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Is a Shipping Container Shed a Good Idea?

Dreaming of a backyard shed that’s as strong as it is stylish?  Look no further than the converted shipping container!  These industrial giants are taking the shed world by storm, offering durability, security, and a unique aesthetic.

But are they all smooth sailing, or are there hidden hazards?  In this post, I’ll dive deep into the pros and cons of shipping container sheds, helping you decide if this steel sanctuary is the perfect fit for your backyard.

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Is a Shipping Container Shed Right for You?

Why Shipping Containers are Good for Sheds

Do You Need a Concrete Base for a Shipping Container?

How To Put Windows in A Shipping Container?

How Hot Does It Get Inside a Shipping Container?

How Do You Keep a Shipping Container from Sweating Inside?

What Kind of Roof Do You Need for a Shipping Container?

How Much Do Shipping Containers Cost?

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Is a Shipping Container Shed Right for You?

Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons to help you decide:


Durability… Shipping containers are built from Corten steel, which is incredibly strong and weather resistant. They can withstand harsh weather conditions much better than traditional wooden sheds.

Security… Solid steel construction makes them very secure for storing tools, equipment, or other valuables.

Versatility… They come in various sizes and can be customized with features like windows, doors, insulation, and even internal walls to create multi-use spaces.

Relocation… Relatively easy to relocate to a new spot if needed.

Sustainability… Repurposing a shipping container reduces waste compared to constructing a new shed from scratch.


Cost… Can be more expensive than a basic wooden shed, especially with customizations.

Delivery and Permitting… Delivery fees can be high, and depending on your location, you might need permits to place a shipping container on your property.

Aesthetics… Industrial look may not suit everyone’s taste.

Modification Challenges… Cutting windows, doors, and adding insulation requires special tools and expertise.

Here are some additional things to consider:

Local regulations… Check with your local municipality to see if there are any restrictions on using shipping containers as sheds.

Size requirements… Determine the size you need to accommodate your storage needs or planned use.

Customization level… Decide how much customization you want (windows, insulation, etc.) and factor in the cost.

If you prioritize durability, security, and a unique look, and don’t mind the upfront cost, a shipping container shed could be a great option for you. If you’re looking for a more basic and budget-friendly storage solution, a traditional wooden shed might be a better choice.

Why Shipping Containers are Good for Sheds

Thinking about ditching the traditional wooden shed and going bold with a shipping container?  You’re not alone!  These industrial titans are becoming increasingly popular for a reason.


Here’s why shipping containers might be the perfect solution for your backyard storage needs:

Fort Knox Security… Made from Corten steel, shipping containers are built to withstand the rigors of global travel.  That translates to top-notch security for your tools, equipment, or anything else you deem valuable.  Worried about critters?  Say goodbye to unwelcome furry (or feathery) guests!

Built to Last… Forget flimsy wooden walls that buckle under bad weather.  Shipping containers are built tough, designed to brave the elements for years to come.  Rain, shine, or even a rogue hurricane – your belongings will be safe and sound.

Spacious Solutions… Shipping containers come in a variety of sizes, offering ample storage for everything from lawnmowers to motorcycles.  Need even more space?  Multiple containers can be stacked or connected to create a customized storage haven.

Eco-Friendly Twist… Repurposing a shipping container gives it a new lease on life, reducing waste compared to constructing a traditional shed from scratch.   It’s a win-win for your backyard and the environment!

Instant Walls (Almost) … The basic structure is already in place!  This saves you time and effort compared to building a shed from scratch.  Plus, the strong steel walls provide a great base for customization – think windows, doors, insulation, or even a whole new interior design!

Do You Need a Concrete Base for a Shipping Container?

You don’t necessarily need a concrete base for a shipping container shed, but it depends on several factors:

Permanence… For a permanent shed, a concrete slab is the most stable option. It prevents settling and ensures the container stays level over time.

Soil Conditions… Sandy or well-drained soil might be fine for placing the container directly on, but softer soils or areas with freeze-thaw cycles can cause the container to sink or become uneven.  A concrete base helps distribute the weight and prevent these issues.

Level Ground… If the ground isn’t perfectly level, a concrete base can be used to create a flat surface for the container.

Here are some alternative options to a concrete base:

Gravel Pad… A simple gravel pad can provide a level, well-drained base for the container.

Crushed Stone… Similar to gravel, crushed stone offers a stable base but may require a weed barrier to prevent unwanted plant growth.

Concrete Blocks or Pavers… These can be used to create a solid foundation for the corners of the container, particularly if you’re skipping a full concrete slab.

Ultimately, consulting with a contractor or professional familiar with your local building codes and soil conditions is the best way to determine if a concrete base is necessary for your shipping container shed.

How To Put Windows in A Shipping Container?

Putting windows in a shipping container requires careful planning and execution due to the sturdy steel construction.

Here’s a general guide to get you started, but remember safety is crucial. For complex modifications, consult a professional welder or contractor.

Tools and Materials:

– Safety Gear: Eye protection, gloves, respirator (for cutting)

– Measuring Tools: Tape measure, level

– Cutting Equipment: Angle Grinder, Jigsaw with metal cutting blade (or Sawzall)

– Welding Equipment (optional, for steel frames)

– Window Frames: Steel or wood (pre-made or built to size)

– Fasteners: Screws, rivets (depending on frame material)

– Sealant: Silicone caulk


Plan and Measure… Decide on window size, quantity, and location. Measure carefully to ensure proper placement and alignment with the container’s corrugations (wavy metal panels).

Mark and Cut… Mark the window opening on the container wall. Wear safety gear and use the appropriate cutting tool to create a clean opening. Deburr sharp edges with a grinder.

Frame Option 1… Steel Frame (Welding Recommended):  Weld a steel frame around the window opening for added support. This method offers superior strength but requires welding skills and equipment.

Frame Option 2… Wood Frame (DIY Friendly):  Construct a wooden frame slightly smaller than the opening. Secure the frame to the container wall using screws or rivets. This option is easier for DIY projects but might require additional weatherproofing for the wood.

Window Installation… Carefully position the window within the frame (or directly in the opening if no frame is used). Secure the window using appropriate fasteners according to the frame material.

Sealing… Apply a generous amount of silicone caulk around the window perimeter to ensure a watertight seal. Allow the caulk to cure completely before using the container.

Additional Tips:

– Start with smaller window sizes for practice if you’re new to DIY projects.

– Consider pre-made window frames specifically designed for shipping containers for easier installation.

– Ensure proper ventilation for any enclosed space created within the container.

Remember, cutting into the container can compromise its structural integrity. Consult a professional for extensive modifications.

Safety First!

Always prioritize safety when working with metal. Wear proper gear, use the right tools, and be mindful of sharp edges and potential sparks during cutting. If you’re unsure about any step, consult a professional for guidance.

How Hot Does It Get Inside a Shipping Container?

Shipping containers can get extremely hot, especially when exposed to direct sunlight.  Inside temperatures can soar well over 100°F (38°C) in warm climates.

Here’s a deeper dive into the factors affecting temperature and how hot they can get:

External Temperature… The hotter the outside environment, the hotter the container will get inside.

Sun Exposure… Direct sunlight significantly increases the interior temperature. Containers in shady areas will be cooler.

Ventilation… Poor ventilation traps heat inside, making it even hotter. Proper ventilation allows hot air to escape.

Container Color… Darker colored containers absorb more heat, leading to higher internal temperatures. Light-colored containers reflect sunlight and stay cooler.

Considering these factors, the maximum temperature inside a shipping container can reach up to 135 degrees Fahrenheit (57°C) in extreme cases.  However, temperatures consistently exceeding 100°F (38°C) are more common.

How Do You Keep a Shipping Container from Sweating Inside?

Sweating, also known as condensation, is a common problem in shipping containers. It occurs when warm, moist air inside the container comes into contact with the cooler metal walls, causing moisture to form droplets. This can lead to rust, mold growth, and damage to your stored goods.

Here are some ways to prevent sweating inside a shipping container:


Airflow is key… Proper ventilation is the most crucial factor in preventing condensation. Open the container doors regularly to allow fresh air to circulate and replace moist air.

Install vents… Consider installing vents on opposite walls of the container to create cross-ventilation and promote continuous air exchange. Look for vents specifically designed for shipping containers.

Reduce Moisture Source:

Limit stored items… Avoid storing anything that releases moisture, like wet items or firewood.

Properly package goods… Ensure hygroscopic materials (readily absorb moisture) like fabrics or electronics are packaged in moisture-proof containers.


Desiccants absorb moisture: Place desiccants like silica gel bags or breathable pouches throughout the container. These absorb excess moisture from the air, reducing humidity and preventing condensation. Desiccants need to be replaced or regenerated once saturated.


Insulation creates a barrier: Insulating the container walls and roof helps maintain a more stable internal temperature. This reduces the temperature difference between the air and the metal walls, minimizing condensation. Consider spray foam insulation or pre-fabricated insulated panels for easier installation.

Dehumidifiers (For Certain Situations):

Dehumidifiers remove moisture actively: In humid climates or if you need a more controlled environment, a dehumidifier can be an effective solution. However, this option requires a power source and regular emptying of the collected water reservoir.

By implementing a combination of these methods, you can significantly reduce sweating and create a more controlled environment inside your shipping container.  Remember, the best approach depends on your specific climate, budget, and the items you’ll be storing.

What Kind of Roof Do You Need for a Shipping Container?

Shipping containers actually already have a roof!  They are built with a strong, corrugated steel roof designed to withstand harsh weather conditions.  However, depending on your intended use for the container, you might choose to keep the existing roof or add a different roof on top.

Here’s a breakdown of your options:

Existing Container Roof:

– Pros: Most cost-effective option, already provides basic weather protection.

– Cons: Not ideal for areas with heavy snowfall (may not support the weight) or if you want to significantly alter the container’s height. May also offer limited insulation.

Gable Roof:

– Pros: Classic pitched roof design allows for good drainage of rain, snow, and debris. Provides additional headroom and can be aesthetically pleasing.

– Cons: Requires additional construction using beams, trusses, and roofing materials. May need permits depending on your location.

Shed Roof:

– Pros: Simpler to construct than a gable roof with a single slope for drainage. Can be a good option for lower-cost applications.

– Cons: Less headroom compared to a gable roof. Drainage may not be as efficient in areas with heavy snowfall.

Flat Roof with Additional Membrane:

– Pros: Maintains the container’s original height. Can be a good option for adding insulation or integrating solar panels on top.

– Cons: Requires installing a waterproofing membrane to prevent leaks. Drainage may be an issue if there’s significant snowfall.

Here are some additional factors to consider when choosing a roof for your shipping container:

Climate… Consider the amount of rainfall and snowfall in your area.

Building Codes… Local regulations might dictate specific roof styles or materials.

Future Use… Think about whether you’ll need additional headroom or plan to add features like solar panels.

Budget… Existing container roof is the most economical option, while adding a new roof will require additional materials and labor.

Ultimately, the best roof type for your shipping container depends on your specific needs and priorities.  If you’re unsure, consulting with a contractor or professional familiar with building codes and local weather conditions can be helpful.

How Much Do Shipping Containers Cost?

The cost of a shipping container can vary depending on several factors, including:

Condition… New shipping containers are naturally more expensive than used ones. Expect to pay a premium for a pristine container that’s never been used for shipping.

Size… Larger containers obviously cost more than smaller ones. Common sizes include 10ft, 20ft, and 40ft lengths, with 20ft being the most popular choice for sheds.

Location… Prices can fluctuate depending on your region and availability. Areas with high demand or limited supply might see higher prices.

Customization… Any modifications like adding windows, doors, insulation, or painting will add to the overall cost.

Here’s a general idea of the price range for new and used shipping containers:

New 20ft: $1,500 – $3,500

Used 20ft: $2,250 and upwards.

New 40ft: $2,500 – $4,500

Used 40ft: $2,450 and upwards.

Additional Costs to Consider:

Delivery… Delivery fees can vary depending on the distance and difficulty of access to your location.

Permits… Depending on your local regulations, you might need permits to place a shipping container on your property. Factor in potential permit costs.

Finding the Right Price:

Get quotes… Reach out to shipping container suppliers in your area to get quotes based on your specific needs (size, condition, etc.).

Compare prices… Don’t settle for the first quote you receive. Shop around and compare prices from different vendors.

Remember… The cost of a shipping container shed goes beyond just the container itself.  Consider additional costs for delivery, permits, and any desired modifications to get a more accurate picture of the total investment.

Related Reading

Does a Shipping Container Make a Good Workshop?

5 Shipping Container Shed Ideas to Maximize Space

Shipping Container Garage: A Modern Twist on Traditional Storage

Exploring Shipping Container House Plans

How to Insulate a Shipping Container

Increasing Backyard Leisure: The Rise of Shipping Container Pools

A Guide to Framing Walls in Shipping Container Homes