How to Choose Boxes and Other Materials for Packing and Shipping

Cardboard boxes may all look alike to you, but they actually vary quite a bit when it comes to their strength and durability. Along with cardboard boxes, you will typically need packing material and packing tape to keep items secure and to keep the boxes closed properly. Note a few factors to keep in mind when you're shopping for shipping boxes for a production facility or office, or even for when you need to pack up items for a move.

1. Choosing boxes

Boxes will often be marked with a weight capacity and you don't want to overlook this. If you opt for a box that cannot handle the weight of what you're shipping, it's likely to tear at the corners or have the flaps come loose, no matter the strength of the packing tape you choose. Look for corrugated fiber when choosing boxes for very heavy materials; this is a reinforced type of cardboard that better resists moisture and tearing, and which can hold heavier items more easily.

If you're choosing boxes for regular shipping purposes such as in a production facility, you want the smallest boxes that can hold your items as shipping charges are usually figured by size and not just weight. Note the dimensions of the box when choosing and, if necessary, actually measure the size of the items you'll be shipping. Smaller boxes will also mean spending less on packing materials and less risk of your items being knocked around inside the box during shipping.

2. Packing materials

Styrofoam peanuts are a good choice for filling in gaps in a packed box, and they're very lightweight so they don't add much to the shipping costs. They can also be used repeatedly. Bubble wrap is good for actually wrapping items and providing extra cushioning to more delicate pieces. Many pieces of bubble wrap can be used only once or very infrequently, as they may get holes during use that in turn, letting out the cushioning air.

If you don't like using Styrofoam or bubble wrap because they're not very environmentally-friendly, you might choose actual popcorn. Some production facilities invest in popcorn poppers and bulk bags of popcorn to produce their own and save money versus buying popcorn that is popped, but note that actual popcorn can only be used once for shipping. 

3. Sealing

Always use nylon-reinforced packing tape for closing up shipping boxes; masking tape is never strong enough for closing boxes and keeping them secure. When buying sealing tape, make sure it notes that it is nylon-reinforced, as some very cheap brands of tape are only cellophane, like scotch tape, so they don't work well for packing and especially for very heavy loads.

Talk to professional boxing or storage companies, like Store-It-Safe, when looking for good quality materials and keep these things in mind.