Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Corrugated vs. Cardboard

by Rob Kaszubowski, CPP


Corrugated or cardboard? What’s the difference, you ask? Well, to most people, these two terms mean the exact same thing.  But, in packaging engineering, they are distinctly different. (In fact, most packaging engineers or designers cringe when they hear the word cardboard used in the wrong context!)

Many people use the word "cardboard" to refer to any type of paper packaging substrate. The truth is, most of the time, they should be using "corrugated."

Corrugated material is easy to identify. It is made up of three layers of paper: an inside liner, an outside liner, and fluting which runs in between. The material gets its name from the corrugated medium which helps provide it's strength. The most typical applications of corrugated are in shipping boxes secondary or tertiary packaging, retail displays, pizza delivery boxes and even some retail packaging.

 Examples of Corrugated Boards

The term cardboard typically refers to a thick paper stock known as paperboard or folding carton material. Typical applications are cereal boxes and other smaller consumer goods packages.

Examples of Cardboard or Paperboard Packaging

So, the next time you want to impress some of your packaging engineer buddies, be sure to tell them how you were impressed with the corrugated candy bar display you saw at a store, or how you recycled the corrugated shipper box you received from Amazon.com.


  1. Yay! Rob Kaszubowski, CPP- Chainalytics
    Finally someone published the difference between corrugated and paperboard! Thanks Ron! Wish we could make this more visible! I've been fighting with this since 1963!
    Dick Tebaldi CP-P/MH

    1. Hi Richard - glad to help! I don't think much has changed since 1963, but hopefully we can get things headed in the right direction!

  2. I'm just a lowly IT guy who has been shoehorned into "Internet Marketing", but I have a slight different take on the question: http://blog.rmp.com/blog/bid/200391/Cardboard-vs-Corrugated-which-is-it

  3. Very nice post, thanks for sharing the information. Keep up the good work.

    custom packaging

  4. Glad to see this post, Thanks for sharing this information about corrugated boxes and cardboard boxes.

  5. why we use Corrugated. why not cardboard

  6. Most people don't know the difference

  7. nice, thanks for your clarification...

  8. Cardboard is the accepted term for corrugated boxes. Paperboard and cardboard are two separate things.


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