Wood caskets receive a tremendous amount of attention during the process of finishing, with multiple sanding, sealing, staining, and final finish applications, just as one would expect of a fine piece of furniture. Metal caskets are generally finished py painting in a manner similar to a process used by automobile manufacturers.
- Natural finish
Wood Casket Finishing Styles
Receives no finishing steps (stain, polish, etc.) beyond an initial sanding, and has a simple, plain appearance.
- Orthodox Jewish Caskets
Whether the casket is stained or not, the casket surface will be smoothly sanded and varnished.
- Vast majority of wooden caskets
- May appear to be quite shiney (polished) or very dull, or anywhere in between.
A surface made smooth and glossy, usually by friction; brought to a highly developed, finished, or refined state; burnished.
- Labor intensive, multiple coats of varnish
- Each coat of varnish must be sanded with progressively finer grades of sand paper and then hand rubbed.
- Fine grain (cherry, mahogany) woods lead to a high-gloss finish better than more open grains (pecan, oak).
A low luster finish in comparison to the polished finish. It is not totally devoid of light-reflecting properties, but is not nearly as reflective as the gloss finish. Similar in appearance to the satin finish.
A type of semi-luster or semi-gloss casket finish that is smooth with well defined fine lines or striations.
Free of gloss and has a dull, lusterless finish.
Matte Finish (Flat Finish)
Falls somewhere between a matte finish and a semi-gloss, depending on the manufacturer.
Wood caskets were commonly painted. Today this option is available, but rare. The overwhelming majority of today’s consumers preferring wood also prefer a natural finish.
- Black- adults
- White- Children
Until the Early 20th Century
Examples are wood vaneers or vinyl. The application of these typically allows for a finished casket to give the impression that it is constructed of a higher quality of wood than is actually the case, while at the same time being less expensive.
For many years, this kind of laminated finish was considered “top of the line.” Over the years, this became the minimum offering in most funeral directors’ selection rooms, and the subject of a number of disparaging euphemisms.
- Used to be used on wood and even fine hardwoods
- Today used on pine, plywood, or fiberboard/cardboard
Material having designs raised above the surface. (Usually accomplished by impressing the design into the cloth and applying pressure and heat.)
- Doeskin (moleskin)
- Plush (velour)
Commonly Used Covering Materials
A twilled, napped woolen or worsted fabric with a smooth, lustrous face and dense texture; usually made of cotton, silk, rayon woven in a plain or rib weave with a soft, semi-gloss finish.
- A very durable and easily recognized fabric
A firm, closely woven cotton fabric.
- Easily recognized and durable fabric
A heavy, durable cotton fabric with a short (1/8” or less) velvety nap on one side. Also a woven cloth with a suede-like appearance with a nap of less than 1/8 inch.
- Frequently embossed
- At one time was so ubiquitous that it became part of funeral service jargon; this term can generically refer to any cloth-covered casket.
Now made mostly of cotton or polyester, was originally made from wool mixed with horse hair. Like moleskin, this has a short nap.
A woven cloth with a nap exceeding 1/8 inch. Similar to velvet.
- Frequently embossed
- Most commonly used as a covering for children’s cloth-covered caskets.
Plush (High-Pile Fabric, Velour)
Similar in appearance to moleskin. Made from the hair of the Angora gota, sometimes having a cotton backing.
A heavy decorative material characterized by some type of raised design.
A heavy woven material containing a pictoral design.
The application of an aerosolized paint or coating to the casket shell surface in a multi-step process clearly akin to that of automobile body painting.
- Virtually every metal casket
- May caskets will have a main body color and additionally highlighted or shaded with complementary colors.
- Final product may have a gloss finish- many color cloats with subsequent clear coats
- Less expensive caskets may recieve a matte or “crinkled” finish.
A process where bare metal is scratched with an abrasive material and then finished until a smooth high gloss is obtained.
- Bronze, copper, stainless steel caskets (also increasing number of 16 and 18 gauge steel)
- Majority incorporate this with a sprayed base color.
- Cost more to produce- require skilled craftspeople who are some of the highest paid on the production floor.
Brushed Finish (Scratch Finish)
Created when a base metal is coated by another metal via an electrolytic process (electroplating).
- Most commonly used on hardware items (usually lugs, arms, tips and corners).
- Less frequently - casket’s body panels (appears like mirrors are incorporated)
- Uncommon- entire casket- ultra high end bronze and stainless steel caskets
An exterior casket finish in which the metal is coated with a substance that wrinkles as it dries.
- Some of the least expensive metal caskets
- Surface is rough and not aesthetically pleasing.
A sprayed finish that has the appearance of small indentations in the metal (as if struck by a ball-peen hammer); the ‘indentations’ are the paint and appear as the paint dries.
- Some of the least expensive metal caskets.
Finished in much the same manner as metal caskets (with the exception of brushing).
Plastic polymer and Fiberglass Caskets
Generally have a color component intrinsic to the base material itself.
Possess a sprayed finish followed by a final clear coat. Some are finished in a faux-marble pattern; others may recieve a wood grained finish.