The Ultimate Guide to Purchasing Self-Storage Containers

Use our complete self-storage container guide to confidently navigate. We'll explain the kinds, their benefits and downsides, and how to choose one for your possessions. Find the right container—secure, sturdy, and economical.

Self-storage containers have become increasingly popular for their versatility, durability and convenience. Whether you need extra space for personal belongings, business inventory or a unique project, purchasing a self-storage container can be a cost effective and practical solution. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about buying a self-storage container, from understanding your needs to making the final purchase.

Understanding Your Needs

Before diving into the market, it’s crucial to assess your specific needs. Here are some questions to consider:

  1. Purpose: What will you use the container for? Personal storage, business inventory, or a customized project?
  2. Size: How much space do you need? Containers come in various sizes, typically 10ft, 20ft and 40ft.
  3. Location: Where will you place the container? Ensure you have adequate space and the necessary permits.
  4. Budget: How much are you willing to spend? Factor in the cost of the container, delivery and potential modifications.

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Types of Self-Storage Containers

There are several types of containers available, each suited for different purposes:

Guide to Purchase Self-Storage Container

  1. Standard Dry Containers: These are the most common and come in various sizes. They are ideal for general storage purposes.
  2. Refrigerated Containers (Reefers): These are perfect for storing temperature-sensitive items such as food or pharmaceuticals.
  3. Open-Top Containers: Suitable for oversized items that cannot fit through standard container doors.
  4. Flat Rack Containers: Ideal for heavy machinery or vehicles, with collapsible sides for easy loading and unloading.
  5. Insulated Containers: These help regulate temperature without active refrigeration, suitable for goods that need protection from extreme temperatures.

Choosing the Right Size

Selecting the right size container is critical. Here’s a quick overview:

  1. 10ft Containers: Suitable for small storage needs, like personal belongings or small business inventory.
  2. 20ft Containers: These are the most popular and versatile, providing ample space for most storage needs.
  3. 40ft Containers: Ideal for large storage requirements, such as bulk inventory or large equipment.

Consider not only the amount of space you need now but also potential future needs. It’s often better to choose a slightly larger container to avoid running out of space.

New vs. Used Containers

Both new and used containers have their advantages and disadvantages:

  1. New Containers:
    • Pros: Pristine condition, no wear and tear, longer lifespan.
    • Cons: Higher cost.
  2. Used Containers:
    • Pros: Lower cost, readily available.
    • Cons: Potential for rust, dents and other wear and tear. May require repairs or modifications.

When purchasing a used container, always inspect it thoroughly. Check for structural integrity, rust and any signs of previous damage.

Container Modifications

Depending on your needs, you might want to modify your container. Here are some common modifications:

  1. Doors and Windows: Adding doors or windows for accessibility and ventilation.
  2. Insulation: Essential for temperature-sensitive items.
  3. Shelving: For organized storage of smaller items.
  4. Locking Mechanisms: Enhancing security with advanced locks.
  5. Electrical Wiring: If you need lighting or power inside the container.

Many suppliers offer customization services, so inquire about these options when purchasing.

Finding a Reputable Supplier

Choosing the right supplier is crucial. Here are some tips to find a reputable one:

  1. Research: Look for suppliers with good reviews and a strong reputation in the industry.
  2. Experience: An experienced supplier will be able to provide better advice and service.
  3. Inventory: Ensure they have a wide range of containers to choose from.
  4. Customer Service: Good customer service is essential for a smooth buying process.
  5. Delivery Options: Check if they offer delivery and at what cost.

Inspecting the Container

Before finalizing your purchase, inspect the container thoroughly. Here’s a checklist:

  1. Structural Integrity: Ensure there are no major dents or structural damages.
  2. Rust and Corrosion: Check for rust, especially around the doors and roof.
  3. Doors and Seals: Ensure doors open and close properly and that seals are intact to prevent leaks.
  4. Flooring: Check the floor for any signs of rot or damage.
  5. Previous Repairs: Look for any signs of repairs, which might indicate past issues.

If you’re buying a used container and can’t inspect it in person, ask the supplier for detailed photos or videos.

Delivery and Placement

Once you’ve purchased your container, you need to consider delivery and placement. Here are some tips:

  1. Access: Ensure the delivery truck can access your property.
  2. Foundation: Prepare a level foundation for the container. Concrete blocks or wooden sleepers can be used.
  3. Permits: Check with local authorities if you need any permits to place a container on your property.
  4. Security: Choose a secure location to minimize the risk of theft or vandalism.

Cost Considerations

The cost of a self-storage container can vary widely based on several factors:

  1. Size: Larger containers cost more.
  2. Condition: New containers are more expensive than used ones.
  3. Modifications: Custom features add to the cost.
  4. Delivery: Delivery fees can vary based on distance and accessibility.
  5. Market Conditions: Prices can fluctuate based on supply and demand.

On average, a new 20ft container can cost between $2,000 to $5,000, while a used one might range from $1,000 to $3,000. Factor in additional costs for modifications and delivery.

Financing and Leasing Options

If the upfront cost is a concern, consider financing or leasing options:

  1. Financing: Many suppliers offer financing plans, allowing you to pay in installments.
  2. Leasing: Leasing can be a good option if you need the container for a short-term project or don’t want to make a large upfront investment.

Maintenance Tips

Proper maintenance can extend the life of your container:

  1. Regular Inspections: Check for signs of rust, leaks and structural damage.
  2. Rust Prevention: Treat any rust spots immediately to prevent them from spreading.
  3. Cleanliness: Keep the container clean and dry to avoid moisture buildup.
  4. Lubricate Doors: Regularly lubricate door hinges and locks to keep them functioning smoothly.
  5. Repairs: Address any damage promptly to avoid further deterioration.

Environmental Impact

Shipping containers are an eco-friendly storage solution. Repurposing old containers reduces waste and the need for new materials. Additionally; their durability and longevity mean they can be used for many years, making them a sustainable choice.


Purchasing a self-storage container can be a smart investment, offering a versatile, durable and cost-effective storage solution. By understanding your needs, choosing the right type and size, inspecting thoroughly and considering modifications, you can find the perfect container to meet your requirements. With proper maintenance and care , your self-storage container can provide reliable service for many years.

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