Containers 101

Why a shipping container?

Shipping containers literally changed the world. Before they were invented, shipping used to mean manually loading and unloading individual crates and sacks from ships, trucks, and trains—a time-consuming, labor-intensive process. The advent of containers, which could be sealed, stacked, and standardized to fit on vehicles more easily, led to an explosion in global commerce. And more than 30 million are in use today.


OK, we know you didn’t come here for a history lesson. So let’s talk about the shipping containers of today—which are used for far more than international trade, construction jobs, and other industrial applications. Here are some of their key advantages for homeowners.



Shipping containers come in a wide range of sizes—from 8 feet to 53 feet long, custom options in between, even cubes. They can be purchased, rented, or leased, so you can use one for as long as necessary and then return it. They can be tailored to your specific needs, too: People have created backyard bars, home offices, and even “tiny houses” from containers. (We should note that while we facilitate customization for many purposes, we cannot help you build a container house beyond providing the containers.)



Containers provide much more protection than sheds or other structures—they are airtight and watertight, so whatever you’re storing is safe from the elements. This means they also keep out bugs and rodents, which can be particularly important if you use your container to store emergency food supplies, for example. In addition, their heavy-duty construction can offer greater theft protection than other solutions, depending on locks and other security measures.



You’ve probably seen old shipping containers on the backs of trucks, on trains, or elsewhere—but you might not have had any idea how old they really were! That’s because containers are extremely durable, lasting 25 years or more. They even can be painted to protect the exterior from harsh weather (which can cause corrosion over time), match your home’s colors, or to simply give it a bit more personality.