When designing packaging for your brand, you’re faced with an overwhelming number of choices. For example, cardboard thickness is an important packaging component you must consider when choosing the best packaging for your brand.

Here’s a complete guide to cardboard thickness with everything you need to know:

Why Does Cardboard Thickness Matter?

  • It protects the contents
  • It helps to survive shipping
  • Minimizes shipping costs
  • Promotes the best printing

At first glance, all cardboard boxes look the same; however, cardboard thickness matters more than you think. Here’s why:

Protect Packaging Contents

For starters, cardboard thickness determines the box’s level of protection. This is particularly important for fragile and breakable items that require extra insulation.

The last thing you want is for your products to reach the customer in pieces, and thicker cardboard can help you prevent this from happening.

Survive Shipping

Cardboard thickness also contributes to the survival rate of the box during shipping. We’ve all received a box that looks like it went through the wringer with tears and punctures all over the place.

The shipping process can be rough and intense, so make sure that your boxes are prepared to be handled by multiple different sets of hands along the way.

Minimizing Shipping Costs

In theory, thicker boxes mean heavier boxes, contributing to higher shipping costs. At the same time, however, you also need to consider the money that you can save by using thicker boxes if it means that you’re dealing with fewer damaged items that need to be returned and replaced on your dime.

Promote the Best Printing

These days, it’s not enough to just use boring brown cardboard boxes. Instead, you need to brand your boxes by printing your brand logo, colors, and products on them.

However, cardboard thickness can impact your printing results, so this is something to consider if you’re looking for high-resolution printing on your branded boxes.

Different Methods of Measuring Cardboard Thickness

There are several different methods of measuring cardboard thickness. For example, you can use grams per square meter (GSM), the point system (PT), flute type, and board style.

Here’s what you need to know about each of these different methods so that you can choose the right cardboard thickness for your products:

Grams Per Square Meter (GSM)

Grams per square meter or GSM is a unit of measurement that’s used to measure the weight, length, and breadth of packaging materials like corrugated cardboard. GSM is one of the most popular and precise methods of measuring cardboard thickness.

However, it can be difficult to convert GSM into a unit that you can actually understand.

Here are some examples of different types of paper/cardboard so that you can get a better grasp on using GSM to measure cardboard thickness:

  • 35 to 55 GSM is often used for newspapers
  • 90 to 100 GSM is often used for printer paper
  • 120 to 140 GSM is often used for posters
  • 210 to 300 GSM is often used for brochures
  • 350 to 400 GSM is often used for packaging

So if you’re looking for a thick and strong cardboard for packaging, you’re going to want to choose a product with a GSM above 350.

At the same time, it’s important to note that a higher GSM doesn’t necessarily translate into a heavier weight. While GSM does take weight into account, remember that it’s just one of three factors.

The Point System (PT)

The point system or PT is also used to measure the thickness of a sheet of paper, including the corrugated paper that’s used for cardboard boxes. Each “point” in the point system represents 1/1000 of an inch. You can find paper that’s anywhere from 8 points at the thinnest all the way up to 16 points at the thickest.

Corrugated Flute Type

Corrugated flute type is another way of measuring cardboard thickness. A corrugated flute refers to the wavy sheets of paper that are sandwiched in between the cardboard liners in corrugated cardboard boxes. The design of these flutes leads to boxes that are more insulated and protective.

There are several different flute sizes to choose from, ranging from minuscule to substantial. Flute sizes aren’t named based on thickness but the order in which they were invented. Here’s a list of some of the different flute sizes available and their corresponding name:

  • A flute is 5 millimeters thick or 1/4”
  • B flute is 3 millimeters thick or 1/8” (0.125”)
  • C flute is 4 millimeters thick or 11/64”
  • D flute is 2 millimeters thick or (.085”)
  • E flute is 1.5 millimeters thick or 1/16” (.0625”)
  • F flute is 0.6 millimeters thick or 1/32”

C flute is by far the most common corrugated flute type and can be used for a wide range of different products.

Corrugated Board Style

You can use corrugated board style to determine cardboard thickness. A corrugated board style refers to the different combinations of flutes and liners in corrugated cardboard boxes.

Most corrugated cardboard boxes are single wallboards, meaning that they consist of two liners surrounding a single fluted layer. However, there are also single face boards, double wallboards, and triple wallboards.

Single face boards consist of a single piece of liner paired with one piece of fluted paper. This type of cardboard is ideal for inner packaging components as it’s not as durable and strong as the other board styles.

Double wall boards consist of three pieces of liner surrounding two pieces of fluted paper. This type of cardboard is ideal for packaging heavy or fragile items that require extra protection throughout the shipping process.

Finally, triple wall boards consist of four pieces of liner surrounding three pieces of fluted paper. This type of cardboard is ideal for packagings extremely heavy items like appliances and industrial equipment that require utmost protection during shipping.

How to Choose the Best Packaging

Consider these factors when choosing your packaging:

  1. Contents
  2. Shipping
  3. Budget
  4. Design
  5. Who you’re working with to design the packaging

Now that you have a better understanding of why cardboard thickness matters and how to measure it, how can you choose the best packaging for your products.

Step 1: Consider the Contents

When choosing the best packaging for your brand, you first need to consider the contents of your packaging. Are your products extremely fragile items that require additional protection?

Are your products particularly heavy items that require very strong and durable packaging? These are two important components to keep in mind.

Also, keep the size of your products in mind when choosing to package. You want to choose large enough boxes to comfortably fit your products but not so large that they will constantly move around.

Packaging extras like custom inserts and dividers or multiple boxes inside to create a honey comb effect this might be a good idea to help your products stay secure.

Step 2: Consider the Shipping Process

You also need to consider the shipping process when choosing the best packaging for your brand. Are you personally packing orders yourself and using a local delivery service?

If so, then you might not need packaging that’s extremely durable.

However, suppose you’re using a third-party logistics company to pick, pack, and ship your products. In that case, you must consider the number of hands on your package contributes to the likelihood of damage during shipping.

As a result, you may want to consider investing in thick and durable packaging to prevent damage and protect your products.

Step 3: Consider the Budget

Of course, budget is also an important factor when choosing to package your brand. Not only do you need to consider the cost of the packaging components themselves, but you also need to consider how much it costs to ship with these packaging items since shipping rates are determined by size and weight.

Just remember that thickness doesn’t necessarily correlate with heaviness. Also, remember that sometimes it’s worth it to spend a bit more on thicker cardboard that provides more protection to your products.

Step 4: Consider the Design

Consumers expect and respond to branded packaging with eye-catching designs that contribute to an unforgettable unboxing experience. Cardboard thickness is tied to printing quality in that printing tends to look better on high-quality paper with a higher GSM. So if you’re looking for photo-quality printing, consider choosing a paper with a high GSM.

Step 5: Work With a Packaging Expert

Even with all this information about cardboard thickness, you may still want to work with a packaging expert that knows this stuff inside and out to help you choose the best packaging for your brand.

Look for an experienced and reputable company that offers customized packaging solutions, bulk discounts, and fast turnaround times.