Steel Storage Container Rental Guide

steel storage container

Since Malcolm McLean came up with the concept of the metal shipping container, these useful innovations have enjoyed considerable popularity, and have barely changed since 1956.

Today, the steel storage container market continues to thrive, growing at a rate of around 4.2% per year. That’s because storage containers have proven indispensable for shipping, string, and handling cargo both at sea and on land.

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If you’re interested in a versatile and cost-effective way to store items necessary for your business, there’s a good chance you’ve considered buying or renting a Conex box.

Keep reading for a breakdown of everything involved in buying or renting storage containers.


What Are Steel Containers Used For?

Shipping containers are valuable assets for many organizations and businesses. These include:

  • restaurants
  • hotels
  • schools
  • offices
  • emergency hospitals
  • construction businesses
  • workshops

They’re well suited to permanent applications like restaurants and schools and are a popular building style for modern homes. SO containers are equally effective in temporary situations like:

  • portable ablutions
  • disaster shelters
  • construction offices
  • moving containers
  • mobile clinics

Renting steel containers for storage is an excellent option while moving office or relocating to a new home. They also come in handy if you need additional storage space at your business for archiving, or for storing construction materials during a build.

Buying vs. Renting a Steel Storage Container

Once you’ve identified that a steel storage container is just what you need for your business, the next question is whether you should buy or rent one of these useful portable storage units.

These are the things to consider while you mull over this decision:

How Long Do You Need the Container For?

If you only need the use of a storage container for a couple of months, it’s best to rent one for as long as you need to. Buying a steel container is an expensive investment, and it’s rarely cost-effective unless you need to use it for more than a year.

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Storage container steel is specially made to survive harsh conditions on the ocean, and a steel storage container can last up to 25 years. So, it’s a good buy if you have long-term use for it.


When you own a steel container, you’re responsible for taking care of it throughout this long lifespan. This may include expensive and time-consuming rust treatments, painting, and cleaning tasks.

You’re also responsible for disposing of this bulky item when it reaches the end of its lifespan.

There are always fewer hassles associated with renting a container when compared to buying one.


If you do come across a cheap container for sale, make sure you’re buying it from a reputable supplier and get it vetted thoroughly first.

Second-hand containers may need costly repairs, especially if they come with a low price tag. Once you’ve bought a substandard container, you’re stuck with it.

If you rent a container, and you are unhappy about its condition, you can ask for a replacement. Otherwise, you can wait out the rental period before choosing a different supplier.

While buying a new steel container is cheaper than building a facility from scratch, it’s still an expensive item.


Cost of Renting Metal Storage Containers

Buying a new container will set you back between $2,800 and $7,000. You can expect to pay between $50 and $400 per month to rent a steel storage container.

This huge price difference depends on a variety of factors, like:

Size of Storage Containers

It only makes sense that the larger the container you rent, the more you’ll pay for it. The most widely-used size shipping container is the 20 ft. variety, but you can get them in a large range of shapes and sizes.

Since they are so common, you’ll pay less to buy or rent a 20 ft. container than more specialized ones like reefers.

You can hire 20 ft. containers with standard features like insulation, double doors, and open tops, and customize them to suit your exact needs.

What Size Storage Container do You Need?

The size container you need depends on the quantity and size of the goods you want to store. A 10 ft. container is often enough to see to most businesses’ needs unless you need to store large items of furniture or construction paraphernalia.

A 10’ container is large enough to accommodate the contents of a studio apartment, while a 20′ container will accommodate twice as much as that.

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The larger the container, the more difficult it is to transport it. So, if you need portable storage, it’s sometimes better to rent two smaller containers instead of one large one.

Flatbed, HIAB, tilt-bed, and step-deck trucks are most commonly used to move containers from A to B. Operators use cranes and powerful forklifts to load and offload the containers.

If you pack a large container full of heavy items, moving it becomes an impossible task.

Remember to consider your available space when determining the best size container for your business, too.

Accessories and Customizations

Part of the appeal of steel storage containers is the wide range of possible customizations available.

Often, you can customize a rented storage unit for an extra fee. This depends on the rental company and the length of your rental agreement.

Storage container customizations help make it easier to access stored goods and can improve the climate conditions inside the unit. Common storage add-ons include:


Manufacturers produce shipping containers with weather-tight, heavy-duty swinging cargo doors. These large doors provide good access to the inside of the container, but their size and weight make it difficult to swing them open and closed.

Personnel doors provide easier access to the storage unit, while roll-up doors work best for moving goods in and out of the storage facility.

You can expect to pay between $100 and $400 to fit personnel doors to your container. Roll-up doors will cost over $600 to install.

Built-In Shelving

Adding shelves to your storage unit makes for convenient access to goods and allows you to store smaller items more effectively. A single row of shelving costs over $85.

Security Mechanisms

Due to steel’s high strength, locks usually provide enough security to prevent theft. The best types of locks cost $90 or more.

If desired, you can speak to a security company about adding cameras and access control to your storage container.


If you live in an area where day and nighttime temperatures fluctuate widely, condensation may build up inside your container. This can damage your goods can lead to model and mildew growth.


Storage awnings cast shed on the storage container and help keep the interiors cool. They start at $100 for standard, permanent awnings, but you can expect to pay more than $1,500 for a retractable awning.

Custom Sizes

If you need a container with dimensions that fall outside the norm, you can add or detract from it for a fee. This procedure usually costs between 20% and 30% of the purchase price of the container.

It’s unusual for a container rental company to allow this kind of customization, but it’s not unheard of, either.

Extra Features

Should you require amendments like plumbing, window installation, or roofing, you’ll need to hire a contractor to assist with these aspects. In these cases, you’ll pay their hourly rate for these services.

Rental Period

Rental contracts for containers vary depending on the rental company you decide to work with. Usually, you’ll pay less per month when you opt for a longer contract.

Your Location

Your location in relation to your supplier will determine the delivery cost involved in renting your container. If you’re located in a remote area, you’ll usually pay more for delivery than clients located in urban environments close to major roads.

Age and Condition of the Container

The older a container is, the cheaper it is to rent. Most suppliers grade their containers. from most to least expensive, as follows:

  • New – under a year old and in perfect condition
  • Premium – 2-8 years old, in excellent condition
  • Grade A – over 8 years old with minor damage
  • Grade B – over 8 years old with significant damage
  • Refurbished
  • As-is

Supply and Demand

Right now, there’s a shortage of shipping containers worldwide thanks to the pandemic, which means prices are at a premium. You’ll also find that it’s harder to find available storage containers to rent during the busy retail seasons.

Steel Storage Containers vs. Pods

Pods are another popular type of storage and transportation container. They’re usually smaller than steel storage containers and always have roll-up doors.

Pods aren’t water-tight like shipping containers are, and they’re also not as impervious to attacks from vermin.

Sometimes, pods have semi-transparent tops that can impact photo-sensitive items.

For the above reasons, pods are best suited for short-term use, like when you need extra storage during a relocation.

Tips For Renting Shipping Containers

If you’re convinced that renting a storage container is the best option for you, there are a few things you need to consider before making your choice.

Knowing this information beforehand will help you find the best deals available, as most of them will affect the cost to hire the container.

These are the things to consider:

Delivery Method

Flatbed trucks are frequently the most affordable transport option for shipping containers. You will need a suitable forklift on site to place the shipping container if you choose this type of transport.

If your premises are over 100 miles from the container supplier, you can also save some money by hiring a forklift locally instead of paying for them to bring their own. In some cases, a roll-off truck can prove more cost-effective over long distances.

Necessary Permits

You hardly ever require a building permit for structures that don’t have a permanent foundation. That means you can set up a concrete footing or railroad ties for your container without any paperwork.

It’s always best to prepare a foundation for your container as placing it directly on the ground can impact ventilation, drainage, and moisture. These aspects can lead to corrosion on the underside of the container.

To avoid any unforeseen hassles, it’s always best to check the requirements for our area before you hire a storage container.

Set Up Costs

Ask your supplier if they’ve included the cost to set up our storage container in the price. Some companies may charge extra for the time and labor required to place your container.

Odors Inside the Container

Sometimes odors build up inside a container after long periods at sea. These strong smells can permeate anything you store in your container.

If you notice any unpleasant smells inside the container, a quick fix is to sprinkle some instant coffee on the floor of the container and close it up for a few days.

The coffee will absorb the smells, and replace unpleasant aromas with a faint hint of freshly-brewed coffee.

Ask About Insurance

A steel storage container will protect your belongings from most disasters like fire and inclement weather. However, it’s always best to inquire whether the cost of your container rental includes insurance.

If not, consider taking out insurance separately, as it could save you thousands in the event of a flood or other unfortunate incident.

Compare Prices When Renting a Steel Storage Container

Renting a steel storage container is an excellent option for you if you only need it for a short time, or if you’re uncertain about how long you’ll need a container.

Storage containers are an excellent, cost-effective option for portable or long-term storage. It’s easy to set them up, and they’re a durable choice for storing almost anything.

Before you sign a rental agreement for one of these storage facilities, it pays to compare prices and spend some time researching the most reputable suppliers in your area.

Fill out our inquiry form to compare prices from the most reputable suppliers in your area.


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