A Commonly Overlooked Item: Boxes and How to Use Them

Packing - Moving Boxes Boxes---the single most necessary thing for any move. Whether you're moving old sports trophies to the garage or relocating your entire household across the country, you absolutely cannot do to without a box, or even a hundred. There are so many different sizes, and specific-use boxes, it can be really overwhelming when you're standing there looking at mountains of cardboard that are somehow going to transform themselves into functional packing devices.

The first thing to know is that while boxes are not created entirely equal, they are pretty democratic in that you can use just about any box for just about anything. The trick 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. The other thing smart people (that includes you) do is not to over pack boxes so they weigh too much. You're going to be moving a lot of them, and five pounds seems like fifty after a while.

Sizes and Weight

Boxes are measured in cubic feet. The smallest moving box is 1.5 CF, and is what you'll use for heavy items like books or small appliances. Knickknacks are best in these small boxes as you can put an entire collection in one box. You may see heavy-duty boxes, but just because you can pack more weight into a box doesn't mean you should, unless you have a heavy-duty back to lift the weightier boxes. These boxes often have grips for easier moving and an average height man can easily move two of these at the time.

The next size up is 3.1 cubic feet. This is where you'll stow shoes, toys, pots and pans--things that aren't that 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 one or it's going to be no fun to pick up and move.

Linens, sweaters, 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's large but lightweight.

Specialty Boxes

These are designed for moving one particular sort of thing, but are useful for lots of other stuff as well. While they are a little more expensive, are well worth the cost in ease of packing options a and protection.

Dish pack

A dish pack is a box with a double 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 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 don't get bumped by their neighbor. A dish box is perfect for stereo components, lamp bases, or anything fragile that you don't want in the regular boxes.

Wardrobe Box

A wardrobe box is exactly 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 hanging clothes more easily. 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, too.

Mirror Box

A mirror box comes in variety of 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.