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

packing - moving - boxesBoxes---the single most essential item for any relocation. Whether you're moving old tennis trophies to the attic or relocating your entire home cross country, you surely can’t do to without a box, or even a hundred. There are a multitude of varying sizes, and specific-use boxes, it can be really paralyzing when you are standing there staring at mountains of cardboard that are somehow going to transform themselves into functional packing devices.

The first thing to be aware of is that while boxes are not created exactly equal, they are somewhat democratic in that you can use just about any box for just about anything. The trick is in being on your toes 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 feels right. The other thing witty people (that includes you) do is not to put too much in the boxes so they weigh a lot. You are 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 usually 1.5 CF, and is what you'll use for heavy stuff 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 things into a box doesn't 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 normally move a couple of these at once.

The next size larger is 3.1 cubic feet. This is where you will stow shoes, toys, pots and pans--things that are not that 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 no good to pick-up and move.

Linens, jackets, towels, and clothes go in the 4.5 CF boxes. They're big and deep, and again, do not 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 big but lightweight.

Specialty Boxes

These are meant for moving one specific sort of thing, but are useful for lots of other items, too. While they are a little more expensive, are well worth the cost in convenience of packing options and protection.

Dish pack

A dish pack is a box with an additional layer of corrugated cardboard. Don't think you can solely place 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 plain newsprint or use the newer foam sleeves--slide the plate or glass into the sleeve and put 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 fragile that you do not want in the regular boxes.

Wardrobe Box

A wardrobe box is literally what it seems like. It's taller than the 6.1 CF box, is about 10 CF, and is a heavy-duty cardboard that is meant to stand up while in transit. It has a hanger bar that attaches near the top, so you can move your clothes on hangers with ease. 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, also.

Mirror Box

A mirror box comes in several sizes, but they are all usually flat, and large. They are what you use for artwork and mirrors, but also flat screen TVs, computer monitors, large platters, or even tennis rackets.

Don't neglect the proper packing supplies--lots of paper, tape and bubble wrap--but knowing your boxes is the first step to a successful move.