How Much Does a Shipping Container Cost?

Shipping Containers Costs

If you are looking to buy a shipping container, you a have a few considerations to think about.

Before buying, you need to know that there are a variety of sizes and types of shipping containers available in the market.

What size shipping container are you looking for?  Are you looking for shipping containers with dimensions of 20ft, shipping containers with dimensions of 40ft, or other?  How much do you want to spend, and are you looking for a new or used container?  Do you need thermal lining, refrigeration etc.

All play an important part in determining the cost of shipping containers. Before buying, you need to know that there are a variety of sizes and types of shipping containers available in the market.

Types of Shipping Containers

Malcom McLean developed the metal shipping container in 1956, which revolutionized the transport of goods worldwide.

There are various container sizes, but the most common are 20’ and 40’

  • A 20 footer’s dimensions are 20’ x 8’, which equals 160 square feet
  • A 40 footer’s dimensions are 40’ x 8’, which equals 320 square feet

The shipping containers are manufactured according to ISO 9000 standards and their characteristics will depend on the type of content that must be transported in them.

Here we detail the characteristics of the most common:

Dry Van Shipping Containers

Dry Van shipping containers are the most used in maritime transport and can be used to transfer almost any type of cargo. They are hermetic and without ventilation. There are three variations depending on the dimensions: Dry Van 20 ‘(20’x8’x8’6’), Dry Van 40 ‘(40’x8’x8’6’) and Dry Van High Cube (40’x8’x9’6) ‘).

Reefer Shipping Containers

Refrigerated shipping containers are used to transport goods at low temperatures. They contain a refrigeration unit that maintains the internal temperature between 25 ° C and -25 ° C. They are available with measures of 20 ‘, 40’ and 40 ‘High Cube.

Open Top Shipping Containers

Open Top shipping containers do not have solid roofs, but a waterproof canvas that facilitates the loading and unloading of very heavy or extra dimensions. It has mooring rings that ensure the load and prevent movement during the transfer. There are variations of 20 ‘and 40’ feet.

Flat Rack Shipping Containers

Flat Rack shipping containers are the most used together with Dry Van containers. They are used to transport large loads such as pipes and machinery. They exist with folding and fixed sides, of 20 ‘or 40’ feet.

Platform Shipping Containers

Platform shipping containers lack walls and a roof. They are used for the shipment of large volume or extra heavy goods. Available in measures of 20 ‘and 40’ feet. They can be linked together to create a larger surface.

Tank Type Shipping Containers

Tank Type shipping container units have various applications. They are designed to transport chemical, liquid or gaseous products, oils and wines. Most of these types of containers are built on a base of 20 ‘feet.

Tips for Buying a Shipping Container and Pricing

Thinking of buying a new or used shipping container?  Then you must aware of cost. Cost of shipping containers depends on your requirements. One can buy shipping containers for their home, a guesthouse, a garage, shelter, or shed. A shipping container typically costs about $1800-5000 USD depending on the size. Customized models may add $250-$2500+ to the cost of the shipping container. On the other hand, used shipping containers typically costs $800-2000 USD.

Shipping Container Price

A shipping container typically costs about $1800-5000 USD depending on the size.

  • Cost of shipping containers depends on the area where you live. If you live near a port area, then you will find plenty of suppliers. Otherwise, its better you rent a truck to pick it up yourself. Shipping always cost more, its better the provider stays close to you.
  • You can even look for shipping containers on Craigslist or eBay; here on these sites you can find containers that fit your budget. You can easily find 40’ HQ (High Cubed = 9.5’ high) for $1,900. The average is about $2,200 for a 40HC, $1,800 for a 20’ and $1,500 for a 10’.

Used Shipping Container Price

Used shipping containers typically costs $800-2000 USD.  Shipping containers are often too expensive to ship back, so they are readily available for resale.

  • You can also opt for used containers. You can easily buy used containers at any local warehouse where you can buy it for $500. Before buying, always look for those shipping containers who are made from “CorTen Steel”. They last for a long period of time and can stand any bad weather. You can also find used shipping containers for free, if you pay for shipping.

You can also hire any inspector to inspect your shipping container before buying. This will make you sure that you are buying the best material shipping container.

Shipping Container Added Features and Upgrades

Shipping containers always come without security features, so you should put aside an extra budget if you want to add security to your shipping container.

Buying cargo containers can cost you more. Always check if seller adding shipping cost or not and if yes, how much the extra cost they are adding.

  • If buying a container and need a certain color, paint job will cost you more. Its better you paint your shipping container yourself.
  • If you are looking for more features on your shipping container like insulation, ventilation, HVAC Systems, Track lighting, watertight doors or customized models, then it will cost you more. Additionally, custom containers with added weight can also increase shipping costs.
  • More modifications means more expensive the shipping container. Pricing and costs of shipping containers depends on the type and size of container you’re looking for. They usually cost around $1500 to $4,000.
  • The cost of purchasing shipping containers for houses is a mere fraction of the cost of building a full scale home using traditional building materials. However, a big and luxurious shipping containers house can cost more than $200,000 which is far more than regular construction.

Other factors that affect the price of the shipping container

Availability: Most shipping containers suppliers have access to 20- and 40-foot containers. Containers with unique dimensions may need to be shipped to the location, which adds to costs.

Delivery Cost: Shipping costs, increase depending on your distance from the supplier.

Size: Always buy one larger container rather than two smaller ones. This will cost you less.

For example, if you have the space available, it is better value to go for the largest container.  A 40ft container is will cost you less than a 20ft one.

Shipping Container Maintenance

Shipping container maintenance costs goes as far as the cost of parts and yours and your employee’s time.  Inspection should be done on a regular basis.  Inspect the walls, roof, floor and doors to see that there is no rust developing that seems concerning.  Doors should be firmly attacked and close well.

Shipping containers are made of steel and they rust.  One way to keep your shipping container in good shape is to keep it painted.  Industrial alkalyd enamel is recommended and costs about the same price as standard paint.  Paint your shipping container properly and use proper painting techniques, like removing dirt and oil and prepping the surface as you would any other prior to painting.

Rust Prevention
Shipping container roofs get the most moisture and are likely to have issues first.  Protect shipping container roofs by applying extra pain and cover them as needed and when applicable.

Shipping Container Repair

Doors Do Not Shut Correctly
The most common issue with shipping containers is that the doors do not shut right.  Shipping containers take a beating and doors shift during transit.  The easiest fix to this is to either readjust your blocking or add a little blocking under your container.  To make things easier in opening and closing shipping container doors, our leverage tool uses the principles of leverage to do the difficult work. By providing an extended area on which to grasp, with both hands, a more stable platform to manipulate the latch handle is achieved and therefore open and close shipping container doors with ease.

Seals or Lockrods Break
Seals and lockrods can eventually break.  Lockrods (the piece that goes the height of the door) can bend or break.  These parts are replaceable.

Holes in Shipping Cntainer
Holes may occur overtime in shipping containers.  These are usually fixed by welding them shut.  If there are larger holes, these can be fixed by cutting out the damaged sections and closing them up with corten steel.  These repairs require welding and metal cutting skills.

Floor Repair
Shipping container floors are made of plywood and are fairly easy to replace.  Replace floors with the same thickness of wood and pattern as the original.  Treat plywood with moisture preventing varnish or paint to prevent moisture from coming through.

Shipping Container Parts Prices


1. Doors

A shipping container door assembly goes for around $300-1000.

Two door leaves are each fabricated from two vertical rolled hollow sections and 2 horizontal c section members. The frame is infilled with corrugated steel paneling.

These are normally attached to the rear corner posts each with four drop forged steel hinge blades. The blades allow 270 degree opening which allow the doors to swing back against the container side wall.

(Cargo may shift during transit. Look at the container to make sure that the doors are aligned and level, both top and bottom.  In cases where the container frame is racked and the door gear will not operate correctly.)

2. Lockbox

A shipping container lockbox assembly price goes for around $20-200.

The lock box is a steel box welded to the right hand door which overlaps a staple welded to the left hand door. A padlock, normally type CISA type 285 66 can then be attached inside the lock box through the staple and is then protected from direct attack, hindering attempts to gain entry to the container.

3. Lockrods, cam keepers, handles

A shipping container lockrod, cam and keeper assembly goes for around $60-130/set.  

Each door is fitted with 2-4 vertical lock rods to enable opening, closing and locking of the doors.



At the end of each lock rod (top and bottom) is a cam welded in place which engages with knuckles, also known as cam keepers.

cam keeper

cam keeper

The action of engaging the cams to the keepers forms an anti-racking function.

(In certain cases, often unfortunately too many, contents of the shipping container may have shifted, or containers even dropped, causing shipping container doors and lockrods to warp)

The door handle rotates the lockbar to initiates the door opening process by forcing the cams out of their keepers.  Each door handle has a door locking handle retainer that slides over the door handle when in locked position.

door handle

door handle

4. Rubber gaskets

A shipping container gasket goes for around $30.

Rubber gaskets are fitted to the container doors during the manufacturing process and prevent water ingress.

(Door gaskets are designed to present two or more fins against the structure or adjacent door. These are generally flexible but when the gasket is damaged, they may become hard or blocked thus jamming the door closed, or preventing it being closed.)

5. ISO markings and CSC plate

ISO markings and a consolidated data plate allow worldwide intermodal transport when left in place and updated as necessary.

6. Hinge pins

A shipping container hinge goes for about $10-15.

Of course for a door to work, you need hinges.

hinge and hinge pins

hinge and hinge pins

(In certain cases when doors are difficult to open, hinge pins and blade are seized due to corrosion.)

Credit: alibaba

How Much are Shipping Container Buildings and Homes

The two most popular shipping container homes sizes are:

20′: 8′ wide and 8′ tall. These equal about 160 square feet.

40′: 8′ wide and 8′ tall. These equal about 320 square feet.

In addition to the pricing mentioned above, here’s a quick rundown of the other shipping container home costs:

  • Plumbing: $7,000
  • Site preparation: $10,000
  • Assembly: $3,000
  • HVAC: $7,000
  • Electrical: $7,000
  • Flooring: $5,000
  • Insulation: $5,500
  • Roofing: $3,000
  • Doors and hardware: $2,000
  • Shelves and closets: $2,000
  • Finishes and painting: $6,000
  • Windows: $4,000

Remember that the 40′ containers offer the best value and are by far the easiest to find.

Wear and Tear

Shipping containers often take a beating, traveling around the world, being exposed to freezing conditions, and rust due to seawater or when the frost has melted.

During the cold season, and in freezing parts of the world, our shipping container tool can benefit the opening of frozen shipping container doors in freezing conditions and hard to open or rusted containers once the winter has ended.

Injuries often occur as a result of personnel trying to open and close difficult container doors, often the result of inappropriate techniques being used to open them.

Shipping container doors are not typical doors and there are 4-5 hinges per door.  The hinge pins must be lined up correctly for the doors to be free to fully open and close.

Here are some likely reasons a frozen shipping container door will not open or close.  Our tool helps to address these issues.

  • The container frame is racked so that the door gear will not operate correctly. This may be caused by cargo shifting during transit. Look at the container to make sure that the doors are aligned and level, both top and bottom.
  • The hinge pins and blade are seized due to corrosion.
  • The door gasket has been damaged and is preventing opening. Door gaskets are designed to present two or more fins against the structure or adjacent door. These are generally flexible but when the gasket is damaged, they may become hard or blocked thus jamming the door closed, or preventing it being closed.
  • Water has become trapped between the doors and frozen, particularly relevant to refrigerated cargoes, or containers with moisture releasing cargoes in cold weather.

This leverage tool uses the principles of leverage to do the difficult work. By providing an extended area on which to grasp, with both hands, a more stable platform to manipulate the latch handle is achieved.

Designed to fit and extend the door latch handles on side by side doors found on the following units with the safety of the truck driver, operator, and worker foremost in mind:

This intermodal container (also known as ISO Container or Conex Box) cargo inspection tool and leverage safety bar is to aid in opening and closing side-by-side doors found within Dismountable Shipping Cargo Container Transportation Industries (Railroad, Harbor, and Trucking Industries).

Eliminates the Need for a crescent wrench, screwdriver, hammer, and crowbar which are commonly needed/used to open stuck frozen shipping container doors.

Related: Injuries from Opening/Closing Hard to Open/Close Shipping Container Doors