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Packaging may seem like a simple thing. However, it is almost complex enough to be considered an art form. The art of packaging is very important for business owners and anyone else who sells anything. Packaging protects vital items during shipment, and also ensures that they will have a longer shelf life.

When selling through the mail, it is very important to understand the different types of boxes. Choosing the wrong one could result in broken packages, unhappy customers, and a lot of other problems. Let’s go over the basics of cardboard boxes so that you can (hopefully) avoid these problems.

Basic Types:

There are so many different types of boxes that we could never hope to cover them all in a single article. However, all of these box types can be classified into one of three categories.

Folding Cartons

Have you ever wondered why they call it “cardboard?” The short answer is that they call it cardboard because it is used to make cards. Take a look at a standard playing card, and you will see the most basic form of cardboard.

In many cases, packaging and shipping boxes are protected by a folding carton made of this thin cardboard (also known as card stock). These boxes are cheap and easy to assemble, and this easy assembly is one of their advantages. Once a person gets into a good routine, they can really blow through a stack of products quickly. It takes as little as a second to fold a small carton and stick an item inside.

The only problem here is the fact that these boxes aren’t very durable. They can easily be crushed, and they don’t do a lot to reinforce the product inside of them. For long-distance shipping, these boxes are definitely not the best option. Likewise, fragile items should not be shipped in these thin paper cartons.

Rigid Boxes

If you want a good example of a rigid box, think of a shoebox. While still being made of cardstock, these boxes are much thicker. As a result, they provide much better protection against impact and breakage. They cannot be bent as easily as regular cardstock cartons, and this can do a great job of protecting fragile items from impact. Of course, the effectiveness of this box type will depend on its thickness.

They are called rigid boxes because they do not bend and deform as easily as paper cartons. Higher-value items can be placed in these boxes, although they still aren’t as strong as corrugated cardboard. In fact, very high-value items like iPhones are packaged in a rigid cardstock box. You may have noticed that these boxes are very thick and that they do not bend a whole lot. With such an expensive item inside, that is the point.

Corrugated Boxes

Corrugated boxes are the thick and heavy-duty boxes that offer the best protection against breakage. Like the others, they are made of cardstock. However, corrugated cardboard is made from several layers of cardstock, and the fluted design makes it thicker without any need to make it heavier. For most product shipping, these types of boxes are the best all-around choice.

Corrugated cardboard boxes tend to cost a little bit more than cardstock cartons, but they make up for their slightly higher cost easily. They can be made even more effective by packing them with some kind of soft filler like crumpled-up paper, bubble wrap, air pillows, and the like.

Differences In Fluting

Not all corrugated cardboard is the same. There are some serious differences in flute design, and these will have an impact on the thickness of the piece. The “flutes” are the little channels that go through the middle of the cardboard. When you look at a piece of corrugated cardboard from its edge, you can see these hollow areas, which are called “flutes.”

The strength of a corrugated cardboard box is directly impacted by its flute design. These flutes are classified as type B, C, E, and BC. B-type flutes have 42-50 flutes per foot, while C-type flutes have 39-43. E-type flutes have only 94 or so, and this is what makes them the strongest of the bunch. Fewer flutes mean that the cardboard is more solid, and that adds up to better crush resistance. Oddly, this kind of cardboard tends to be thinner than most others while still being the strongest.

These flutes also influence thickness due to their differences in shape. B-type flutes are usually 1/8 of an inch thick, while C-type flutes are about 11/64 of an inch thick. E-type flutes are only 1/16 of an inch thick. Thus, we can conclude that thicker is not always better. Still, thickness does make a difference, and we can see that when we look at the BC-type flute. These are very similar to C-type flutes, except that they are double-walled.


For most shipping, we would recommend that you go with some kind of corrugated box. Otherwise, there is just too much chance of the item being damaged in transit. For items that will be sold on-location without needing to travel very far, a simple paper carton is usually enough. Most often, manufacturers will package individual products in cardstock cartons and then pack those cartons into a corrugated box. This is the normal way of doing things, and there are reasons for that trend. Double-boxing provides your item with the best chance of reaching its destination. If our advice turns out to be beneficial to your business, we hope that you will return the favor by filling out the contact form below.