A General Guide to Shipping Containers for Hirers and Buyers

After their invention in 1956, shipping containers have become extensively used by companies and households. They offer safe and secure transportation for all types of items from readymade products to home furniture and appliances. If you plan to buy or to hire a container, you should learn as much as possible about your options first. Consider the practical information and advice provided below.


The size of shipping containers is based on their length, which can range from 8 to 56 feet, as per the ISO standard. The most widely used models are the 20-foot and 40-foot ones. They are used for transporting all kinds of objects using various modes of transportation – road, rail and sea. The height can range from 8 feet to 9 feet and 6 inches.

Traditionally, most models have height of 8 feet and 6 inches, but many of the more recently produced ones have height of 9 feet and 6 inches. The width is fixed to 8 feet. Still, in some cases it can go up to 8.2 feet. You have to ensure that the chosen mode of transportation will be able to handle a container of your preferred size.


As a hirer or buyer, you will be interested in the volume of the shipping container as well. It is typically expressed in cubic feet, but it can also be expressed in cubic metres so you have to be careful. There are three weight measures to pay attention to. The empty weight is the weight of the shipping box itself. The maximum gross weight is the weight of the item plus the weight of the loaded goods or personal belongings. The net load shows you the maximum weight of the objects which can be loaded inside. Again, two measures can be used – pounds and kilograms.


The modern shipping boxes of this type are made from special steel alloys, which are commonly known as weathering steel. This name is given to them because they react with the elements to form a special coating which protects them from rust and corrosion and from other types of damage caused by the weather. The use of this material eliminates the need for paint application, but this is typically done.


In order to facilitate loading, the shipping box must have a double door which swings back to 270 degrees. It is best if the item comes with a padlock which helps to keep it highly secure. Side vents are important for proper ventilation and the prevention of condensation.

You are now ready to go shopping for shipping containers.

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