What’s the Difference Between a Mailer and a Shipping Box?

A stack of corrugated cardboard in a factory

There are many ways to ship things, but you need the right shipping container for the right item. When it comes to corrugated, there are two most common types of shipping products: corrugated mailers and corrugated shipping boxes. We’re going to look at each and see what they can do, what they’re best used for, and what use cases they have.

Corrugated Boxes

Corrugated boxes are the easiest to picture because many cardboard boxes are a corrugated box. Corrugation refers to the way the product is made. A corrugated box has a solid sheet  sheet of paper liner on the top, then a wavy section in the middle (the waves are known as flutes/medium), and then another solid sheet of paper on the bottom. The  paper and corrugated fluted structure make the corrugated box very sturdy.

Corrugated boxes can be stacked and can be a cost-effective way to use in a wide variety of applications.

Some corrugated boxes will not have just a single wall, but layers of corrugated material. These types of corrugated corrugated boxes will have a double wall or even triple wall to increase stacking strength.

Corrugated Mailers

On the other hand, corrugated mailers are boxes that are intended not for shipping heavy items in the back of a truck, but for mailing lighter items through the mail or UPS, FedEx, or something similar. A corrugated mailer has the corrugated structure–the  paper surrounding the flutes in the center–but the box is a die-cut pattern that is meant to be assembled differently from a standard box with flaps. A corrugated mailer will have specific slots into which tabs fit, holding it together.

Uses of Corrugated Packaging Solutions

Corrugated boxes are used in an enormous variety of ways. Corrugated boxes can be made large or small, rectangular or cuboid, and some uses of corrugated boxes are to deliver anything from appliances to consumer goods to commercial supplies, to even some boxes on the shelves at supermarkets.

Corrugated mailers are intended to deliver smaller products that require a stronger box than a simple paper mailer. Corrugated mailers are very often used to deliver all types of products.

Both corrugated boxes and corrugated mailers have an appropriate place as common types of shipping materials.

What Are the Different Types of Corrugated Boxes?

While corrugated boxes are made in a lot of shapes and sizes, there are two primary types of corrugated boxes: Regular Slotted Cartons (RSC) and Full Overlap Boxes (FOL).

RSC boxes are the most common style of box where the flaps fold in the middle requiring tape to seal them.

FOL boxes have flaps that cover each other completely: the flap covers the entire top and bottom of the box requiring tape also and creates a stronger box.

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