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

packing - moving - boxesBoxes---the single most necessary thing for any move. Whether you're moving old sports trophies to the attic or relocating your entire household cross 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 looking at piles of cardboard that are somehow going to mutate themselves into functional packing vessels.

The first thing to know is that while boxes are not created exactly equal, they are somewhat autonomous in that you can utilize just about any box for just about anything. The trick is in being intelligent about what to pack in which box--and forget what the box is titled, go ahead and put your golf clubs in the wardrobe box, if it seems right. The other thing smart folks (that includes you) do is not to overpack boxes so they weigh a lot. You are going to be moving a lot of them, and five pounds feels like fifty after a while.

Sizes and Weight

Boxes are measured in cubic feet. The smallest moving box is usually 1.5 CF, and is what you'll use for heavy 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 stuff 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 normal height person can easily move two of these at a time.

The next size larger 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 big and deep, and again, don't overload them because the bulk makes even the lightly packed ones a challenge to move unless you're tall.

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

Specialty Boxes

These are intended for moving one specific sort of thing, but are convenient for lots of other stuff, as well. While they are a bit more expensive, 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. Do not think you can solely 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 paper or use the newer foam sleeves--slide the plate or glass into the sleeve and place 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 delicate that you do not want in the regular boxes.

Wardrobe Box

A wardrobe box is precisely what it sounds like. It's taller than the 6.1 CF box, is about 10 CF, and is a heavy-duty cardboard that's built 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 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, too.

Mirror Box

A mirror box comes in numerous sizes, but they are all somewhat 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 forget the proper packing supplies--lots of paper, tape and bubble wrap--but knowing your boxes is the first step towards a successful move.