Moving Boxes: The Trade-off Between Price and Quality

Moving boxes — they are one of the most important tools that you can have in your repertoire for your upcoming move. But, did you know that not all boxes are created equal? Some boxes for moving are better suited for the job than others, and by that I mean unfortunately those free boxes you scavenged on trash day from down the street probably aren’t going to do the job.

Moving Boxes
Boxes are the building blocks of your move — literally. If packed on the bottom, low quality boxes can crumple, and ruin your whole move. (Image Justin Shearer via Flickr/CC License)

Cardboard boxes are made from the same material that paper is made from, pulp. Think about ripping one sheet of paper in half, pretty easy right? But what about five, ten, or fifteen sheets of paper? And then find an old phone book and try ripping that. Chances are you won’t be able to. That’s because the tensile strength of the paper goes up exponentially when a lot of sheets are formed into one.

The same goes for boxes; the more well-designed boxes have “more sheets of paper formed into one” than the lower quality boxes. It makes sense. Additionally, the strongest boxes will typically have a mixture of brand-new, and recycled material. Why? Well, over time, recycled box fibers can become thin and therefore have less tensile strength. By combining recycled pulp with new pulp, you get the best of both worlds- a strong and secure box, with a low environmental impact.

And let’s quickly review why cheaper boxes could be problematic:

  • More likely to tear under a heavy load
  • Not as strong when stacking (think weak box at the bottom of your stack in the moving truck — not good)
  • May not stand up to exposure to moisture (yes, people do have to move in the rain and snow)

The last thing you want is to open the truck at your new home and find out that the bottom boxes were crushed and you have damaged items, or clothes strewn throughout the back. It may cost you a little bit more, but boxes that are strong enough to do the job will save you headaches in the long run.

Remember, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get high-quality boxes for moving. Here are a couple of tips to help you get durable boxes mentioned above on a budget:

  • Buy in bulk: Oftentimes, the price per box can go down significantly when you purchase an entire set  instead of purchasing each box individually. Find a set that is close to what type of household you have, and look for a buyback guarantee. This way, you can return the boxes you don’t use for a full refund.

Are you a moving box guru? Have you ever done a move only to find out the boxes didn’t hold up? Let us know in the comments below.