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Find metal shipping containers ranging from 6’ to 45’ long. Compare national average cost ranging from $95 – $230 depending on container size and delivery area.

Get the answers to all your questions about metal shipping containers here including various uses, the different types, and more!

Over 17 million shipping containers were in circulation in 2014. Those numbers have only continued to grow.

What is a metal shipping container? How can you use them to help your business?

This guide will show you the important features of these versatile containers and help you decide which ones will meet your needs.

Metal Storage & Shipping Containers

Metal shipping containers are standardized containers for packing large shipments for international transport.

These shipping containers are designed for multiple modes of transport, such as ships, trains, and trucks. For this reason they are also called intermodal containers.

Their standardized size and other key features mean that they can be moved from one form of transportation to another without needing to unload and reload their contents. They make transporting goods more efficient.

Common Features of Metal Shipping Containers

Metal shipping containers are designed to meet the challenges of international transport by ship, train, and truck. They have an average useful life of 15 years when used for shipping.

A typical shipping container is an enclosed rectangular box with doors at one of the short ends.

Containers are usually made of corrugated steel. To meet the standards for international shipping, the steel must be a special type called “weathering” or “Corten” steel. It is more resistant to corrosion than regular steel.

The corners are reinforced. They have twist-lock connections so that containers can be attached to other containers or to anchor points. The floor is usually marine-grade plywood with beams supporting it. The doors are watertight and have a special locking mechanism.

Smaller containers have forklift pockets. These reinforced slots make it possible for a forklift to lift and move the containers.

The design of metal shipping containers makes them ideally suited to resist damage and prevent the theft of their contents.

Types of Metal Shipping Containers

You have several different types of metal shipping containers to choose from. The type of cargo you’ll be putting inside will determine the best type of container for the job. Here are four common types of containers.

Standard

Standard containers are the most popular type of metal shipping container. These are the rectangular boxes we just talked about. They hold dry cargo packaged in boxes, pallets, sacks, etc.

The most common sizes are 20 feet and 40 feet (20′ x 8′ x 8’6″ and 40′ x 8′ x 8’6″). For taller cargo, a high cube has the same length and width as a standard container but an increased height.

Refrigerated

Refrigerated or “reefer” containers are essentially container-sized refrigerators. They carry temperature-sensitive cargo like fruit, meat, or pharmaceutical products.

A refrigerated container is powered by a generator or an external power source. The refrigeration unit is integrated inside the container. The walls are usually insulated, and some reefer containers have adjustable ventilation to make better airflow inside.

Insulated

Insulated containers also carry temperature-sensitive goods.

Unlike reefer containers, insulated containers don’t have an integrated refrigeration unit. This means they have a larger internal volume than refrigerated containers and can carry more cargo.

They work like a cooler you might take on a picnic. They are considered air-tight, so they help to prevent the products inside from spoiling.

Modified

You can modify a shipping container for uses other than shipping. Some popular modifications include roll-up doors, ventilation, windows, and custom paint.

Popular Uses for Metal Shipping Containers

Shipping containers have a variety of commercial uses. Here are 3 of the most popular.

Shipping

The first use for metal shipping containers is of course for shipping. You can ship either a full container load (FCL) or a less-than-container load (LCL).

The type of container you choose will depend on the cargo you need to transport.

Storage

Storage is probably the second most common use for metal shipping containers. In fact, some people refer to these types of containers as metal storage containers.

Because metal shipping containers are strong, weather resistant, and difficult to break into, they are ideal for storing inventory. They are portable and can be taken to almost any location.

You can stack the containers to save space. The strength of the containers determines how many you can stack. A general rule is to stack no more than 7 on top of each other.

The container will need a foundation to sit on. Sitting directly on the ground can lead to moisture damage on the underside. Common cost-effective foundations are railroad ties, concrete piers, and concrete slab (slab-on-grade).

Commercial buildings

Using metal shipping containers as commercial buildings is growing rapidly in popularity. Shipping containers can be modified to serve as temporary or permanent sales centers, pop-up retail locations, kiosks, and information booths, just to name a few options.

Shipping container buildings are usually much cheaper than traditional construction. In addition, shipping containers are modular, so you can adapt your building as your needs change.

Before you place a metal shipping container on your property for storage or as a commercial building, check your local building codes and zoning laws. These regulations typically do cover shipping containers.

You will probably need a permit, so it is important to find out what the requirements are before you start any project.

Buying vs Renting a Metal Shipping Container

You can either buy or rent shipping containers. The option you choose depends primarily on how you plan to use the containers.

If you need the container for several years, buying it might be the best option. You will probably pay as much or more in rent as you would have paid to buy it.

You can customize your metal shipping containers if you buy them. If you’re planning to use the containers for storage or as a commercial building, you’ll want to be able to modify them to meet your needs.

Renting a shipping container makes sense if you’re using it for a year or less. Renting is also a good option if you’re not sure how much space you need. When the rental period ends, you can choose a larger or smaller container if necessary.

Choosing a Metal Shipping Container

Metal shipping containers are tough, weather-resistant, and secure. They are ideal for shipping, but they are also perfect for storage or for use as a commercial building.

Now that you know some of the advantages of metal shipping containers, you’re ready to take the first step towards buying or renting your own.