OK, you’re thinking storage. Over easy, hold the hassles. What are the options?

There’s that ready-to-assemble shed you saw at Home Depot … or that pole barn kit from something-dot-com … and those portable storage units provided by the big national moving and storage company occasionally trucked on and off neighbors’ driveways.

But wait—what about a steel container? If it’s not on your list, maybe it should be. Yeah, we admit we’re biased. But it’s a fact that steel containers have many advantages compared to other storage solutions.

Storage Solution




  • Prefab kits available locally or online

  • Buy with installation option or DIY

  • Usually easy delivery

  • Height and width options

  • You can pick options to fit your needs – windows, color, shelving, etc.

  • DIY may take many weekends

  • Site prep (crushed stone bed or cement slab)

  • Many not very sturdy (cheap metal, waferboard, or plastic)

  • Premium cost for durability

  • Upkeep/lifespan issues

  • Often building code issues (may need building permit)

  • Not moveable

Pole Barns

  • DIY kits available locally or online

  • Can customize design & size

  • Versatile to fit your exact needs

  • Building costs add up fast

  • Long lead time

  • Site prep (may need cement slab)

  • May be overkill for your needs

  • Need building permit

  • Not moveable

National branded portable storage units

  • Easy delivery

  • Ready to store in a warehouse

  • Rent only (a few suppliers sell, but prices match containers)

  • Not highly sturdy or durable (plywood walls, translucent plastic tops tacked on top)

  • Limited sizes (biggest is 16’ x 8’, smaller than the smallest steel container)

  • Designed to store in a warehouse, not outside

Steel Containers

  • Come ready to use

  • Relatively cheap

  • Delivered exactly where you want it

  • No building permit issues

  • Many customization options (paint, doors, windows, vents, lights, shelving, etc.)

  • Indestructible (14-gauge corrugated weatherizing steel)

  • Highly secure

  • Hardwood floors with steel support beams

  • Big enough for cars, boats, contents of 3-bedroom house

  • Moveable

  • Use for storage or for housing

  • Fixed height and width (8’ wide x 20’ or 40’ long)

  • Costs higher in some locations (usually due to delivery more than anything else)

  • Some zoning issues

You know your storage situation best, but hopefully this table can help if you were on the fence about which style to go with.  If you want more information on containers, please visit the rest of our site or call us at 877-374-5452.

One-trip container next to a workshop

One-trip container next to a workshop

You need storage. Now. You’re out of room for business records, inventory, farm equipment, your stamp collection, or all the bargains you snagged at Costco. The bottom line is, you need space. And you think a container might do the trick.

But how do you know for sure if a steel container is the right choice? Here are six questions you need to ask when you’re container shopping:

1) Do I have space for a container?Standard steel container sizes: 8’ wide, 8’6” tall, and either 20’ or 40’ long. Space needed to get the container trucked in: Usually 110-120 feet of straight clearance (including where the container will go.)

2) What size do I need? A 20’ container can hold the furnishings of a 3-bedroom home. A 40’ container can hold about 24 3-foot-wide pallets (or cars and boats). The 40’ is usually a better value for the money. But if you plan on moving the container around, go for the 20’—it will save you many headaches.

3) Do I need modifications?

Security. Containers are made of Corten (weatherizing) steel, so they’re impenetrable. Levers work the doors—snap on a padlock and you’re good to go. If your container will reside at a remote cabin or construction site, consider adding a metal lockbox to protect your padlock.

Upkeep and appearance. The Corten steel inhibits rust, but all steel will rust eventually. A used container will already show some rust. Paint is an inexpensive option that can extend container life—and make your container blend into your site (as much as a massive steel box can!)

Modifications. An extra door (“man-door” or roll-up), a window, or extra vents are easy vendor add-ons. If you can weld, you can do it yourself with a kit!

4) What container quality do I need?

New/one-trip containers: Manufactured in Asia; shipped to the U.S. for sale. Generally gray, tan, or green. Rust-free and dent-free. Most won’t have shipping-line markings.

Cargo-worthy containers: Used containers certified as structurally sound for overseas shipping. The best-quality used containers on the market. Some rust, dents, and shipping markings.

Wind- and watertight containers: A small step down from cargo-worthy, but still good, solid containers. Their cargo-worthy status may have expired or they may have a defect that does not affect storage performance, but would not meet the standards for overseas shipping.

As-is containers: have known problems—a hole, bad floors, a bad roof. Generally are very close in price to a wind- and watertight container. Frankly will cost more to repair than are worth it. Note: An as-is container is NOT the same as a wind- and water-tight container sold “as is” with no warranties (vendors cannot warranty a container once it is delivered).

5) How do I get a container delivered? Empty containers are stored at distribution centers across the country. Your vendor will locate an empty container as close to you as possible and then put it on a truck. The truck will back the container off right where you want it—all you need is a straight and firm patch of ground (paved, gravel, packed dirt are all fine).

Want to offload the container yourself? That can lower delivery costs—but only if you happen to own a crane, backhoe or forklift.

Rail delivery? Not practical in most cases. Your most cost-effective solution is almost always going to be having your vendor find the closest container to you and put it on a truck. (If you see containers near a rail yard or port, be aware that they are neither empty nor free.)

Shipping overseas? Discuss delivery with your container vendor and shipping line.

6) What should my container cost? When shopping vendors, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Look at the total price including delivery, and make sure quotes are for the same quality of container. Three tips:

Location matters: Container prices are usually cheaper on the coasts than inland.

Quality matters: A cargo-worthy container costs more than a wind- and water-tight container. But used 20’ and 40’ containers should be similar in price.

Delivery details matter: Final costs are determined by how far you are from the closest container and by your specific delivery needs.

Edited for additional pictures.

We are often asked, should I buy or rent a container?  While there are good reasons to rent, buying often can provide a more cost-effective solution.  Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Generally speaking the break-even point financially is about 18 months, depending on where you are located.  If you think you are going to need your container for 1-2 years, you are probably better off purchasing your container.
  2. You always need to store longer than you think. Everyone is hopeful that their project is only going to last a year, but once you get used to the convenience of a container, you will continue to find new things to store in it.  Your original project may finish, but your storage needs may not.
  3. Even if you are only close to your break-even point financially, you have a container at the end of your project. Super Cubes will buy back most containers, so you make something on your purchase.  Often friends, family and neighbors have noticed your container.  If you are ready to get rid of it, you will find people lining up to buy it from you.  Let Super Cubes help you move it from your location to your buyer's location.
  4. Modifications are easier on a container you own. Whether you want to paint the container to match your location or to show your logo, convert it into an office, or just add doors so it is easier for you to use, making modifications on a container you own is easy.  However, most container rental locations will not allow such modifications for rental.

Please call us or visit our website for more information on containers:  877.374.5452, www.SuperCubes.com.  We will help you find the best container to fit your needs and budget.

AuthorSuper Cubes
CategoriesBuy or Rent