Consumer's Guide to Burial Vaults

Making funeral arrangements can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Choosing the necessities, although overwhelming, is easier if you know what you want and how much you can afford to spend. Learn how to select a burial vault that meets your needs and fits your budget

A burial vault, often referred to as an outer burial container, is a container that the casket is placed in for burial. They can be manufactured in a variety of materials, the most common of which are concrete, steel and composite materials. The purpose of these containers are to keep the weight of the earth off the casket; to facilitate maintenance of the grave by retarding settling of the grave over time; to offer a measure of additional protection from grave site substances (i.e. water, soil, etc.). The burial vault is made to withstand the forces that act on the casket to avoid ground shifting and damage to the casket.

Typically, a burial vault is not required by state law; however, individual cemeteries usually require the use of a burial vault or grave liner.

A grave liner, often referred to as a grave box, is the most basic burial vault. Made from concrete, grave boxes are unlined and have holes in the bottom to allow water to flow through freely. The grave liner is the most cost effective. The top-of-the-line burial vault is a lined burial vault. Offering the greatest protection to the casket and surrounding ground, the lined burial vaults are more expensive.

If you prefer a mausoleum or lawn crypt, then a vault is not necessary. Lawn crypts are pre-constructed concrete structures in specifically designated areas of many cemeteries. Mausoleums and personal mausoleums are similar to lawn crypts in that they are pre-constructed structures, usually in building, small and large, but are constructed above grou

Standard burial still represents more than 65 percent of all funerals done in the United States. However, many people are choosing cremation with a ground burial. If you choose burial after the cremation, it's important to understand why you need an urn vault and that they do not all provide the same protection. There are several factors that challenge the integrity of an urn vault. Heavy equipment necessary for maintaining the cemetery grounds passes over the urn vault during cemetery operations. Ground water, too, is an important factor. A lined urn vault is constructed using high-strength concrete. Lined urn vaults are reinforced in one of two ways: with durable plastic or with a combination of durable plastic and metal. Each lined urn vault provides the long-lasting protection needed to resist potentially damaging elements over time