How many packing boxes do I need for a room?

Moving can be an exciting yet stressful time. One of the key steps to ensure a smooth move is having the right number and sizes of packing boxes. But how do you determine how many boxes you need? While the total number of boxes depends on several factors, with some planning and preparation, you can estimate the quantity you’ll require.

How to Estimate the Number of Boxes Needed

Here are some tips for calculating approximately how many packing boxes you’ll need for a room:

  • Take inventory of what you need to pack – Make a list of all the items in the room that will need to be packed. This includes furniture, decor, clothing, appliances, kitchen items, etc. Identify the quantity of each item.
  • Determine box sizes – Decide what sizes of boxes you’ll need – small, medium, large, extra large. Box sizes generally range from 1.5 cubic ft for small boxes to 6 cubic ft for extra large boxes.
  • Group similar items – Categorize your inventory list into groups of similar items that can go together in boxes. For example, books go in one box, kitchen appliances in another, etc.
  • Estimate boxes needed for each category – Based on the quantity and sizes of items in each group, estimate how many boxes you’ll need. Allow extra space for padding and protection.
  • Add boxes for fragile items – Allocate additional boxes for fragile or oddly shaped items that may need their own boxes for safe transport.
  • Factor in closet contents – Don’t forget to account for clothing and other contents stored in closets and storage spaces.
  • Include extra boxes – It’s wise to add 5-10 more boxes than you estimate to have spares on hand. You can always return unused boxes.

Keeping these tips in mind as you survey the room and categorize your possessions will give you a reasonable approximation of how many of each size box to get.

Factors That Impact Number of Boxes

While doing an inventory and estimation is helpful, there are several variables that can alter the actual number of boxes needed:

  • Room size – The larger the room, the more items needing packing. A master bedroom or living room requires more boxes than a small bathroom or guest room.
  • Quantity of possessions – The more stuff you have, the more containers you’ll need to transport it. Take an honest look at how much you have.
  • Fragile items – Delicate items like glasses and decor get their own boxes, so increase quantity if you have a lot of fragile possessions.
  • Shared or divided spaces – If you share a room or it’s used for dual purposes, you may need boxes for two spaces in one.
  • Climate – Colder climates often require extra protection while packing clothes, linens and fragile items.
  • Moving distance – Local moves need fewer boxes than cross-country moves which require maximum protection.
  • Packing materials – Using lots of padding, paper and bubble wrap takes up space so adjust box quantity accordingly.
  • Box sizes used – Opting for mostly small or medium boxes means you need a greater number than if using large boxes.

Considering these individual factors will allow you to refine your box estimate for a more customized number.

Standard Room Box Estimates

To provide a general idea, here are estimates for typical rooms:

Room Estimated Boxes Needed
Master bedroom 30-50 medium boxes
Second bedroom 20-30 medium boxes
Living room 20-35 medium boxes
5-10 large boxes for furniture
Kitchen 10-20 medium boxes
5-8 large boxes for appliances/pots & pans
Bathroom 4-8 medium boxes
Home office 15-25 medium boxes
3-5 large boxes for files
Garage/basement 30-50+ medium/large boxes depending on contents

These numbers are just general guidelines – your specific needs may vary greatly depending on your unique situation.

Choosing the Right Box Sizes

Selecting appropriate box sizes for each room is key to efficiently packing up your belongings. Consider these tips:

  • Use small boxes for bathrooms, kitchens, garages – They hold heavy items well.
  • Medium boxes are versatile for most rooms – Good for clothes, toys, books, decor.
  • Large boxes for bulky soft items like pillows, stuffed animals, blankets.
  • Extra large for bulky hard items like lamps, sports gear, larger toys.
  • Dishpack boxes are useful for safely packing kitchen glasses and dishware.
  • Wardrobe boxes for transporting hanging clothes.
  • Opt for uniform box sizes when possible – Makes stacking easier.

Choosing box sizes suited to the room contents will help prevent cramming items into undersized boxes or having too much wasted space in oversized ones.

Tips for Packing Boxes Efficiently

To make the most of your boxes during packing:

  • Use box weight limits – Don’t overpack. 50 lbs for large boxes, 40 lbs for mediums.
  • Wrap fragile items individually before boxing.
  • Pack boxes tightly but leave some space for padding.
  • Label boxes by room and contents for easy unloading.
  • Fill empty spaces with packing paper or bubble wrap.
  • Use adjustable boxes where possible to customize fit.
  • Place heavy items in small boxes.
  • Consolidate loose, small items into one box.
  • Divide large collections between boxes.
  • Keep boxes manageable for lifting and transport.

Smart packing takes advantage of every inch of box space while keeping weight manageable. Follow these tips to optimize your usable box volume.

Purchasing Moving Boxes

Once you’ve estimated how many boxes you need, it’s time to purchase them. Here are some tips:

  • Buy early – Weeks or months before moving day to avoid shortages.
  • Shop moving supply stores – They have all box sizes and packing materials.
  • Check discount retailers – Home improvement and office supply stores have cheap boxes.
  • Inspect boxes – Avoid used boxes and damage that compromises integrity.
  • Get 15%-20% more than planned – It’s easier to return unneeded than scramble for more.
  • Stack and store boxes before packing day.
  • Consider renting reusable plastic bins for large or heavy items.

Investing in quality sturdy boxes and buying enough with extra cushion is a wise move to protect your belongings during relocation.

Alternative Box Options

If purchasing all new boxes doesn’t fit your budget or needs, consider these options:

  • Ask for used boxes from grocery and retail stores.
  • Check online classifieds and sales sites.
  • Use suitcases or storage bins for clothing and linen transport.
  • Laundry baskets work for lightweight items.
  • Trash bags can pack shoes, toys, and accessories.
  • Pack small appliances in their original boxes if you still have them.
  • Use towels, blankets, and clothes to wrap fragile items in lieu of bubble wrap.
  • Newspaper or paper can substitute packing paper for dishes and cushioning.

With creativity and resourcefulness, you can scrounge up packing materials. But for critical items like mattresses and large furniture, invest in high-quality boxes.

Tips for Packing Specific Rooms

Certain rooms and belongings present unique packing challenges. Follow these tips to pack efficiently:


  • Pack plates upright using paper between each.
  • Wrap glassware individually before boxing.
  • Place pots and pans in large boxes with paper between.
  • Box utensils and gadgets in categorized containers.
  • Pack liquids, oils and pantry items together.
  • Use small boxes for heavy items like cans.


  • Use wardrobe boxes for hanging clothing.
  • Wrap shelves and mirrors in blankets before boxing.
  • Disassemble bed frame if possible and box hardware.
  • Pack bedding and linens tightly in large boxes.
  • Fill shoes and accessories in small labeled boxes.


  • Wrap tiles and fragile bath accessories before packing.
  • Stuff towels, washcloths, shower curtains in boxes tightly.
  • Box toiletries like shampoo bottles together.
  • Pack cleaning items apart from personal items.
  • Use small boxes for heavy bottles and accessories.

Living Room

  • Take apart furniture like shelves, stands and tables before moving when possible.
  • Carefully wrap and box lamps, vases, artwork.
  • Pack books tightly in small sturdy boxes.
  • Wrap cushions and pillows in blankets before boxing.
  • Bubble wrap electronics and appliances.

Taking the unique considerations of each room into account will optimize your packing job.

Estimating Supplies Needed

In addition to boxes, ample packing supplies are moving day necessities. Some key items and estimated quantities needed include:

  • Bubble wrap – 250-500 sq. ft. depending on fragile items
  • Packing paper or newsprint – 50-100 sheets per large box
  • Packing tape – 5-10 rolls
  • Bubble cushions – 1-2 packs of 50-100
  • Furniture pads – 15-30 pads
  • Mattress bags – 1-3 large-size
  • Permanent markers – 2-3 for labeling
  • Scissors/box cutter – To trim bubble wrap & open boxes
  • White paper – 25-50 sheets for inventory lists
  • Zip ties and rope – For securing furniture items

Having ample packing supplies on hand will make loading and transporting boxes easier. You want to make sure belongings are secure.

Tips for Moving Boxes

On moving day, keep these tips in mind when handling boxes:

  • Lift with legs, not back. Bend knees to pick up boxes.
  • Hold boxes close to body when carrying.
  • Wear gloves for protection and grip when moving.
  • Stack boxes on dollies or hand trucks to easily transport.
  • Have a plan for box staging and loading order.
  • Put heavy boxes on bottom, light on top when stacking.
  • Secure stacked boxes in truck with rope, straps, or blankets.
  • Label boxes with room location for easy unloading.
  • Disassemble furniture you packed to reconstruct later.

Being strategic when moving boxes makes the loading and unloading process smooth and injury-free.


Estimating the number of packing boxes needed for relocating takes planning, preparation and consideration of the variables. While box requirements differ for every situation, taking inventory, planning box sizes needed, purchasing quality boxes, packing strategically, and moving carefully will help streamline the process. With the right number and sizes of sturdy boxes, you can pack up your home and possessions effectively. Investing time and care into packing boxes properly makes for an organized, efficient move.

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