A coffin, or casket, is one of the most important parts of a funeral. It is often the focal point of the entire ceremony, and serves as a physical representation of the deceased upon which their loved ones can direct their thoughts and feelings. The design of the coffin can also set the tone for the funeral service, with a range of options available to suit any needs, from traditional wooden coffins to more modern, stylised caskets.

The way in which families and individuals approach the funeral of a loved one has changed in recent years. Although many do opt for a more traditional service, others may be looking for something a little more personalised. Therefore it’s essential for any funeral home to be able to cater for a wide variety of options.

The coffin supplier you use is a major factor, and will make a big difference to the level of satisfaction you receive from your customers. But with so many different suppliers out there, how can you decide which one to choose? The following guide will look at the various factors you need to consider when choosing a coffin or casket supplier for your funeral home business.

Casket in a hearse

Coffin or Casket?

Coffins and caskets differ mainly in design, and your customers may have a preference as to which one they would like for their funeral service. A coffin has a more traditional look commonly associated with funerals in that it is wider and the shoulders and tapers towards the feet. A casket, on the other hand, is rectangular and usually larger and heavier too.

If you are looking to cater to the widest range of customers possible, it makes sense to pick a supplier that provides both coffins and caskets. A coffin is often cheaper, which makes it a more attractive option for those on a smaller budget, as well as those looking for a simple, no-frills service. A casket is usually more expensive, with more opportunities for customisation and decoration so will be more suited to those looking for a larger, more intricate ceremony. Alternatively you may wish to partner with more than one supplier, especially if you are a multi-branch business.

A woman rests her hand on a willow coffin
Photo by The Good Funeral Guide / Unsplash


There are so many different types of coffin available these days, and many customers can find the breadth of choice a little overwhelming. As well as the traditional coffins and ornate caskets, some people are now looking for coffins made of biodegradable materials for a lower environmental impact. Others might want coffins made of a particular wood that has meaning for the deceased and their loved ones. It is possible to have pictorial caskets adorned with beautiful imagery or custom pictures from their life.

As well as the design and manufacture of the coffin, you also need to ensure you have a range of pricing options. You will have customers who are financially capable of spending a lot of money on the perfect casket, whereas others will be on a tight budget and will prefer to spend as little as possible on a simple offering.

A cardboard coffin with handwritten tributes and messages.
Photo by The Good Funeral Guide / Unsplash

Cremation Coffins

One of the first questions you will ask your clientele is whether they are looking for a burial or a cremation. The appropriate type of coffin or casket will depend on which route they are going down. The cremation rate in the UK currently stands at 78.4%, making it by far the most popular option. This could be for a variety of reasons, including cost, environmental impact, and the ability to scatter or store the deceased’s ashes privately.

Although it is possible to have a cremation without a funeral, most people do opt to have some form of service beforehand. This usually means the deceased will lie in a specialised coffin or casket that also serves as the cremation container. These will always be formed entirely of combustible materials such as wood, wicker, or bamboo, without any metal parts. Due to the prevalence of cremations in the UK, it is important that you can offer cremation caskets to your customers.

Women dressed in bright clothing carry a cardboard coffin into a crematorium chapel.
Photo by The Good Funeral Guide / Unsplash

Environmental Impact

With climate change becoming an increasing problem for future generations, many households are looking to minimise their environmental impact wherever possible. This concern also extends to funerals and burials, and there are so many eco-friendly coffins and caskets available. If you wish to offer a greener service, consider finding a supplier that offers sustainable offerings constructed from ethical and biodegradable materials, such as banana leaf, bamboo, cardboard, or even wool. These coffins will decompose over a much quicker period of time and have significantly less negative impacts on the environment.

Local or Imported?

For more specialist coffins, whether they are customised caskets or eco-friendly coffins, it may not be possible to source them locally. It may be necessary to have them delivered from across the country or even imported from overseas. You will have to weigh up the benefits of providing your customers with a wider variety of options against the financial and environmental cost of transportation. When importing coffins for resale it is the funeral home's responsibility to source responsibly and make sure the product complies with UK regulations.

A woman stands next to a decorated cardboard coffin, reading from a book.
Photo by The Good Funeral Guide / Unsplash

Special Features and Customisations

Do you want to offer your customers the option for custom features on their coffin? Some people opt for special designs to be included on the casket, whether stencilled, painted, or embroidered. Some manufacturers will even create completely bespoke coffins built and designed to exact specifications. These offerings will always come at a higher price due to the amount of time and labour that has gone into the coffin manufacturing process, but they are becoming increasingly popular. Amid changing customer preferences every funeral business must decide whether to stick to simpler, more traditional offerings or give customers the option for a bespoke service.

In conclusion, it is clear there is a great deal to think about when choosing a coffin supplier for your funeral home business. Overall, it depends on your clientele and their particular needs and preferences. It’s a good idea to have a wide range of coffins and caskets available, but you should also weigh this up against the financial and environmental cost. If you still have doubts you may contact your UK or Ireland funeral association for the latest guidance.