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In the shipping industry, storage units are an integral part of how your shipments arrive safely. If you’re buying a shipping container, you need to know if the units you buy are cargo-worthy, safe, and secure.

You not only have to consider the sender and receiver of your shipments but the many people in between who work at job sites, terminals, and on cargo ships to successfully deliver your load. A proper shipping container is a priority.

You may not want your shipping container specifically used for moving goods. Modified shipping containers can help you move unusually shaped shipments, but they can also work as impromptu work or living spaces, labs, or extra storage.

Here are some tips on choosing modified shipping containers, from the type of container to the size.

Standard Shipping Containers

Shipping container types are identified by their size and style. The most common sizes are 10’, 20’, or 40’ long. The 10’ long containers are slightly harder to find than the other two dimensions. Unless you have a unique application for a shipping container, a 20’ or 40’ container will suffice for almost any use.

In terms of height, you can get the standard 8.6’ tall container or opt for a high cube-style shipping container, which is 9.6’ tall. These types of storage areas are also referred to in the business as HC for a high cube.

Other standard shipping containers are double-door or open side door, or open-top or hard top containers. You can also use flat rack containers, which accommodate hefty loads.

Common Shipping Terms

If you are looking for a modified shipping container, whether for storage, living spaces, or mobile offices, you should know some of the common terminology experts use in the industry.

Shipping container

This term is the most commonly used and the broadest term that refers to all types of containers used to transport goods from one point to another.

Ocean container or sea container

These containers are specifically designed to transport goods across the oceans and are often made from corrosion-resistant materials.

Intermodal container

This type of container is built for many different shipment travel types like ocean, rail, or road shipments.

Conex box

This shorthand name refers to container express, and the unit was designed in the Korean War.

ISO container

This type of container is designed to comply with the specifications of the International Organization for Standardization.

Uses for Standard Containers

There are certified uses for standard containers. Once your container is specialized or modified, you can’t use it to ship items anymore. You must get it recertified by the Container Safety Convention if you want to start shipping with it again. Most CSC certifications last until five years after manufacture.

Generally, shipping containers have four common uses: cargo containers, one-trip containers, used containers, and refrigerated or reefer containers.

Cargo containers

These shipping units have been certified to transport goods across the ocean.

One-trip containers

These containers have only made one trip across the seas and are the most commonly modified to use as a cost-effective workspace or water-tight storage.

Used containers

Excellent for storage applications, used containers have quite a bit of wear and tear after traveling back and forth across the oceans several times.


These refrigerated containers are used to transport temperature-sensitive items like food or pharmaceuticals.

Modified Container Uses

You can use modified containers for different applications that you might not have thought of, like portable restrooms, temporary office space, or mobile labs. They also can be used for industrial equipment storage or first response units.

These sea cargo containers have been used to build sheds and even homes as they are eco-friendly and easy to use. You can use sea containers as an add-on to your house or as a mobile office if there are renovations occurring at your place of business.

You can put lock boxes or a security lock on your modified shipping container. Some units, like reefers, have door seals, which makes them ideal for storing sensitive material. By reusing container units, you give it a longer life than just using it for shipping.

Many people looking for modified shipping containers opt for one-trip containers that have only traversed the oceans once, so they’re not as worn as other choices.

Reduce Your Drayage Costs

The Final Word

Cargo containers are an integral part of the shipping industry. These mighty storage units aren’t only suitable for moving goods back and forth across the oceans; they also can be modified for various different uses.

If your business could use an extra-strong, durable, and eco-friendly option for a temporary office or storage, consider one of the many types of shipping containers you can modify to suit your needs.

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