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How to Choose a Container

You have made the decision that a storage container is what you need. Compared to other options it makes the most sense. But how to choose the best storage container or shipping container for your needs?

The first step is to visit the container yard and look at some shipping containers. Look at as many storage containers as you can. Even though you might have set your sights on a specific size or type of container look at different sizes and types. At the least, you’ll firm up your original decision or you might even find something that is a better value or option for your needs.

The best way to visit a container yard is to call ahead and make an appointment. Make sure the supplier has enough inventory to make the visit worth your while. Dress appropriately, closed toed shoes, no fancy clothes, and with permission take pictures.

When you arrive at the yard take a minute to review your needs with the seller’s representative. Explain how you will be using the box, accessibility to your site, your budget, and the projected timing for delivery. It might help if the supplier shows you the truck that would be delivering the container, so you can get a better idea of the size in relation to your property.

So let’s look at some containers. On this first round look at the simple stuff. Walk up the containers and look at the sides and doors, is the color OK for you? Is there excessive rust? Are there major dents or scrapes? Don’t be shy if the exterior turns you off; say so and go look at another box. Now look inside, if the sale rep opens the doors watch for how difficult it is and as the door opens. As you walk in sniff for any off odors, check the floor for soft spots or excessive gouges and walk right to the front of the container, now that your eyes have adjusted a little bit look at the walls and ceiling for holes or signs of leaks or potential leaks.


After you have narrowed down your container shopping to one or two containers that you are seriously considering reinspect those boxes this time with a lot more detail. Check out each of the following:

Exterior Walls

Walk slowly around the container, look for wall cuts, usually down low that are sometimes hard to catch from the inside. Look for old improper patches that could be a future problem. Look for streaking rust that is usually caused by roof or top rail damage. Check that the walls are straight, not excessively pushed in or out and that the bottom and top rails are all straight and in good shape.

Under Carriage

You normally don’t need to look at the undercarriage, but if you can, ask, it won’t hurt to take the time to see that all the understructure is in good shape and well protected from the future potential of rusting.


Most yards have a safe way to inspect the container roof, you don’t to walk up there, just look at it. Look for rust build-up, especially just in from the corner fittings, as those areas tend to have dents that allow for water pooling and rust build up.


Confirm that the lock rods are straight and swing freely. Do not let the sales rep operate the doors for you, do it yourself so you can gauge how much effort is required. The door gaskets are really 2 gaskets: the outer gasket seals against the outside surface of the header, threshold, and door posts. The inside gaskets seals against the inside edge of these same surfaces. Confirm that the gaskets seal and are not broken, cut or damaged in a way that will allow water into the container.


The floor is made of thick plywood and secured to the steel understructure. Look for soft spots, broken sections, loose joints or heavy stains. All containers have odors, confirm that you are OK with what you smell! Look at the walls. Dents and scrapes are normal, check to see if there are potential areas that might leak or any dirt or grease that might transfer to the contents you plan storing. Lastly, look at the ceiling, you may see dents near the corners while these often split the paint and surface rust may be evident they are generally acceptable. Roof patches are generally not an issue if they were done properly, look for rust on the edges of the patch.

After all that and if you are comfortable with the box you just need to finish the deal. Buy it and set up delivery!


If you would like to take a look at our rental or sale containers please visit our Sales Office and Fabrication Facility in Concord, CA. You can visit us in person Monday thru Friday from 8:00 A.M to 4:00 P.M

We are located at 2449 Bates Ave, Suite C, Concord, CA.

Since 1999, Container Solutions has been helping the Bay Area with all of their storage needs. We offer shipping containers for rent or purchase and offer a variety of container modifications. Container Solutions is focused on meeting customer needs and providing the best service in the container industry. Contact us at (800) 506-7368 or fill out an online quote.

Author: Phil Hernden

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