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What Is Cardboard?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Cardboard is a broadly applied term that is usually used to identify any type of multi-layered paper product. The construction usually involves using adhesives to bind several sheets of the paper product to one another, creating material that is relatively sturdy. Cardboard can be employed to create everything from simple boxes for storage to decorative items for use around the home.

When most people think of cardboard, they think of sheets of the corrugated kind used in shipping. The design of this type involves binding two or more flat sheets to a paper filler that features a corrugated or intestined design. The end result is board that is perfectly smooth on both sides, but also has additional strength due to the inclusion of the corrugated middle section. Shipping boxes and box inserts often make use of this type of hardy cardboard.

An empty cardboard box.
An empty cardboard box.

Simpler forms are used to create boxes that are ideal for use as gift boxes. These products usually are composed of only one or two sheets of thin cardboard. As a result, these serviceable boxes are not suited for shipping goods or for long-term storage. Often, these can be folded flat in order to make it easy to store them away in between uses.

Cardboard can be made using recycled paper.
Cardboard can be made using recycled paper.

Cardboard can also be used to create decorative items for use in the home. Small boxes for use on desks and shelves are often made using a thicker combination of sheets than with gift boxes, but lacking the corrugated design of shipping boxes. Often, the decorative boxes carry intricate designs and a range of colors designed to give it an appearance of being metal or wood. Along with decorative boxes, the same approach can be used to create charger plates, decorative picture frames and even lightweight bookends.

Cardboard may be used for gift boxes.
Cardboard may be used for gift boxes.

Heavy paper can also be used to create mock pieces of furniture. Using corrugated or multi-layered cardboard, it is possible to fashion chairs, tables, beds and other furniture pieces for use in a model home. This approach is great for anyone selling a home that is empty, as it helps potential buyers have some idea of how they could use the rooms without requiring the home owner to leave behind cherished pieces or to rent furniture temporarily for use in open houses.

Cardboard cartons may be used for packaging materials for mailing.
Cardboard cartons may be used for packaging materials for mailing.

The uses of cardboard are many and varied. From packaging materials to gift wrapping needs to mock furniture, it offers a simple but useful solution for many different needs. Best of all, it can be constructed using recycled paper, making it much less of an environmental issue than many other modern materials.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including AboutMechanics, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including AboutMechanics, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments

Mykol

It amazing how heavy duty some cardboard items can be. My nephew loves to make little chairs and furniture his size out of cardboard he finds in his garage.

This is a great way for him to be creative and he has come up with some pretty cool looking furniture. They aren't heavy enough for adults to use, but they are great for someone his size.

He can paint them different colors and also uses cardboard boxes to store some of his toys in. His parents have a business they run from their home, so they have access to all kinds of cardboard boxes.

He even made a large cardboard standup of himself. They traced his body on cardboard, and made it so it would stand up by itself.

My nephew then finished the piece by drawing himself on the cardboard. It wasn't as fancy as some of the professional cardboard cutouts I have seen, but he sure had fun making it.

bagley79

One of the greatest ways of cardboard recycling I know is to let your kids play with the big cardboard boxes you have left over.

It seems like even today with all of our technological gadgets, kids love to play with big cardboard boxes.

If you have more than one of them, they can tape them together and make them into connecting rooms.

For Christmas my grandson received a large piece of cardboard that already had images stamped on it that resembled a house.

This came with a door, windows, and places on the cardboard where he could color to make this his home.

It really wasn't any different than the boxes we played with as kids, except it was white and maybe a little bit easier to put together.

sunshined

I used to store items I didn't use very often in cardboard boxes in the basement. While I realize how much better cardboard is for the environment than plastic, I got frustrated when I had to throw things away that got ruined.

Now when I am storing something in my basement, I will use plastic tubs instead of cardboard. The biggest reason for this is because our basement can get damp and wet.

There have been times when I would pick up a cardboard box and the bottom would fall out because it was too damp. When this happened, I would usually have to throw away everything that was in the box.

I know it is much easier to recycle cardboard, but sometimes it is more important to me that my belongings don't get ruined.

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    • An empty cardboard box.
      By: Kayros Studio
      An empty cardboard box.
    • Cardboard can be made using recycled paper.
      By: Giuseppe Porzani
      Cardboard can be made using recycled paper.
    • Cardboard may be used for gift boxes.
      By: Steve Cukrov
      Cardboard may be used for gift boxes.
    • Cardboard cartons may be used for packaging materials for mailing.
      By: ctvvelve
      Cardboard cartons may be used for packaging materials for mailing.