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How to ship construction materials

Shipping manager packs box

When shipping construction materials, it's important to know your product's vulnerabilities in order to get it there as safely as possible. From mini-blinds to molding to tile, packaging and shipping these items safely is a top priority. Your customer's satisfaction relies on getting those materials not only in a timely manner, but also in excellent condition.

Whether your orders are traveling to a general contractor, big box store or hands-on homeowner, reliability and excellent customer service will set your business apart when shipping building supplies. Here are some tips to help you overcome packaging and shipping challenges for construction supplies.

1. Choose a specialized carrier.

A good way to protect your heavy, delicate or large construction materials is to use a specialized carrier familiar with handling these types of goods. Not only will a credible carrier help you identify the best shipping options at the best value, they'll help to ensure that your construction materials arrive undamaged.

A specialized carrier will ship similar goods together and transport them in a smart way that minimizes damage. For example, they'll know how to secure heavy and delicate marble slabs to avoid breaks or scratches.

Just as important as getting your goods delivered without damage is the necessity for them to arrive right on time - not too late or too early. Building materials that arrive before they're supposed to will be left to sit on site, where they could potentially be moved around, separated or lost.

A specialized carrier can provide peace of mind by offering you the tracking and supply chain visibility you need and your customers expect.

2. Ensure that your goods fall within your carrier's capabilities.

Measure and weigh large and heavy building materials to make sure they fall within your carrier's weight and size limits. Oversized construction supplies may be subject to an additional fee. UPS packages, for example, can be up to 150 pounds, and 165 inches in length and girth combined (girth = 2 x width plus 2 x height). Larger shipments may require a freight solution. You can use your size and weight measurements to determine shipping costs. In addition to size, some construction materials could be considered hazardous materials, such as paint, which can mandate a special hazardous materials contract before shipping.

3. Re-pack pallet shipments that arrive from overseas.

A lot of building supplies are imported from overseas and arrive on a pallet that has been prepared for ocean transit. Avoid shipping your materials straight from the pallet, as there are different considerations to take into account for ground transportation. This is especially important for non-bulk products.

For example, cement mix is frequently stored in a paper bag. Paper may be fine for an ocean pallet, but it might not be durable enough for ground transportation. Cover your bases and put it in a polybag.

Any time you have to break up a bulk shipment, repack your items in new shipping containers following the guidelines below.

4. Choose an appropriate shipping container.

Knowing your product is half the battle when it comes to shipping these materials. Understand exactly how fragile or rugged your goods are so you can make an informed decision about both the shipping container and cushioning you should use. Specialized carriers may have a team of packing experts to help you assess your needs.

Shipping heavy items? Avoid product fallout by using a new, double-wall, corrugated shipping container with seams that are stitched or stapled, rather than glued. Box style can also affect product support. Most boxes used when shipping smaller items are called Regular Slotted Containers (or RSC), where the outer flaps of the box meet in the middle. For heavy items that need more support, change the box style to a Full-Overlap (or FOL) where the flaps overlap, allowing the carton to support the product weight.

For especially heavy items, opt for a container with a minimum burst strength of 500-pounds-per-square-inch, or an 82 ECT (82-pounds-per-inch edge crush test strength). For extra protection, go with 600-pounds-per-square-inch burst strength.

Some specialized carriers provide tips on packing heavy building materials that weigh more than 70 pounds. As an extra touch when shipping with UPS, you can also apply a heavy package sticker on your shipping container.

Light, fragile items present a different kind of challenge. Fragile products should be wrapped in bubble wrap. Other goods such as mini-blinds and baseboards should be packed in either a fiber tube or a rigid box.

It's also important to select an appropriately sized shipping container. Ensure that there's adequate space to pad or cushion your materials (especially delicate items), but don't allow too much room for movement.

5. Use appropriate padding or cushioning material.

Pack your container with sufficient padding to prevent your building supplies from moving around in the box. For heavy items, choose materials that won't collapse under their weight. In other words, skip packing peanuts, kraft paper and bubble wrap and use packaging material that can offer bounce back such as polyethylene foam.

Customized corrugated board or engineered foam enclosures that can reinforce the rigid outer box are better choices for heavy items. Foam is also a good option for especially fragile items.

Heavy, fragile ceramic tiles require special attention. Tightly wrap tiles in plastic to prevent any movement and breakage and use ample cushioning on the top, bottom and sides of the package.

When shipping multiple items in a box, divide or segregate the goods with corrugated inserts to prevent impact and breakage.

6. Properly seal your package.

Seal all seams of your container, top and bottom, with six strips of heavy-duty tape. For heavy items, use 60-pound-grade tape with nylon reinforcements. It should be at least 3 inches wide for ample strength.

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