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Grading a Shipping Containers Condition – Tips for a Retail Buyer

09.08.2021 - Posted by Updated On 11.07.2022    

There's no universal grading for the condition of a shipping container. Each company may have its own criteria, and each inspector or surveyor may have set ideas of what their employer has them look for. By and large, it's a pretty subjective process.For example, a container can have a little surface rust and a few dings and dents, but as long as it's been repaired to a certain standard it's considered cargo worthy. It may not be the best looking container on the lot, but technically it's structurally sound.For a shipping line the overall appearance really isn't a factor, but if you're purchasing a container to serve as a storage unit on your property you may have a different set of criteria.We train our staff at to look, or have our clients look when picking out a container, for a few specific things. While all of these things may not matter to some people, we've found that it's a good way to give our clients a quick education and keep everyone happy.

Cargo worthy shipping container Ugly cargo worthy shipping container

Shipping Container Colors and Paint

Paint and color isn't a factor when grading the condition of a shipping container. For a container shipping line, they may view it as an opportunity to market their company so the container is decorated to match their corporate identity.

Branded MOL shipping container Branded Hapag Lloyd shipping container

If the color of a shipping container is important to you, this isn't necessarily an issue provided you have a range of tolerance. The most common colors of used shipping containers are red/maroon, orange, and blue. New shipping containers, also called trip containers typically come in white, tan, or blue.

The Walls of a Shipping Container

The walls of a shipping container carry no real load, so an older shipping container may have some warping or dents that have been pounded out. Again, in terms of grading a few dents and dings in the walls won't affect the condition and performance of the container so it's not a serious grading issue.

Shipping container walls Dented shipping container walls

Shipping Container Floors

A cargo worthy shipping container shouldn't have any deep gouges in the floors. There may be some discoloration or stains, but overall the marine grade plywood should be free from gouges, large chipped off sections, and rotted holes.

Doors and Locking Mechanisms

The doors and locking gear on a used shipping container have been around the world, maybe a few times. This means that they're probably going to have a healthy layer of grease and perhaps some industrial sealant on them; and they may not swing like the front door to your house. They will however swing, close tightly, and provide a water proof seal.

Shipping container doors Shipping container doors sealant

Ideas and Options for Used Shipping Containers

Buying a used shipping container for your portable storage unit, job-site office, or workshop is a great way to build a quick structure, and save a few dollars. With this cost savings you may have to compromise on color, and a few visual quirks that give the used container it's individual personality. The option to a used shipping container is purchasing a new shipping container. New units will come in solid, neutral colors and come equipped with the features that many retail buyers are interested in, but there will be a price premium that you'll need to factor in.

If you have any questions or need any assistance when deciding what type of cargo container to buy the staff at invites you to give us a call or email with any questions no matter if you're buying the container through one of our sellers or not.

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