What Is a Burial Vault or Outer Burial Container?

Caskets, Urns, Shrouds, Vaults

Posted on December 25, 2012 by Rachel Zeldin

What are Burial Vaults, Liners and Outer Burial Containers?

A burial vault or grave liner is an outer burial container usually made of concrete but can also be made of steel or plastic. A burial vault or a grave liner is placed in the grave prior to lowering the casket for an in-ground burial. 

What do Burial Vaults Do?

Burial vaults or liners are containers that surrounds the casket, protecting the casket from the weight of the earth and ground maintenance machinery. Their primary purpose is to help prevent the grave from caving in as the casket breaks down and the soil settles. 

Once sold as a "protective" container for the casket and the remains, a burial vault can not be marketed as such. No casket or vault will protect buried remains forever.

What is the Difference Between a Burial Vault and Grave Liner?

A vault covers the casket on all sides, while a grave liner usually covers the top and sides only. Contrary to popular belief, a burial vault or liner is not required by law. It is the cemetery that requires the use of a burial vault or container to prevent the ground from sinking and to make it easier for grounds maintaince. 

If an outer burial container is required by the cemetery, inquire with the funeral home or cemetery on your options since there is a significant difference in price between a vault (average $1,195) and a liner (average $400).

Burial Vaults for Cremation Urns

A cemetery may also required an outer burial container for urns that are buried in a cemetery. You can purchase a two-in-one urn-vault, like the McKenzie Urn Vault, which is a combination or an urn and vault, or you can purchase a vault in additiona to a container for the cremated remains.