These days, shipping containers are used for everything and anything; from transporting goods to short- or long-term storage and even homes, businesses and sheds! In this article, we’re answering all your questions around shipping container self-storage.

What can you store in a shipping container?

Almost anything you can imagine can be stored in a shipping container, so we won’t waste your time writing it down from A-Z. Common storage items include:

  • Furniture and household items
  • Wood, garden equipment and tools
  • Antiques
  • Cars and other vehicles
  • Retail stock
  • Electronics

The sky is the limit – almost. While 90% of the goods people want to store can be safely kept in a shipping container, there are a few which won’t work and should be avoided.

What can you NOT store in a shipping container?

There are a handful of items that can be dangerous to store in a shipping container. If you’re unsure whether your items will stay safe, it’s best to ask a shipping container expert (like our team). Examples of unsafe items include:

Hazardous and toxic materials: such as gas, petrol, cleaning materials, fertilisers, paint thinners, asbestos, toxic waste, medical supplies, acids and flammable items.

Explosives and weaponry: as above, anything flammable comes with the risk it may explode.

Perishable goods: most perishable goods like fresh and packaged food, animal food or flowers will not last well in a standard shipping container. Some modified shipping containers are suited to this purpose and it’s a good idea to ask an expert for advice.

Should you go for a storage container or self-storage unit?

The two most common forms of self-storage are shipping containers and storage units. There’s no obviously right or wrong choice, but we have a few reasons that we believe container storage is the better option.

  1. Offsite vs onsite storage: You can keep a shipping container on your property, which means no need to travel to a storage centre to access your goods.
  • Delivered to your door: A shipping container can be delivered to your home or business within 2-10 days – depending on where you live in Australia.
  • Help with packing and unpacking: We can help you with packing and unpacking, and make sure you’re making the most of the space you have to fill.
  • Resale value: If you buy a shipping container, you can resell it after you’re done using it.

Learn more about our shipping containers for sale and hire in Sydney, or call 1300 570 891 for a free quote.

Can I use a shipping container as a shed?

The short answer is yes, you can. The long answer is, check with your council and national building guidelines. In Australia, a shed is filed under Class 10a of the National Construction Code (NCC) and you’ll want to check those guidelines to ensure everything is up to code. Beyond that, you’ll need to make sure you have the appropriate permits from your local council for that kind of building. Every state and local body have different specifications, so unfortunately, we can’t provide one general answer here.

Do storage containers get damp?

Shipping containers are built to keep the weather out – which means they shouldn’t experience leaks. But, they do experience temperature changes internally. A common problem is condensation build up overnight which leads to drips and dampness. A quick fix is installing insulation on your container. Other options include buying a refrigerated shipping container, installing desiccants which absorb moisture or an industrial dehumidifier. The good news is – there are plenty of solutions out there.

Are shipping containers good for storing furniture?

Shipping containers are great for storing furniture – though you may need to make a few modifications to get them in perfect shape. Insulation is essential for antiques and valuable furniture as it helps prevent the condensation we spoke about before. Another consideration, especially for long-term storage, is heat. You can protect your items from heat by building a simple roof in your container. Most container roofs are made of plywood or trusses.

How to pack a shipping container with furniture

Packing a shipping container is kind of like a big game of Tetris – if you do it well, you can fit a great deal in a small space. Here are some top tips to help you get the most out of it:

  1. Dismantle your furniture: beds, bookshelves, tables and more are all much bigger when put together. Taking the time to dismantle them before storing can save you a lot of space.
  • Wrap everything: covering your furniture in plastic will keep it extra protected.
  • Label everything: don’t play a guessing game when it comes time to unpack – label things clearly from the start.
  • Cover corners: if you’ll be moving your container when it’s packed up, you’ll want to make sure furniture corners are padded to prevent them knocking into other things.

Is it safe to store a vehicle in a shipping container?

It’s not only safe to store cars and vehicles, it can be very cost-effective. You can modify a shipping container to include lights and security devices which make it like a garage. There are a few things to be aware of when storing cars in a shipping container. Here are our top tips:

  • You should empty any petrol and disconnect the battery as these can be risky to store long-term
  • Adding insulation will make a big difference to condensation and protect your car from rust
  • While many second-hand containers are good quality, we recommend a new container for storing cars to ensure they’re watertight
  • Use a car cover for extra protection
  • To make sure your car won’t be moving anywhere, consider blocking the wheels with wooden blocks or wheel chocks

How much can you fit in a shipping container?

There’s no hard and fast rule about how much fits in a shipping container. But, there are some general rules of thumb which work well for people. On average, a 20ft shipping container fits the contents of a 3-bedroom home, while a 40ft container can fit up to a 5-bedroom home. If you’re storing a vehicle, a 20ft container is approximately the size of one parking space, while a 40ft container can fit two cars. If you have an oversized vehicle (e.g. van or large SUV), you may require a high-cube container for the extra height.

These are still just an estimate and it depends heavily on the true size of your items. If you’re struggling with sizing, check out the container dimensions and measure what you want to store. Or, ask our experts for advice.

Should you buy or hire a shipping container for self-storage?

Finally, the ultimate question – is it better to buy or hire your shipping container? As mentioned above, we think buying is a great investment as you can resell your shipping container later on. For a more detailed answer, we recommend reading our previous post ‘Should you buy or hire a shipping container?’

All your shipping container needs from Containerco

With all the popular sized containers on hand, new and used options, and expert advice on call; everything you need is available at Containerco. Browse our complete shipping container range or check out our container transport options. When you’re ready to invest, call us on 1300 570 891 or fill in the form for a free quote.