What to Look For When You Buy Used Storage Containers

It’s becoming more and more popular for regular people to buy used storage containers, which can be easily repurposed for a number of uses: a mobile office, a container pop up shop, a classroom, even a new tiny home.

But not all used steel storage containers for sale are created equally. These containers can take quite a bit of wear and tear on cross-ocean voyages, after all. To make sure that you’re getting the most out of your money and making a sound investment for the long haul, take these points into consideration while you shop for your next container.


Storage containers come in a variety of sizes, but the most common are either 20 foot or 40 foot shipping containers which can be standard height or 40 foot high cubes. A standard Twenty Foot Equivalent (TEU) unit can hold about 3,500 shoe boxes, while a high-cube 40-footer can hold over 8,000.


It’s important to do a thorough inspection, inside and out, of every container you consider. Start with the exterior: What is the condition of the paint? Are there noticeable dings or dents? Is there visible corrosion or rust?

Shipping containers are built to withstand tough transportation conditions, but they vary in their usage. A good condition container that’s given regular maintenance could last up to 20 years.


Next, take a look inside, if possible. Inspect the floors, walls, and ceilings for any damage or leaks. A great way to do this is to go during the daytime and shut all the doors. If you can see light shining through, it’s a sure sign of corrosion and you should probably keep looking.

Used 20ft and 40ft shipping containersAnother thing you should immediately notice upon walking inside is the smell. There’s no telling what old containers were once used to ship, and if the inside has a strong odor it might be difficult to purge.

It’s not only economical to buy used storage containers for an office, home, store, or other purpose. It’s also environmentally friendly. Every recycled shipping container saves 3,500kg worth of steel and also saves the additional cost of traditional building materials like wood, bricks, and mortar.

Buying a used shipping container can be a great investment, but only if you know what to look for. Be sure to inspect your potential purchase from top to bottom, inside and out, to make the best decision for your needs.

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