Taping a moving box is easy, isn’t it? Just close the flaps and slap some tape on it and you’re done, right?
While that’s true, there is the question of “how much tape does a moving box actually need“?
Is one strip of tape enough? Are three strips enough? Should I tape the sides of the flaps as well for extra support. Should I criss-cross the tape across the bottom?
These are all questions most of us have asked ourselves at one point or another when taping our moving boxes. It turns out –
To properly tape most moving boxes, you really only need one strip of tape across the bottom of the box. If you want extra support, add a second strip of tape running diagonally across the first strip.
This isn’t my opinion so much as it is the results I found from running a test to see how much weight a moving box could hold.
In this article I’ll explain the different methods of taping a box I tested and why you’re probably using way more tape than you actually need.
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Table of Contents
Box Taping Methods
I used three different methods to tape three different boxes. The thing that didn’t change was how I closed the bottom of the box.
I closed both side flaps first and the then the front and back flaps over top.
It really doesn’t matter which two flaps you fold in first as long as you fold in opposite sides together at the same time. I usually go off of the designs on the bottom of the box as to which looks like it was meant to be on the outside (aka folded in second).
What does matter is that you line your flaps up and create a nice tight seam for your packing tape to run across.
For me this usually involves holding the box against my leg and then pulling the opposite side of the box toward me with one hand and finally running the tape across the box with the other.
Using a packing tape dispenser gun can be a huge help with this if you’re struggling taping boxes with one hand.
Box Taping Method 1 – Single Strip
On the first box I went with just one single strip of tape.
Never in my life have I actually moved a moving box with just one single strip of tape, but I wanted to see how one strip would actually hold up. (Turns out, way better than I anticipated.)
In case you’re wondering, I went about 2 to 3 inches up the side of the box on each piece of tape for every box. This gives the tape enough surface area on the side to get a really good grip.
Box Taping Method 2 – Double Strip
For the second box I used two strips of tape. One straight across the seam just like on the first box.
Then, I added a second strip of tape running diagonally across the first strip of tape (and therefore across the seam as well).
Obviously, more tape than the first box (technically double), but probably still less than some, if not most, of us use for our moving boxes.
Box Taping Method 3 – The “H”
This “H” method will probably look familiar to many of you. It has always been Jen’s favorite method of taping a box.
You start with the same strip of tape down the seam.
Then, you tape the seams of the sides of the flaps on both sides of the box.
Finally, you place another piece of tape down along the main seam.
This is almost double the amount of tape (and time) as the double strip method and almost 4x the amount of tape (and time) of the single strip.
Now, to test out each style of taping, I headed out to my garage gym to see how each style would do when I loaded it up with weight.
Let’s see how each one fared.
The Box Tape Weight Test
I started off each box with a 25 pound plate.
I picked the box up and sat it down about a half dozen times. Then I carried it a few laps around my garage. Picked it up and sat it down a couple more times. Swung it like a kettlebell (at least until it got way too heavy to do that).
You get the point. I was actively trying to see if I could get the tape to give way.
After all three boxes held with the 25 pound plate, I started adding more weight.
I added a 45 pound plate and all three held the 70 pounds. Then I added a 10 pound plate. After that held I added another 15 pound dumbbell.
I kept adding and testing, adding and testing until I ended up with…
Each box, even the box with just one single piece of packing tape along the bottom of the box held strong with 160 pounds.
That’s a 45 and 25 pound plate and a 50 and 40 pound dumbbell. At this point I couldn’t swing it around anymore, but I knocked out a set of 10 deadlifts (I ended up getting a really good workout out of this whole deal) and a few carries around the garage.
And while the boxes were visibly stressed from the massive amount of weight, not one of them gave way.
Unless you’re also packing weights from your home gym, the heaviest box you’re most likely to have is a box full of books. So, how does a box full of books compare to 160 pounds of free weights?
I took 46 books from my office, all different sizes – both hardback and softback, and those 46 books weighed about 65 pounds. Less than half of the weight each box successfully held in my test.
The takeaway here, at least for me, was that most of us have been using way too much tape at the bottom of our boxes.
Having said that, you need to make sure that you’re using quality packing tape. I used Scotch Heavy Duty Packing Tape for these tests.
Also, make sure you’re box doesn’t have any rips or other areas that may have been compromised, perhaps from getting wet. You’re probably more likely to have an actual box rip as you are from tape giving way.
As for how I’ll be taping boxes from here on out:
Most boxes will be receiving one strip of tape from me going forward. Clothes, knick-knacks, etc.
Heavier boxes with things like books along with boxes carrying fragile items like glassware will still get that second piece of tape if for nothing more than a little extra peace of mind.
However, the days of me putting five or more strips of tape on the bottom of a box to cover every nook and cranny are no longer a thing I’ll be doing.
As for the top of the box that I haven’t even mentioned until right now at the very end of this article? Definitely one piece of tape.
Hope this article helped you with your packing and maybe even save you a little time and money in the process.
Good luck with your move!