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Commercial Shipping Crates

What is a Freight Box?

June 17, 2019
Randy Hauck
Voiced by Amazon Polly

Sometimes referred to as a shipping crate, freight boxes are typically used for Less Than Truckload (LTL) freight. They are frequently used because they offer a flat rate pricing model and can also save time when packing. But what exactly is a freight box?

A freight box is an enclosed shipping container used to transport products. Typically made of durable cardboard, plastic, or wood, freight boxes provide more protection for transported goods than standard shipping units. They also come in a range of sizes to accommodate different sized loads. When deciding what freight box to use, there are some important details to consider.  

Some of these considerations include the material, size, and cost of your freight box. In this article, we’ll explore each topic in detail to help you make an informed decision.

Types of Freight Boxes

If you’re looking at potentially using a freight box or shipping crate to transport products, you’ll have many available choices. Before looking at what size crate will be best, you need to consider the material and how the crate is constructed.

Cardboard Shipping Containers

Cardboard crates or containers offer the least in terms of protection for your products. These boxes come in single, double, or triple wall corrugated cardboard. The triple corrugated board offers the most protection of the three. These containers can offer some flexibility in the form of easy load or removable front panels. Some varieties also come with integrated pallets.

While cardboard containers might be the cheapest container to purchase, you may end up paying more in other areas:

  • Shipping insurance. This could cost more if the insurance company you go through considers the container. The less protected your freight is, the higher the chance it can be damaged. Insurance companies can require to pay more to cover your item due to this increased risk of damage.
  • Higher freight charges. Carriers will have less options for storing your products since heavier freight can’t be easily stacked on cardboard. Even if your box is stacked on top of other freight, it’s at a higher risk for damage compared to other materials.
  • Need to purchase more boxes. The life of a cardboard container is also short. As it’s exposed to various elements (mainly moisture) through travel, the box will gradually break down and no longer be usable. More boxes will need to be purchased which can end up negating the initial low, upfront cost.

Plastic Shipping Crates

A more durable option than cardboard, plastic containers provide a mid-tier level of protection. Just like cardboard crates, plastic containers come in many varieties as well. Different types of plastic, thickness, and stowability provide options to choose from.

Many plastic shipping crates are constructed with an integrated pallet to simplify the handling process. While this does provide a convenience during handling, it doesn’t reduce the risk of movement. Plastic crates are more likely to shift and move while in transit due to the texture of most plastics. This, of course, increases the risk of damage.

Wooden Shipping Crates

For top of the line protection, wooden shipping crates are an excellent choice. Most of these are constructed with 1/4, 1/2, or 3/4 inch thick plywood, giving shippers options for how secure they want their products to be.

In addition to increased safety for your products, there are a few other important benefits that wooden shipping crates offer:

  • Improved stowability
  • Possible lower insurance cost
  • Better durability

Of course, safety enhancements can come with some disadvantages. Luckily, these disadvantages have solutions.

  1. Cost- Due to the high-quality construction of wooden crates, they are typically more expensive than plastic and cardboard. Thankfully, freight carriers like You Crate are able to offset some of this cost. This is done by using reusable crates that shippers don’t have to purchase. Instead, the cost for using the crate is combined with the shipping rate to create one low flat price.
  2. Storage- Another possible downside due to the sturdy build is that these crates can be bulky and difficult to store. Renting crates rather than buying, as mentioned above, can solve this problem as well. Also, some crate varieties are collapsible and easily fold down for more efficient storage. Whether you’re renting or buying your crate, these collapsible forms can be effective.
  3. Rigid construction- While wooden crates offer superior protection, some unfortunately sacrifice convenience. This inconvenience comes in the form of crates that take too long to open or close through remove nails or screws. Many of the collapsible crates come with easy to remove panels or clips that only require a flathead screwdriver or small pry bar.

It’s important to note that when shipping freight internationally, your wooden crates will need to meet ISPM-15 standards. These standards require wood packaging material be heat treated before transport. Over 75 countries abide by these standards including popular export countries China and India. All wooden crates available through You Crate are ISPM-15 certified and can be used for international shipping.

How Big is a Freight Box?

Freight boxes come in a variety of sizes to meet the unique shipping needs of businesses and consumers. There certainly isn’t a perfect size. It really comes down to what will best fit your freight shipping needs.

Most crate sizes coincide with the most common pallet sizes. In North America, the most common pallet sizes (l x w) are:

  • 48 x 40
  • 42 x 42
  • 48 x 48

In addition to these typical sizes, there are many others available. In terms of the height of the boxes, there is also a wide variety. This makes it possible to ship unusually tall items as well.

When it comes to weight capacity, most crates have a minimum of around 1,200 lbs Some less durable cardboard containers have capacities below this. Other standard sized plastic and wooden crates can have a maximum weight of 2,000 lbs and beyond.

Ultimately, the freight box that you use for your LTL shipments will depend on your specific needs. It’s likely that you’ll discover multiple boxes are sized appropriately for your freight. This is when you have to look at other aspects to determine which one will be best. On the off chance that you’re unable to find a crate that fits your items some companies, including You Crate, can build a custom crate to your specific dimension.

For more information about LTL shipping, check out our article What is LTL Shipping?

What Can You Ship in a Freight Box?

In terms of physical limitations of what you can ship in a freight box, there are very few. If you can fit an item within the crate, then you can ship it. Legal restrictions will come into play for certain categories of items.

Some goods that have government regulations include:

  • Food
  • Electronics
  • Chemicals
  • Other hazardous materials
  • Batteries
  • Certain medical equipment

Many carriers have different policies in place for shipping regulated products. When scheduling your freight services, discuss any potential concerns that you have with your carrier. They will be able to provide accurate information regarding how to handle your shipment.

How Much Does a Freight Box Cost?

Once you’ve decided that a freight box is the right choice for your products, you’ll want to be aware of what you should expect to pay.

See below for a range of standard prices for typical freight box sizes:

  • Cardboard shipping crates can range from $20-$100
  • Plastic shipper containers range from $200-$400
  • Wooden shipping crates cost anywhere between $250-$500

Understand that cost will vary based on size and quality of materials used. As mentioned earlier, one way to manage your costs is to work with a company that offers combined crating and shipping services.

Combined Crating and Shipping Services

Companies that are able to provide crating and freight shipping services are often able to provide a better value for businesses and customers. Part of this is due to how the freight rate is determined.

Typically, the rate is determined by the freight class of the item. Freight class is measured by density, handling, stowability, and liability of your shipment. These standards are set by the National Motor Freight Classification. Our article What Does Freight Class Mean explores freight class in greater detail. Through this method, high-risk and high-value items would often incur a higher freight charge.

Instead, you receive the same flat rate regardless of what products are inside your crate. Your cost is only based on the origin and destination of you freight. For example, through You Crate, you can ship up to 2,000 lbs worth of products in a wooden crate from Michigan to Florida for less than $350. This is less than the cost of a crate alone in many cases.  

Using a Shipping Crate with You Crate

You Crate is a leading crate shipping company with over 60 years of crate and freight shipping knowledge. When you’re ready to transport your products, we make the process simple:

  1. Choose either our cube (2000 lbs. capacity) or tower (1250 lbs capacity) crate. We can also build a custom sized crate if needed.
  2. Get your crate delivered in as little as 24 hours.
  3. Pack your crate for shipment and call us when it’s ready to be picked up/
  4. We’ll pickup and deliver your crate quickly.
  5. When the shipment is unpacked, we pick up the crate and the process is complete.

You can also rest easy knowing that our crates have many safety and convenience features.

  • 3/4 thick plywood on all of our crates
  • ISPM-15 certified for international shipping
  • Crate setup and disassembly takes less than 5 minutes
  • Collapsible structure makes storage easy
  • Integrated pallet for improved handling and stowability
  • Included tie-down brackets increase safety
  • Easy to remove panels. Only need a pry bar or flathead screwdriver

In addition to our simple process and high-quality crates, you’ll have access to value-added services through our exclusive freight partner R+L Carriers. These services include white glove service, expedited freight options, warehousing, and more.


If you’re ready to move forward with your freight shipment, fill out a form or call us at 877-558-2580 to receive a quick, hassle-free quote.

600 Gillam Rd.,
Wilmington, OH 45177
© Copyright 2019 Commercial Shipping Crates
600 Gillam Rd., Wilmington, OH 45177
© Copyright 2019 Commercial Shipping Crates