If you choose to do your own packing, try to use moving cartons as opposed to "behind the grocery store boxes." The reason is that not only are the moving cartons going to be sturdier and of the right sizes but they will be of a roughly uniform size (18" deep). Movers load the truck by stacking furniture and cartons in tiers or rows that stretch from wall-to-wall and floor-to-top. These rows are like brick walls in that they work much better when all the bricks are the same size/depth. Moving cartons are generally sturdy enough to use wall-to-wall as a base of a tier to stack lighter items of the same size on.
***Always mark your cartons on their sides, not just the tops. Look at the stacks of cartons in these pictures and then visualize trying to figure out what is in the ones on the bottom. This can save you a lot of work. If you are using used moving cartons, be sure to cross out the old markings so there is no confusion for you or your movers.
If new cartons are too expensive, check your area for used carton sellers. The cartons are generally in good condition and may sell for half the price of new ones. An even cheaper way to get perfectly good moving boxes is to drive around your neighborhood and look for moving vans delivering furniture. Ask your new (soon-to-be-ex) neighbors what they plan to do with their used boxes and offer to haul them off. Bear in mind that movers call this a debris haul and charge for it.
If this all seems like it's a bit much, try and consider the fact that a sturdy, well-packed carton is the best insurance for handling your stuff.
Use the Right Size Carton
There are eight basic sizes o f moving cartons that are all designed for certain types of goods and a certain weight. Common sense tells you that the heavier the item the smaller the carton should be to make moving that weight more manageable.
• 1.5 Cube Small Carton 16.75" x 12.5" x 12.5"
The smallest carton is best for the heaviest items: books, tools, canned goods, etc. A 1.5 cube carton packed with books averages 40-50 lbs. Loading some of these boxes with lighter items will also provide you with a good size item to 'fill' in spots in your load nearer the top of the truck
• 3.0 Cube Medium Carton 18" x 18" x 16"
Anything too large for the book carton-notebooks, manuals or larger books as well as heavier pots and pans is a good fit for this size box.
• 4.5 Cube Med/Large Carton 18" x 18" x 24"
The 4.5 and 3.0 cube cartons are the general purpose workhorse cartons.
• Dish pack Carton 18" x 18" x 28"
The dish pack is a double-walled (double-thick) 5.0 cu.ft carton that is your best bet for packing anything fragile. These boxes are immortal- they never die. Movers stack furniture on them, walk on them and pack tools and equipment with sharp, pointy edges in them and they can still be re-used. This is the box with the most bang for your buck.
• 6.0 Cube Large Carton 22" x 22" x 21.5"
This is a lampshade carton. Pull the metal harps from your shades and stack them on top of each other, layering packing paper in between them to get mult ple shades in one box. It can also hold bulky comforters or large children's toys. It is notdesigned to hold heavier items. Many civilians buy 6.0 cubes because they are big and cheap but don't take into consideration their limitations. A 6.0 cube is equivalent to four 1.5 cartons or two 3.0 cubes. A 6.0 cube filled with books (yes I have seen it done and yes I have moved them and yes I have also refused to move them- especially upstairs) can easily weigh 200 lbs. Even if you think you or your crew can handle it-the box probably can't and will likely break at the bottom.
• 24" Wardrobe Carton 24" x 19.75" x 45"
The garment box or wardrobe carton is also double-walled and is the safest way to pack and haul your hanging clothes. Cartons average $10-$15.00 but compare that to the cost of re-pressing or dry cleaning the clothes in 24" of rod space in your closet. Longer items like coats and dresses will generally hang to the bottom of the box, while shorter ones will leave room in the bottom for shoes, purses and hats. The wardrobe carton also serves as a 24" deep tier base in the truck to load wider chairs and end tables on top of for a perfect fit.
• Lamp Base Carton 14" x 14" x 40"
Larger lamps and taller decorative pieces like sculpture are good uses for the lamp carton box. Fireplace tools, loose golf clubs, canes and garage items like hand saws and hedge trimmers are also handy to stow away in the lamp carton.
•Small 2-Piece Mirror Carton 37 5/16" x 4 3/8" x 25 5/8" Extends to 37 5/16" x 4 3/8" x 54"
•Large 2-Piece Mirror Carton 48" x 4.5" x 33" Extends to 48" x 4.5" x 68"
The mirror pack is the safest way to handle pictures and smaller glass or stone table tops. Using crumpled packing paper on the bottom, top and sides-just like with the dish pack-cushions the glass from shock.