5 Cool Ideas for Metal Shipping Containers
5 Ways to Re-use a Metal Shipping Container
Once you start looking around, you’ll notice shipping containers are everywhere these days. You’ll find these storage units on the back of trucks, boats, planes, and trains; although, there have been some who have been remodeling these units into something a little more attractive than a rusted steel bin. These containers can do anything from shipping your furniture internationally to being the next big mobile restaurant to open in your neighborhood, as long as you have the creativity required.
Have an old metal shipping container you’re looking to remodel? Take a look at some of the coolest ideas below!
What are Steel Shipping Containers?
Metal shipping containers are exactly what they sound like: Large containers made of steel that are designed to ensure safe travel wherever they go. Typically, their success is linked to the fact that they can be moved from a train to a ship to an aircraft without ever having to be unpacked. They’ve become standard in the shipping industry thanks to their simplicity.
Shipping containers can be built to any specifications, although they are typically between 20ft to 40ft and made of steel. For the most part, they are all designed with a closed top and hinged doors on either end. Depending on the needs of the customer, these containers can be refrigerated or thermal insulated, as well as be designed to ship vehicles. While they were originally designed with corporations in mind, single consumers have been using them for years as a means of moving internationally. They run a little cheaper than having to pay a guy in a van to move your furniture across country.
Within recent years, there have been groups of people — as well as companies — specializing in remodeling these metal shipping containers to meet just about any need.
How are They Made?
Not surprising, these shipping containers are really only built in China in specialized facilities. Due to the price of steel, it’s not really feasible to have them built in the US at this point: It’s cheaper to build them in China and ship them globally.
They’re often built in specialized factories. Once a facility cuts and corrugates the steel, it’s shaped around and welded to the roof panels and braces. Then they weld together the corners posts and door before assembling the crate with wooden frames. In addition, they also waterproof the entire container, as they’re expected to sit in rainy and wet environments for days or weeks on end. Because the steel is COR-TEN steel, traditional rust will not form on these storage containers.
On average, a 20ft shipping container can set you back about $4500, although the prices vary depending on where you are.
Can Anyone Buy One?
Although they were designed with corporations and shipping companies in mind, the average Joe can purchase a shipping container pretty easily. Depending on what you intend to do with it and how talented a handyman you are, you can either buy these containers at their 20ft to 40ft length — exactly like a shipping company would — or you can buy them modified. For those who are good with tools, there are even some options to build your own smaller shipping container after purchasing a kit.
Keep in mind, if you’re looking to modify a shipping container for any of the purposes listed below, you’ll need to buy a new container. The danger with used containers is that no one will be able to tell you what was in it before you bought it, meaning you could be buying a container that contained something as dangerous as hazardous waste. Typically, it’s best to just go with a new container and eliminate all worry.
Where Can I Get One?
First, you’ll have to decide whether you want to rent or buy one. If you’re only planning on using it for storage for a few months, there are some pretty affordable rental options. A company like shippingcontainersale.com is a good resource for a container.
If you’re looking to buy a container, you’ll have a few more options. If you don’t need specific features on your container — i.e. if you don’t need it refrigerated, in a tunnel design, etc. — you may be able to find a used shipping container near you. Check sites such as eBay, Craigslist, and your favorite classifieds to see if anyone is selling an old one at an affordable price.
Ideas for your Metal Shipping Container
With all the technical stuff out of the way, now comes the good stuff. While it’s pretty obvious that these modular units make awesome shipping options, creative groups have found some interesting ways to use their old crates. If repurposing these containers seems too overwhelming, there are also a variety of businesses popping up that can do the work for you. Repurposing takes an awful lot of work, especially considering you will have to be familiar with welding and working with steel. Take a look at some of our favorite ideas to recycle these steel containers:
- Shipping Crate Homes :
They are becoming a popular alternative to traditional homes. Following the “tiny homes” trend, many have repurposed their old storage containers into small homes. For those who feel a 40ft home is just too small for everyday life, they also make awesome home additions as well as fantastic man-caves or bunkhouses. Once you see how customizable these spaces can be, you’ll realize the possibilities for these crates are really endless.
- Mobile Offices :
Similar to custom-built houses, modified shipping cates are actually becoming popular as mobile offices. Because they can be moved anywhere, they’re great for construction or security companies that need a small office they can take to multiple sites. They work the same way as trailer offices, although they last significantly longer thanks to their steel body.
- Custom Built Garage :
Since these shipping containers can be large enough to ship cars, they make perfect additions to homes as garages. When you get these custom made, you’ll be able to have a garage door installed on one end and you can furnish the other end however you want. If you’re looking for a workspace to add to your home, this can be a fantastic and sustainable idea.
- Build a Mobile Business :
While they’re obviously not as portable as things like food trucks, storage containers can make awesome mobile businesses. They can easily be repurposed as mobile kitchens and set in a great location for a season.
- Design an In-ground Pool :
Finally — and probably our favorite way to recycle your containers — is the option to create your own in-ground pool. Apart from reducing waste, the great thing about these pools is that if you have it designed properly, you can take it with you when you move. To boot, it’s also a significantly cheaper option than a traditional pool, depending on the area you live in.
Recycling has never looked better than these cool ideas for modifying your storage container. The secret is finding a reliable company you can trust to modify the typical shipping container. The work is specialized, and it’s not something the average handyman can do at home.
Have you repurposed any of your old storage containers? Let us know what your favorite designs have been!
Casey Warren – Casey is an editor and creative writer for the shippingcontainersale.com. This website helps people find the closest dealer to them to get a new or a used container. Casey is a bigger hunter and fisher. He often uses storage containers for blinds and fishing huts.