How to Use a Shipping Container as Your Garden Shed
Dec 2020

How to Use a Shipping Container as Your Garden Shed

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If you have a garden, then you know how vital outdoor storage is. After all, the last thing you want is to clutter your household storage space with your gardening tools, fertilizer, protective wear, and other gardening materials and supplies.

To address this problem, most homeowners choose to add a garden shed to their landscape. These sheds are typically made from wood, which deteriorates quickly in the extreme Canadian weather, causing them to become insecure, unsafe, and eventually so worn out that they’re unfit for their purpose.

Whether you’re planning to replace an old and worn out garden shed or to install one in your new home, it’s worth considering the benefits of transforming a shipping container into your outdoor storage solution.

These containers are not only cost-efficient and portable, which means that you can transport them to virtually any location. They are also extremely hardy and durable, meaning they can keep your possessions safe from adverse weather, water damage, attack by pests, fires, and even burglars.

As you prepare to get yourself a shipping container that you’ll use as your garden shed, there’re a few things to keep in mind:

1. Grade and size of container you want

When it comes to choosing a cargo container, you need to consider the different grades, conditions, and categories. Standard containers measure 8 feet wide, 8.6 feet tall, and either 40 or 20 feet in length. You can choose the size of container you want depending on your needs and the space available on your property. You also require an additional 110 to 120 feet of straight clearance to get the container trucked in.

There are also different grades of shipping containers, depending on their age. Single-trip containers appear like new and have the least number of dings and dents. They’re also the most expensive but tend to last 2-3 times longer than used containers. You can also choose a cheaper used container with more visible physical damage but is still functional or a refurbished container that is better than a used container.

While you should get a container that fits your budget, it’s best to choose a unit with as few defects as possible to minimize your maintenance costs.

2. Custom modifications

If you plan on using your container garden shed for more than just storing gardening tools and supplies, then you should consider modifying it to suit its different uses. For instance, you may choose to install an extra door for easier access, such as a man-door, glass door, or a roll-up door, as well as windows and vents for improved ventilation. You may also consider changing the flooring and installing electricity and plumbing fixtures.

You will probably need to improve your container’s ventilation to eliminate condensation in your unit, which may increase the risk of corrosion and rust forming. Condensation can also damage your garden tools, supplies, and other valuables stored in the container shed. So it’s crucial to install a ventilation system to facilitate air circulation, such as side vents or an HVAC system.

If you don’t like the external appearance, there are plenty of options for enhancing it or giving it a more natural look. For instance, you can fit wooden cladding to the outside of the container and then treat it to match your garden. Alternatively, you can install vertical tiers to grow more plants and blend the shed into your landscape. For a more minimal look, you can simply apply a fresh coat of paint.

Shipping containers are very secure compared to traditional sheds, partly because of their solid steel structure and partly due to the standard lockbox that prevents access to the lock from the sides and the top. If your container doesn’t have one, you can simply add the bolt-on lockbox to make your container shed more secure as it prevents a potential thief from cutting the shank.

3. Permits required

If you’re not building your structure on a permanent foundation, then it may not be necessary to get a building permit. That said, your container garden shed still needs a foundation to sit directly on the ground, which could affect drainage and increase the risk of corrosion and decay.

Standard options include railroad ties and concrete footings. But if you plan on connecting various utilities to the shed, including electricity and plumbing, or if you plan on stacking or joining two or more containers to set up a barn, then you should get the necessary permits before starting the project.

4. Initial and maintenance costs

Although the cost of purchasing a shipping container may seem to be more expensive than building a wooden or concrete shed, setting up a traditional structure requires more resources, including time, money, and effort. You will be required to purchase and transport different construction materials and spend more on labour for assembly.

On the other hand, shipping containers are mostly ready for use when delivered to your property, including any modifications that you requested. Moreover, shipping containers are very sturdy, airtight, and watertight and can withstand severe weather conditions. That makes them significantly more durable than traditional shed structures.

5. Getting multiple containers

If you require more outdoor storage space than a 20-foot container can provide, yet you don’t have enough room in your yard for a 40-foot container, you can consider stacking two or more 20-foot containers.

The maximum number of containers that can be safely stacked on top of each other is seven. However, the strength of the construction largely depends on the structural integrity of underlying containers. You can also reduce the risk of deformation by welding steel guardrails inside the underlying containers for additional support and stability. More reinforcement will be needed as you stack the containers higher.

Shipping Containers Make Great Garden Sheds

There are many good reasons why a used shipping container would be the best option for your next garden shed. They are tough, safe and secure, long-lasting, and require no assembly before they’re ready for use. Moreover, you can easily convert any size of container to suit your storage and other needs by getting in touch with professional container design services in Ontario, giving you a highly functional and aesthetically pleasing garden space.

To learn more about turning a shipping container into a shed, call Sigma Container at (416) 366-7762 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