How to choose the right corrugated box for shipping


by Richard S. Paul

To determine the proper corrugated board grade for your box, you must know the length, width and depth of the product, as well as have some idea of its weight.

There are many variables to consider in choosing the right size and style of corrugated box for your shipping requirements.

• What type of product are you shipping? Is it fragile, hazardous, light, heavy or sharp-edged? Is there a liquid or powder involved?

• Does it have an irregular shape that does not fill the entire box?

• Will the item need additional cushioning or inner packing to secure it inside the box?

• How will the item be shipped: by truck, UPS, air or rail? Will the item be palletized?

• What are the stacking requirements; for instance, will it be stacked eight to 10 boxes high? What kind of conditions will it be stored in — high humidity or freezing cold?

• Does the box need to be labeled or printed?

If the quantity of boxes required is relatively small, often a stock, RSC (regular-slotted carton) provides an inexpensive off-the-shelf solution. There are several hundred sizes to choose from (most are in ECT 32 SW/200 PSI test strength, but there are some heavier test stock sizes).

When a stock size is not available or does not meet your needs, a custom carton can be designed for your application. Custom boxes can also be printed in one or several colors, treated with special coatings and can be fabricated in single-wall or double-wall corrugated board.

Typically, we must know the length, width and depth of the product, as well as some idea of the weight, so we can determine the proper corrugated board grade. These elements ensure proper protection for the contents and allow the container to maintain structural integrity. Irregularly shaped products or multi-pack products (i.e., bottles or cans) may require additional inner packings or dividers.

Below is a chart of the most common board grades and their relative characteristics, which can be used as a starting point toward determining the requirements for packaging your product to both the National Motor Freight Classifications and the Uniform Freight Classification (rail regulations). The single-wall and double-wall boards are largely available in kraft and oyster-color facings. Certain high-performance, corrugated boards (not shown here) that are special blends of materials are available for a wide variety of custom applications.

The box joints are most often glued, although some styles are taped or wire stitched in very heavy-duty applications. Some die-cut styles of boxes are folded and tucked in tab-lock styles.

For more information on corrugated boxes or to request a sample of either a custom or stock corrugated box, please call a thoroughly trained BASCO Customer Service Representative at 800-776-3786 or visit BASCO’s Web site at

Also, be sure to watch for the next issue of Container Express in which we will feature another article about corrugated boxes, and how to determine what size of box is best for your product.

The most common board grades and their characteristics

[Published Fall 2008]