409 Main Street
PO Box 6
Boswell, PA 15531
Phone: 814-629-5550
Fax: 814-629-6290

What is a Vault?


A burial vault is a protective outer container for the casket or urn.  Though not required by law in all states, most cemeteries do require an outside container.  Many families select a burial vault for the additional peace of mind it brings. 

A lined burial vault provides long-lasting protection needed to resist elements - including ground water, and weight from heavy equipment - over time.  The burial vault also protects the casket or urn from settling and keeps the ground intact, thus preserving the beauty of the cemetery or memorial park.  Click here to view a video that discusses why families choose a burial vault.


There are three basic types of burial receptacles: the bell vault, the grave box and the lined burial vault.  The bell vault, a lightweight product commonly made of fiberglass or plastic, is designed to be stacked and stored above ground for a long period of time before the burial.  The grave box, an unlined concrete box with holes in the base, allows ground water to escape.  For the most protection, you'll want to consider a lined burial vault, a long-lasting receptacle with its coated exterior and lined interior.  Click here to view a video that describes the differences in burial vaults.


Operating a modern cemetery can require heavy equipment - a backhoe for opening and closing graves, as well as tractors for maintaining the grounds.  A strong durable vault provides greater protection from the weight of that equipment.  All our vaults are designed to help protect the casket or urn from the elements.   

There are several factors or types of loads that weigh upon a burial vault. Understanding the types of loads and how they impact the burial vault is essential to understanding the importance of a quality lined burial vault.

  • Static Load:  A static or stationary load is simply the weight of the earth that rests directly over a burial vault.  This load has decreased since the 1920's.  In most cemeteries today, the average grave has 18 inches of earth covering which results in a static load of approximately 4,000 pounds.
  • Dynamic Load:  A dynamic load is a load that varies in intensity.  This load is transferred to a burial vault as heavy cemetery equipment passes over the grave.  The equipment used in cemeteries is much larger and heavier today.  Some cemeteries use a backhoe weighing close to 25,000 pounds. 
  • Impact Load:  An impact or shock load is produced by a mechanical tamper or the dropping of a backhoe bucket and delivers a very concentrated force through the soil.  This has an extreme effect on a small area of the burial vault cover at shallow grave depths.