How to Specify Custom Corrugated Boxes

Your 4-step help guide to custom cardboard box formats, print processes, materials and closures.

Progress Packaging Corrugate Boxes Production Manufacture Help Guide Header

Step 1:
Choose a box type / format


When designing your custom cardboard box you’ll need to start by deciding on the format, based on what the box is going to package and how it will be used.

Corrugated e-commerce boxes usually work well with a hinged lid and tear-strip opening, whereas transit packing cases require an open flap top and internal compartments to enable them to be quickly filled and then sealed closed. However the box is going to be used, the demands that will be put upon its performance need to be carefully considered.

Getting started

Before looking more closely at the design details, you’ll need to make measurements to define the size of box you need and also asses the importance of its eco-friendly credentials, as this will relate to the specific grade of corrugated material that you choose for manufacturing.

Box type / format

A good reference point for looking at different cardboard box formats is the FEFCO catalogue (The European Federation of Corrugated Board Manufacturers). This catalogue includes thousands of styles of retail and e-commerce packaging, and packing cases – all of which are individually identified by a 4 digit code. These styles can be adapted to suit the size of most products and their codes are a universal point of reference regarding specification. In terms of inserts to secure the products inside your box, if required, they are best customised to suit the exact shape and size of the contents.

Minoli Sample Boxes Hinged Lid Corrugate Carboard Box

Hinged-lid, fully recyclable custom cardboard box.

Corrugate Box With Internal Fitment Tray Cardboard Box

Custom corrugate insert to secure products inside a box.

Progress Packaging Tom Dixon Environmentally Friendly Luxury Bespoke Retail Pcw Recyclable Corrugate Mailing Boxes Range Sticker E Commerce Tear Strip 01 1 Cardboard

Custom open-flap box with sticker closure.

Skincare Packaging Corrugated Recyclable Carton Box Sustainable Commerce Custom Printed Branded The Inkey List Progress Cardboard

Bespoke collapsible corrugate cardboard box.

Step 2:
Select a print process


When producing custom corrugated cardboard boxes, one of the most challenging aspects can be deciding on the best printing process to use.

Selecting the print process largely depends upon your visual branding – whether linear, photographic, full colour or single colour in style. If you’re looking for a more cost-effective custom corrugated box it’s best to print directly onto the flute board. If you’d prefer a more premium finish, better results are achieved by printing onto a paper to cover the surface of flute board.

It’s also possible to use a mix of different printing methods on your corrugated packaging project. For instance, the inside of your box can be litho printed with a full colour design, adding a ‘wow’ factor upon opening, with the outside flexo printed with a more simplified design for graphic impact.

Progress have over 25 years experience producing corrugate packaging of all types, and are perfectly placed to help you navigate this complex but very important aspect of production. Here we share five of the most common printing methods suitable for custom cardboard packaging.

Progress Packaging Stubble And Co Ecommerce Corrugate Mailing Eco Friendly Fsc Certified Fully Recyclable 08

Flexo printed custom shipping box, flood printed black to the inner.

Progress Packaging Ecommerce Mailer Box Custom Mailing Bespoke Branded Corrugate Printed Board Kraft Flexo Carton High Quality Printed 1

Custom cardboard packaging, litho printed with mono photograph.

Progress Packaging Side Story Perfume Parfum Fragrance Oil Packaging Ecommerce Packaging Luxury Bespoke Creative Packaging Tear Strip 3

Litho printed e-commerce box with full colour illustration laminated to the outside.

Perfume Fragrance Retail Ecommerce Discovery Set Packaging Box Mailing Shipping Transit Eco Conscious Recyclable Responsible Production Manufacture Progress 02

E-commerce box foil blocked onto bespoke textured paper and laminated to corrugate board.

Step 3:
Specify a material


Custom cardboard boxes are produced using a material called flute board, also known as corrugated board.

The material is made with three layers of card which are glued together. The middle layer is ‘fluted’ which looks like wavy lines if viewed in profile, and has flat layers bonded to it above and beneath. This gives the composite board a more rigid and robust character making it a perfect substrate for producing packaging that needs to be protective as well as light-weight – such as mailing boxes, shipping boxes, transit boxes, subscription boxes and packing cases. If you are unsure which grade of fluted corrugate would be best for your packaging we are happy to help by advising on the grade to suit your products based on the weight of the contents and the type of finish you are aiming to achieve on your box.

When specifying corrugated cardboard there are two key elements to consider – which type of flute board, and the best grade of lining paper to use.

Corrugate flute boards

Typically there are four grades of corrugated cardboard that we use in packaging production. Each are sustainable and made from fully recycled material – all have slightly different properties and characteristics.

Lining Papers

Lining paper, or simply the liner, is a layer of paper applied to the corrugate flute board to give a more defined surface finish. These papers are for printing and applying visual branding onto a box. Lining papers can also be used unprinted to add a more refined finish to the reverse side of the corrugate board. This is for instances such as lining the inside of an e-commerce box in white Kraft paper, making this more visually pleasing than the standard brown of the corrugate reverse. Whichever lining paper you choose, we ensure that it is sustainably sourced, meaning your custom cardboard boxes are eco-friendly and even FSC® accredited should you require.

Progress Packaging Stubble And Co Ecommerce Corrugate Mailing Eco Friendly Fsc Certified Fully Recyclable 01

E-commerce transit box laminated with Kraft paper onto B-flute corrugate.

Progress Packaging Womanhood E Commerce Mailing Boxes Sustainable Eco Friendly Mindfully Responsibly Sourced Bespoke Branded Die Cut Hinged Lid E Flute Corrugate 10

E-commerce mailing box, laminated with white Kraft paper onto e-flute corrugate.

Progress Packaging Comis Beauty E Commerce Corrugate Mailing Boxes Eco Friendly Responisbly Sourced Color Flute 01

Micro-flute corrugate laminated with bespoke paper to both side.

Sustainable E Commerce Eco Friendly Packaging Interior Design Branding Collections Homeware Branded Wallets Swing Tickets Bespoke Custom Boxes Production Manufacture Progress 5

White B-flute corrugate hinged-lid box, lined on the inside with test paper.

Step 4:
Add a closure method


For custom corrugated packaging boxes such as e-commerce, shipping or mailer boxes, choosing the best closure to suit the use of your pack is an important decision – especially considering it will often be the method also used for opening the box.

Tuck-in tabs are a good option where its important to re-seal the cardboard box after its initial opening. If you’re hoping to create more of a ‘wow’ factor, a crocodile tear-strip, or peel and seal closure as they are also referred to, can add theatre to the opening of a box. Here we highlight four of the most popular closures we use in production of custom cardboard boxes.

Peal And Seal Tear Strip Bespoke Ecommerce Custom Luxury Retail Drinks Creative Manufacture Production Progress Custom Cardboard Box 02

Peel and seal closure with crocodile tear-strip opening mechanism.

Progress Tuck In Tab Closure 2

Tuck-in tab closure for retail packaging.


Eco-friendly Kraft packaging tape printed single colour.

Progress Packaging Tom Dixon Environmentally Friendly Luxury Bespoke Retail Pcw Recyclable Corrugate Mailing Boxes Range Sticker E Commerce Tear Strip 02 cardboard

Foil blocked sticker closure with crocodile tear strip opening mechanism.

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