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Whether you're using shipping boxes to deliver products two blocks away or send a gift to a friend several states away, choosing the right shape, size, type and material is an important part of the mailing process. Staples carries a number of box styles and supplies for moving a variety of goods.

Choosing the Right Shipping Box Shapes
The shape of a shipping box should as far as possible match the items going into it to limit empty areas and prevent overstuffing that could lead to damage. Many brands offer several shapes to meet different shipping needs. Along with standard square containers, there's a choice of wardrobe, dish pack, picture and multi-depth boxes. For clothing that needs to stay wrinkle-free, wardrobe cartons are the answer. These sit vertically and have a bar at the top to accommodate clothes on hangers. If you're shipping glass or ceramic plates, bowls or cups, consider dish pack boxes that come with dividers. This saves the time and cost of individually wrapping each piece before mailing. Picture cases are convenient to transport mirrors or paintings. Use multi-depth cartons when you're unsure how much room is needed. These have perforated lines to help get the perfect fit for the item; just cut along the line for the desired depth.

Understanding the Difference Between Corrugated and Cardboard Shipping Boxes
Most boxes are corrugated fiberboard, which is three layers of compressed fiber. They have an inside layer, an outside layer and a pleated or fluted layer between the two outer sheets. Single-wall corrugated cartons are suitable for items that weigh under 65 pounds. Cardboard boxes are single-layer and only secure for shipping small, lightweight items. If you are shipping overseas, sending heavy or fragile items that need extra protection, consider heavy-duty double-wall corrugated fiberboard boxes. These are also sturdy for stacking multiple containers. Always use double-wall containers for objects that weigh 96 pounds or more.

How do you Seal Shipping Boxes?
You can seal boxes with packaging tape or self-locking tabs. The tape needs to be a minimum of 2 inches wide and extend at least 2 inches over the box's edges. Use self-locking tabs as they are or with tape for extra security. Staples carries a wide selection of shipping accessories, including sealing tape.

Are There Recycled Shipping Boxes?
Many shipping crates use between 30 and 100 percent recycled materials. Also, consider environmentally friendly material to secure your package. Biodegradable wrap is an eco-friendly product that is a good alternative to plastic bubble wrap for interior padding.

Do Shipping Boxes Come Pre-Assembled?
Most large containers come in flat single- or multi-packs with perforations and instructions on how to assemble. Cartons for small items such as jewelry or documents are usually available in pre-assembled packages.

Are Shipping Boxes Reusable?
It's advisable to use a new box when possible. Shipping cartons will wear down with each use. If you have to reuse one, make sure it's free of rips and holes and doesn't have any water damage that will weaken the material.
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