A burial vault is a protective outer container that the casketed remains are placed in at the grave and sealed closed. They protect the casketed remains, keep the grave intact, and add beauty to the funeral committal setting. The vault is usually made of two pieces of molded concrete with a liner bonded to the inside of the top and bottom. Some variations of vaults have been in use throughout the 20th century. Cemeteries started requesting them for functional and economic reasons, primarily to reduce maintenance costs. Other reasons for their use are to reduce the disturbances of existing graves by heavy machinery the cemeteries now use, and to have the use of a grave for double and triple deep burials.
Advances in vault technology have yielded protective liners that are bonded to the cement and made of asphalt and more recently polystyrene plastic. Modern vaults also use much stronger concrete than in the past; tongue and groove designs with butyl sealing compounds to better set and seal the top and bottom pieces of the vault together; and wire mesh or fibers added to the concrete for additional strength. Vaults are so well made that they can carry warranties of up to 200 years, depending on the quality of the vault.
As with the caskets, vaults are made from a variety of materials.
Premium vaults are the finest made, usually triple walled with an outer concrete wall, and inner reinforced plastic liner and a metal liner. The plastic liner is made of an ABS fiber filled plastic and the metal liner is made from bronze, copper or stainless steel. The metal and plastic liners add beauty, strength and shock absorption qualities to the vault. Premium grade vaults normally carry a 200 year warranty
Standard or mid range vaults are double walled with an outer concrete wall, and a plastic inner liner. The liner in the Standard range vault is non-fiber filled ABS plastic. These vaults generally carry a 100 year warranty. Basic vaults are double walled, constructed of an outer concrete wall and an inner polystyrene plastic liner. This liner is thinner and not as technologically advanced, or as visually appealing as the ABS liners in the Standard and Premium models.
Basic vault models come with a 75 year warranty. Some people simply want the minimum vault that meets the requirements of the cemetery. For them, we have available either an unlined minimum vault or an unsealed grave liner.
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, many cemeteries 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.