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

packing - moving - boxesBoxes---the single most vital thing for any relocation. Whether you are moving old bowling trophies to the garage or relocating your entire house cross country, you without question cannot do to without a box, or even a hundred. There are so many differing sizes, and specific-use boxes, it can be really overpowering when you are standing there gazing at mountains of cardboard that are somehow going to mutate themselves into functional packing vessels.

The first thing to be aware of is that while boxes are not created exactly the same, they are somewhat common in that you can use just about any box for just about any item. The catch is in being intelligent 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 seems right. The other thing witty people (that means you) do is not to overload boxes so they are too heavy. You are going to be moving a lot of them, and six pounds seems like fifty after a while.

Sizes and Weight

Boxes are classified in cubic feet. The smallest moving box is normally 1.5 CF, and is what you will use for heavy items like books or small appliances. Knickknacks are best in these small boxes as you can put a whole 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 pick-up the weightier boxes. These boxes often have grips for easier moving and an average height person can easily move a couple of these at once.

The next size larger is 3.1 cubic feet. This is where you can 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 do not overload this size or it's going to be difficult to pick-up and move.

Linens, jackets, towels, and clothes go in the 4.5 CF boxes. They're large and deep, and again, don't 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's big but lightweight.

Specialty Boxes

These are designed for moving a specific sort of item, but are beneficial for lots of other things, too. While they are a little more costly, are well worth the cost in ease of packing options and security.

Dish pack

A dish pack is a box with an additional layer of corrugated cardboard. Don't think you can only put dishes in these, they are meant to protect all things 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 set it in the box. Some boxes have inserts for glasses, so they stand up in their spot and do not get bumped by another glass. A dish box is perfect for stereo components, lamp bases, or anything breakable 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 is meant to stand up during transit. It has a hanger bar that attaches near the top, so you can move your clothes on hangers more swiftly. The standard 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, as well.

Mirror Box

A mirror box comes in a variety of 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.

Do not neglect the proper packing supplies--lots of paper, tape and bubble wrap--but knowing your boxes is the initial step to a smooth move.