What Type of Shipping Container Do You Need?



A Stack of Shipping Containers

You have an upcoming project that you know will need extra storage space.

You know you need a shipping container, but you’re not sure what type of shipping container you need.

You’ve done some research but that only left you more confused.

There are a lot of different types of shipping containers and oftentimes the terms used to describe them can be hard to understand.

For example, you might not know the difference between used shipping containers and One-trip shipping containers.

Or what the difference is between a High Cube shipping container and a standard shipping container.

If you found yourself nodding along to the above, this article is exactly what you’ve been looking for.

What Type of Shipping Container Do I Need

In this article, you’re going to learn about the various types of shipping containers, standard shipping container sizes and everything else you need to know to pick the right shipping container for any project.

By the time you finish reading this, you will know exactly what type of shipping container is right for you.

Let’s get started by discussing the difference between used shipping containers and “new” ones.

Should you get a used shipping container or a “new” shipping container?

Unless you are buying a shipping container fresh out of the factory, chances are even “new” shipping containers have been used at least once to transport goods.

These containers are called one-trip containers or one-trippers.

What is a one-trip container?

A one-trip container is literally a container which has made one trip overseas.

One-trip shipping containers are very common because in the US we import more than we export, and it is frequently cheaper for companies overseas to build new containers than it would be to ship them back.

One-trippers have significantly less wear and tear than containers that have made more than one trip overseas and are often referred to as “new.”

What is a used shipping container?

A used shipping container is a container that has made more than one-trip overseas and in some cases has been used continuously for as many as 15 years!

Used shipping containers are sometimes referred to as “recycled containers.”

People tend to buy used shipping containers for projects like container homes, pop-up shops, and other more permanent projects.

The biggest difference between a used container and a one-trip container is the amount of wear and tear, rust and dents.

Used containers may also still have the logo of their original company on them.

Some common problems with used containers include:

  • Hard to open doors. Due to dents and overall wear and tear the doors of a used container might be difficult to open.
  • Worn down floors. Years of use will lead to the floor of a used container becoming patchy and worn down.
  • Odor. Depending on what the container was used to transport there might be a pungent odor in the container.

There are a few different classifications for used containers from best to worst they are II, CL, cargo worthy, wind and water-tight, and as is.

Be sure to inspect any used or recycled container you are interested in buying or renting before agreeing to take ownership of it.

Now that you know the difference between “new” shipping containers and used ones, let’s talk about standard shipping container sizes.

Standard Shipping Container Sizes:

Shipping containers come in a few standard sizes.

  • 10-foot shipping containers which are 10’ X 8’ X 8.5.’ A 10-foot shipping container can hold around 7 square feet of stuff.
  • 20-foot shipping containers which are 20’ X 8’ X 8.5.’ A 20-foot shipping container can hold around 9 square feet of stuff.
  • There are 40-foot shipping containers which are 40’ X 8’ X 8.5.’ A 40-foot shipping container can hold around 12 square feet of stuff.

Additionally, there are high cube containers which we will talk about in just a bit.

What is a Custom-Built Shipping Container?

A custom-built container also called a purpose-built container is a container that has been built to the owner’s exact specifications.

The biggest difference between a custom-built container and a one-tripper or used container is the size.

Standard shipping containers come in the sizes we listed above, whereas you can make a custom container whatever size you want.

Here at Southwest Mobile storage our experienced, licensed, and certified fabricators, engineers, and designers can customize a shipping container to meet your exact specifications.

Whatever your needs are, we can fabricate a shipping container for you!

What is a High-Cube Container?

High-Cube containers are standard containers that are 1-foot taller than the standard dimensions.

While typical shipping containers are 8.5 feet tall, high cubes are 9.5 feet tall making them perfect for offices, mobile laboratories, health centers or living spaces.

How to decide what type of shipping container is right for you:

First, you want to figure out what size of shipping container you need based on what you are going to be using it for.

Remember the standard container sizes are:

  • 10’ X 8’ X 8.5.’
  • 20’ X 8’ X 8.5’
  • 40’ X 8’ X 8.5’

There are also high-cube containers which are a foot taller standing 9.5 feet instead of 8.5.

If the standard dimensions are not going to work for you it may be time to consider a custom container.

Next, you want to decide between a “new” container or a used container.

Remember to inspect all used containers for rust and dents!

You can also add additional customizations such as:

  • Steel security doors and windows
  • Storage cabinets, tool racks, and cribs
  • Shelving units
  • Modular office units
  • Carts, dollies, and toolboxes
  • Stairs, platforms, ladders, and ramps

Once you know what size and condition container you need, you’re ready to rent or buy a shipping container.

And if you need some help figuring out exactly how much storage space you need or anything else shipping container related, our friendly and knowledgeable shipping container experts are ready to help you!

Give us a call at 1–800–686–9114 and we’ll get in touch with you.