What sizes are shipping containers?

Standard ISO shipping containers are either 20ft or 40ft in length, and all a uniform 8ft wide. Heights vary between 8ft6 high (known as a DV), or 9ft6 high (referred to as a High Cube or HC). At Containers Direct, you are not restricted to either a 40ft or a 20ft. We are one of the few container retailers who are also a working container depot and we specialise in cutting down containers to any length.


How much does a shipping container weigh?

The weight of a shipping container varies depending on length. A standard ISO 20ft weighs approximately 2,230kgs, and a 40ft weighs approximately 3,950kgs.


How secure are shipping containers?

Shipping containers are made from strong CorTen Steel, providing ample security if you’re using your container for secure storage. On all of our standard containers under 40ft, we also provide a lockbox free of charge, which prevents your padlock from being tampered with!


What is the typical lifespan of a shipping container?

Shipping containers have a considerable lifespan, and can last around 20 years or more with proper maintenance. Our once-used containers will have only had one sea voyage into the country, and are typically around one or two years old, so will have plenty of life left in them! Our second hand containers are approximately 10 years old, so still have a good lifespan if you take care of them. With our second hand containers, we would recommend an exterior repaint in our rubberised marine paint to not only improve the aesthetic appearance of your container, but to also provide an additional layer of protection against the elements to prolong the lifespan even further. All of our used containers are sold with a free one year warranty.


 What is the difference between new, used and once-used?

Used Shipping Containers are anywhere from 10-15 years old, and will be ex-shipping lines containers. This means they will have travelled and been handled in different ports across the world, leading to signs of wear and tear e.g. dents, scrapes, surface rust and patch repairs. However, all of our used containers will be structurally sound and watertight, and are covered under our 12 month watertight warranty. These containers are ideal if you are working on a tight budget or if the appearance of the container isn’t as important.

Once-Used Shipping Containers have only been used once to transport the shipping container from the country of manufacture to the us. Although these shipping containers are considered “new” in the shipping industry, they are also referred to as “Once-Used” or “One Trip” due to their one transportation journey. As they will have been filled with cargo to make the journey cost effective and then handled once in port, minor scrapes (particularly on the corner castings) and the odd dent may be visible.

New Shipping Containers are either newly fabricated units manufactured in our in-house depot, such as our CarTainers, SlimLine Containers and Extra Wide Containers, or our additional container products like the flat pack container range and our portable toilets.


What is the difference between the S1, S2 and S3 door types?

S1 Door Type
Features: 3mm steel panels, lightweight, single locking bar.
Advantages: Reduced weight makes them easier to use than shipping container doors. The door plates are fabricated from 3mm steel. This is thicker than is used for standard container doors which enhances security.
Recommended for: Storage containers for schools, clubs and domestic storage, where you require frequent use and ease of use is essential.

S2 Door Type
Features: Original shipping container cargo doors, corrugated steel panels, external rubber seals and four locking arms.
Advantages: Excellent security and guards against all forms of water ingress without the need for extra modification.
Recommended for: Heavy duty storage, especially construction sites, or where access is required less frequently.

S3 Door Type
Features: Steel panel doors, lightweight, two locking arms, external rubber seals. These doors are unique to Containers Direct!
Advantages: Reduced weight makes them easier to use. Combines the best features of S1 and S2 door types.
Recommended for: Storage of items easily damaged by moisture e.g. paperwork, fabrics, furniture and for frequent use.
For more details, please see our types of shipping container doors page.


Do I need planning permission?

Shipping containers are technically fully portable, therefore they shouldn’t be subject to the ordinary planning permission requirements as they count as a temporary structure. However, if this is being used as a permanent structure, or if it’s being used in a residential area, the same planning permission rules may apply. Whatever you’re using your shipping container for, we would always recommend double checking with your local council first, as different councils have different rules and regulations to follow. We have found that improving the aesthetics of the container with either a repaint or wood cladding and a sloping roof can often help secure permission from the council.


How do you deliver a shipping container?

Delivery of a shipping container is unlike the delivery of your usual parcel! In order to provide a smooth delivery, we only use vehicles with hiab cranes to deliver our containers. As standard, we use Artic lorries (approx. 65ft long) or a Wagon and Drag (a 39ft long Rigid lorry with an additional 20ft long trailer behind), which enables us to pair up deliveries in order to keep your transport cost as effective as possible! We are able to provide dedicated deliveries on small vehicles upon request if your site can’t accommodate the standard vehicle. Ask one of our sales team for advice if you’re unsure of your site access!

For an easy delivery, we ask that your site has a suitable turning circle for the vehicle to turn around and drive back out head on after delivery, and a minimum entry width of 10ft. You will also need complete hard standing ground. These vehicles, especially when loaded, are extremely heavy. If they attempt to cross soft ground such as grass, gravel or shale, they are likely to get stuck and you would incur costs in dragging them back out! More details can be found on our delivery information page.


What should I site my container on?

Like the delivery, your container is best suited to being placed on hard standing level ground. This will avoid the container “racking out”. Racking out is where one corner of the container becomes un-level, leaving the container doors difficult to open and close properly. This often happens if the container is placed on grass or gravel and then loaded with the weight un-evenly distributed, leading to the container sinking. Each corner must be well supported to avoid racking out. If a full concrete base isn’t an option, we recommend level concrete slabs at each of the four corners of the container, or railway sleepers under the door and end wall, to keep the container level. For more hints and tips, see our page on preparing the ground for your container.


Can I ship my container?

If you’re looking to purchase a container to ship, there are a few things to keep in mind!
1. You can only purchase a 20ft or 40ft standard ISO container, as these are the only container lengths that can be shipped using traditional cargo vessels.
2. As we provide cut down shipping containers as standard, we must be informed of the intention for the container to be used for shipping, as our cut down containers are unsuitable for shipping. We will then make sure the container is a traditional ISO container and cargo worthy.
3. You will need a valid CSC plate to ship your container. All containers have this, but we will re-certify the CSC plate prior to dispatch for you.


What’s the best protection against condensation?
As shipping containers are made from steel, they are prone to condensation, especially with the fluctuation in temperatures. The best method to prevent condensation from forming would be our ply lining and insulation. Similar to insulating your loft, this method prevents condensation from forming and keeps your container a moderate temperature all year round. If you are looking for a more budget friendly option, we would recommend our grafotherm. This product doesn’t prevent condensation from forming, but it will dissipate most moisture that does form. Grafotherm however is not guaranteed to work in incidences of extreme changes in temperature.