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Choosing the Right Shipping Container for your Project

20.03.2023 - Posted by Updated On 20.03.2023    

Buying a new or used shipping container for any type of project can be a blessing, or nightmare, depending on what you know before you get started. Age, conditiChoosing the Right Shipping Container for your Project

Buying a new or used shipping container for any type of project can be a blessing, or nightmare, depending on what you know before you get started. Age, condition, and the shipping line or leasing company that owned and managed the container has an impact on the condition of the container and its resale/secondary market value. Depending on the type of container that your project needs you could go in several different directions.

New/One Trip Shipping Containers

One trip shipping containers are essentially new units that were manufactured in China, and transported to the United States or Canada one time; then sold to be used for any range of domestic or commercial uses. They can be found in 20', 40' lengths, and also 40' high cubes. In some cases you can also find 10' containers, also called "duo-cons".

One trip shipping containers are typically painted tan/beige/almond, white/ivory, or blue. They're fairly generic in appearance, but that's part of their appeal.

One trip shipping containers also come with several extra features that you won't commonly find on used containers. The most popular features are forklift pockets, waist high door handles (often referred to as high locking gear), and a factory equipped lock box.

one trip 20' shipping container

One trip shipping containers can be used for just about anything. If you plan on using them in some type of modular construction or portable office, they work great because the sides are free of dents, dings, and there is no rust to be treated or repaired. If you're building a storage company the neutral colors naturally blend into any environment. The only downside with one trip containers is that they tend to be a little more expensive than used containers. While it varies from one location to the next, you can expect one trip shipping containers to be at least $1000 more than their used cousin.

Used Shipping Containers

Used shipping containers can vary greatly in every aspect except for size. Sizes are typically 20', 40' and 40' high cube; and they can be used anywhere from 8 years to 15 or more. It's rare that a shipping line or leasing company would sell a container younger than 10 years old, there are times when it does happen for any number of reasons.

Used shipping containers are commonly blue, red, orange, or green; and are typically branded with the line or leasing company that owned the container.

Used containers typically aren't equipped with fork lift pockets, so they require a little more skill to move them around. Used containers are also equipped with low door handles (low locking gear) because the containers spends much of its life on a chassis where the door handles need to be accessible by the driver or dock worker. Lastly, used shipping containers don't come with a factory equipped lock box, although you can purchase a bolt on lock box and install one yourself.

cargo worthy 40' shipping container

The condition of used shipping containers varies greatly, and each company tends to have a different method of grading their containers, luckily the retail world tends to speak the same language: as is, where is, wind and water tight, and cargo worthy.

"As is, where is" containers are named a little ambiguously. The seller may not want to make any repairs to the container so they list it for sale "as is" and the buy should inspect the container to get an idea of the general condition. It may be a small issue, or it could be something major; it's up to the buyer to decide if they want to make the repairs to get it to the right condition for their requirements.


Wind and water tight containers are probably 12 years or older, and are still solid units that have no major holes or damage, and the doors still lock up tightly. There may be some holes that have been repaired over the years, but overall they're a solid container in good working order. A regular reason that they fall out of the cargo worthy grading is the subflooring joists may be slightly bent and no longer meet the stringent grading requirements.

Cargo worthy shipping containers are the better than wind and water tight, and can still be inspected and approved for overseas shipping. They are structurally sound, and meet all of the previous "wind/water tight requirements". Some small repairs may be required to achieve the final seaworthy certificate, but you can be confident that it will be nothing major.
Used shipping containers are a cost effective way to build out any solution. However, it's important to keep in mind that while saving on the container cost, you might be incurring costs elsewhere. For example, if the sides of the container is slightly dented or warped it may make it difficult to install a window or door on a surface that isn't perfectly straight. Likewise if you need the container painted a neutral color, the cost of painting a used container could make it nearly the same as a one trip container.

So when does a used shipping container work? If color isn't an issue, and there are some great structures built with used shipping containers that have a lot of great character, a used container could work for you. If you plan on using it as a general storage unit on a farm, ranch or some type of construction site, used containers could be ideal for you.

If you need help finding new or used shipping containers in the United States, Canada, or other parts of the world, feel free to contact any of the sellers listed on If you can't find a container in your area, fill out the form and will put you in touch with a local agent. is an online auction and marketplace for new and used shipping containers. We help shipping lines and leasing companies market their containers in many locations around the world. also provides a white label software as a service (SaaS) to container owners around the world. For more information contact us directly at 307-222-9085 or

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