A Commonly Undervalued Item: Boxes and How to Make Them Work for You

packing - moving - boxesBoxes---the single most important thing for any relocation. Whether you are moving old sports trophies to the garage or relocating your entire household across the country, you unquestionably can’t do to without a box, or even a lot. There are so many differing sizes, and specific-use boxes, it can be really overwhelming when you are standing there gazing at hills of cardboard that are somehow going to mutate themselves into functional packing devices.

The first thing to be aware of is that while boxes are not created precisely equal, they are very democratic in that you can use just about any box for just about any item. The catch is in being smart about what to pack in which box--and forget what the box is called, go ahead and put your golf clubs in the wardrobe box, if it feels right. The other thing smart folks (that means you) do is not to overpack boxes so they weigh too much. You are going to be moving a lot of them, and seven pounds feels like fifty after a while.

Sizes and Weight

Boxes are classified in cubic feet. The smallest moving box is usually 1.5 CF, and is what you will use for bulky things like books or small appliances. Knickknacks are best in these small boxes as you can put a complete collection in one box. You may see heavy-duty boxes, but just because you can pack more weight into a box does not mean you should, unless you have a heavy-duty back to move the weightier boxes. These boxes often have grips for easier moving and an normal height person can easily move two of these in unison.

The next size up is 3.1 cubic feet. This is what you will use to stow shoes, toys, pots and pans--things that are not very heavy. Some of these boxes also have the built-in grips and are a bit more unwieldy than the smaller box, so don't overload this size or it is going to be difficult to pick-up and move.

Linens, coats, towels, and clothes go in the 4.5 CF boxes. They're large and deep, and again, do not overload them because the bulk makes even the lightly packed ones a challenge to move unless you are vertically gifted.

The largest standard boxes are 6.1 cubic feet. This is where you pack pillows, lampshades, blankets, and anything that is big but lightweight.

Specialty Boxes

These are meant for moving one particular sort of item, but are convenient for lots of other things, also. While they are a bit more costly, are well worth the cost in convenience of packing options and security.

Dish pack

A dish pack is a box with a second layer of corrugated cardboard. Don't think you can only put dishes in these, they are meant to protect anything fragile. A dish pack is anywhere between the 1.5 and 3.1 CF size, and you can either wrap items individually in packing paper or use the newer foam sleeves--slide the plate or glass into the sleeve and put it in the box. Some boxes have inserts for glasses, so they stand up in their spot and do not get bumped by others in the box. A dish box is perfect for stereo components, lamp bases, or anything fragile that you do not want in the regular boxes.

Wardrobe Box

A wardrobe box is precisely what it sounds like. It is taller than the 6.1 CF box, is about 10 CF, and is a heavy-duty cardboard that's constructed to stand up during transit. It has a hanger bar that attaches near the top, so you can move your hanging clothes more easily. The usual height for a wardrobe box is about 46 inches, so you can use them to move things like dining room chairs or those golf clubs, also.

Mirror Box

A mirror box comes in several sizes, but they are all usually flat, and large. They're what you use for artwork and mirrors, but also flat screen TVs, computer monitors, large platters, or even tennis rackets.

Don't neglect the proper packing supplies--lots of paper, tape and bubble wrap--but knowing your boxes is the initial step towards a successful move.