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How To Modify a Shipping Container at Southwest Mobile Storage

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Shipping containers have evolved beyond their traditional use for transporting goods and have found new life as versatile and customizable structures for various commercial applications. From retail spaces to pop-up restaurants and event venues, people and businesses worldwide are discovering the endless possibilities of modified shipping containers.

In this blog, we’ll explore the realm of container modifications, focusing on the innovative ways you can transform these steel boxes to meet the unique needs of businesses. We’ll explore how you can leverage these structures to enhance your business operations and provide insight into how to modify a shipping container.

A modified shipping container with ceiling tiles and insulated walls.
Spray foam insulation ensures year-round comfort, making modified shipping containers ideal for mobile offices, retail spaces and event venues.

Steps to Modify Shipping Containers

Discover the essential steps to transform a shipping container into a functional and unique space. From conceptualization to delivery, here are the key things you need to know when learning how to modify a shipping container:

1. Identify Your Need

Every modification tells a story. Whenever we modify a container, we understand it’s going to someone who needs it for a specific purpose. Because of this, we approach each modification with careful consideration, knowing that it holds the potential to solve a problem that our customers have. That problem might be as simple as wanting to keep stored things safe and dry, or as complex as requiring a secure place to store wastewater treatment facilities.

Consider factors such as size, layout and functionality that align with your vision. Take measurements and draw sketches to visualize how modified shipping containers will fulfill your needs. If you need help determining what modifications will best serve your need, talk with a sales representative who can help you pinpoint the changes that would best address your problem.

Here’s a list of the most common modifications we add, but if you want something not included here, we can likely modify a container to your specifications. Keep in mind that we do not manufacture container homes and only provide workspace units for commercial and construction customers at this time.

  • HVAC
The interior of a modified shipping container, showing off the HVAC system.
Temperature control units like this one can heat up or cool down the interior of a modified shipping container.
  • Spray Foam Insulation
  • Custom Paint Job
  • Vents (Side and Turbine)

  • Personnel Doors (Man Doors)
  • Roll-Up Doors

  • Lighting (Indoor and Outdoor)
  • Electrical Outlets
  • Windows

2. Pick Your Modifications

Once you’ve identified your need, it’s time to pick the modifications that best serve that need. For instance, if you need easier access to a container, adding roll-up doors can accomplish that purpose. Adding a personnel door also might work, depending on the situation.

Your choice should focus on maximizing the value a modification will add to your situation. If you frequently need to transport bulky objects in and out of your container, roll-up doors would be a more useful modification than a personnel door. However, if your primary concern is adding a more secure entryway, a personnel door with a keypad may be a better option.

3. Prepare for Delivery

Prior to receiving a quote, there are a few things that you can do to prepare for your modified shipping container’s arrival. You’ll want to pick a location for your container that is easily accessible and position entrances and exits to make access seamless. Choose a direction you want the door(s) to face and inform your sales representative so we know which direction to orient the container .

You’ll also want a location that is even and dry. The muddy ground is a natural adversary of shipping containers. Grassy or swampy conditions can even cause unloaded containers to sink, which can create problems for the long-term condition of your container. Sunken containers may become impossible to open if the doors become stuck.

Even if site conditions seem acceptable, that location can be troublesome after a storm. While shipping containers don’t require concrete foundations, it might help to put down railroad ties or other supports if the area you’re working in is particularly challenging. Sites especially prone to damage, like driveway pavers, might also benefit from additional support.

Before your container arrives, we’ll provide a two-hour delivery window and, if needed, a call 30 minutes before our truck rolls up to your location.

4. Receive Your Invoice, Pay Half of the Cost

When you’re done picking modifications, you’ll receive a final quote and may be required to pay half of the cost of the quote. Good modifications and precise workmanship take time, but we’re confident you’ll be satisfied with the final product.

At this stage, you know what’s going into the container, how to prepare a site for delivery, and how your modifications work together to solve a problem. The only thing left is to wait and prepare for your container’s delivery.

A modified shipping container with two air conditioning units and a keypad-accessible door.
Maximize your container’s efficiency with custom personnel doors that suit your specific industry needs.

5. Enjoy Your New Modified Shipping Container

Once your container is delivered, you can start using your new space. Make sure to take inventory of the modifications we’ve added and ensure everything works correctly.

Once you’ve become familiar with your new container, it’s time to use it. Attach the power and wireless connections if applicable. Check to make sure you can open and close all doors, windows and locks.

While we provide the tool cribs, storage systems and hooks, you decide where everything goes. By organizing commonly used tools and labeling storage materials, you’ll be prepared to use the space in a highly effective way.

6. Maintenance and Upkeep

After you’ve learned how to modify a shipping container, it’s important to prioritize maintenance and upkeep to ensure your container’s functionality. Regularly inspect the container for any signs of wear and tear, such as rust, leaks or other damage. Address any issues promptly to prevent further damage or deterioration.

For modifications like HVAC systems, follow the recommended maintenance schedule provided by the manufacturer. This may involve cleaning or replacing air filters, checking refrigerant levels, and inspecting the system for potential issues. Adhering to these maintenance guidelines will help keep the system running smoothly and efficiently.

Additionally, pay attention to the exterior of the container, especially if it’s exposed to harsh weather conditions. Consider applying a fresh coat of paint periodically to protect the steel from corrosion. Inspect windows, doors and vents for any signs of damage or malfunction and repair or replace them as needed.


Modified shipping containers offer businesses endless possibilities for creating unique and functional spaces. By following the steps for how to modify a shipping container, businesses can transform shipping containers into customized structures that meet their specific needs.

Whether used as retail spaces, pop-up restaurants, event venues, or workspace units, modified shipping containers provide a cost-effective and versatile solution for businesses worldwide.

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