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What is Corrugated Paper?

Miranda Fine
Miranda Fine

Corrugated paper comes in two forms, lined and unlined. The lined type is a rigid layered paper that encloses a fluted layer between one or two smooth “liner” layers. The fluted layer provides added strength. Paper we know as cardboard is actually lined corrugated paper. The unlined type consists of the fluted layer only and is flexible.

Products made with corrugated paper are lightweight, versatile and durable. Lined corrugated paper is used in a variety of applications, most notably for making boxes used to ship and store materials. It may also be used for product displays in stores, children’s toys such as blocks and playhouses, and even for contemporary furniture.

A box made of lined corrugated paper.
A box made of lined corrugated paper.

Unlined corrugated paper is usually used for protecting delicate materials during shipping or for decoration. It was invented in the late 1800s for use in shipping hurricane lamps. Decorative unlined corrugated paper comes in many bright colors and is most commonly found bordering the bulletin boards of institutions like schools and hospitals.

Boxes made with this paper come in different strengths and are rated by the amount of weight they can withstand. If you look on the bottom of one of these boxes, you will see its edge crush test rating — the amount of weight a given box can withstand before its edges will buckle. Most lined corrugated boxes are “single wall,” or comprised of only one layer of paper. Added layers result in stronger boxes or other products.

Lined corrugated paper can be printed with bright graphics and colors and is commonly used to make sturdy, temporary product displays for stores. It is also used to make furniture, such as stools for seating, coffee tables, or storage boxes of various types. The clean look of this paper can fit well with a modern, industrial aesthetic.

Products made with this paper are also easily recycled when no longer needed or wanted. In fact, most corrugated paper is made, at least in part, of recycled paper. Most corrugated paper used in North America is manufactured in the United States and Canada.

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Discussion Comments


Is it just me, or is there some rule that every elementary school classroom must have colored corrugated paper crafts, especially borders on their bulletin boards?

My son had an open house at his school last week, and there was corrugated paper everywhere -- I mean in every single room. Come now teachers, I know it's easy to use, but a little creativity wouldn't go amiss!


Many companies have started to keep a corrugated cardboard (paper) roll around the office for sending out packages. I know that a lot of the packages my boss sends out are packed with corrugated wrapping paper because it's cheap to buy and easy to use. And recyclable, for that matter!


I never knew that those corrugated cardboard boards were actually paper -- although I did know that they make corrugated Kraft paper.

I wonder, to corrugated paper manufacturers have special corrugated paper machines? And if so, how do they work? How do they get all those layers and open spaces in between each of the corrugated paper boards without them getting squished together or tangled up?


Is there any recycling of corrugated boxes done in the USA or is done in China,India, etc?

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    • A box made of lined corrugated paper.
      By: Kayros Studio
      A box made of lined corrugated paper.