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What You Need to Know about Cardboard Boxes for Moving or Storage

Looking for cardboard boxes? You’re not the only one. Corrugated cardboard is the primary solution for a wide range of moving, packing, and storage projects. It’s strong, flexible, and relatively cheap to produce. But it’s also true that not all corrugated cardboard is the same. Discover what you need from your cardboard to reliably and effectively take on your moving or storage project.

Sizing and Buying Cardboard Boxes

Cardboard boxes come in all shapes and sizes. Retailers and manufacturers look around, ask for, and buy cardboard containers that make sense for their products. Produced at scale, these companies can custom-order boxes while still getting a great rate. At the liquor store, at the grocery store, an Amazon home delivery to your home, there are numerous ways you can find free boxes around the neighborhood. But again, you’re not the only one looking for boxes, and you can’t exactly ask for exact specifications from a store clerk who’s willing to fetch boxes from the back, but who probably isn’t going to take requests or use a tape measure.

With this in mind, if you’re looking for a reasonable price on cardboard boxes for even a halfway decent-sized moving or storage project, you’re more than likely going to make things work with standardized small, medium, and/or large-sized boxes. Here’s why: A big reason cardboard is so cost-effective is that it can be folded up without losing its structural integrity. And so, the more boxes you order of the same size, the better the price you can typically get per box.

At Uboxes, for example, you can get 6 large boxes for $29.50 but 12 boxes for only $40.95. You can get 15 small boxes for $26.50, but you can get 25 for only $32.50. Of course, the best deal isn’t always the best decision. Many box sellers, including Uboxes, also offer certain types of commonly used specialty boxes—most notably wardrobe boxes, kitchen box kits, and TV boxes.

How to Compare Different Cardboard Boxes

How strong is a cardboard box? Is there different strength cardboard? How can you tell? What does your project need? There are two simple measures you’re going to want to look at first and foremost.

  • Edge-Crush Strength: This is a measure of how much the box can resist stacking and bearing weight on a particular side or edge of the box. Thirty-two lbs./inch is a common standard for the most widely used boxes, but they do make them a lot stronger.
  • Gross Weight/Maximum Load: This is a basic guideline for how much the box can safely hold. Sixty-five lbs. is a common weight allowance, based on the idea that few people want to carry boxes heavier than 65 lbs., anyway. Wondering what’s available? Though far from exhaustive, here’s one handy chart from a cardboard container supplier. Wondering instead how strong the box is that you currently have in your possession? Check on the box itself.

Not all boxes have this information stamped on them, but many will provide their gross weight and edge crush ratings. At the same time, keep in mind that these lab-tested ratings are no guarantee of real-world performance, especially if the cardboard is old, wet, or poorly assembled.

More Ways to Measure Cardboard Strength

For the vast majority of people, these two measures are the important things to know about the strength of the cardboard for packing, loading, and moving boxes. But if you’re really looking to get into the weeds about cardboard boxes for some kind of special project, you may also be interested in learning about the cardboard’s burst strength (how much force it takes to burst the cardboard when uniformly applied), bending strength (how much give the cardboard has before it folds and creases), and puncture resistance (how much force it takes to puncture the box as with scissors). You can find more information about these measures, as well as even less common testing for corrugated cardboard, from Techlab Systems.

Have a real-world example of how burst/puncture/bending strength made a big difference in your packing, moving, or storage project? We’d love to hear about it.

Appreciating Cardboard as a Boxing Material

We also want to take just a moment to say that cardboard is one of those things that we take for granted, but is actually pretty cool when you stop and learn about it. Cardboard is really just three sheets of paper and a little glue. Yet, as BrainStuff explains, cardboard’s I-beam and truss-like design provides an incredible amount of strength without being overly rigid or brittle. There’s good reason people looking for an effective, yet affordable, packing container typically turn to cardboard.