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5 Tips to Inspect a Shipping Container

23.08.2015 - Posted by Updated On 23.08.2015    

Many people see shipping containers every day, however not as many people purchase them to use as storage units, modular building units, or whatever creative idea they come up with (although all ideas are growing in popularity). We take a lot of questions about what to look for when purchasing a used container, and the advice we normally provide is the same: Make sure the container is square, has minimal rust, and the doors work. If a container is sitting square the doors should operate, although some older container doors do require some encouragement.

Look at the lines

Once inside of a container, most people focus on the flooring and doors. While this makes sense, the first thing that we recommend you do is go to the far end of the container (the front) and look back along the top rails of the container. If the top rails appear straight it's a good sign that the container is wind and water tight. If there are any significant diversions in the top rail its well advised to inspect those sections of the container closer and check on any potential problems. If the container is wind and water tight and the top rails aren't in line, it may not be wind and water tight for long.


While the flooring may not be the top priority for many people, it does make sense to inspect the flooring for any major gouges or delamination. In a used shipping container it's normal to see some wear and tear, and probably some stains in the plywood due to age and usage. The flooring is normally inexpensive to replace or cover over, but it could be a cost that needs to be included in the final price negotiation.

Seeing Stars

The easiest way to see if there are any holes in the container, due to rust or other forces of nature, is to go inside of the container and pull the doors closed. Once inside, walk to the front of the container and slowly walk back looking along the top and bottom rails to see if any light appears. Holes might appear very small, or star like, and will need to be repaired to make sure the container remains secure against the elements.

shipping container inside
shipping container doors

Around the Doors

The bottom of the doors on any container are a great place for condensation and rust to collect. It's natural for moisture to build up and run down the sides of any unit, but the doors specifically allow for moisture to build up and make a home under the rubber sealant tubes around the edges of the door. If unmonitored, over time this buildup will allow for corrosion to take hold and decay the strength of the door.

Check Up Top

It's not always possible from the outside, but it's a good idea to check out the top of any container. The top of the container should be clean and free from any moisture and corrosion. Occasionally, things are dropped on top of a container, and these things are typically another container that fell out of line while being stacked or in transit. A simple remedy is to push the indented part of the roof back into line, but if the damage happened a while ago it could mean that moisture has collected and the top of the container may have started to rust. shipping container roof is the leading market place for buying and selling shipping containers, and the listed sellers are able to provide the best advice and insight into buying any size or condition of shipping container. If you have a question about any container listed on the site, please contact the seller directly through the listing page and they will be able to assist you. If you have a general container question you're welcome to contact the team at directly.

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