Make the Most of Steel Shipping Containers With These Alternative Uses

steel shipping containers

Once modified, a steel cargo container can have almost unlimited uses beyond its traditional use as a place to store or transports supplies. They also come in a variety of sizes, from 40 foot containers, which are fairly standard, to sizes as great as 180 feet wide and 1,3000 feet long. Furthermore, because shipping containers are meant to be moved around, they can be placed wherever you need them, like as a pop-up business or an addition to a work site. This means that there are endless options for a modified shipping container, limited only by what you want out of a steel cargo container.

The Endless Possibilities of Steel Shipping Containers

Steel shipping containers are sort of like the Swiss Army knife of industrial assets. There are so many ways to modify and use them that it would take an entire search engine just to fit them all into one place. Whether you want doors or windows, or are using them for work purposes or leisure, the possibilities are endless.

For starters, here’s the basics of shipping containers. They’re typically used for the transportation of cargo, and they play a huge role in world imports and exports. In fact, shipping constitutes about 90% of the world’s trade, and most of that is done through the magic of roughly 20 million weather-resistant, water-tight steel shipping containers.

Now, for the fun stuff. Custom containers can be created for just about anything you can think of. They are absolutely ideal for remote projects that you need housing for, and there’s a ton of other great ways to repurpose them at an extremely low cost. Here are some fantastic uses for steel shipping containers:

  • Pop-up shop

Shipping containers can be outfitted with climate control, windows, doors with locks, and everything else you need to work out of what is essentially a small, inexpensive store. Whether it’s a boutique clothing store or your own little café, a shipping container can provide the tools you need to succeed. You can have them outfitted with shelves, lighting, awnings, and tons of other add-ons to accommodate your business.

  • Playroom for kids

One of the most popular trends in the steel shipping container industry is placing them in the backyard as a clubhouse for children. Every kid wants their own place to bring friends and play, and shipping containers make the perfect private space for your children to make their own. They allow kids to get creative and offer protection from rain and snow to let them play for as long as they’d like.

  • Portable office containers

Many businesses are looking towards modified shipping containers as a new way of constructing their offices. This is because of the flexibility that they offer, as they can be moved where they are needed. This is great for a construction company, which won’t always work in the same location, or other work that happens at off-site locations like an archeological dig. This environmentally friendly option is also customizable to fit the needs of the portable office. It’s not a one size fits all, generic office that you’d be getting. On top of all that, they’re also a great economic decision for a business. It’s both cheaper than building an office from scratch, but can also be sold later for a profit, or if not a profit then at least a portion of the initial cost.

  • Concessions stands

Almost every sporting event, from youth sports for children through professional sports, have concessions stands at them. Of course, sports aren’t the only place that you’ll find a concession stand. Fireworks, parades, air shows, fun runs, and any event that draws a notable crowd will need a concession stand to help keep everyone full and happy.

Steel cargo containers are easily converted into concession stands, and much like food trucks the mobility that is offered by a shipping container allows the shipping container to become a portable concession stand, going to events throughout the region. Furthermore, due to their size, shipping containers can offer some shelter to sit and eat at if there is bad weather for the event they’re serving, making them a great option to replace the traditional concession stand that typically amounts to some folding tables and a tent.

  • Seasonal shops

In shopping malls, strip malls, empty lots, and parking lots across the country there are seasonal pop-up shops that appear over the course of the year. Around October they’ll sell costumes and Halloween decorations, and come the winter those spaces tend to be filled with Christmas trees, ornaments, and other winter holiday supplies. They’ll even pop-up to sell fireworks at the start of summer in states where they’re legal.

Because these modified shipping containers are customizable, they can fit almost any need you can think of for them. These are just three options in a world full of possibilities beyond these. That’s the true strength of using a modified shipping container, their versatility in purpose.

How to Modify Containers to Make Home Additions

By now, you’ve probably heard or read about the many creative ways that people around the world are turning new and used steel cargo containers into tiny houses and cabins, mobile offices, container pop up shops, and more. And maybe you have an idea of what you could do with one yourself — but you’re not sure if it would work.

The truth is that there are almost endless ways to customize any single 40 foot shipping containers to match your vision. Below are some of the most common and popular cargo container modifications used to turn ideas like yours into a living reality.

Custom Doors

The standard door on a storage container was made with shipping in mind. In fact, 95% of the world’s cargo still travels by ship, with high-volume ships being the most cost-efficient way to transport goods. But that’s probably not what you have in mind. Instead, you might opt for a roll-up door or personnel door for easy access in and out of the container.

Windows and Skylights

An affordable and easy way to add more natural light to the interior of your container space is with a few windows, usually measuring around 2×3 or 3×3, or skylights overhead, which can be made round or square. It’s your space; light it up!

Climate Control

With a mounted AC unit or roof turbine vent, you can have a climate controlled container for storing sensitive goods or regulating temperature just like you would inside of any structure.


A little bit of fresh paint can add a lot of personality and color to your container. A high-quality, industrial-grade enamel coating will also help the metal exterior withstand the elements of nature, no matter where you’re planted.


Wall paneling, flooring and electrical wiring are also popular and important cargo container modifications, especially if you intend to use it for living or working. It won’t “feel” like a real home — it is one!

If you can dream it, it can be done. For the smallest change or the most elaborate project, contact us with your modification ideas for steel shipping containers today. We will do all we can to meet your needs and make your dreams come true. A great distributor like Integrated Equipment Sales can customize your container to fit your needs, and with our help, you can truly personalize your shipping container experience. 

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