Understanding Cardboard: Why Aren’t All Moving Boxes the Same?


The modest cardboard box is possibly the most vital item in a mover’s inventory. If you’re relocating to New York, you’ve probably been looking everywhere for enough cardboard boxes to hold everything.

These lightweight, heavy-duty boxes are in charge of transporting almost all of your worldly things during a move, and given the massive amounts we put into them, it’s remarkable that they can withstand the punishment.

Yet there’s a lot more to that cardboard box than meets the eye. In truth, there are dozens of different types of cardboard boxes, and not all of them are suitable for moving.

Let’s look at some of the most significant cardboard elements that go into constructing a great moving box – and what traits cause some cardboard boxes to function poorly.

Cardboard’s Three Major Types

Experts in the packaging business strive to avoid using the phrase “cardboard” at all since it’s too broad and can refer to a wide range of materials used in a wide range of applications. The following are the three basic types of “cardboard” used in the packaging industry:

Paper is light, flexible, and fragile.

“Paper” cardboard is the lightest type of cardboard available. This style of cardboard is common in end-user packaging; imagine it on a box of cereal or used to hold a 12-pack of Pepsi.

This substance is created by pressing and drying damp fibers such as cellulose pulp (a product of wood).

As a result, the sheet is flexible and easily accommodates deformation, printing ink, and writing. This makes these cardboards perfect for end-user packaging but renders them unsuitable for heavy-duty packing or moving.

Paperboard is a medium-weight, long-lasting material.

Paperboard is significantly closer to the public idea of cardboard than “paper” cardboard. Paperboard is generally at least.25mm thicker than paper, and ISO standards define it as having a weight greater than 224 g/m2, and it can be single-ply or multi-ply.

Paperboard is made from three main materials: hardwood, softwood, and recycled pulp.

Hardwood is typically constructed of birch or other hardwoods. While difficult to work with, these woods feature a short, robust fiber composition that provides very high tensile strength at the expense of higher tearing hazards. These paperboards are frequently used for corrugation, which we’ll discuss shortly.

Softwoods, such as pine and spruce, have significantly longer fibers than hardwoods, making them superior candidates when resilience and durability are more important than raw tensile strength. These cardboards are commonly used as “liner boards” in corrugation, which we will discuss further in the corrugation section.

Recycled paperboard is primarily formed of post-consumer recycled material, with a tiny proportion of “virgin” materials (unused, wood-based pulp) mixed in, and is often not de-inked, giving it a gray tint. While recycling paper for lower-impact applications might be cost-effective, recycled paper boxes often lack the strength and durability of virgin pulped boxes.

Corrugated Cardboard Is Heavy, Rugged, And Sturdy

Corrugated cardboard accounts for the majority of high-strength, durable cardboard – and is perhaps the most commonly used cardboard in the moving industry.

Corrugated cardboard is constructed in the shape of a “sandwich.” A heavy-duty liner board is placed on one side, and a corrugated sheet of cardboard is bonded to the top. The sheet is then pushed together with another liner board on top.

Corrugated cardboard can be identified by its wavy, airy interior structure.

Because of its triple-layered design, corrugated cardboard is much stronger than paperboard alone – often 3-4x as strong, providing incredible durability and resilience for its weight.

Part of this strength comes from the materials used to make the corrugated cardboard itself. Because of the triple-layer design, the highest quality corrugated cardboard offers softwood outer liner boards and hardwood corrugation on the interior.

This material combination provides maximum strength because the stiff inner corrugation helps the cardboard hold its shape while being shielded from shearing and damage by the softer, more resilient outer liner boards.

So, what are the best moving boxes?

As a general rule, you should use corrugated boxes. Almost all moving businesses offer a wide range of shapes, sizes, and weights, and their stiffness and strength are unrivaled.

While these boxes may be a little heavier and stiffer, the strength of the thicker corrugation and stronger-duty liner board means that they will be easier to stack on top of each other, even when completely laden with large things.

Of course, you should take care to pack your boxes carefully – heavier and more robust items in larger, thicker boxes that can be stacked, and lighter, more fragile objects in boxes that will be stacked on top.

There is one more thing to consider while selecting moving boxes and packaging your belongings: tape.

Even the toughest cardboard boxes can break – but it’s typically not the box itself that breaks.

The tension of large goods forcing the seams of the box to pop, sending your stuff straight down to the floor is the most typical cause of box failure, not the cardboard itself breaking or shredding.

When packing heavy-duty boxes, make sure the bottom seam is thoroughly taped – at least one layer of tape on each susceptible seam. Ideally, two or more layers of tape should be used. Heavy-duty corrugated cardboard boxes, when properly secured, can withstand exceptionally heavy weights without stress or breaking.

Get the Finest Boxes – And the Best Movers – Empire Movers & Storage

Empire Movers & Storage are true professionals in every way. Our full-service moving services include high-quality boxes and skilled movers who can pack, secure, and transport your most valuable belongings. There is no muss, no fuss, and no hassle.

If you live in the New York region and are looking for a great full-service moving company, contact us first. You can phone or email us. We’d be happy to discuss your requirements and assist you in finding the best moving, packing, and storing options for you.

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