What You Need to Know About Buying a Shipping Container

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Shipping containers are often required for anything you might ship on a boat, railcar or airplane, as these containers are very durable and only come in a set number of standard sizes, so they're easy to stack. Because shipping containers are so strong, even a used container can often be a good purchase for shipping, for storage on your lot, and as a makeshift office on a remote jobsite. If you're looking for a shipping container for sale, note a few factors to keep in mind about these pieces, so you can choose just the right one for your needs.


Shipping containers can be made of steel, aluminium and even wood, which means they will vary in strength. Aluminium is more lightweight and may not be strong enough for stacking, and wood can absorb moisture, sometimes making it too weak for stacking. Many shipping containers will be noted at CWO, which stands for cargo worthy; these are strong enough for stacking on a ship. WWT means wind and watertight, and these may not be as strong as CWO containers, but may be good for long-term storage or for shipping that doesn't involve stacking.


If you're thinking of getting a shipping container as a makeshift office for a remote jobsite, keep in mind that these containers may come with few accessories; this includes wiring for electricity, ventilation or windows. Even containers with coolers inside may not offer temperature control, as these may be used for items that need to stay cool but not frozen when shipped. Be sure you know all the work that may be needed for the container to be suitable for use on a jobsite, or for storage of your materials, before your purchase.

Used container

Used containers are usually very workable for your shipping needs, since these containers are so durable, as mentioned. However, this doesn't mean you should buy a used container sight-unseen, as steel containers can suffer rust and corrosion, and aluminium containers may have dents and dings that could actually go all the way through the container. Rust on the door hinges can make them difficult to open and close, and to lock. Containers that were used to transport furs and other such items may have a lingering odour inside, and your own materials may absorb these smells. Be sure you've examined or at least seen complete photographs of any used shipping container you're considering purchasing to know it's in workable condition for your needs.