Grades of Paperboard

Folding cartons are made from paperboard, which, as its name suggests, is a packaging material made from paper. As you can probably imagine, it comes in many different thicknesses and weights. In fact, each type of paperboard has its own “caliper”, which is a thickness as measured in thousandths of an inch.

Here are a few different grades (i.e., types) of paperboard: 

CUK- Coated Unbleached Kraft

CUK is made from 100% recyclable materials and is typically used for natural kraft (light brown, unbleached) cartons. Strong, durable, and stiff, it’s a good choice for packaging food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and heavy beverages. If coated in polyethylene resin, you can use it to create food-safe packaging. 

SBS- Solid Bleached Sulfate 

SBS is made from chemically pulped and bleached fibers. Considered a high-quality choice, it has all white surfaces (inside and outside) that enable crisp printing, as well as specialty processes like embossing and hot foil stamping. SBS is the most popular grade for packaging in North America, and is a great choice for industries like food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, tobacco, and personal care. 

CRB/CCNB- Clay-Coated News Back Board

CCNB is made from recycled newsprint, secondary paper, and used corrugated containers. It’s a low-cost option for products like laundry detergent, dry food, and pet food. However, because it absorbs water, holds less weight, and doesn’t support the best quality printing outcomes, it’s used less often than the other grades we’re listing.  

FBB- Folding Box Board 

FBB is a particularly strong, stiff paperboard made from a multi-ply pulp of virgin fibers. Its bleached chemical layer allows for high-quality prints. It’s often chosen for packaging cosmetics, foods, and pharmaceuticals. 

To learn more, contact your folding carton packaging specialist.