The shipping industry is huge. It makes up as much as 90% of the world’s trade. In the United Kingdom, shipping outranks restaurants, takeaway food, and civil engineering combined in terms of the nation’s GDP. If that’s not impressive enough, consider the fact that as you read this sentence, 20 million containers are moving across the world.
With such a large industry and so many containers in motion, it should be easy to find new and used steel storage containers for sale, right? Alas, as with all purchases, when shopping for shipping or storage containers, it behooves you to know what exactly you’re dealing with.
Shipping containers fall into two classes: domestic shipping containers and ocean cargo containers. As the name suggests, domestic shipping containers are used for shipping domestically within the United States. There are aluminum or steel shipping containers ranging in length from 45 feet to 53 feet and 9.5 feet high by 8.5 feet wide.
Ocean cargo shipping containers are a bit more varied. They can be used for domestic and overseas shipping. They are more often made of Cor-Ten steel, the highest quality steel cargo container available. When shopping for storage containers, look for ones made of Cor-Ten steel to ensure you’re getting a container that can withstand all weather conditions.
Ocean cargo containers come in two standard lengths of either 20 foot or 40 foot shipping containers, though you can get an extra tall and wide cube that’s 45 feet in length. Likewise, the standard sizes are for 8.5 feet tall and 8 feet wide containers, but taller 9.5 feet high by 8 feet wide containers are available.
Shipping container grades
While the sizes of shipping containers are standardized, the grading system is not. This can make it challenging to know what exactly you’re looking at with used steel storage containers for sale. It helps to speak the language of shipping containers. Here are a few terms used to describe new and used steel storage containers for sale and what each means:
- One-trip/new: This is a container that was built abroad and has been shipped to the United States. One-trip/new containers are new shipping containers for sale that are available as soon as they arrive in the United States.
- Cargo-worthy: A cargo-worthy container isn’t a new container, but is still of sound enough quality to be shipped overseas. Cargo-worthy used containers for sale have been certified to be wind and water tight and structurally sturdy.
- Wind and water tight: The difference between a cargo-worthy container and one that is only “wind and water tight” is that a cargo-worthy container has been inspected by a qualified surveyor. Wind and water tight used steel storage containers for sale may be just as sound as a cargo-worthy container, but the seller has no certificate from a third party to attest to this.
- As is: This term is used for used steel storage containers for sale that may have leaks or damage. They may or may not be strong enough for shipment.
Examining used steel storage containers for sale
It’s important to carefully examine any containers you purchase, be the intended use for shipment or storage. Check containers for the following:
- That it’s wind and water tight. You can do this by closing yourself inside the container and looking for daylight.
- The doors open and close properly and completely. Door seals should be intact and the floor shouldn’t have any soft spots. If there have been any repairs where holes were welded outside then caulked inside, called inserts, ensure they’ve been installed properly and repainted to complete the seal.
- Signs of rust that goes beyond surface rust. It’s natural for containers to accumulate rust, but surface rust can often indicate the risk of a hole forming if not taken care of. Corrosion and rust can be hidden under door seals and hardware so make sure you do a thorough inspection.
- Major dents. There should be no major dents in the sides or along the roof of the container.
- Foul odors or other signs of contamination. The container should look and smell clean. If you can still detect the odor of whatever was shipped in the container last, chances are your goods will come out smelling the same way.