Corrugated Cardboard: The Best Method of Shipping Many Items (2023)

Corrugated cardboard—sometimes called corrugated fiberboard—is material made of thick paper stock with a fluted (or grooved) middle layer surrounded by flat layers on either side. The result is sheets that are lightweight and surprisingly strong.

You know you’ve got corrugated cardboard if you look at the end of a sheet and see the characteristic center “wave” pattern that divides the space into separate cells. It’s those waves (and some complex physics) primarily that give corrugated its strength.

Ordinary cardboard, on the other hand, is simply thick paper stock. It offers little resistance to forces applied to it, and will bend or tear relatively easily. Cardboard does have its uses, of course. It’s ideal for notepad backing, food containers, and other applications. But when it comes to building shipping containers, corrugated cardboard is a must.

(Video) Corrugated Cardboard Boxes for Packaging and Shipping

Advantages of Corrugated Cardboard in Specialty Packaging and Shipping

For some items and some shipping projects, a wooden crate is the best type of container. That determination is made based on the dimensions and weight of the items, their value, the mode(s) of transport that will be used and the final destination for the shipment. In many cases, however, corrugated cardboard can protect the items being shipped just as effectively and at a lower cost.

At Craters & Freighters, if a wooden crate isn’t necessary, we often use custom-manufactured corrugated cardboard shipping containers. Specifically, we build boxes with a minimum 350 lb. double-wall corrugated fiberboard that has three sheets of linerboard with two mediums or flutes in between. This double-thick material is incredibly strong and provides outstanding protection to the items in a box.

Corrugated Cardboard: The Best Method of Shipping Many Items (1)

(Video) Choosing the Right Corrugated Flute

Frequently, we reinforce our corrugated boxes for added durability. This can be done in many ways, including strapping, banding and palletizing a box or boxes.

Whatever packaging strategy is used, corrugated cardboard boxes offer seven important benefits:

  • They are strong. As noted above, corrugated cardboard’s layered design gives it tremendous strength. While not as strong as a wooden crate, a well-made corrugated box can withstand a great deal of force.
  • They are lightweight. When it comes to the shipping and handling of containers, as long as the protection they provide is sufficient, the lighter the better.
  • They are economical. Corrugated cardboard is a material that can be mass produced easily and consequently is very affordable.
  • They are highly customizable. Corrugated cardboard boxes can be designed and built to meet any need. In the hands of the packaging engineers we have on staff, corrugated can be used to produce anything from a simple, square box to a one-of-a-kind structure perfectly suited to an odd-shaped item.
  • They are reusable. Because they are so good at shrugging off the effects of shipping and handling, corrugated boxes can be used multiple times in many instances.
  • They are recyclable. As Wikipedia notes about corrugated fiberboard, “Old corrugated containers are an excellent source of fiber for recycling. They can be compressed and baled for cost-effective transport. The baled boxes are put in a hydro pulper, which is a large vat of warm water for cleaning and processing. The pulp slurry is then used to make new paper and fiber products.”
  • They can be broken down and stored. While corrugated boxes resist the random forces they encounter during shipping, they can be broken down intentionally for storage or transportation, particularly if they are designed with that intent in mind.

Beyond its use in constructing shipping containers, corrugated cardboard can be used to provide added protection and partitioning inside a container.

(Video) How to Fold 4 Different Sizes of Corrugated Cardboard Mailers, Shipping Boxes

Corrugated Cardboard: The Best Method of Shipping Many Items (2)

Cushioning and Other Protection in Specialty Packaging and Shipping

No type of container can protect the items within it if they are allowed to move around freely. That includes corrugated cardboard boxes. To augment the protection they provide, specialized cushioning must be added to the container.

Often this is in the form of polyethylene or polyurethane foams. The appropriate material is selected based on factors like density, shock value, drop, vibration and recovery characteristics. Certain blocking and bracing techniques may be used along with cushioning, as well.

(Video) Folding Corrugated Cardboard Shipping Easy Fold Mailers - Boxes

The risk of electrostatic discharge damaging electronics is another consideration that can be addressed by using the appropriate packing materials. Anti-static wraps and cushioning can be utilized inside a corrugated cardboard shipping container to protect items like circuit boards, computer chips and electronic assemblies.

Also for electronics—and any item that can be damaged by corrosion—special vapor barrier packaging can be used to shield items that will be transported on a ship. “Bagging” items within their corrugated box, placing an activated desiccant within the vapor barrier bag, heat sealing the seams, and removing air from the bag with a vacuum device helps lower the humidity level and keep items from corroding.

Heat shrink wrapping is another way to protect assets during transport or while in storage. For items being shipped, the wrap prevents movement that can damage them. In outdoor storage situations, like at a construction site, heat shrink wrapping is an affordable option for providing defense against the elements.

(Video) Choosing the Right Corrugated Box Style

And finally, in some instances, a container-within-a-container approach is recommended. For example, hard shell cases designed to cushion and protect items like sensitive equipment can be secured and then placed inside a corrugated cardboard container with additional cushioning for an added degree of protection.

Corrugated Cardboard: Strong, Durable and Versatile

While corrugated cardboard boxes aren’t as strong as wood crates, they shouldn’t be seen as inferior. They are simply made from a different type of material, and one that is ideally suited for a wide range of uses. Plus, because they are much lighter than a wooden crate, using them can often reduce shipping costs. Properly designed, constructed, and packed, a corrugated container provides exceptional performance and value.


Is corrugated cardboard good for shipping? ›

Whatever packaging strategy is used, corrugated cardboard boxes offer seven important benefits: They are strong. As noted above, corrugated cardboard's layered design gives it tremendous strength. While not as strong as a wooden crate, a well-made corrugated box can withstand a great deal of force.

What are the disadvantages of corrugated cardboard? ›

Drawbacks Of Corrugated Cardboard Boxes
  • They are not as durable as boxes made from materials such as plastic or wood. ...
  • They are generally used for shorter-term purpose, as such they are not ideally a long-term investment that can be used over and over again.
17 Apr 2015

What kind of boxes are best for shipping? ›

Corrugated cardboard makes the best material for shipping boxes. Boxes made of corrugated cardboard are sturdy enough to ensure the safe packaging and shipping of fragile items.

What are three benefits to corrugated? ›

Corrugated cardboard is one of the most popular solutions for packaging and shipping. These boxes are customizable, provide stable cushion, are cost-effective, and keep moisture away from the products being housed.

Is cardboard packaging sustainable? ›

Cardboard is one of the easiest and most environmentally effective materials to recycle since the fibre in cardboard has already been processed. You can recycling via the large blue recycling bins across campus. Just make sure you've flattened it first.

Why is corrugated cardboard so sustainable? ›

Corrugated cardboard is a recyclable and environmentally friendly packaging material. It is made from paper from either sustainable forest sources, or fully recycled paper, very much like moulded pulp. It is manufactured with rows of air columns making the paper stronger than average cardboard.

How long does corrugated cardboard last? ›

There is no standard that specifies or requires the inclusion of an expiration date on corrugated cardboard boxes. Through studies and observations, however, it was possible to reach a consensus that, under ideal conditions (with controlled temperature and humidity), they last up to two years.

What is the strongest corrugated cardboard? ›

One of the strongest types of corrugated we offer is called 275 Mullen BC. Let's quickly break down that name and what it means: BC means that this is a double-wall corrugated, stacking B-flute and C-flute on top of each other.

What is the strongest form of cardboard? ›

The strongest type of cardboard is corrugated fibreboard if we were being very general about it. However, if you wanted to get more specific, the 5-ply variation which is double wall corrugated, making it perfect for heavy-duty situations.

Is corrugated or cardboard stronger? ›

Corrugated Is More Durable

For example, a cereal box is made from cardboard. Corrugated, on the other hand, might be made with cardboard materials, but the overall design and structure is much more durable. The biggest difference between cardboard vs corrugated fiberboard is that corrugated is made with three layers.

Is corrugated cardboard stronger than regular cardboard? ›

Corrugated is used more often for packing and shipping items due to its strong and durable nature. Whereas cardboard and other materials are not impact-resistant, corrugated can withstand the rigors of moving from a warehouse to a mail processing center and ultimately to a delivery vehicle.

Why is corrugation important? ›

Protective, Strong and Durable Material

It's robust and can vary in sizes and thickness for added support. Its corrugated interior keeps moisture away from the products, which is especially important for items that need to withstand long shipping times.

What is the most effective shipping method? ›

Just as air freight is the fastest intercontinental shipping mode it is also the fastest international shipping mode. If your shipment is dense, meaning it has a small footprint that takes up minimum space but weighs more than 150 pounds, then air freight may be the best mode of transportation.

What is the most efficient way to ship something? ›

Use flat-rate shipping where possible—flat-rate shipping will almost always be the best value for money, especially for domestic delivery. Flat-rate shipping means that you can predict prices more accurately. No matter what kind of parcel you have or what dimensions or weight it is, the price will always be the same.

Which packing method is best? ›

  • How I measured.
  • Folding: quick and easy (but not necessary space-efficient)
  • Bundling: best for sets of wrinkle-prone clothes.
  • Rolling: the best way to maximize space, but not necessarily reduce wrinkles.
  • Compression packs: great for bulky items.
  • Packing cubes: great when combined with other methods.
3 Jul 2019

What is the cheapest shipping method for large boxes? ›

One of the cheapest ways to send large packages is through freight shipping services. But it's also a good idea to check and compare prices with USPS, FedEx, and DHL. You may get a lower price depending on the weight and class of your products.

What is the cheapest way to ship boxes of stuff? ›

USPS Retail Ground shipping service is a reliable and economical way to ship boxes in two to eight business days. Prices start at $8.50 at a Post Office. For any media or books, use Media Mail, a service for shipping media and educational materials.

What is the fastest way to ship a box? ›

Our fastest domestic shipping service, Priority Mail Express® delivers 7 days a week, 365 days a year (with limited exceptions). Next-day delivery is available to most U.S. addresses and PO Boxes2 with a money-back guarantee1. With our free Flat Rate Envelopes, you don't need to weigh shipments 70 lbs and under.

What is corrugated cardboard used for and why? ›

Corrugated Cardboard is used in many packaging situations, from moving house to posting laptops and packaging food products. This kind of cardboard can be customised to safely transport a wide variety of goods with different sizing, card thickness and colour available.

How strong is corrugated? ›

Corrugated boxes are very strong, but the answer to this question is going to depend on the size and type of box that you're using. A single wall box can hold between 20 – 120 lbs, double-wall boxes can hold 80 – 180 lbs, while triple wall corrugated boxes can hold between 245 – 300 lbs.

Why is cardboard used for packaging? ›

In terms of transportation, cardboard is also very durable making it the best packaging material for business. It helps to prevent moisture from infiltrating the product; this is an essential factor for products that need to withstand long transportation times, as well as protecting food products.

Why is cardboard packaging better than plastic? ›

Cardboard decomposes much faster than plastic, and can completely break down in around two months under the right conditions. Plastic, by contrast, is estimated to last between 400-1000 years.

What is the most sustainable type of packaging? ›

Corrugated cardboard and other forms of paper based packaging are rightly regarded as being amongst the most environmentally friendly and sustainable.

Is cardboard packaging cheaper than plastic? ›

The most deal-breaking difference between cardboard and plastic packaging is the price point. Cardboard is considerably cheaper and more affordable than plastic. You can get high-quality, fully customized cardboard for the same price as the lowest quality plastic packaging.

Is corrugated cardboard sustainable? ›

As a biodegradable product, corrugated cardboard can be disposed of more sustainably than many other types of material. As a strong and sturdy packaging solution, corrugated cardboard boxes can also be used again and again – reducing costs and environmental impact.

Does corrugated cardboard decompose? ›

It is 100% recyclable and biodegradable. Corrugated cardboard degrades completely within a maximum period of one year.

Is corrugated cardboard waterproof? ›

Corrugated plastic is waterproof and weatherproof, which is why it is often chosen for outdoor applications. Even when wet, corrugated plastic will continue to hold its strong, rigid shape. When used outdoors, it can withstand the elements, including rain, wind, hail, and direct sunlight.

Which cardboard is best? ›

Chipboard paper is by far the most versatile type of cardboard, 90% of the time corrugated box partitions are being used when chipboard box partitions could be used in their place and provide the same level of protection along with other benefits.

What is heavy duty cardboard called? ›

Gaylord Box: Gaylord box is basically a bulk-size corrugated box. Traditionally, Gaylord boxes are large or bulk size and allow for the shipment of products in a large, single container or on a pallet.

Is corrugated cardboard tough? ›

Good Strength: Compared to multiple existing packaging, the corrugated packaging holds an excellent strength to weight ratio. Their outer material is hard and rigid enough to keep the item inside of it safely. It doesn't break, tear out, or crack easily until and unless the weather is terrible.

What kind of cardboard is used for packaging? ›

Corrugated fiberboard boxes are widely utilized in retail packaging, shipping cartons, product displays and many other applications requiring a lightweight, but sturdy material.

How do you make cardboard unbreakable? ›

Coat in Resin, Epoxy, or Wood/Paper Glue

You will also need a flat paintbrush, its size depending on how big your cardboard is. Simply paint a layer of any of these substances onto dry cardboard. Wait until it dries before adding a second layer. Let it dry completely until your cardboard hardens before using it.

What is the difference between cardboard and corrugated cardboard? ›

Corrugated Is More Durable

Traditional cardboard is a thicker, heavier version of paper stock or pulp. For example, a cereal box is made from cardboard. Corrugated, on the other hand, might be made with cardboard materials, but the overall design and structure is much more durable.

Can you use any cardboard box to ship UPS? ›

To prepare packages for UPS shipment, you can use your own packaging, if boxes are new or almost new, or one of a variety of containers provided free of charge that can be used with certain, selected UPS services.

What is a corrugated shipping box? ›

Corrugated cartons are made up of a few layers of material rather than just a single sheet like cardboard. The three layers of corrugated include an inside liner, an outside liner, and a medium that goes between the two, which is fluted.

Is corrugated cardboard more expensive? ›

Cost-effective: Its lightweight, customizable design makes corrugated board one of the most cost-effective options. There's no need for costly labor, expensive tools or unnecessary bulk.

Can you put 2 boxes together to ship? ›

Bundled and Strapped Boxes

You may only strap same-sized boxes together. Please use a minimum of four crossed bands with two bands in each direction. When strapping boxes together, please make sure that each box is strong enough to hold the total weight of the strapped bundle.

How do I ship multiple packages UPS? ›

To create a shipment with multiple packages: Select a shipper and a profile. Specify the Ship To address. Specify the Ship From address.
See Specify the Reference Numbers.
  1. On the Home tab, select Multi-piece Shipment. ...
  2. In the Multi-piece Shipment window:
  3. Type the total number of packages.
  4. Select a package weight option:

How large of a box will UPS ship? ›

There are no limits to the total weight of your shipment or the total number of packages in your shipment. Packages can be up to 150 pounds. Packages can be up to 165 inches in length and girth combined. Packages can be up to 108 inches in length.

How do you increase the strength of a corrugated box? ›

The number of plies can be added in a corrugated sheet to enhance the strength of the boxes. Hence, we can conclude that one can easily increase bursting strength by increasing the number of plies of a fluted paper to enhance the strength of the corrugated boxes.

How thick should cardboard boxes be to ship? ›

The most common, used in most typical shipping boxes, is 'A' flute, which is 3/16" (4.8mm) thick. The thin cardboard in the Nintendo Labo kits, for example, is E-flute which is 1/16" (1.6mm) thick.

What is the best way to ship something fragile? ›

How to ship fragile items: a step-by-step guide
  1. Choose a box that's only slightly larger than the item. ...
  2. Wrap the item in cushioning material. ...
  3. If necessary, encase the item in foam. ...
  4. Use air pillows or packing peanuts. ...
  5. Add a “fragile” label to the box. ...
  6. Affix a tilt or impact detector.
10 Feb 2020


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