Your choice of boxes is virtually limitless. You can go with cardboard boxes, plastic boxes, or carton boxes. However, the material used to make the box isn’t the only important thing to consider; you also have to think about its size.
Carton boxes come in all sorts of sizes. They can be small enough for tissues (around 11 × 4 × 3 inches) or large enough to pack your belongings (18 × 18 × 24 inches).
Below, I’ll explain what carton boxes are, the benefits and downsides of carton boxes, and how they differ from other paper packaging materials.
What Is a Carton Box?
To put it simply, a carton box is a box made of cartons.
So, what is carton? Like cardboard, carton is a type of paperboard. However, instead of being made purely out of paper-based materials, carton contains a thin layer of plastic that gives it a rigid structure. One of the most notable things about cartons is that they can be food-grade, so they will not leave a fibrous residue on consumables.
Carton can be further divided into sub-types: folding, egg, aseptic and gable-top. The difference between the sub-types is whether or not they are safe to contain food, what sort of coating they come with, and how they are folded. You’ll also notice a significant difference in texture (for instance, egg cartons have a rougher exterior than milk cartons).
Today, carton is used in all sorts of applications, from boxing cosmetics to medicine and packaging food and drinks. Basically, if you notice that a box has a slightly slick feel to it, there’s a good chance that it’s made of carton.
Carton Box Dimensions
Like cardboard boxes, you have a pretty wide selection of carton box sizes to choose from. For the most part, your size options are nearly identical to those of cardboard boxes, which are:
- 3 × 3 × 3 inches
- 4 × 4 × 4 inches
- 5 × 5 × 5 inches
- 8 × 3 × 3 inches
- 8 × 8 × 4 inches
- 10 × 10 × 10 inches
- 13 × 10 × 5 inches
- 11 × 4 × 3 inches
- 12 × 12 × 12 inches
- 16 × 16 × 16 inches
- 18 × 18 × 24 inches
- 20 × 16 × 16 inches
- 23 × 16 × 15 inches
- 24 × 19 × 16 inches
- 24 × 24 × 24 inches
- 25 × 18 × 30 inches
- 36 × 12 × 4 inches
Of course, the exact measurements will vary between suppliers.
Pros and Cons of Carton Boxes
Like every other packaging material, carton has its share of ups and downs. Let’s review what they are.
Pros of Carton Boxes
Eco-friendliness—Much like other types of paperboard, carton is almost exclusively made of recycled paper. Also, if leave cartons out in the wild, the majority of the box will eventually biodegrade into mush.
Eye-catching—If you take a look at the dairy products at your local grocery store, you’ll find that many of the products are enclosed in a carton box. You’ll also notice how detailed their packages are. This is because carton is easy to print on, and depending on the natural color of the box, it will not dull or exaggerate colors.
Wide selection of finishes—One huge benefit of using carton boxes to package products is that you can choose all sorts of finishes. Some carton boxes are coated in a UV-resistant layer, which is great when promoting products outdoors. You can also add foil stamping to carton boxes to make them stand out among the sea of competing products.
Cons of Carton Boxes
Easy to crush—Unfortunately, because carton is a type of paperboard, you will find that it has many of the same downsides. For instance, carton is not particularly crush-resistant. Stacking too many carton boxes on top of each other may cause the bottommost box to fold in, possibly destroying the product within. Corrugated boxes, such as cardboard, are more resistant but also prone to being crushed.
Not weather-resistant—Regardless of what finish you choose, carton isn’t particularly weather-resistant. Prolonged exposure to rain will eventually cause carton to become mushy. Even the UV coating on your carton boxes will deteriorate, which can lead to your carton box’s images and texts fading over time.
Carton vs. Other Types of Paper Packaging
Now, let’s take a look at how carton compares to some of the most popular types of paper packaging.
Carton and cardboard often get mistaken for each other, even though they look completely different. Cardboard is corrugated, meaning that it has a ribbed center that reinforces the material, allowing it to carry larger, heavier items than cartons.
While individual products may be packed inside carton boxes, those carton boxes will most likely be shipped inside a large cardboard box. This is what makes cardboard such a great material for packing your belongings when moving homes.
Kraft is mainly known for its brown appearance. You will undoubtedly know what Kraft paper looks and feels like if you’ve ever held a brown lunch bag in your hand at one point. There is a clear difference between Kraft and cartons—namely, cartons can be folded to create a box, whereas Kraft is folded to create a flimsy bag.
However, there is such a thing as Kraft boxes. They can also be corrugated to give them structure and durability. Shoeboxes are sometimes made of Kraft paper, but the majority are made with standard cardboard.
Kraft boxes will not have an exterior coating to protect them from the elements. So, there is nothing you can do to coat its matte appearance.
Try imagining what cardboard would look and feel like if it didn’t have the corrugated center. That is a boxboard. It is somewhat durable, but it doesn’t take much effort to bend or fold it.
In comparison to cartons, boxboards can be more reliable for transporting bulkier objects. Its sides will retain under greater amounts of pressure, but you’ll only typically find boxboard used for sending documents and other lightweight objects.