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A First Time Buyer’s Guide to Shipping Containers
Sep 2021

A First Time Buyer’s Guide to Shipping Containers

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Have some extra furniture you need to store? Want to build a mobile office? These are just a few things that shipping containers are used for. If you’re thinking of buying a shipping container, there are many used shipping containers for sale in Toronto.

If you’re new to shopping for a shipping container, you probably have some questions on how to choose the right shipping containers for your needs – and you’ve come to the right place! At Sigma Container Corporation, we have over 40 years of shipping container experience as we offer a variety of materials, colours and sizes to accommodate your project.

In this guide, we will answer seven of the most common questions about shipping containers to help you familiarize yourself with what to look for when buying a new or used shipping container.

What are shipping containers used for?

Typically, people who buy shipping containers use them for long-term projects. Whereas those who decide to rent a shipping container use them for temporary purposes such as storing existing furniture and belongings during a home renovation project.

But shipping containers aren’t just used for storage purposes, you can get really creative and use them for business purposes as well. Here are several purposes shipping containers are used for:

  • Shipping container homes
  • Mobile offices or schools
  • Portable toilets
  • Pop-up restaurants or snack bars
  • Transportation of goods on rail, road and sea
  • Container workshops containing workbenches, tools and equipment can be placed on-site when construction workers and contractors are working on a project
  • Dangerous goods containers made with built-in external vents can store chemicals, flammable liquids and paints to prevent spills
  • Refrigerated containers are used by restaurant businesses where food stock needs to be cooled at a specific temperature
  • First aid rooms in hospital parking lots, music festivals and outdoor events

Is your idea on the list? If not, that’s okay. Shipping containers can be used in a range of creative ways. We can work with you to build a customer-size container to fit your project’s needs.

Should you purchase a used or new shipping container?

Before deciding to buy a new or used shipping container you should answer the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of your container?
  • What is your budget?
  • How long do you need it for?

Based on your answers, if you need it for a short time for storage, then perhaps a used container is better than buying a new one as you’ll save a bit of money.

What are the different shipping container sizes?

The three most common shipping container sizes are 10ft, 20ft and 40ft. Here are the main purposes of each container size:

  • 10ft containers look like large cubes and are suitable for a small number of items that could fit a one-bedroom apartment
  • 20ft containers are the most popular size for those who have multiple large furniture items such as beds and sofas. It is known to hold the contents of a two-to-three-bedroom house
  • 40ft containers are the largest size available and these are mostly used for business purposes and shipping container homes. They have ample space and can store the contents of a four-to-five bedroom house

How much do shipping containers cost?

Depending on the size and condition of the shipping container, you can get a good deal. However, new containers are delivered straight from the manufacturer and the cost of a 20ft container can range between $1,500 – $6,000. If you’re looking for used shipping containers for sale in Toronto, a 20ft container can cost you between $1000 – $5000. If the container is used and has many marks and indentations, it could cost under $3000. The price range doesn’t include delivery and lift fees.

How long does a shipping container last?

Containers are great long-term investments as they are sturdy enough to survive inclement weather conditions. When taken care of properly, new and used shipping containers can last up to 25 years. Moisture is the main culprit for making the floor of a shipping container damp and this can damage a container’s overall interior making it unusable. In order to make a shipping container last a long time, it’s good practice to place your shipping container on cement blocks or bricks on a lot with well-drained soil.

What should you look for when shopping around for a used shipping container?

If you decide you want to go with a used shipping container, here are the details you should look for wear-and-tear:

  • Doors. Check to see the doors open and close properly
  • Locks. Try to unlock and lock the handles on the doors and the vertical rods located at the top and bottom of the shipping container
  • Roof. Check the roof from the inside of the container for any dents or dings. Signs of dents and dings should be of concern as water from rainstorms can sit on them and eventually cause rust in those areas
  • Door gaskets. Shipping containers are double-gasketed. Be sure to inspect the exterior and interior gaskets and ensure it creates a watertight seal. Check between the bottom of the gasket and the door as rust can develop in this area
  • Lower sidewall. Check the bottom of the container’s exterior sidewalls where the flat part of the steel beam meets the ground. This area usually collects still water causing rust to seep through the side of the container

How often should you maintain your shipping container?

Since shipping containers are made out of steel they are prone to developing rust caused by rain and other weather elements. It’s important to maintain your shipping container all year to prevent rusting and to maintain its condition. We suggest you schedule regular inspections every few months to check corrosion and to clean it up. By regular maintenance and checks for corrosion on your container, you are doing the right thing by protecting the contents inside.

Contact Sigma Container

To learn more about our used shipping containers for sale in Toronto, call Sigma Container at 855-340-3342 or toll-free at 1-877-225-7762 or contact us here.

Tom Bray is a freelance writer with over five years experience writing for online publications and over ten years in business and sales. He studied journalism and media and has written for various online outlets on multiple topics. His specialty subjects are shipping containers and transport logistics.

Tom’s passion for writing and transport logistics motivates him to provide frequent direct marketing content that can show you how a shipping container can be effectively utilized and modified to each person’s needs.

You can connect with Tom via email at