In most areas of the country, state or local law does not require that you buy a container to surround the casket in the grave. However, most well maintained cemeteries such as Resthaven require that you have such a container so that the grave will not sink in. Either a burial vault or a grave liner will satisfy these requirements.
What is a burial vault?
A burial vault is a protective outer container that the casketed remains are placed in at the grave and sealed closed. It protects the casketed remains, keeps the grave intact, and adds beauty and personalization to the funeral committal setting.
A vault is usually made of molded concrete with a liner bonded to the inside of the top and bottom. Vaults from manufactures such as Triguard and Wilbert are made in this fashion. Other vaults, such as Clark vaults, have a bottom seal engineering and are usually made from high strength / galvanized steel, copper and other metals. Some variations of vaults have been in use throughout the 20th century, with various plastic vaults and grave liners becoming the most recent form. An important consideration to keep in mind: Cemeteries that have invested in well-built mausoleums can offer above ground entombment at comparable cost to ground burial. This removes any need for the protective qualities of an outer container.
Premium vaults are the finest vaults made. They are usually triple-walled with an outer concrete wall, an inner re-enforced plastic liner, and a metal liner. The plastic liner is often made of an ABS fiber-filled plastic. The metal liner is made from bronze, copper, or stainless steel. The metal and plastic liners add strength, beauty, and shock absorption qualities to the vault. Other Premium vaults are made entirely of metals such as stainless steel, galvanized steel, or copper. Premium-grade vaults normally carry a 200-year warranty.
Mid-range vaults are double-walled with an outer concrete wall and a plastic inner liner. The liner in the standard-range vault is usually non-fiber filled, ABS plastic. These vaults often carry a 100-year warranty. They may also have an inner, polystyrene-plastic liner. This liner is thinner and not as technologically advanced, or as visually appealing, as the ABS liners. Solid metal mid-range vaults use heavy gauge steel or aluminum.
Basic vaults are generally plain, unlined, sealed vaults, or unsealed grave liners. If a minimum vault (or grave liner) that meets the requirements of the cemetery is all that is desired, this can be a satisfactory option. Basic sealed vaults often come with a 50-75 year warranty.