How To Buy The Best Moving Boxes

It’s official. You’ll be relocating in a few weeks. Where do you start? Do you rush out to the grocery store, liquor outlet, or peruse Craigslist to gather free secondhand boxes and start packing? Many people do. But that’s not the best way to protect your treasures and household goods. As the saying goes “you get what you pay for.”

These already-used containers come in a variety of sizes and shapes making stacking difficult. They may have gotten wet and weakened increasing the chances your fragile belongings might break during the moving process.

Here are a few more reasons to buy new corrugated packing boxes for your move:

  • They pack and seal easier
  • They are stronger and sturdier
  • They come in a variety of types like wardrobe, mirror, and dish pack; in addition to small, medium, large, and extra large sizes
  • Movers work more efficiently with uniform boxes
  • They can be stored, as is
  • Corrugated boxes are much more durable than regular cardboard ones

What Boxes Should I Buy?
As a first step ask your moving company what they have to offer, the price, and if they take back what you don’t use. They can also give you a good estimate of how many of the different sized boxes you’ll need. For a do-it-yourself relocation, purchase containers from a reputable retailer.

Home Depot not only has decent prices, but consumers have given them mostly four and five star reviews. When shopping for boxes, make sure the gross weight limit is in the description. That’s how many pounds the box can safely handle when full. For example, a medium container that measures 18” x 18” x 16” should have a gross weight limit of no more than 65 pounds.

Customer reviewers also like the boxes at U-Haul. Besides meeting the recommended weight limit, they have handles on them. As a bonus, U-Haul promises to buy back whatever you don’t use.

To get an estimate of the number of boxes you need, Home Depot offers a box estimator. It’s always better to have too many containers than not enough so buy more than you think you’ll need. U-Haul has also created a packing planner guide for your convenience. When shopping for boxes, you also need to think about items that don’t fit into square boxes.

What are the Different Types of Cartons?
We mentioned wardrobe, mirror boxes, and dish packs previously. Let’s talk more about those, and other specific kinds of packing boxes and what you should include in each. Wardrobe containers are large upright boxes with hanger bars to accommodate hanging clothes, which remain suspended during the move. Mirror cartons work best for pictures, mirrors, artwork and glass table tops.

In a dish pack box look for extra-strength provided by double-wall construction. This helps keep everyday dishes, china, and crystal from shattering. For an additional charge and even more protection, you can usually purchase dividers and foam pouches that fit into a dish pack.

A small-size box serves as your basic workhorse. Heavy items go in these, like books, canned goods, silverware, photographs, frames and tools. In medium cartons, place small appliances, pots and pans, electronic devices, shoes, games, toys, pillows and towels. In large boxes include area rugs, winter coats and stuffed animals. Save the extra-large boxes for bulky items like comforters and large pillows.

For Smaller Moves, Should I Buy a Kit?
If you fit into the “average” niche, you might do best with a bundle of boxes suited for a specific room or life style. You can buy apartment kits and student move kits from U-Haul. Each includes 10 small boxes, 10 medium boxes, one cushion of bubble wrap, tape, a tape gun dispenser, and box markers with a knife.

Home Depot sells kits for every room in the home including the garage. If the contents of these bundles give you what you need, then purchase them.

Now that you’ve stocked up on boxes, it’s time to start packing.

Got Any Packing Tips?
First, gather all the supplies you’ll need and keep them in one handy location. If you start packing and then have to run to the store for tape or bubble wrap, you may get distracted and not get back to the packing for some time.

What you’ll need:

  • Brown packing tape, at least 500 yards of two-inch-wide tape – please don’t use duct tape or masking tape as these don’t adhere well to cardboard
  • Two tape guns, if you can talk someone in to helping you
  • White newsprint wrapping paper (packing paper) – the ink in regular newspaper bleeds and can ruin your belongings
  • Bubble wrap
  • Thick permanent markers
  • Smart Move Tape comes already color-coded and with the names of the different rooms on it, which makes identifying boxes much easier

Begin filling your boxes with items you won’t be using before your move. Some suggestions include photos, books, out-of-season clothing, linens, fine china and board games.

Here are some packing suggestions gleaned from expert movers:

  • Place heavier items in the bottoms of the boxes and lighter pieces on top
  • Don’t fill large boxes with only heavy things
  • Fill spaces in the cartons with clothing, towels or packing paper
  • Pack fragile items over a padded surface
  • Cushion breakables with blankets, towels or packing paper
  • Always pack dishes upright on their edge, not flat
  • Place bowls inside one another with packing paper in between
  • Pack clothing in suitcases
  • Never mix things from different rooms in the same box
  • Number each box and keep an inventory of the contents; this way you’ll know if any of the boxes are lost in transit
  • Tape the boxes when finished, never interlock them
  • Keep important documents like health records, passports, insurance information and moving documents in a separate container that you can grab and go

You’re now well on your way to your new home with all your belongings in the same condition as they were at your previous residence.

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