How Shipping Containers Are Modified and 5 Tools to Get You Started
Mar 2020

How Shipping Containers Are Modified and 5 Tools to Get You Started

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Shipping containers are quickly evolving into savvy storage solutions, low-cost, modular homes and office spaces, mobile equipment operation centres, and even pop-up retail locations in Ontario.

With the growing demand for versatile and modular applications for shipping container modifications, the design possibilities are endless. All you need are the right tools to transform your shipping container into a functional space.

The Basics of Shipping Container Modifications

Modifying a shipping container into a modular storage unit, home, or office requires the right tools and design techniques to ensure structural integrity. Each shipping container modification results in a custom build that meets building codes as required in commercial and industrial operations. It supports the function of equipment, or storage and living solutions of mobile offices and homes in Ontario.

For a successful shipping container modification, you need:

1. A supply of high-quality shipping containers

Depending on your desired application, you may require a container other than the standard one-trip model. For optimal use as modular structures, avoid containers that are old, damaged with holes, rusty, and have rotting floors. Consider a new build for long-lasting function.

2. Certified and licensed craftsmen

Modifying a shipping container into a storage space, office, or equipment room requires more than just a welding torch and tape measure. A certified craftsman is properly trained to create these custom builds using the right tools and with the help of premium vendors who supply high-quality components.

3. Logistics

From the initial design and engineering to transporting materials and product handling, a shipping container modification project requires the right logistical support to ensure successful installation and customer satisfaction. A certified shipping container supplier comes equipped with large forklifts, overhead cranes, and roll-off trailers for safe handling and delivery at customer locations.

4. Shipping container modification tools

Forget the hardware-store variety of welding machines and cutting discs — modifying a shipping container for commercial or industrial use in Ontario requires professional-grade tools and equipment. Only certified craftsmen can properly wield these tools to ensure safe product handling and installation.

5. Hyster and forklifts

Large builds, such as the heavy and robust construction of shipping containers, require large equipment. Hyster container handlers and forklifts are some of the most essential equipment in transporting shipping containers and are required parts during modification. Together, these ensure a stable loading process for shipping containers of all sizes.

6. Welding machine

An industrial-grade welding machine is key to any shipping container modification. This basic tool is used to melt metals, form them into various shapes or installations required in the applications of modified containers, and repair cuts in panel replacements.

As well, this is required in detailing modifications in shipping containers, such as frames for roll-up doors, garage doors, window frames, and other structures required for modular storage, commercial, or industrial applications.

Shipping container modifications typically use 600 volt MIG welders, argon gas, and steel wire. These are fast, easy to use and work best with welding areas clear of paint, dirt, and debris to produce a smooth finish.

7. Propane heaters

Every modified shipping container requires built-in insulation for optimal storage, equipment function, or customer comfort. Propane heaters are typically installed inside to heat up the walls and the entire container, and ensure a comfortable temperature to keep both the steel panels and items stored inside in good condition.

8. Spray foam insulation kit

Alternatively, a spray foam insulation kit can be used to support the temperature requirements of modified shipping containers. Premixed solutions with spray nozzles, hoses, and cylinders of foaming chemicals are available for sale. However, for larger modifications or extensive custom builds, a contractor may be able to install safer and far more reliable insulation.

With enough quantities, a spray foam solution can cover the walls, ceiling, and floors of a modified shipping container, providing at least two inches of foam for a reliable base. Depending on the amount of insulation required and the specific application, additional insulation can be installed to keep the container and items or equipment stored inside in good condition.

9. Grinders and cutting discs

Along with welders, grinders and cutting discs are used to cut or reshape container walls to accommodate the required modifications. These are used to accommodate add-ons such as roll-up doors, windows, or man doors to transform ordinary shipping containers into specialized equipment storage units and modular working or living spaces. Industrial-grade grinders and cutting discs are built to handle the Corten steel construction of shipping containers to ensure successful modifications.

10. Assembly materials

Shipping container modifications require a lot of smaller tools to fuse metal panels and fit add-on parts, such as doors, windows, and other components required in residential, commercial, or industrial applications. These include drills to tighten up bolts and screws, which are essential in ensuring secure opening, closing, and roll-up mechanisms, as well as operating handles.

Aside from securing modified shipping containers and items stored inside, these smaller tools are also used to repair container floors. This involves drilling into floorboards to secure them to the cross members of the unit. These small tools play a crucial role in every shipping container assembly and modification and help in continuously maintaining them for optimal function.

11. Safety equipment

A shipping container modification is a high-grade industrial operation. Safe handling of materials and equipment is required at all times to ensure worker safety, product integrity, and customer satisfaction.

Every shipping container modification project requires on-site safety equipment and precautions. From welding gloves and shields, eye protection, and dust masks, to proper disposal of hazardous materials and tools, every shipping container worksite should be equipped for safe and effective modifications.

To learn more about the shipping container modification process, call Sigma Container at 855-340-3342 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