Apr 7th, 2021

Updated:  Jan 4th, 2023

Corrugated Boxes

What is a Corrugated Box and How are they Used?

Everyone has heard of cardboard boxes, but what you might be calling a cardboard box is actually a corrugated box. So what is a corrugated box? The actual definition of corrugated is “(of a material, surface, or structure) shaped into alternate ridges and grooves.”

Approximately 95% of all products in North America are shipped in corrugated cardboard boxes- so it's safe to say they're the preferred shipping material. This is because of how sturdy they are.

Corrugated shipping boxes are the perfect packaging option to use for pretty much anything. Notably any item that needs to be shipped, heavy products, and food.

How Corrugated Boxes Are Made?

Their design consists of multiple layers: an outside liner, an inside liner, and a grooved inside layer, also called the fluted layer, between the two. The fluting is formed into arches that connect the inside and outside liner. These arches give the corrugated box more strength than a regular cardboard box.

The fluted layer can come in different sizes. The larger grooves provide better cushioning and strength, while smaller grooves provide structural integrity and lower overall thickness. This helps to protect contents in any shipping or storage environment.

A typical size is the corrugated mailer box, which is great for small businesses that typically ship smaller items like jewelry or clothes.

History Of Corrugated Boxes

Two men in England, Edward C. Healy and Edward E. Allen patented corrugated paper in 1856. At the time, they were only using it as hat lining. In 1871, New Yorker Albert L. Jones patented a single-sided corrugated board and the packaging industry used it to wrap fragile items like bottles and glass chimney lanterns.

In 1874, Oliver Long added another liner sheet and patented his improvements (this is currently the corrugated box we know and use today). By the early 1900s, heavy wooden crates and boxes were being replaced by light corrugated paper shipping cartons.

Benefits of Using Corrugated Boxes

There is a lot of room for damage in the time products go from the warehouse to their final destination. Corrugated packages are designed to survive bad weather, bumpy roads, sudden temperature changes, or rough handling– all while keeping products safely intact.

While no corrugated package is completely indestructible, the materials and makeup of these containers are more likely to protect your products in transit. Your customers won't be happy if their product arrives in anything less than pristine condition.

Another reason they're the favored packaging material is that they're lightweight and clean. Since corrugated containers are lighter than plastic, you can ship as many as two or three additional pallets of product in every truckload. This could lower your shipping costs which will also contribute to less fuel and lower emissions.

This makes them a good option if you want to be environmentally friendly. Corrugated boxes are made from a high percentage (70% to 100%) of recycled paper pulp, predominantly timber from fast-growing pine trees, wood chips, and other leftover materials from the paper-making process. Suppliers that make large amounts of corrugated packaging usually harvest materials from managed, sustainable forests and then replace harvested trees with seedlings to begin the process again.

Cardboard Box Vs. Corrugated Box

There are a few key differences between corrugated boxes and regular cardboard boxes. For starters, cardboard boxes do not have the middle fluted layer that corrugated boxes have. Cardboard is made from a type of heavy paper stock. Because of its softer material, cardboard boxes can be bent or shaped more easily than corrugated boxes. This also means that cardboard packaging is not exactly the best choice as it does not provide as much support. There is a chance that your product would get damaged along the way.

Cardboard boxes are usually used in the packaging of consumer goods like cereal boxes, milk cartons, shoe boxes, toilet paper rolls, and greeting cards. Typically, most businesses do not use cardboard for heavy-duty shipping, but they can ensure a beautiful presentation as they are easy to print on.

When you're deciding what material to use for your business, you need to consider what your needs are. If your company makes lightweight objects like paper sheets, you can use cardboard boxes. Custom luxury boxes normally use cardboard as corrugated boxes are a bit rougher. However, if you have a business in which you make heavier things or products that are fragile, or will have more than one stop in its journey to the customer, you should go for corrugated boxes.


Now that you know what corrugated boxes are, and how they differ from cardboard boxes, hopefully you feel ready to make the decision for your business. We're here to help you with all your packaging needs so reach out for a free consultation.