So, you’re looking to buy a shipping container. You’ve come to the right place. Our quick guide covers everything you should be looking for when buying a shipping container. We’ve covered:

  • The qualities of a good container
  • Buying new vs. second-hand
  • The typical lifespan of a shipping container
  • Choosing the right size
  • Types of shipping containers

Plus, delivery timeframes if you do decide to purchase through Containerco.

What are the qualities of a good container?

A good quality shipping container is watertight, rust-free (or minimal rust on the exterior only) and has easy to open doors. Brand new shipping containers are guaranteed to have these qualities. Used containers can still be very high quality – you just need to inspect them before purchase.

If possible, have an onsite inspection of your second-hand container. If that’s not possible, make sure to request photos of your container before you buy and give it a good once over as soon as it arrives. If you did have any concerns about the quality, it’s best to raise them immediately. This way your container supplier can be sure they relate to the original condition of the container and have not appeared after rough or extended use.

Things to look out for include:

  • Check the exterior for dents and rust. Some wear and tear is expected, but excessive damage may mean it’s no longer watertight.
  • Does it smell of mould? This may indicate leakage. Depending on how you plan to use it, you can either patch it up or avoid getting it wet. It those are not an option – you’ll need a replacement.
  • Are the doors smooth and easy to use? If not, they may have been damaged or warped. You can usually repair this issue if you’re willing to invest.
  • Check the inside for sunlight with the doors closed. If it’s completely dark, you can be sure there are no holes in the container.

Should you buy a new or second-hand container?

It’s the age-old question; is new or used the best option? A primary consideration here is price. Brand new containers attract premium pricing. But, if you have long-term plans for your container – they could be the most cost-effective investment. Good uses for a new container include storing valuables (like antiques or classic cars), long-term shipping or transport and modified living premises, such as a site office, pop-up café or staff room.

Used containers may sound lower quality, but there’s a good chance your container has hardly been used at all. Even a container which was hired out for 3 months counts as second-hand. At Containerco, we follow the standard container grading system to help you understand the quality of our new and used containers.

If you’ll be using your container for general storage (such as tools, excess warehouse stock and non-precious household items), for occasional transport or modifying into a non-liveable space – like a garden shed – a used container will work just fine.

Ready to purchase? Browse new shipping containers and second-hand shipping containers with Containerco. If you need any help, call us on 1300 570 891 or submit the quote form for an obligation-free quote.

What is the lifespan of a shipping container?

We say ‘it depends’ a lot in this industry, but only because it’s true. The lifespan of your shipping container is another situation for it depends on how you use it. Here are the average estimates for different types of use:

Shipping and transport: 10-12 years

After this time, it can still be used for storage – especially with non-precious items.

General storage: 25-30 years

This is with little to no maintenance. If you maintain your container well, you may get more out of it.

Modified containers for living: up to 50 years

Once you’ve added cladding and other liveable upgrades, your container is set to last as long as any good home.

One of the main issues affecting shipping container lifespan is exposure to moisture. As they are metal structures, it’s best if you can avoid getting them wet. Of course, it’s inevitable in some cases – like transport by sea or rainfall when they’re kept outside. Exposure to water, especially salt water, can degrade the lifespan of your container. However, little maintenance tricks can make a big difference. Lifting your container off the ground with a platform or legs can lessen moisture when you use it for storage outdoors. Making sure to inspect regularly and repair paint chips can also help as the paint acts as a protective layer reducing rust.

How to choose the right size

The most common sizes of shipping containers are 20ft and 40ft. You can get smaller – either 8ft or 10ft – but these are less common which means their resale value is lower. If you plan to sell your container down the line, it’s better to go with the most common sizes.

Choosing the right size is all about understanding how you’ll use it. Try to map out the maximum capacity you’ll need for your storage or transport purposes and check this against the container measurements. Check here for dimensions on our container range.

If it helps you to visualise, the estimates are that a 20ft container can fit either the contents of a 3-bedroom home or a single car. While a 40ft container can fit either the contents of a 5-bedroom home or two cars.

Having trouble with sizing? Call us on 1300 570 891 and we can talk you through it.

Types of shipping containers

There’s one final decision before you are ready to buy your shipping container – you need to decide which type. There are many types of shipping containers available and we have a summary of a few popular ones below:

Dry Containers:

  • The industry standard for shipping and storage
  • Available in all sizes from 8ft to 40ft
  • Can be modified to include insulation, ventilation, electrical, windows and doors
  • Browse 20ft shipping containers and 40ft shipping containers with Containerco


  • Containers with temperature-control designed to keep your goods chilled
  • Ideal for storage or transport of perishable items, like fresh produce and meats
  • Buy refrigerated shipping containers

High Cube:

  • A dry container with added height to increase capacity or fit larger items
  • They are the same length and width as standard sized containers which means they can be easily stacked
  • Check out our high cube shipping containers

Double Door:

  • Also known as tunnel containers
  • These are a dry container with doors on both ends
  • The multiple access points make them popular for modified container use
  • Browse double door shipping containers

Check delivery timeframes and fees

Before you buy, make sure to check your container supplier’s delivery timeframes and fees. At Containerco, we deliver to all major cities of Australia. Check our domestic transit times for a general estimate on delivery timeframes. We’ll provide you with a detailed summary of fees and delivery at the time of purchase.

Get a free quote on our shipping containers

We hope this guide has been helpful and that you’re now ready to invest in a shipping container. Containerco have a wide range of shipping containers for sale and hire, plus expert staff who can help you choose the best container for your needs. Reach out for a free quote by calling 1300 570 981 or fill in the online quote form.