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Choosing an Urn Material

There are a number of considerations when you’re choosing an urn and the materials used to make it is a big one. Get tips on choosing an urn material.
Choosing an Urn Material
There are a number of considerations when you’re choosing an urn and the materials used to make it is a big one. Get tips on choosing an urn material.

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Choosing an urn is a big decision. For those who are cremated, an urn is essentially a final resting place. It’s certainly on par with choosing a casket for a burial.

The materials that are used to make an urn affect everything from how it looks to how long it will last. Materials for urns come down to five factors:

  • Aesthetics (how it looks)
  • Size 
  • Durability
  • Eco-Friendliness
  • Cost

Cost is a factor for many people, and that’s understandable. Funeral services are very expensive, and only 54% of American adults have some form of life insurance to help cover the costs. Many families end up paying thousands for a cremation and even more for a burial.

The importance of the other four factors largely comes down to what you plan to do with the urn once the cremains are inside.

Burial, Columbarium, Display or Store

The first thing to consider when you’re choosing an urn material is what you will do with it. This will help guide the rest of the material decisions. There are four common options:

  • Bury the urn 
  • Place the urn in a columbarium niche
  • Display the urn at home
  • Store the Urn


When a family chooses to bury the cremains of a loved one the real consideration isn’t what it looks like so much as how it breaks down in the earth. Families that choose green cremation want to minimize their impact as much as possible. If you’re in that group, then there are a few options that have a small footprint. Some options include:

  • Urns that grow a plant or plant
  • Clay urns
  • Wooden urns
  • Cardboard urns
  • Urns made of stone like granite and marble

Even if eco-friendliness isn’t a concern, durability is for many people. They want to know that the urn actually isn’t breaking down and instead is remaining intact.

Columbarium Niche

There are a few other considerations if you plan to put an urn in a columbarium niche. Niches can have a marble or bronze front, which means the urn isn’t seen. But there are also display niches that have glass fronts. The urn along with any keepsakes and mementos would be seen from the outside.

In the case of a columbarium niche that’s closed off, size matters more than looks. And the urn will be well-protected from the elements so durability isn’t as much of a concern. You can choose just about any material for the urn so long as it fits in the niche.

However, if the niche has a glass front you’ll probably also want to take aesthetics into consideration. Some people like to choose a material that goes with whatever else is being placed in the niche. Others choose a material they think their loved one would have liked best.


Many people decide to keep a loved one’s cremains at home where they are often on display in a special spot. When this is the case how the material affects the look of the urn is usually most important factor. Size is much less of an inhibitor when the urn will be displayed in a home. Durability isn’t as big a concern either, unless the urn could be touched or isn’t in a climate-controlled environment.

There are still environmental factors to consider as well. For example, if you would like a porcelain urn that’s hand-painted you can choose one that’s made with no-VOC paints that are much environmentally-friendly.


Planning to store the urn with the cremains comes with many of the same considerations as putting the urn in a covered columbarium niche. The one exception being that the size isn’t as much of a limiting factor. When an urn is in climate-controlled storage and safely packed up you can go with whatever urn you want, even if it isn’t made of the most durable material.

Green Cremation Texas has eco-friendly urn options as well as biodegradable scattering tubes and recyclable receptacles. We can help families arrange cremation services from start to finish so you can focus on the personal details like choosing the best urn. Call us any hour, any day of the week.

Picture of Marlaena Gonzales

Marlaena Gonzales

Funeral Director
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