What is the Standard Cardboard Shipping Boxes Sizes?

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Cardboard boxes, made from corrugated paper, do come in various sizes to accommodate a variety of items. Although some company does create custom boxes for a particular product, most cardboard shipping boxes have a standard size. I’ve done some research on the sizes of corrugated cardboard shipping boxes, and in this article, we are going to discuss just that.

Standard Cardboard Shipping Boxes

There is no common or standard size of cardboard boxes. The size typically depends on the e-commerce companies who custom order boxes of particular sizes based on their needs. Still, for a general idea, we can say that a medium cardboard box measures around 15-20 inches and for large boxes it measures around 20-25 inches. For basic moving and packing the most cardboard size measures 2x2x2 feet.

A few common cardboard box sizes:

Our recommendation for cardboard boxes are here

  • 12x12x12 inches
  • 16x16x16 inches
  • 18x18x18 inches
  • 22x22x22 inches
  • 24x24x24 inches
  • 1 cubic foot boxes are also called a file box. It’s used to pack business and personal records, letters, folders, etc. Its dimension is 15″ x 12″ x 10″.
  • 1.5 cubic foot boxes are the standard box, manufactured by most companies. Its dimension is 16″ x 12″ x 12″. It is also called as the book box is the smallest of the lot. This box is typically used to pack small but heavy items such as power tools, books, canned products, CDs, records, etc.
  • 3 cubic foot boxes are the medium boxes and are used to pack and ship most items. Its dimension is 18″ x 18″ x 16″. This cardboard box is designed to carry electronic gadgets, lamp bases, outdoor tools, small kitchen appliances.
  • 4.5 cubic foot boxes are the large boxes and are used to pack and ship larger and heavier items such as clothes, linens, toys, kitchen items, lamp shades, etc. Its dimension is  18″ x 18″ x 24″.
  • 6.0 cubic foot boxes are the extra large boxes, typically used for pillows, blankets, comforters, towels, rugs, coats, etc. Its dimension is 24″ x 18″ x 24″.
  • Lamp boxes are smaller 3.3 cubic foot boxes which are used to carry oddly shaped items such as lamps, telescope, sports equipment, etc. Its dimension is 12″ x 12″ x 40″.

Other than the above-mentioned boxes there are other types such as mirror box, dish barrel box, and wardrobe boxes, which are pretty standard among all cardboard box providers.

How Oversized Boxes are Charged by USPS?

Cardboard sizes mostly concern e-commerce business owners, who want to use the right shipping boxes both to improve their brand presence as well reduce cost by choosing the right size of a cardboard box for their products. You don’t want to pack a paperweight in an oversized cardboard box! Cardboard size matters more considering the dimensional weight shipping rates applied by companies such as UPS and FedEx.

For USPS, the maximum box size for Priority Mail is 12″ x 12″ x 12″. If your box is over 1 cubic foot, you will have to pay an extra fee called as the ballooning price.

How the oversize package is charged?

Postage charges are applied to the weight of the package; however, if the package is larger than the item it contains, the package may get charged for space it takes during transportation. The USPS applies three distinct types of extra charges based on dimensional weight, a balloon weight, and an oversize package. The charges are applied based on the mail class, weight, size, and distance traveled.

  • The ‘dimensional weight’ is applied only to the Priority Mail items that are larger than one cubic foot.
  • The ‘balloon weight’ is applied to Priority Mail for Zones 1-4 and on Parcel Select packages whose added length and girth is between 84 inches and 108 inches.
  • The ‘oversized’ surcharge is applied to Parcel Select packages whose added length and girth is more than 108 inches.

Dimensional Weight

If you are shipping Priority Mail packages to USPS zones 5-9, you may be subjected to the USPS dimensional weight charges. It applies to any packages that are greater than 1 cubic foot or 1728 cubic inches.

For rectangular packages:

If L * W * H is more than 1728, divide it by 194 and round up to the next whole number and you have the dimensional weight in pounds. The postage rate is applied based either on the actual weight or the dimensional weight in pounds, whichever is greater.

For non-rectangular packages:

If the roundup L * W * H * 0.785 is more than 1728, then divide the number by 194 and round up to the next whole number and you get the dimensional weight in pounds. Here too, the postage rate will be applied either based on the actual weight of the dimensional weight, whichever is greater.

Balloon Weight

If you are shipping a package using Parcel Select or Priority Mail to a destination in USPS zones 1-4, then you could be subjected to balloon rate.

It applies to the package that weighs less than 20 lbs and whose Length (longest side) + (2 * Width) + (2 * Height) is between 84 and 108 inches. The postage rate will be based on the package weighing 20 lbs instead of the actual weight.

Oversized Rate

If the package is shipped using Parcel Select and the Length (longest side) + (2 * Width) + (2 * Height) is greater than 108 inches, then you are subjected to oversized rate.

Odd Shaped Boxes

Oddly shaped packages are measured in a relatively different way as its length, width and height cannot be determined accurately. Here the Total Size = Longest side length + girth. The same charges apply to the package as mentioned earlier.

What are the Common Types of Boxes Used for Shipping?

Shipping companies use a variety of packing boxes depending on the mass, shape, and size of the shipped product. Here are the 3 common types of boxes used for shipping items.


Folding cartons are the most common type of shipping boxes used and were the first to be in the packaging industry. They are easy-to-use, easy-to-sell and easy-to-carry boxes, which is the primary reasons for its preference by shipping companies. It is typically used to transport lightweight products such as shoes, canned items, clothes, linens, etc. Folding cartons were once used only to carry expensive items, but today it is used for almost all lightweight goods.

Rigid Boxes

Rigid boxes much stronger and can hold a lot of weight and can maintain its structural integrity even under high pressure. Unlike folding cartons, which can be undone and reassembled when needed, a rigid box doesn’t provide such flexibility. Rigid boxes are typically used to transport high-end products and may come with leather of fabric wrapping. Most electronic items such as speakers, mobile phones, DSLR, etc are packed in a rigid box.

Corrugated Boxes

Corrugated boxes are the standard boxes for most shipping and e-commerce companies. Made from corrugated cardboard, these boxes are lightweight and can withstand heavy weight and high pressure. Almost all types of items can be shipped in corrugated boxes and are used for heavier items that cannot be held in cartons or rigid boxes. From guitars to wardrobes, to furniture and everything in between, almost all products can be shipped in corrugated boxes. It is also commonly used by packers and movers to transport items.

How to Choose the Right Shipping Box for Your Product?

For e-commerce companies, a significant amount of money and advertising effort is put into shipping boxes. There’s a cost involved in printing shipping boxes with their logo and company, moreover, they have to be careful of the cardboard sizes and weight to avoid additional surcharges.

Here’s a guide to help you choose the right shipping box for your items.

Box structure and sizes

First of all, you have to get the right size box for your product. An oversized box for a small item will incur your unnecessary shipping charges for the space it takes, whereas a small box could damage the product while shipping. The box size should precisely go with the product you are shipping and some extra room for padding and fillers. Padding and fillers are essential as package handlers don’t go easy on the shipping boxes while loading and unloading. For oddly shaped products you could order a custom-made packaging box for the product from package manufacturers. Or, you could go with a general rectangular shipping box which can then be filled with peanuts and other polystyrene foam padding for protection. Along with the box size, keep a note of the type of the box, labeling, structure, weight capacity, etc.

Survive in long transits

If you are shipping internationally, you should consider the package box’s ability to survive mishandling, drops, weather damages, slides, rolls, etc. It should be sturdy enough to reach its destination in long transit with minimal damage to the box. For a fragile or bulky product, your packaging box should be strong and hold its structural integrity in high pressure. For designer items, you could use a UV-treated, high-gloss coating box that keeps its contents secure as well as gives a striking appearance. Shipping boxes made from corrugated cardboard are a great option to ship fragile and heavy items. You should give enough attention to the material and strength of the box because the cost of replacing damaged items is expensive than using a high-quality shipping box.

The material of the box

Consider the material of the shipping box, specific to the product you will ship. You have to keep in mind the security of the product, cost of shipping, and the destination of the shipment. Choosing the right material box with the right thickness and weight is winning half the battle. You could choose from ‘Paperboard’ or ‘Corrugated’ boxes. Paperboards are lightweight and give a vivid print on the package, which is great for branding. It is ideal for food items, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, dairy products, etc. Corrugated boxes, on the other hand, are sturdy, flexible and can withstand weight and pressure. It is typically used to transport fragile items, e-commerce products, electronic goods, and other cartons.

What are the Types of Corrugated Shipping Boxes?

If you are entering into the e-commerce business, you must know about the corrugated boxes you will be used for shipping your products. There are a number of aspects to the corrugated box, which makes them customizable to your shipping needs. There’s a type of corrugated box for all types of products.

First, you will have to look into the flute profiles of the corrugated ca Sizes? cardboard used. The flute size will determine the thickness of the wall of the box and its stacking strength. Most common flutes profiles used today are A, B, C, E, and F where ‘A’ is the largest. It is also the original corrugated flute is nearly 5mm thick, making it a great option for products that need additional cushioning and extra strength for stacking.

  • ‘B’ flute is nearly 3.2mm thick is primarily designed for products that are self-secured such as canned items. It is designed such that the box doesn’t have to support much of the load. It is also a popular choice for die-cut designs.
  • ‘C’ flute is the most commonly used all-purpose boxes. It is approximately 4mm thick with a slightly thicker board containing 38 flutes per foot unlike the 47 per foot in ‘B’ flute.
  • ‘E’ and ‘F’ flute profiles are rather new with 1.6mm and 0.8mm thickness respectively. It is primarily used for retail packaging for its ability to provide sharp print clarity.

Other than flute profiles, corrugated cardboard can be broadly categorized into 4 types:


This corrugated cardboards have one corrugated medium glued to one flat sheet of liner board. They are typically sold in rolls, which is used to wrap products for cushioning and prevent shipping damages.


Here, on a corrugated medium is glued between two sheets of liner board. It is also called as Double Face corrugated cardboard. This is the most common type of board sold in the market and can be used for shipping as well as retail displays. The smooth interior and exterior surfaces ensure that the product is stored snugly and makes for a convenient surface to print brand logos and message.


It consists of three sheets of liner board with two corrugated mediums in between. It is typically used for heavier products and for larger stacks in warehouses and for shipping large items.


It is made from four sheets of liner board with three corrugated mediums in between. It is typically used to transport industrial parts and is a lightweight alternative for wooden shipping crates.

Next, you need to know about the Corrugated board grade which is categorized into either Mullen or ECT(Edge Crush Test). ECT of the corrugated board measures the stacking strength or the pressure a box can hold before being crushed. Here, the flute profile is responsible for giving the board its stacking strength. ECT value ranges from 23ECT for Single-Wall to 120ECT for Triple-Wall. Triple-Wall boxes have the highest value hence has the highest compressive strength. It is used when the boxes are stacked higher and for long days in the warehouse shelf.

The Mullen value, on the other hand, determines the amount of pressure a box can take before bursting out being punctured. The higher the mullen value the stronger is the board.

Finally, you need to know the styles of corrugated cardboard boxes.

Regular Slotted Container (RSC)

This is the most common type of shipping box and can be used to ship any item. This is also the type of box packers and mover or house owners would use. In this box, all flaps are of the same length and are typically half the length of the box so they meet at the middle when closed.

Full Telescope Design (FTD)

Telescope design boxes consist of two pieces with a separate top or cover and a bottom. They fit each other to make a package. These boxes are suitable for packing fragile items and provide high stacking strength.

One Piece Folder (OPF)

Often used for books, magazines, and other printed material, the box is simply a sheet of corrugated cardboard which can be folded from four sides to make a package.

What’s the Difference Between a Cardboard Box and a Corrugated Box?

Cardboard is simply a heavy-duty paper, also known as paperboard. Cardboard boxes are not generally used for shipping items, as they don’t provide the needed structural strength. It is typically used to make consumer item packages such as cereal boxes, and other cartons. On the other hand, corrugated is made using two liner boards with a corrugated medium glued between the liners. This corrugated structure gives the packaging box its strength and structural integrity. Corrugated boxes are used in shipping, retail packaging, and pizza delivery boxes.


Cardboard box sizes are typical to the shipping and e-commerce industry only. For everyday consumers, cardboard box sizes don’t really matter much and don’t affect them financially. For most people, used cardboard boxes are the typical choice of containers to ship, move or store their belongings. There’s a lot to cardboard boxes than just its size and strength. We will cover more in our following articles.

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