Burial and cremation vaults are lined units that enclose the casket when it is placed at the gravesite. These vaults are designed to prevent the weight of soil and heavy equipment from damaging the casket. The burial vault is constructed to withstand the forces that would otherwise act upon the casket, thus avoiding ground shifting and damage.
Whereas graves used to be dug using a hand shovel, today a backhoe is often used. Backhoes weigh in excess of six tons, and combined with the daily wear of cemetery landscaping and grounds maintenance equipment as well as the constant forces of soil pressure, this weight reinforces the need for casket or urn protection. Vaults help to maintain soil settlement, ensuring that the overall appearance of the cemetery remains intact and allowing for easier gravesite maintenance.
There are no laws that require the use of burial and cremation vaults, however, cemeteries often require that they are used in order to reduce the chances that soil over the grave will settle. Most Montana cemeteries now require the use of burial and cremation vaults.
Types of Vaults
Burial and cremation vaults are available in a variety of materials including fiberglass, polymer and concrete.
Concrete vaults are made of reinforced concrete and are available in many styles, including: undecorated concrete finishes, metal wrapped tops and interiors, and simulated wood grain or natural stone finishes. Concrete vaults typically weigh more than 2,000 pounds and sometimes require additional costs for transport and placement. Personalized vault styles are available to help honor your loved one. Shown on the right is a single-reinforced burial vault made from concrete with a premium, plastic-reinforced cover and base. This vault is air-tight and will protect the casket from all outside elements.
Burial vaults constructed of non-porous polyethylene and polypropylene materials provide the benefits of being lightweight, impact-resistant and water-resistant. Polymer vaults can be constructed in multiple layers for added strength and durability. Their light weight and ease-of-handling reduce cemetery labor costs when compared to concrete vaults. These vaults customarily do not require heavy equipment during transportation and gravesite placement. Options include dome only or dome with a base.