Used Storage Containers
Used storage and shipping containers offer a welcome and cost effective alternative to purchasing storage containers new or renting. Used shipping containers are in ample supply, which is reflected in the steep price discounts typically available. Pricing is also dependent on size, condition, and add-ons. As with any resale goods, you should thoroughly inspect used storage containers prior to purchase.
Used shipping container sizes
Used shipping containers are offered in the same range of standard sizes as new, including 10' storage containers, 20' storage containers, 40' storage containers, and 48' storage containers. Size is usually the most important consideration for used shipping and storage containers, once you settle on the size needed, you can focus on pricing and finding the best deal.
Pricing by the size
Used 10' storage containers are typically offered in the $1,000-2,000 range. Pound-for-pound they are more expensive than larger options, so consider carefully whether you might want a 20' storage container or larger. In general, you should look to save about $500 purchasing used instead of new.
Used 20' storage containers are most often found in the $1,500-3,000 range. They are also more expensive on a per-square-foot basis than the ubiquitous 40' storage container. Above $3,000 represents very little savings compared to new, unless there are significant add-ons.
Used 40' storage containers begin at around $1,000, any lower might indicate a substantially degraded product. The $1,000-3000 range is a sweet spot for many buyers, indicating perhaps significant cosmetic damage but no functional degradation. At $3,000 and above, the price for used begins to compete unfavorably with new. Add-ons may restore value in the highest price ranges.
Used 48' storage containers offer best value in the $2,000-4,000 range. Economy of scale offers a better deal than the 10' and 20' shipping containers, and only slightly more expensive per-square-foot than 40' storage containers. 48' shipping containers offer many add-ons, which affect price.
Inspecting used shipping containers
Used shipping and storage containers should always be inspected thoroughly prior to purchase. While reputable dealers will not intentionally sell damaged or unusable products, damage may accidentally go unnoticed. You should not rely on photos: inspection should be conducted in person, by yourself or a trusted agent.
Cosmetic damage can usually be ignored and may in fact present an opportunity for you to negotiate the price down. Minor rusting, scuffed paint, scratches, minor deformation or dents are all manifestations of cosmetic damage.
Heavy rusting is typically the most serious problem and diminishes the structural integrity of used shipping containers, which can allow contents to be damaged or the container itself to deteriorate suddenly and catastrophically. Holes, severe deformations, and broken welds are also common and present the same dangers. A proper inspection of a used storage container should confirm the following:
External container checklist
- No holes or cracks
- All weld lines intact
- Doors open and close properly
- Closing devices function properly
- All adhesive labels from prior cargoes removed
- Stanchions, lashing belts, and/or roof bows present and fitted
Internal container checklist
- Container is watertight (close doors and look for any light entering)
- All weld lines intact
- No evidence of water leaks or moisture damage
- Clean and odorless
- No nails or protruding surfaces that could damage cargo