Corrugated vs. Cardboard: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to packaging materials, the terms “corrugated” and “cardboard” are often used interchangeably, but they refer to distinct products with different properties and applications. Understanding the difference between corrugated and cardboard is essential for businesses and consumers alike. In this blog, we’ll delve into the characteristics and uses of these materials to shed light on this common source of confusion.

Defining Corrugated

Let’s start by examining corrugated material. Corrugated board is a versatile, lightweight, sustainable, and durable material, making it a popular choice for packaging, shipping, and display purposes. The key feature that sets corrugated apart is the presence of a wavy layer, often referred to as the “flute.” This fluting layer is sandwiched between two flat sheets, known as “liners.” The flutes can vary in size, each offering different strength and cushioning properties.

Corrugated board’s strength, resilience, and cost-effectiveness make it the material of choice for packaging solutions. It provides cushioning and protection for fragile items during transit, and its rigidity ensures the structural integrity of boxes and displays. The range of flute sizes allows for customization based on specific needs, whether it’s for shipping heavy machinery, electronics, or perishable goods.

Understanding Cardboard

In contrast, “cardboard” is a more generic term often used to describe a variety of heavy, stiff paper-based materials. Unlike corrugated board, cardboard lacks the distinct fluting layer. Instead, cardboard is typically composed of thick paper or paperboard sheets that are bonded together to create a sturdy material.

Cardboard is generally less flexible and resilient than corrugated board, and its suitability for different applications depends on the thickness and type of corrugated used. Thicker cardboard may provide greater strength and rigidity, making it suitable for applications like packaging boxes or display stands. However, it lacks the cushioning and shock-absorbing properties of corrugated board, making it less suitable for protecting delicate or fragile items during shipping.

Key Differences Between Corrugated and Cardboard


As mentioned above, the most significant difference between corrugated and cardboard is the presence of corrugated flutes in the former. Cardboard is typically composed of flat, thick paperboard sheets bonded together, while corrugated board has a wavy layer sandwiched between flat liners.

Strength and Rigidity

Corrugated board is known for its superior strength and rigidity, making it ideal for heavy-duty packaging and shipping applications. Cardboard can be strong, but it may lack the same structural integrity as corrugated board, especially in heavy or demanding scenarios.

Cushioning and Shock Absorption

Corrugated board’s fluted structure provides excellent cushioning and shock absorption properties, making it a top choice for protecting fragile or delicate items during transit. Cardboard lacks these flutes, and cannot provide the same level of protection.


Corrugated board offers a variety of flute sizes, allowing for customization based on specific requirements. Cardboard can also be customized to a certain extent by adjusting its thickness and quality, but it may not be as versatile as corrugated board in this regard.


Corrugated board is often used in the manufacturing of shipping boxes, retail displays, and protective packaging. Cardboard is used for various purposes, such as product packaging, signage, book covers, and more, depending on its thickness and quality.

Choosing the Right Material for Your Business

Selecting the right material depends on your intended use and specific requirements. Here are some guidelines to help you make an informed decision:

Packaging and Shipping

If you need packaging material for shipping and want to ensure the safety of your products, corrugated board is the better choice due to its cushioning and shock-absorption properties.

Retail Displays

Corrugated board is often the material of choice for creating eye-catching retail displays due to its versatility and printability.

Product Packaging

Depending on the fragility of the items you’re packaging, you may choose either corrugated or cardboard. For delicate items, corrugated board is the safer option, while cardboard can suffice for less delicate products.

Cost Considerations

Cardboard can be a more cost-effective option for applications that don’t require the strength and resilience of corrugated board.

Have Questions About Corrugated vs. Cardboard?

Choosing between corrugated vs. cardboard ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences. Understanding the differences between these materials allows you to make informed decisions that align with your packaging, shipping, and display requirements.

If you have questions about corrugated vs. cardboard, reach out to the experts at Tyoga Container. With decades of experience designing and manufacturing custom corrugated solutions, we know what it takes to create the custom packaging solution of your dreams. Reach out to us to get started.