4 Popular Types of Paperboard Grades For Box Printing

4 Popular Types of Paperboard Grades For Box Printing


What many consumers and even business owners don’t realize is that the box you use to wrap a present, to buy a cosmetic product or to put food in can potentially be all made by different material grades.

Cardboard isn’t just “cardboard”.

You may already notice that a standard cereal box may be different than your cosmetic product box. The differences are quite distinctive from the feel to the finishing and appearance of both boxes. 

How do you explain this?

For starters, what makes these two boxes different is the type of paperboard that was used to produce them. 

Paperboard is a type of packaging material that is popular among product packaging for its versatility, flexibility, and durability. What makes the different types of paperboard material unique from one another? 

Let’s dig a little deeper!

White SBS board box

Types of Paperboard Grade for Packaging Products

Understanding the different types of grade helps you develop your packaging more effectively and understand why printing quality differentiates between the substrates.

CCNB (Clay Coated News Backboard)

Made from a blend of recycled newsprint, mixed secondary paper, and old corrugated containers.

Commonly used for low-cost folding carton packaging due to its lower strength and printing quality output.

Cartons made from CCNB/CRB can be used for dry food, pet food, laundry detergent, and so on. The main disadvantage of these boxes is that they absorb large amounts of water when contacted with the material.

Although it is the most cost-effective out of the bunch, this grade is typically the least favorite due to its high moisture, weight resistance, and lower printing quality output. It still does the job, however.

FBB (Folding Box Board)

FBB is a chemically and mechanically generated multiply pulp material making it strong and durable. The top is ideal for printing because of a bleached chemical layer.

Unlike SBS which is entirely made out of chemical pulp, FBB’s mechanical pulp composition provides a stiffer material.  They both, however, are produced from virgin fibers and suitable for all types of product packaging.

These boxes are excellent for packaging foods, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. FBB is India’s primary packaging substrate used by businesses

SBS (Solid Bleached Sulfate) Board

This type of board is considered to be the finest quality for product packaging. The process involves chemically pulping the fibers and then bleaching it. The bleached pulp is refined and formed into boxes.

SBS is the highest grade and most popular grade for box packaging in North America. According to Statista, 71% of world’s supply of SBS comes from North America and used for packaging retail products. 

The superior quality boxes made from this material consists of white surfaces both inside and outside of the box making it superior for printing. SBS can be both coated on only one side (C1S) or both sides (C2S).

SBS board quality also allows special processes such as embossing & debossing, hot foil stamping or spot UV printing due to its grade quality.

These types of boxes are popular with most industries and are used to package food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, confectionery, baked items, tobacco, and so on. SBS boxes are also the most preferred for personal care items.

SUS or CUK (Natural Kraft or Coated Unbleached Kraft

Made from 100% recyclable materials, this type of board is typically popular for kraft packaging. When coated with polyethylene (PE) resin, this board can be used to make food packaging of wet strength. At least 80% of virgin unbleached wood pulp is used to make CUK.

This type of board is strong and durable; the stiffness leads to high resistance to tearing making the board more long-lasting. The printing quality of the board can be improved by coating the surface with a thin layer of kaolin clay.

The board makes good food and can also be used in the packaging of foods, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, etc…

Because of its strength, SUS/CUK is also used to make containers used for carrying beverages.

It Doesn’t There…

To further understand the grade of the material for your packaging, it is important to understand the different thicknesses. This will help create a suitable box based on the product’s weight and the structure of the packaging.

Measuring the thickness of the paperboard is by determining the PT/GSM of the material.

Essentially, the higher the GSM/PT Unit, the thicker the material and vice versa.

What material do you think best fits your packaging? Let us know in the comments below!