Friday, November 7, 2014

How to Ship Painted Rocks

The Holidays are quickly approaching and this is what I've learned about shipping painted rocks within the United States.


Preferred Supplies

U.S. Postal Service flat rate, priority mail shipping boxes
Parchment paper
Packing peanuts, newspaper, bubble wrap, etc.
EZ Start Packaging tape by Duck Brand

The Shipping Box

US Postal Service Flat Rate Shipping is a fantastic service when you're sending rocks within the United States - "if it fits, it ships" up to 70 pounds.

There are several flat rate box sizes to choose from - small, medium and large; I mainly use the small and medium boxes.

Regional flat rate priority mail is also available and the cost may be lower in some instances. The Regional Box A1 size is larger than the small flat rate box with a weight limit of 15 lbs. The price ranges from $6.01 to $14.95 depending on shipping distance. Package tracking and insurance up to $50 are included free. Postage for the Regional boxes must be purchased online at www.usps.com.

You can pick up a few boxes at your local post office or, if you're sending many shipments, you can order the boxes online. They cost nothing and are shipped free to your address. It's always nice to have a stash on hand when you need them.

Packing the Box

I made an early mistake of wrapping the painted stones in tissue paper or bubble wrap and learned these can "stick" to the painted stones. This won't happen with parchment paper.

I purchase my parchment paper at Sam's Club - 205 square feet costs less than $6 - a steal compared to what you'll find in the grocery store.

My painted stones are wrapped with parchment paper first then overwrapped with pretty tissue paper or wrapping paper.

Packing peanuts, newspaper, brown packing paper and bubble wrap are used to insulate the rock and prevent movement within the box. I save the packing materials from shipments I receive and reuse them with my painted rocks packages. Or, you can purchase the packing supplies at Walmart or your local office supply store.

Note: When you click on certain links in this post, I may receive a commission for the purchase of products.  


Sealing the Package   

I prefer EZ Start Packaging Tape which I purchase at Walmart.

In the early days, I would purchase packing tape from the dollar store. After fighting with the tape and wasting much of it, I decided to pay a little more and use a tape which unrolls smoothly and easily.

"Duck Brand EZ Start Packaging Tape is a frustration-free, high-performance packaging tape. EZ Start technology unrolls smoothly and easily. It won't split or tear, and you'll never have to worry about losing the tape end."


Sending the Package 

My shipper preference is USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate because: 
  • I can print the mailing label online at USPS.com
  • Package tracking is free
  • Insurance up to $50 is free
  • I can schedule a package pickup
  • The delivery time is generally 2-3 days from the date of mailing (however, it is not guaranteed)
You can take your priority mail package to the post office and pay for shipping at that time. However, I prefer to pay for and print my labels at home. By doing this, I'm able to save a little money on the cost of the shipment and I can schedule a package pickup right at my door.

You'll need to set up an account at USPS.com if you don't already have one in order to take advantage of the online label printing and package pick up.
  • Postage payment is made using a credit card or PayPal
  • Shipping labels are in PDF format and can be saved to your computer and printed at a later time
  • You can schedule a pickup for your package when you create the label and you won't have to schlep to the post office.  


Tips from Other Rock Painters

From Betty H: "...since the post office has lost a few packages I have sent I now make sure I pray over my packages, & ask that the angels guard them, & deliver them speedily, & they have all arrived at their destination quickly."

From Lisa C.:"1) BOX REINFORCEMENT: The flat rate boxes are constructed with suspiciously thin cardboard. I recommend reinforcing the tops and bottoms of boxes with extra cardboard when shipping heavy rocks. Recycled/previously used shipping boxes can be used for reinforcement. I recommend always adding extra tape on all seams for added structural support. 2) On occasion I've run into the situation where the rock will not fit comfortably in the small flat rate box without leaving a large bump on the top of the box due to the rock shape. In this instance, instead of going to a larger box I secure the small flat rate box the best I can ...then place this bulky box into a Priority Mail Flat Rate Padded Envelope. It's very secure this method and only ships for .20 cents more instead of going up to say medium flat rate box pricing."


Useful Link
U.S. Postal Service Rate Changes Effective January 17, 2016
U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail Information

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