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How to Make Concrete Burial Vaults

Elizabeth Hannigan

A concrete burial vault is a concrete box that goes outside of a coffin to keep the coffin from collapsing under the weight of dirt on top. All cemeteries require all burials to be placed either in a vault or a liner, which is something similar to a vault but less sturdy.

Burial vaults keep graves from collapsing.

Coffins must be placed in a vault or a liner because the cemeteries do not want the coffins to collapse and leave dangerous sunken spots in the ground above the burials.

  1. Purchase your burial vault either from the cemetery or a dealer who sells vaults produced by licensed manufacturers. Companies that make burial vaults are members of the National Concrete Burial Vault Association. Even though it may seem like a great money-saving idea, you cannot bury your loved one in a homemade burial vault. No cemetery will allow it. Burial vaults also weigh between one and two tons so besides needing a license to make a burial vault, you also need machinery to transport it.

  2. Place the plastic burial liner upside down on a pair of male forms if you happen to work for a concrete burial vault manufacturer. Male forms are forms that fit inside of the liners that you can place the liners on top of to easily access the outside walls. This plastic liner will prevent the concrete from damaging the coffin and protect the coffin from water, ground chemicals and insects. It should also slow decomposition, but it is not guaranteed to do that. The plastic liners come in different sizes depending upon how large your casket is. They usually weigh between 30 and 50 pounds.

  3. Coat the underside of the plastic liner in epoxy with a paint brush. The epoxy will help your plastic liner stick to the concrete and prevent the liner from breaking as the concrete settles and dries.

  4. Position the liner into the steel molds.

  5. Pour wet concrete into the steel molds. The steel molds will hold the liner in place while giving the vault its outside shape. They can be reused and must be ordered from an industrial supply manufacturer. Fill all of the space in between the steel molds and the liner, but be careful not to get any concrete into the liner.

  6. Allow the concrete to dry for 24 hours. Water should bead at the surface of the concrete. Allow the water to evaporate. At this point, the concrete will not be completely cured or dried but it will be strong enough to remove from the steel mold. Remove the vault from the molds by lifting the vaults with a crane. The concrete will contract slightly as it dries so you should not have to worry about it getting stuck in the molds.

  7. Allow the burial vault to continue to cure for an additional 28 days before you bury it. The burial vault is buried immediately before the funeral and the grave is left open to receive the coffin at the funeral.

  8. Warning

    Burying bodies in your yard is illegal. Some states allow you to bury cremated remains.