Shipping Container Storage: 12 Tips You Should Consider First

green and black shipping container home

Shipping container storage units are popular alternatives to warehouses and other conventional storage facilities. They are cheap and don’t require too much space. They are also mobile and easy to transfer to a new location if needed. This article will provide you with valuable tips to help you make a shipping container storage that will serve all your storage needs. 

Is a Shipping Container Good for Storage?

Yes, a shipping container is an excellent option if you are looking for a good storage solution. Shipping containers are well-constructed, so your tools, equipment, and other valuables will be secure. They have thick, steel bodies, so they are not easy to tamper with. The solid construction can help deter break-ins and gives you peace of mind that you have ample security.   

How Can You Use Your Shipping Container for Storage?

Although shipping containers are great storage options, there are some things you can do to make the most out of them. Here are some tips on utilizing the full potential of your shipping container storage. 

Check local ordinances

Check with local building authorities to see if you need a permit for shipping container storage on your property. Once your shipping container storage becomes a permanent structure, you will need a building permit. By definition, a structure becomes permanent when it is fixed to the ground by a foundation, slab, piers, etc. To be on the safe side, ask your county’s building and zoning office for advice. 

If your property is within a subdivision, be sure to speak with officers of your Homeowners’ Association or HOA. Although your county may permit shipping container storage units within your property, your HOA may not. Checking with your HOA can help you avoid conflict with other homeowners. 

Choose between new and old containers

Although most shipping containers for sale are used, there are also new ones. Used shipping containers are cheaper at around $1,500-$5,000 each. New ones are more expensive, starting at around $3,000 each. The price difference is one reason prospective homeowners also factor in shipping container conditions when computing shipping container home costs. Although more expensive, new shipping containers last longer. If you are buying a used shipping container, make sure it is still in good condition and fit for use as a storage unit. 

Buy the right container size

Choose the right size of shipping container for your needs; they can be 10, 20, or 40 feet long and 8 feet wide. The standard height is 8 feet and 6 inches, while high containers are 9 feet and 6 inches tall. Knowing everything about shipping container dimensions is vital because it helps you determine which size you need to buy. If you have the financial capacity, buy a shipping container that can house more than you intend to store. This gives you room to store more items without having to buy another container. 

Buy from a reputable supplier

Like any other product; it is important to buy a shipping container from a trusted supplier. If you have a supplier in mind, scour the internet for customer reviews to see what previous buyers have to say. However, although customer reviews can give accurate feedback, there are also fake reviews so use your better judgment in identifying which sources to trust. 

Check how many years they’ve been in the business since it indicates that they have established a large customer base. If possible, ask for recommendations from other shipping container storage owners.

Consider delivery options

While some suppliers include delivery fees in their prices, some don’t. Ask your supplier if there is a delivery fee for your container. If there are delivery charges, it is better to source your shipping container from a local supplier. Local suppliers sometimes offer free delivery within a specific area, saving you money. If your supplier has delivery charges, compare them with the cost of hiring a moving truck to choose the inexpensive option. 

Receive Quotes from Multiple Barndominium Builders & Kit Providers Near You Today (It's Free!)

Fill in this 1-minute form below and receive estimates for your project without having to find them yourself! Let them do the work.

Prepare the foundation

A proper foundation can help make your shipping container storage last longer. You might not need a foundation if your shipping container storage site is level and dry. However, a foundation is highly encouraged if the site is prone to flooding. Having a foundation will elevate the container and protect its contents from water damage. It will also help the container last longer since constant exposure to water can result in rusting. Common foundation choices include piers, wooden beams, and piles. 

Plan the placement of your container

Survey your property and identify the best spot to place your shipping container storage. If you have a shipping container garage or shipping container workshop, position the container near them to easily access tools, equipment, and supplies. If you are using the container for commercial purposes, ensure that the container’s placement won’t impede the movement of employees. 

Thoroughly clean your container

Although suppliers often clean containers before selling them, it is better to clean them yourself. This can help you ensure no residues from previous contents that might harm you or your stored items. This is also an excellent time to examine the container and identify holes that might result in leaks. If there is a lingering smell inside the container, clean it with baking soda and water. You can also spread ground coffee inside the container and leave it locked for several days. Coffee  absorbs odor and will help lessen, if not completely eliminate, any unwanted odor inside the container. 

Install shelves

Put your handyman skills to the test by building shelves inside the container. This can help you maximize the storage capabilities of your container. Shelves can also make your shipping container storage more organized so you can easily find the items you need. In addition, using shelves can help prevent delicate items from getting squashed or damaged by heavier ones. 

Explore the idea of using hanging shelves to maximize your container’s height. Hanging shelves is also one of the shipping container homes ideas you can use if you own a small container home and want to maximize space. You can buy pre-owned shelves in garage sales if you don’t have woodwork or metalwork skills. 

Stack containers if needed

One of the advantages of shipping containers is that they are stackable. You can stack shipping containers if you have limited space but need more storage. You need to reinforce your shipping containers to prevent deformation when stacking them. One of the best ways to make shipping containers is by welding steel guardrails to their interiors. Guardrails will add support and help stabilize your shipping container storage. 

Prepare a roof

The roof of a shipping container should be adequate to protect its contents from the elements. However, adding a roof can help protect the container from moisture because it will divert rainwater. The top of a shipping container is flat and can cause rainwater to accumulate. This can lead to rusting and shorten the life of your container. A simple tarp can shield your container effectively.

While it will cost you money, having a proper roof has benefits. It can help shield you from the sun and rain if you need to go into your shipping container storage. A sloped roof is also more effective in keeping rainwater away from your container. 

Anti-corrosive paint

Using anti-corrosive paint can help extend the life of your shipping container storage. This type of paint acts as a barrier to shield the container from moisture and prevent rusting. If you are in an area that receives considerable amounts of rain, anti-corrosive paint can help prevent your container from degrading. Painting the container can also make it look more presentable. 

What Should You Not Store in a Shipping Container?

Although shipping containers are versatile storage units, there are limitations on what you can store in them. Avoid using them to store potentially-hazardous materials, like lighter fluids, fuel, batteries, ammunition, fireworks, paint thinner, and alcohol. These materials can ignite or explode since shipping containers that are not climate-controlled can get extremely hot. 

Avoid storing perishable items inside a shipping container. This includes fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and other food items. Get a reefer or refrigerated container if you need to store perishable items. 

Storing extremely valuable items in shipping containers is also discouraged. Family heirlooms like antique furniture, silverware, crystals, and art pieces should not be stored in shipping containers. You should store these items in climate-controlled environments to preserve them. Shipping container storage units have fluctuating temperatures that can damage these valuable items. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a shipping container and a storage container?

The terms shipping container and storage container refer to the same thing. The only difference is the way that people use them. A shipping container is for transporting items over long distances, like via cargo ships. A storage container is a shipping container that stays in one place and acts as a storage facility. 

How do you pick a shipping container that’s good for storage? 

You need to check several things to ensure that your shipping container is ideal for storage. Ensure the container is structurally sound by checking for bends, dings, scratches, or holes. Get inside the container and close the doors to see if any light comes in, indicating holes. Check if there are weird smells inside the container. Ensure that the doors, hinges, handles, and floor are in great condition. 

How much does a shipping container typically cost?

The cost of shipping containers starts at around $1,500 for used ones, while the cost of new containers starts at around $3,000. 

Final Thoughts

If you want an alternative storage option, a shipping container might just be what you need. Shipping containers are sturdy and offer excellent protection for your items. They are also cheap and easy to maintain. By following the tips listed above, you can turn a shipping container into a formidable storage unit to protect your items for a long time. Follow our Facebook page for more informative articles about metal buildings like shouses, shipping container homes, and barndominiums.