finer materials like velvet or silk with lace linings. Whilst representing a more expensive option, a prepaid funeral plan enables higher costs like this to be broken into smaller payments over time. If a nicer coffin is a priority for you, planning ahead in this way can safeguard this end of life wish, without placing financial burden on your family.

Can You Purchase Your Own Coffin?

Yes, you certainly can. There is no regulation for a Funeral Director to deny you your right to source a coffin that is not of their own. There are many independent funeral directors who would have no problem in letting you BYO coffin. Our Premium Member Funeral Directors are about looking after their client families and allowing them to have choices and the ability to honour and celebrate the life of the ones they love in their own unique way.

Can you rent your own coffin?

A rental coffin is a good cost-saving option if you want to have a traditional coffin at a viewing or funeral, but don’t want to purchase an expensive coffin. A rental coffin is a coffin that has a removable interior. The body is placed in a simple wooden box and the box is placed inside the coffin, giving the appearance that the body is actually in the coffin. In fact, the body never touches the coffin, and the wooden box is easily removed after the service. The body can then be buried or cremated in the simple wooden box, and the funeral home can re-use the rental coffin. Rental coffins are available for rent at many funeral homes. If you are interested in using a rental coffin, make sure that the funeral home you are working with has rental coffins available.

rental coffin


More things you should know

Burials or cremations are not permitted without a sealed coffin (except where some religious institutions have obtained exemptions). A family carpenter can make the coffin — but it will have to comply with government regulations, the funeral director’s handling and strength requirements and any crematory requirements such as coffin dimensions. Metal liners, metal inserts, PVC or latex-based rubber materials are not permitted in or on coffins used for cremation because unacceptable emissions or residues can result.

With burials, some people like to place religious or sentimental items inside the coffin or on its lid. In most cases this will not be a problem. However, problems can arise with items placed on top of the gravesite itself. For aesthetic or safety reasons the cemetery may not allow this. It is always wise to get advice from the funeral director or cemetery beforehand. There are also a number of items that cannot be placed inside coffins during cremation as these can cause explosions.

In summary

eziFunerals recommends that you contact one of the local coffin suppliers or alternatively an Independent Funeral Director  before selecting and purchasing a coffin.

  • Don’t be rushed into selecting and coffin.
  • Take your time and ask lots of questions.
  • Choose a coffin within your price and budget.
  • Ask the funeral director to see the entire range of coffins on offer.
  • Don’t be swayed by the funeral director to upsize. Stand your ground.
  • Don’t feel shamed if you choose a coffin at the lower price range. You’re with friends.
  • Purchase your own coffin from a private supplier.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for a rental coffin.

independent funeral directors in australia


About eziFunerals

eziFunerals supports individuals and families cope with end of life decisions, death and funerals. We are an independent, Australian-owned and operated company. We are not part of any other funeral company.

Our member Funeral Directors operate in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Australia wide. They are chosen for their knowledge, quality, service, personalisation and experience. They go above and beyond, and will take the time to support the family.

For more information or to make contact with a trusted Independent funeral director, call eziFunerals on 1300 236 402 or visit www.ezifunerals.com.au.