It's safe to say that moving from one house to another is not easy. All the emotional stress that comes with moving can really make you feel terrible. Packing your moving boxes is a difficult enough task without also figuring out what types of boxes you’re going to need. Packing electronics is very different from packing kitchenware, and packing a mattress is incomparable to packing pillows and blankets. Thankfully, this guide will help your move go smoothly by helping you choose the best box sizes for each part of your move.
When packing for a move, you are bound to use a lot of cardboard boxes. It is important to know the best size moving boxes for every part of your move. Even though boxes come in a variety of sizes, you need to pay special attention to which items you put into the different-sized boxes.
If you pack a bunch of small items into a large box or stuff a big object into a smaller box, your belongings might not arrive in the best condition. That is why you must consider using different size moving boxes for each of your items.
TIP: A good rule of thumb is that the bigger your box is, the lighter your items should be. Not only will it will keep all your boxes in the same weight range, but it will prevent larger boxes from breaking when you move them.
Small boxes are ideal for smaller or heavy items
Small boxes are naturally less likely to break, because they are smaller and sag less. Smaller boxes usually measure 12" x 12" x 16 (1.5 cubic feet) and hold up to 65 pounds.
Small boxes are the best for packing individual items you can count, and they are ideal for that can easily get lost or are denser than others, such as:
- CDs and DVDs
- Kitchen items
- Canned food items
- Tools (nails, screwdriver, hammers)
- Computer parts
As small boxes are very sturdy and compact, you can use them for the fragile and delicate items you own, such as:
- Fine china
- Small antiques
- Picture frames
TIP: Use small boxes for packing books. You are better off putting your books into several smaller boxes rather than one large box. Books can get heavy very quickly and will be difficult to move.
You'll need mostly medium-sized boxes
Medium-sized boxes are normally used for anything that isn't too heavy or bulky. They measure around 18" x 18" x 16" (3 cubic feet) and can also hold up to 65 pounds. Medium boxes are the most versatile, offering the best of both worlds by partially retaining a small box's resistance while also having a larger volume to fill.
The most common boxes used for moving are medium boxes, because they can hold just about anything. From several smaller items, a few mid-sized items or even just one bigger item, here are some things to consider putting in your medium boxes:
- Pots and pans
- Small appliances
- Video games
- T-shirts, hoodies, sweatpants
Large boxes are necessary for bulky items
Larger boxes work best for lightweight items that take up a lot of space. Large moving boxes will hold less weight than medium sizes boxes, because they are about 18" x 18" x 24" (4.5 cubic feet). Since these boxes hold so much, they aren't very strong, but their height allows them to carry things that medium boxes can’t.
They are very roomy, so large boxes have lots of room for cushioning. They are perfect for household items that are difficult to compress, such as:
- Area rugs
- Purses, shoes
- Large appliances
- Bed sets
- Dissassembled furniture parts (table legs, bed frames)
Carry big, lightweight items in extra large boxes
Extra large boxes are unsurprisingly humongous, measuring 24" x 18" x 24" (6 cubic feet). Since they are the largest, these boxes are the least durable but hold things that even large boxes can't fit. Be careful not to overload the box and make it too heavy to carry.
Objects that are extremely airy and have the most volume are the best things to put in this box. You can use extra large boxes for carrying large items that take up a lot of space, such as:
- Sofa cushions
- Heavy winter clothes
TIP: Just because the box is extra-large does not mean you should fill the box to the top. Making bigger boxes the heaviest will be much tougher to move, so it is important to leave some room and pack fluffier items in there.
Wardrobe moving boxes are specifically designed for clothes
Wardrobe boxes include a metal bar at top for hanging items. These moving boxes are quite tall which means that you can fit a lot of items, such as:
- Gowns and dresses
- Other oddly sized items like artificial plants and rakes
Mirror and picture moving boxes work for both
Mirror/picture boxes are great for protecting anything on your wall. The small and thin size of these moving boxes allow for extra durability.
- Hanging wall mirrors
- Large picture frames
- Artwork and paintings
Mattress moving boxes are specifically designed for mattresses
Mattress boxes come in all sorts of sizes to match the type of mattress you have -- from crib to California King. Their large size means they are the least durable of all the boxes, so they mainly just serve as a covering that protects your mattress from light damage.
We suggest that you also use a durably thick mattress bag when packing up your mattresses to move. This additional packing step will save you from:
Other tips for choosing boxes
Corrugated boxes are very strong and shock resistant because of how their cardboard is designed. Corrugated cardboard is actually multiple layers of cardboard sheets, with one wave shaped layer sandwiched between two flat layers. The two flat layers give the cardboard stiffness and durability while the compressible wavy layer resists shock.
These kinds of cardboard boxes are great for delicate items and kitchenware like plates, china and glasses, because they are:
- Extremely durable
- Very shock resistant compared to other boxes
Dish-pack boxes are meant for dishes and any delicate glasses or cups you'll have in your home. These specialty moving boxes are unique, because they are durable and protected from the inside-out.
Always use dish-pack boxes when packing delicate china, because they have:
- Individually protected cells for each dish and cup
- Separation means no chipping or breakage
- Very structurally sound from the inside-out
Custom boxes can also be specially created by companies so that you can hold really weird shaped objects. Specialty boxes can be a tad more expensive than normal ones, but they can provide superior protection. Companies have custom boxes for all sorts of shapes and sizes:
- Flat-panel televisions
- Skiis and snowboards
- Lamp posts
If you need more information about moving boxes, check out our other packing guides and tips in our moving resource section.