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Storage Shed vs Shipping Container: Which One Should You Get?

Traditionally, backyard storage sheds have been made of wood.  Over the last few decades, manufacturers have started using vinyl as an alternative to wood.  Recently, the most exciting trend in backyard storage sheds has taken a totally new angle in the form of repurposed shipping containers.  Shipping containers used as storage sheds have many advantages over traditional wooden or modern vinyl sheds.

One of the greatest advantages of using a shipping container as a storage shed is the cost per square foot.  It is much cheaper.  For example, a new container measuring 20’ long x 8’ wide x 8.5’tall costs $3,475. This equates to $21.71 / square foot.  By comparison, a typical 12′ x 12′ shed can cost upwards of $4,300 with some dealers charging close to $6,000. At $4,300 that equates to $29.86 per square foot.  Storage containers offer a cost saving of $8.15 per square foot when shopping shed prices at a local big box store.

The greatest advantage of using shipping containers as storage sheds is that they are better constructed.  They are constructed of 14 gauge Corten steel. Corten steel is a steel alloy that when left unpainted will weather to a stable patina for several years.

Corten Steel

Containers, however, are painted with high-quality industrial paint that will protect the Corten steel. The entire underside of a container is sprayed from the factory with undercoating similar to automobile undercoating.  This greatly increases a container’s ability to resist rot from the bottom.  As for sheds, unless you’re purchasing a costly vinyl shed, you will have to ensure that there is a fresh coat of paint on your wooden shed every few years otherwise the wood may split, crack, or worse yet, rot. By comparison, a new container, if left untouched, could easily sit for 10 to 15 years before needing any maintenance.

Shed Maintenance

Containers are strong and built to last.  So strong that they are built to withstand the weight of six fully loaded containers stacked on top of them with 62,000 lbs in each!  That’s the equivalent of 372,000 lbs.  Their floors are made of one inch thick treated marine grade plywood with “C” channel cross members. They will hold much more weight than the average person will ever store in them. It’s satisfying to know that you can safely store lawn mowers, quads, wood splitters, tractors, mini excavators, and other heavy equipment safely in a container.

Sheds are extremely difficult to keep mice out of.  It’s been proven that mice can sneak into a hole as small as ¼” in diameter.  Mice seek out sheds to make nests in to survive winter often settling in the engine compartment of a lawn tractor.  Additionally, they have a habit of nibbling on electrical wires of power equipment.  This could result in expensive repair bills as well as downtime due to the equipment being in the repair shop.  Containers are mouse proof. The doors of a container are double gasketed forming extremely tight weather, insect, and mouse proof seal.

Mouse Nest In Shed

Containers have on average, more interior height than a shed of similar size.  Often an 8’ x 20’ shed will have a wall height of around 6’ 3” where a container will have a minimum interior wall height of 7’ 9” which will allow you to store equipment overhead.  A “high cube” container gives you an additional foot of interior height giving you 8’ 9” of headroom.  This makes high cube containers perfect for storing small to medium sized tractors that have roll bars attached. In addition to the interior height, the doors of a container are much larger than the doors of a shed.  The door opening of a standard height 20’ container opens up to 7’ 8” wide by 7’ 5” high. This allows you to store much larger items such as cars, small trucks, UTV’s, ATV’s, and tractors.

Container Weight Rating

Regarding site preparation, containers need very little.  So long as the ground is fairly level, you can place the container down right on bare dirt, asphalt, concrete, or crushed stone. If placing your container on bare dirt or in the woods, it is recommended that you place a pressure treated 6’ x 6’ x 8’ timber across the front and back of the container.   This prevents the container from making contact with the ground thereby extending its life and alleviating some maintenance down the road.  These can easily be purchased at any lumberyard or home improvement store. Another alternative is to create a bed of crushed stone for the container to sit on which would allow the water under it to drain. This allows the container to sit at ground level thereby creating less of a step up into it.

The delivery of a storage container is simple when compared to that of a shed as it does not require specialized equipment such as an articulating trailer.  Any flatbed wrecker capable of moving cars can easily move a container.  Setting up a container generally takes less than 10 minutes and is a one person job.  Setting up a traditional wooden shed is a much more involved process often requiring more than one person which potentially will cost more money.  If you’re having your shed built on site, it could take days for the builder to complete the project.  What’s more, when you move someday, you can easily take your container with you as it’s just as easy to load and transport as it is to offload and set up.

Perhaps the greatest advantage of storage containers is that they are much more secure than sheds.  The 14 gauge steel they are constructed of will keep out even the most tenacious of thieves.  In short, power tools are necessary to break into a container whereby a crowbar and hammer will get you into most any shed within a matter of seconds.  If people see you rolling your $25,000 Harley Davidson into a shed it will be an easy target for thieves.  Not so for containers…

If you need a dry, secure, rodent, and insect proof shed in a hurry and at an affordable price…a storage container is the perfect solution. 



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