Paperboard or Cardboard: Which is Better?

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Although the primary way of packaging products is using cardboard or paperboard, many people still don’t know the difference between the two and often confuse them. The reason is that both of them are paper-based products, but in reality, they differ for several reasons. 

Even though they have some similarities, as they are paper, in essence, they do vary in the way they are manufactured. Paperboard and cardboard also differ in terms of quality, as well as how they are recycled and used.

But considering they are pretty similar, which is the better option? What should you choose for your company: paperboard or cardboard packaging? In what follows, there will be a parallel description of these two products to see the optimal and sustainable option.


These two types of packaging fall broadly into the category of “paper,” a general term that refers to their raw composition. The difference is in the way they are manufactured. Paperboard consists of thick paper that is strong enough to make it suitable for packaging. 

This type of packaging has a single, thicker layer and is often soft to the touch. On the other hand, cardboard packaging has three or more layers: a straight one, a corrugated layer in the middle, and another straight one. Paperboard is relatively more challenging to manufacture, as it goes through several processes, including coloring and waxing, but this is what makes it of higher quality and gives it greater resistance than cardboard.


Paperboard has a vast spectrum of uses compared to cardboard. While the latter is often used for packaging and transport, you can use paperboard for air filters, printed promotional materials, packaging different goods, and many more. 

Because it looks more aesthetically pleasing and you can, in some cases, color and print the paperboard with a specific design, it is the to-go option for most visually conscious businesses. You should also keep in mind that paperboard is more water resistant due to the pressing techniques and the composition. Therefore, it is more resistant to various harsh conditions.


In terms of weight, paperboard is usually significantly lighter as it uses a single layer of board pressed together. This makes it easier to maneuver. Cardboard is heavier and much more challenging to transport and handle since it might have three or even more layers. 

You need to take the weight into account depending on your purpose. If you need an element made of paper to be part of a system, such as an air filter, then a lighter weight is an advantage.


Since both cardboard and paperboard are paper-based, many people consider them similarly recycled. However, in practice, cardboard and paperboard are very different products that have distinct recycling requirements. What makes them different is the method of construction. 

While paperboard is thicker it only has one layer. Cardboard has three layers, which makes it have varying weights. Because of this, there is no way these products can be recycled in the same manner or together. 

Although both are recyclable, it is often easier to recycle paper that hasn’t undergone different procedures, such as coloring or waxing. Since there are multiple recycling centers that deal with paper, it is more accessible to recycle paperboard.

Paperboard vs Cardboard Final Words

Paperboard and cardboard have their pros and cons, but generally, paperboard is a little better due to its lighter weight, general usage, and recycling capabilities. In the end, you have to go with the option that best suits your business.

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