12 Different Types of Boxes (with Photos)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

Boxes are one of the most common storage items that money can buy. We use them to ship goods, keep things stacked, and also organize things. If you’re up for a move soon, then you are probably thinking of buying up a bunch of boxes. This isn’t always so simple. To get the best possible results, it’s best to know what each type of box can offer you in terms of both space and usability.

There are several different ways to determine different types of boxes, including via material and design. For the sake of this article, we will focus on these types of boxes below:

  • Folding Cartons
  • Telescoping Boxes
  • Plastic Bins
  • Television Boxes
  • Glassware Boxes
  • Insulated Boxes
  • Wooden Crates
  • Shoulder Boxes
  • Rigid Boxes
  • Mattress Boxes
  • Lamp Boxes
  • Cloth Bins

Packing is going to be a large portion of the struggles that you face. Knowing which boxes to use can decrease the hassle you feel. This guide is going to help you out.

The Different Types Of Boxes By Build

The first thing that you will notice about boxes is that they are often built differently, especially when it comes to the materials or the structure. Let’s take a look at the different types by build to start off…

Folding Cartons

Folding cartons are exactly what they sound like: boxes (usually cardboard) that are meant to collapse and fold up when they’re not in use. These are boxes that you might have already seen in most retail stores as packaging. They’re often used for light carrying, but can still be fairly useful.

What makes these boxes so good is that they are everywhere and you can usually use some old boxes from your shopping sprees to move. However, they’re not very sturdy in most cases. Even so, they tend to be the basic moving tool and can also be used to ship almost anything with the right service.

Folding cartons and cardboard boxes are generally expected to be the same, though there are some rare types that are not made of the classic brown corrugated cardboard you usually see in warehouses. You can get them in small, medium, or large, depending on what you are moving.

Telescoping Boxes

If you’ve ever seen a telescope in action, then you already know what a telescoping box is. This is a box that expands the more it’s filled. Often made of fabric or of plastic, telescoping boxes are good for people who are worried about conserving space but don’t quite know how much space they will need.

As far as telescoping boxes go, they’re fairly sturdy but shouldn’t be used for fragile items. Since they’re adjustable for length, they are typically used for items like skis, or actual telescopes. You can usually pick them up at any most moving supply stores near you. They’re kinda pricey.

Rigid Boxes

Rigid boxes are popular for both retail and storage purposes. These are cardboard boxes that are meant to hold their shape, even when they have above-average loads. A good example of a typical rigid box is a shoebox, but it can be made in a wider range of sizes and shapes. Sometimes, they even get decorative.

Rigid boxes can be reused from past purchases, or they can be bought up on Amazon. Most shipping supply stores also have them in bulk quantities. If you want to transport silverware, straws, or a modem, a shoulder box will be rigid and secure enough to make it happen. With that said, the term “rigid boxes” is more of a packaging term than anything else.

Plastic Bins

Most of us have seen plastic bins in major retail stores, office supply stores, and other places where they have “storage solutions” up for grabs. These are exactly what they sound like: large boxes made out of solid plastic, most often made with a see-through look. They’re made to be stackable, occasionally come with little shelving units so that you can have a full chest of drawers.

Plastic bins are traditionally used for office supplies, and occasionally crafting supplies. However, they can be used for virtually anything that involves a move. They are made in almost every shape and size, so bigger items that can’t be jostled around too much can usually go in these.

Insulated Foam Containers

Have you ever gone to a 7-11 for a container for that six-pack you bought? If so, you might’ve seen some boxes with foam liners in them. These boxes are insulated foam containers, and they can be made purely out of foam, or with a plastic shell around the foam. Sometimes (though rare!) you might also see cardboard with a foam interior.

These are meant to carry items that are temperature-sensitive, such as beer or ice cream. They are rarely used in moving, but sometimes, they can be used for moving necessities like medication or energy drinks.

Wooden Crates

Now, we’re getting old school! Wooden crates are typically used when you need to cart something that absolutely, positively shouldn’t get squished. In moving produce, this usually means that you will need them for things like oranges or lemons. When it comes to matters of moving home, this means that you will need them for things like sculptures, objects of art, or special antique furnishings.

Wooden crates are often made with padding on the inside or have items that have been wrapped up in packing material. They’re pricey, but they can handle a fair amount of weight and are considered to be the most secure way to handle transportations.

Shoulder Boxes

If you’ve bought a subscription box, you probably have seen these boxes. Shoulder boxes are those boxes that have the top fold in to close the box. The “shoulders” tuck into the sides of the box to add more security. Though these can be made in sizes from large to small, most people see them in the smaller sizes rather than the larger ones.

These are great for shipping items overseas or for long-distance mailing. However, they also are occasionally used for tossing knickknacks that need to be hauled from house to house. If you do beading and don’t have a bead kit holder, this can usually work in a pinch since the shoulders add more stability,

The Different Types Of Boxes By Usage

Now that we’ve gone over the different structures that you can find in a series of boxes, it’s good to talk about boxes that are made with a specific use in mind. So, let’s take a closer look at purpose-specific boxes you might want to get.

Television Boxes

Also known as flat-panel TV boxes, television boxes are meant to make moving a flatscreen TV a little easier. They are long, flat, and give the TV a nice tight fit. Some even come with padding on the inside, though that’s a bit rare. The big difference between most flat-panel TV boxes and other boxes is that they tend to have printed carrying instructions, hopefully dropping the chance of getting a television dropped.

Some also come with reinforcements on the bottom. If yours doesn’t, you can always add extra tape.

Dishware Boxes/Drinkware Boxes

We all know that glasses and plates are fragile, which is why most moving supply companies have dishware or drinkware box kits. These kits come with small dividers that help keep the glassware in place. By reducing their chances of bumping into one another, the boxes help ensure they get from place to place with ease.

Though drinkware boxes are fairly sturdy, you still need to make sure each drinkware (or plate item) is wrapped individually before they’re placed in the box. If your box doesn’t come with dividers, add extra packing peanuts to the box.

Lamp Boxes

Tall and about the same size as a lamp without a lampshade, lamp boxes are cardboard boxes that were initially designed with lighting fixtures. Lamp boxes are fairly nondescript, though some come with a “THIS SIDE UP” notice printed on them. If you have a lamp box kit, you might also get some smaller cardboard bits to help the lamp stay in place.

While lamps are the number one item that these are used in, the truth is that lamp boxes work with a wide variety of items. You can also use them for food processors, tripods, and certain types of mechanical stuff.

Bankers Boxes

Do you have a lot of paperwork that you need to bring along for the ride? A banker’s box is a good choice here. These are metal or cardboard boxes that are the same size as a stack of papers. In many cases, they are almost identical to the size of a stack of banking statements, though some also can have cash slots in them, too. The main purpose here? Transporting papers, and tons of them.

Almost every family should have a banker’s box as a part of their home. It’s the easiest place to put important documents like tax filings or health insurance records.

Cloth Bins

Cloth bins aren’t really meant for moving things from home to home, but that doesn’t stop people from using them. These boxes are foldable cardboard (or wooden) boxes that are covered in a light layer of cloth. While they are often used for helping haul things from place to place, these are actually more common for long-term storage in homes that are already set up.

Cloth bins are pretty flimsy, and shouldn’t be used for long-haul rides. They bend too much to be useful. However, they’re still pretty and they’re great for storing clothes like socks or to be used as a bin for toys that kids have. These bins can come with or without lids.

Mattress Boxes

Ah, mattresses. One of the most aggravating things to move into a home is the mattress. Because mattresses are hotspots for bed bugs and grime, many homeowners choose to place them in a box for easier transport. Mattress boxes are large cardboard boxes that are meant to make transport easier and cleaner.

Most mattress boxes are simple cardboard boxes of a standard specified size—full, queen, or king. Some come with grip handles, too. However, if you are in the business of moving the mattress safely, the best thing you can do is add a mattress cover to the mattress before you place it in a box.

Related Questions

How do you pack a lampshade?

Lampshades should never be packed with the lamp itself. To move these properly, remove the lampshade from the actual lamp. Then, wrap the lampshade in packing paper and packing cloth. Place the lampshade in a single, medium-sized folding box. To add extra cushioning to the lampshade, you can add packing peanuts inside the box.Boxes that contain lampshades should not be placed on the bottom of the shipping box. For easy access, close then label said box.

How can you save money on packing supplies?

Along with using your dresser drawers and suitcases, there is a lot of other ways to save on packing supplies. You can ask companies nearby if they have any boxes that you can use for the move. If they don’t (or it just skeeves you out), use old shoeboxes and recycle your old shopping bags. Use your clothes as wraps to pack items that are delicate.Moreover, the importance of shopping around for moving supplies cannot be underestimated. You would be floored at how much of a difference the cost between a moving store and an office supply store will charge.

What should you get rid of before you move?

There are a lot of things you should clear out. The worst offenders are clothes that no longer fit, paint containers, broken appliances, as well as books that you no longer read. With that said, you should take a look at anything that you don’t regularly use and ask yourself if you want to keep it. In most cases, it’s a matter of waste not, want not. Donating anything you want to drop is a good idea!

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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