For hundreds of years the shipping industry has utilized wood crates to safely transport goods. Other types of shipping methods have come out in more recent years, though, including the cardboard box. Carboard has proven to be a cheaper material for shipping goods, and since businesses who ship frequently are always looking for ways to save money, this may sound like an attractive alternative to the traditional wood crate. But is cardboard better than wood when it comes to shipping containers? Find out the pros and cons of each to discover which shipping method is best for protecting your shipments.

Cardboard Boxes: Advantages

Carboard boxes, otherwise known as corrugated boxes, are made from corrugated kraft paper or fiberboard. This shipping material has become widely used to transport goods, especially for those smaller in size. The main advantages of shipping in cardboard containers include:

  • Cost – The cost of cardboard is low compared to wood and other packaging materials. This is one of the main reasons why businesses will choose to ship goods in cardboard.
  • Easy accessibility – Cardboard boxes are easy to open. All the recipient needs to do is cut or pull off the tape that seals it shut.
  • Lightweight – Cardboard does not weigh much, which means it contributes little to the shipping weight. It is useful for shipping goods that are also lightweight.
  • Handling – Cardboard boxes are easy to handle during transport. This is due to their light weight and standard shapes and sizes.
  • Environmentally friendly – Less wood goes into making cardboard, which means you can make more cardboard boxes with one tree than you could wood crates. Cardboard boxes can be recycled and decompose faster than wood as well.
  • Printability – It is easy to print a logo or design onto cardboard to customize a box with your business’s name or logo.

Cardboard Boxes: Disadvantages

While there are a number of advantages to using cardboard for shipping, there are also a lot of disadvantages. Some of the biggest cons of cardboard containers are:

  • Not weatherproof – Because cardboard is essentially paper, it can not hold up to most weather conditions. When exposed to wet elements, it will absorb water and lose its integrity. While you can purchase cardboard that is treated to withstand moisture, this option is much more expensive.
  • Can not support heavy loads – A cardboard box will quickly distort and weaken when under the stress of a heavy load. It will only be able to support lightweight shipments; otherwise, you risk the container giving out and losing its ability to protect the shipment.
  • One-time use – Carboard boxes are not suitable for reuse. After more than one use, they start to wear out and may tear, compromising their integrity and usefulness.
  • Little protection – Cardboard is thin, which means it offers little in the way of cushioning to protect the goods it holds. Fragile shipments in cardboard containers can easily become damaged from rough handling during transportation.

Wood Crates: Advantages

A wood crate is a box built out of wood with the purpose of protecting a shipment from potentially damaging conditions during transportation. Wood has been the primary shipping material for hundreds of years, and for good reason. Here are a few of the biggest advantages to shipping your goods in wood crates:

  • High level of protection – Wood is a very strong material, which means it can withstand rough handling without compromising its integrity. Your shipment will remain safe and secure despite any less-than-ideal transportation circumstances. Wood can even keep out moisture to keep shipments safe from poor weather conditions.
  • Customizable – A wood crate can be built to meet the specific dimensions of any shipment, no matter how big or small. This customization means there won’t be too much extra space for your goods to move around and become damaged during transportation.
  • Easy to repair – If a wood crate somehow gets damaged, it doesn’t become useless. Unlike cardboard, it can be repaired and made good as new.
  • Reusable and recyclable – Because wood maintains its strength and integrity for a long time, wood crates can be reused time and time again. Once you are done with them, wood shipping containers can be broken down, and the wood can be reused for other projects or shredded into mulch.
  • Can support heavy loads – Wood’s strength and durability allow it to keep its shape even under the stress of a very heavy load. This makes wood crates ideal for shipping heavy pieces of equipment.
  • Cost-effective – While the price of wood is higher than that of cardboard, the reusability of wood crates means you will not have to buy them as often, which will save you money on shipping containers over the years.
  • Stackable – Because wood crates can withstand a lot of weight, they can be stacked on top of one another, saving you storage space.

Wood Crates: Disadvantages

There are only a few disadvantages to using wood crates to ship your goods. These disadvantages are:

  • Require lifting equipment – Wood crates can be heavy, so they often need lifting equipment such as jacks, forklifts, and sometimes cranes to move them.
  • Need tools to open – Because wood crates are sealed with nails, screws, or glue, they are not as easy to open as a taped-up cardboard box. Tools such as prybars and/or hammers are typically required to open a wood crate.
  • Need treatment – To comply with shipping requirements, wood shipping containers must be heat treated to remove moisture and prevent the spread of any pathogens.

Conclusion: Wood Is Better Than Cardboard

As you can see, there are more advantages and fewer disadvantages of using wood crates compared to cardboard boxes. If you want to ensure your shipment will get to its destination safely and undamaged, then you should ship it in a wood crate. A wood crate can protect your goods from rough handling and will withstand poor weather conditions. Though the initial cost per wood crate is higher than that of a cardboard box, this cost is worth it to keep your shipment protected during transport and storage.

Safely Ship Your Goods with Custom Crating

Rowe Transfer has a crating facility that can create any size shipping container you need. Our custom crating solutions are made to keep your shipments safe during transport, even if your goods are large, multi-shaped, or difficult to handle. You can rest easy knowing that the vapor barriers and other protective services we utilize will provide additional protection for your shipment. If you need to prepare a shipment for transport, reach out to Rowe Transfer for a quick and accurate custom crating and shipping estimate. Give us a call at 865-523-0421 or contact us online to get started.

If you need help moving or storing your equipment after it’s been packaged, we can help with that, too. Find out more about Rowe Transfer’s The Extra Mile and how we can provide you with every step of moving your heavy machinery or goods, from rigging to crating to warehousing to transportation.