Frequently asked questions


We aim to answer some frequently asked questions about shipping containers. Discover what they are, their security and durability, tips on managing condensation and planning permission. If you still have any questions, you can contact us here.

What are shipping containers?

A shipping container is a large corrugated steel box, designed and built with the suitability to withstand overseas shipment, storage and handling. Although there are many different types of shipping container, they are all manufactured to the “International Standards Organisation” (more commonly known as ISO) specification in respect to their dimensions. They are predominantly used to transport a variety of cargos all over the world.

What is a container made of?

Although some are made of aluminium and steel, they are now mostly made entirely of a special steel called “Corten’’ which is a rust prohibitive type of steel. A basic steel frame, fitted with 8 weight bearing corner casting fitted into the 8 corners, is filled in with corrugated steel panels which are between 1.5mm to 3.00 mm thick.
At one end is a pair of almost full width and height doors. These are fitted with normally 4 locking bars which interlock with the frame top and bottom. Almost all containers have a 27mm thick wooden ply floor, which is supported on load bearing cross bearers approx 12” apart, making the container capable of withstanding loads of 20 to 35 tons. Depending on size.

How much does a container weigh?

A 20ft container weighs around 2.5 tons.

A 40ft container weighs around 4 tons.

Are water containers watertight?

Shipping containers are designed to be fully waterproof, including the container doors which are suitably fitted with full wraparound seals. Shipping containers are designed this way because their initial use is to transport cargo overseas, so they need to be able to withstand the elements to protect the goods inside.

Are shipping containers secure?

When padlocked through the available holes in the door gear they are fairly secure but can be made more secure by the fitting of a lock box which conceals the lock from interference.

How old is a used container?

The age of a used container can vary considerably but usually they are sold by shipping lines after 10 years of age.

How long will a used container last?

The anticipated length of usage as a storage container depends on its condition at point of sale, the careful use and regular maintenance, such as painting and servicing can provide many years of good waterproof service.

How long will a new container last?

A new container built by a reputable manufacturer will under normal conditions last 10 years without maintenance and continue for another 10- 20 years if looked after.

What colour will my shipping container be?

Containers come in a wide variety of colours depending upon the livery of the original owner. The type of paint is usually chlorinated rubber or vinyl, both manufactured to resist sea water, sun and abrasion. Our once used containers come as standard painted in either Gentian Blue, Cobalt Blue or Bottle Green. You can ask for your container to be painted with a specific colour for an additional cost.



Do I need to paint my container?

Repainting a used container from the onset can only assist in lengthening its life and can often be achieved by your supplier fairly inexpensively to the colour you want.

Does a shipping container need any maintenance?

You should periodically service the moving parts of the door locking gear and check the secureness of the door seals to the door frames. A visual inspection of the exterior of the roof is also recommended, touching up small areas of corrosion in the early stages will prevent unexpected leaks.

Are containers affected by condensation?

A container exposed to sunlight and cold can cause condensation, especially if the interior or if the contents of the interior are damp.
Condensation can normally be easily prevented by the use of disposable dehumidifiers or the more efficient anti condensation technique of spraying the ceiling with Grafo-therm Anticondensation Coating. You can find more on condensation in shipping containers here.

Can I place my shipping container on unprepared land?

The structure of the container allows it to be only supported by its 4 corners with a full load should you require it, but the land base could be grass or soil but it must be firm throughout the duration of the container placement. Also the ground should be level helping the container to remain square. The doors may become difficult to open or indeed worse if the end frame of the container moves out of square.

How are shipping containers supported?

The container is capable of supporting a full load on its four bottom corners and block pavers or rail sleepers are good materials to support the container, which is best lifted from the ground to help reduce any damage to the container or its content by dampness.

Do I need planning permission?

Planning permission varies from district to district. Please do not assume because the container is a moveable object that you do not require planning permission. If you intend placing for any length of time, it pays to check out with your local authority.

How will my container be delivered?

Delivery is achieved by crane assisted vehicle and can be arranged by your supplier or yourself. Do make sure you have sufficient space to carry out the manoeuvre, vehicle sizes and capabilities do vary.
Always fully discuss with your provider before commencement of delivery. You can find more on the delivery of shipping containers here.

What if I no longer need the shipping container?

Before purchasing a container, consider how long you actually require one. If it’s only for short period it may be more economic to hire, should you buy one and wish to dispose of it at a later date, your supplier would be pleased to make you an offer. This will also include the price it will cost them to collect. Always discuss with us any queries you may have. We will be pleased to help and it may save time and money.

Browse our range of shipping containers for sale, we offer new build containers as well as used shipping containers. We also specialise in bespoke container conversions, see how containers can be transformed into entirely different structures.