FAQs – New and Used Shipping Containers

Please find our most frequently asked questions about new and used shipping containers. If your question is not answered below, please contact us and we will be pleased to help.

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  • What are shipping containers?

    Although there are many different types of container they are all manufactured to the ‘International Standards Organisation’ (ISO) dimensions specification. Therefore, a 40ft container made in Europe is the same as a 40ft container made in China. There are many different types of container to transport the variety of cargos all over the world. Almost everything you use in daily life has been transported in an ISO container – coffee, electrical items, clothing, frozen food, timber, steel, and fruit.

  • What are shipping containers made of?

    Although some shipping containers are made of aluminium and steel, the majority are now made entirely of a rust-prohibitive steel called “Corten’’. A basic steel frame, fitted with weight-bearing castings fitted into the eight container corners, is filled in with corrugated steel panels which are between 1.5mm to 3.00mm thick. At one end is a pair of almost full width and height doors. These are normally fitted with four locking bars which interlock with the frame top and bottom. Most containers have a 27mm thick wooden ply floor which is supported on load bearing cross-bearers approximately 30cms apart, making the container capable of withstanding loads of 20 to 35 tons – depending on size.

  • How heavy are shipping containers?

    The containers themselves weigh around 2.5 tons for a 20ft and 4 tons for a 40ft. Due to their machinery, refrigeration containers weight more and are heavier at one end.

  • Are shipping containers water tight?

    Shipping containers are designed to be fully waterproof, including the doors which are fitted with full wrap around seals. International Standards Organisation (ISO) containers are designed to last many years and withstand overseas crossings with laden cargo.

  • Are shipping containers secure?

    When padlocked through the available holes in the door gear, they are secure but can be made more secure by the fitting of a lock box, which protects the lock from interference (and the elements).

  • How old is a used container?

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

  • 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. Painting and servicing can prolong the life of a container.

  • 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 serviced and maintained as advised.

  • What colour will the 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 new containers are often blue or dark green. However, all containers we supply can be painted to suit your needs.

  • Do I need to paint the shipping container?

    Repainting a used container from the onset can only assist in lengthening its life and can often be achieved fairly inexpensively. Ask our sales team for a quotation.

  • Do shipping containers need maintenance?

    You should periodically service the moving parts of the door locking gear and check that the door seals are fixed securely to the door frames. A visual inspection of the exterior of the roof is also recommended. Fixing small areas of corrosion in the early stages will prevent possible leaks.

  • Are shipping containers affected by condensation?

    A container exposed to sunlight and cold can suffer from condensation, especially if the interior, or the contents of the interior, are damp. Condensation can usually be prevented by the use of disposable dehumidifiers or the more efficient anti-condensation technique of spraying the ceiling with Graffo. Please speak to our sales staff about applying a coating of Grafo to your container before delivery.

  • Can you put shipping containers on unprepared land?

    The structure of the container is designed to be supported by four corners with a full load should you require it. 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 stable. 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. Alternatively, rail sleepers are suitable materials to support the container, which is best lifted from the ground to help prevent any potential damage to the container or its content due to damp.

  • Do I need planning permission for a shipping container?

    Planning permission for shipping containers varies by location. Please do not assume because the container is a movable object that you do not require planning permission. If you intend placing for any length of time, we suggest contacting your local authority.

  • How do I get a shipping container delivered?

    Delivery of a shipping container can be achieved by crane assisted vehicle or by a regular LGV if you have your own lifting facilities. Do make sure you have sufficient space for the vehicle to manoeuvre. Vehicle sizes and capabilities do vary, so you will need to discuss this with our sales team before delivery commences, which will save both time and money.

  • What happens when I no longer want 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 simply hire one. Should you buy one and wish to dispose of it at a later date, we would be pleased to make you an offer.