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re; selling and shipping tiles

updated sun 5 sep 04


Stephani Stephenson on fri 3 sep 04

Your particulat packaging approach will vary, depending on the size
and weight of tiles
but in general
always double box
Inner box: tiles can go back to back, with cardboard in between each
tile or between every 2 tiles... basically the tiles in the inner box
should be so snug they cannot move around inside the inner box.
For 4X4 field tile for example:( mine are about 5/8 inch thick) I can
fit 9 of them into a 4X 4 X 6 inch box with a few pieces of 4 X 4
carboard inserted here and there to
take up any slack., and a paper insert between each tile, though this
may not be necessary always, depending on the tile.

9 4 X 4 tiles makes 1 square foot, so I can pack 1 SF into each
4X4X6 box, which also makes it nice for keeping track of the count.
. I can fit four of these little boxes inside a 12 X 12 X 12 outer box,
with 1 1/2 -2" foam in between the inner boxes and the outer, and also
1" foam pieces to separate and stabilize the inner boxes...
I have moved away from using peanuts and prefer sheets of fairly rigid
Anyway I pack 4 square feet per 12 X 12 box...and it weighs about 20
20 -40 pounds is a good weight range to aim for...something one person
can lift, something not too cumbersome and heavy...
a box should not feel sloppy or unbalanced when you lift it, you should
be able to shake it and not feel anything shift rattle or knock about
on the inside,

I ship Fedex Ground.
Fedex Ground and UPs will not insure ceramics for over the $100 per
box, so nowadays I ship more boxes per order with less in each
if one box is lost it is a smaller part of the total order. That has
happened only twice , once by FEDEX and once by the post office and in
each case I just replaced the items for the customer,( I have had no
success in getting a claim paid on those lost parcels, but my main
goal was to make it right with the customer) . I have had absolutely no
damage from shipping this way with FEDEX Ground and have shipped
hundreds of orders. I personally have not had good success with using
the post office, both in terms of timely delivery or in terms of undue
damage to contents... this may vary depending on your location as I do
know people who have used USPS with success. I have come to appreciate
UPS and FEDEX tracking systems and more timely delivery as well as very
competitive rates.

I use to pack more tile per box...bigger heavier boxes, back in the
days when I could insure the box for a greater amount. I still did not
experience breakage. With large orders I would also include some extra
tile, in case on ore two pieces were damaged, they would have a few
extras. I still do this with certain fragile pieces like quarter
round.. though if any breakage has occurred, it is usually when a piece
is droppped onto a floor during installation. with commercial tile I
have heard that 10% breakage is a natural occurance and should be
anticipated, and accomodated for in ordering quantities, but of course
such a % is not and would not be part of what is acceptible for the
tile I sell. I get a much higher price per square foot , so I want to
make sure my customer gets the full quantity in good condition. It is
much less trouble to pack it well to begin with, rather than hassling
with trying to replace goods or file claims.

For larger tiles I wrap the tiles in bubble wrap, very generously, then
double box...look at the UPs and FEDEX regs, I believe they recommend
4" of cushioning between inner and outer box.... I get away with less
sometimes, but it pays to follow their suggestions as you get started.
with regard to some of the larger tiles, such as 20 " by 20".. by the
time they are double boxed the outer box is HU-u-uge!, but it gets
there safely....

I usually use foam sheets between inner and outer box and sometimes a
layer of bubble wrap too, for a little 'cush'.
if I need to use 'fill' instead there is an alternative to regular
peanuts I like to use sometimes and that is cut foam.. a place that
makes sheet foam will cut their scraps into small 'pourable' pieces you
can buy by the bag. cut foam is more rigid than typical peanuts and
also does not have the 'static cling ' of regular peanuts. if you do
use peanuts you can put them into plastic bags and make 'pillows' with
them to also minimize the tendency for them to shift around in the box.
I do use recycled packing materials and have places where I pick up
packing materials that would otherwise be discarded but are still
barely used and in great condition. I tend to use these on larger or
'industrial sized orders which are going to construction sites, and
have moved toward using a bit more consistent and attractive
packaging for most of the smaller orders.

larger orders are shipped via truck and on palettes, but that is a
whole other issue and process.

my main advice is don't overload the box, don't make it so heavy that
it's own weight will cause damage to the contents....use sturdy good
boxes, use packing material that provides cushion but that also
minimizes shifting of contents and which can handle the weight of the
contents adequately.

Stabilize the tile inside the inner boxes and give enough cush between
inner and outer box., that's the main idea
tape the box well and tape the label well with good wide packing tape.
. I also usually write the destination and return info discreetly on
the box somewhere else, in case the label does actually get removed or

packing tiles is kind of intimidating at first and you may find
yourself being overly cautious, like wrapping each tile in bubble
then you discover this can become time consuming and expensive.... and
you can't get very much tile into each box.

p.s. be sure to recoup your shipping costs as well as your packaging
time and costs...... both can be significant costwise if you are
shipping quantities of tile. I add shipping to the cost of the order I
also add a packing cost. If you are selling single gift tiles you can
approach this differently, and possibly include packing and shipping
into your selling price. My tile orders involve varying
sizes,quantities, weights and destinations, so I give the customer a
quote on a project by project basis and show these as separate
note that the rate for a shipping a 20 lb box is almost triple if you
are sending it coast to coast, versus in your geographical area, so
learn to use the rate schedules...and shipper websites, which are
enormously helpful.

unlike your worst shipping anxiety nightmares, tiles are really quite
hardy and sturdy and travel well, if you give them half a chance!

Stephani Stephenson

Wayne on sat 4 sep 04

Stephani and all:
I ship pretty much exclusively FEDEX. Our company
ships worldwide, from items as small and insignificant
as forgotten slippers or forwarded mail to items like
oriental rugs and plasma TVs. Whatever
our client wants sent from one place to another goes FEDEX.

The information you mentioned below is not quite accurate, Stephani.
Fedex will insure for a higher value, but only if you
declare that value on the shipment. The $100 "limit"
is only for shipments of undeclared value. (It's actually
US $9.08 per pound, different in Fedex's
website definition of "declared value" at

One trick I have found helpful is to send items as separate
shipments, even if there are a lot of boxes. The "ship manager "
at Fedex online makes it easy to repeat shipments, so that
you can process multiple containers (boxes) at the same time.
If you are having problems with underinsuring your shipments,
you might want to consider declaring the true value (but then
you actually have to pay the premium to have it insured:>)
Just a thought.

The usual disclaimer: no connection to FEDEX except as a
mostly satisfied shipper ($1200. US in shipping fees last month alone.)

Wayne Seidl
under the pines
Sharon VT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Stephani Stephenson"
Sent: Saturday, September 04, 2004 1:46 AM
Subject: Re; Selling and shipping tiles
> I ship Fedex Ground.
> Fedex Ground and UPs will not insure ceramics for over the $100 per
> box, so nowadays I ship more boxes per order with less in each
> if one box is lost it is a smaller part of the total order.