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Helpful Information about Storage Container Shopping

Updated on June 11, 2014

If you are in the market to purchase a storage container, do a bit of homework to familiarize yourself with some of the lingo and characteristics of various storage containers to ensure you purchase a product that fully suits your needs.

Storage containers have become very popular due to the immense possibilities surrounding their usage. A few of the functions of storage containers include the following:

1: Construction equipment storage

2: Car shed

3: Roadside vegetable/fruit stand

4: Concession stand

5: Rental equipment

6: Little league or major sports team gear

7: Temporary housing of school furniture and equipment during summer remodeling

8: Farm equipment/tractors

9: ATVs, snow-mobiles etc.

10. Artist studio

The uses for storage containers are limited only by one’s imagination! Most small businesses, contractors and residential customers opt for 20-foot containers since they take up less space and do not demand as much room for delivery. ‘Delivery Room’ space is an important consideration that will be discussed in a bit more detail.

Storage containers are relatively inexpensive and are constructed of heavy duty steel or aluminum; and offer easy, temporary storage solutions where the convenience of portability is very appealing, in addition to being able to add additional units quickly and efficiently, if necessary.


Typically, storage containers are available in 10, 20, and 45-foot lengths for both short-term and long-term needs. Aside from standard sizes, other dimensions are available; and in some cases, containers have been cut-down to size in order to offer smaller units. Larger sizes include lengths up to 48 and 53-feet. Larger-sized containers are available as “high-cubes” with a height of 9’6”

There are many considerations to take into account to ensure you purchase a storage container without any unexpected surprises. Here are a few details you don’t want to overlook:

Delivery Room Space/Considerations:

Determining the correct ‘delivery-room space’ is crucial. You may not be aware that a 40-foot container will need close to three times the delivery space as a 20-foot model. Generally speaking, you will need to figure two times the length of the container plus an additional 10 feet in a straight line when figuring delivery via a standard tilt bed, “roll-off” style truck bed or trailer. It’s logical to assume that if one has 40-feet of space, that would be entirely sufficient to accommodate the delivery of a 40-foot storage container, but that is not the case.

Also, make sure your potential placement spot is level! If your location isn’t entirely flat, you can counteract the issue by being available during shipment to supply wood blocks to help level the container, otherwise, the doors may not shut properly. And one more thing, see to it that your location has ample drainage—the last thing you need is for your unit to begin to sink during any rainy season!


Municipal restrictions within counties, cities and sub-divisions will vary in their restrictions regarding the placement of a large storage container. Before investing financially, invest informatively with your local municipality to get the in’s and out’s of what you can or cannot do regarding storage placement and usage. In some cases, unfortunately, large storage containers will be entire restricted.

Know What You Desire Ahead Of Time:

When speaking with a reputable container representative, be ready to answer questions that will help narrow down the search—questions such as:

1: what condition of container are you looking for?

2: what will be the container’s purpose?

3: what you are willing to pay including tax and delivery costs?

Be receptive to what the experts suggest so a container can be selected to fully meet your needs.

Know the Storage Container Lingo:

Certain terms are used regarding storage containers, including the following:

1: “One-Trip”—these containers are usually manufactured overseas, having made only one trip across the sea. Most are “new” or “like-new” in appearance.

2: “Corten Steel” – extremely durable steel that resists harsh weather conditions, including marine environments.

3: “Factory Paint” – painting applications done entirely during the manufacturing process. Multiple-layer paint covers the surface of these new containers.

4: “No-shipping Label” – these containers will have no bright colors, nor a shipping label advertisement, but usually have a single color where repainting is not necessary.

5: “No Let Down and No Surprises” -- these are ‘like new’ containers where the receptacle’s condition will be worry-free.

6: “Cargo Worthy” – has been certified by a licensed surveyor which ensures a damage-free unit.

7: “As Is” – the cheapest option due to compromises in the structural integrity of the container. Surface rust, scratches, dents etc. should be expected.

8: “Wind/Water-Tight” – this container will be dry and suitable for storage but buyers beware—some private sellers will misleadingly use this label after they have performed very temporary repair measures. Buying a WWT container from an actual retailer would be advised.

8: “Modified Containers” – any number of ‘add-on’s’ can be included with storage containers such as roll-up doors, windows, shelving, temperature control, partitions, electrical outlets and much more. Keep in mind, some of these amenities can compromise the integrity of the unit. Roll-up doors, for example, can lessen the seal-tight qualities.

Once you have all the details and logistics figured with the help of a knowledgeable representative, you can look forward to your storage container to meet your anticipated needs!


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