Used cargo containers have many uses. They’re great for building mobile offices, homes, cabins and food shacks. You name it, and there’s something that people are making with them.
Beyond buildings, shipping containers are often used for storage, offering a mobile and secure unit for storing equipment.
Whether you’re planning a shipping container building, or you need one for storage, you’re probably wondering: How much is a used shipping container? There’s no short answer. Shipping container prices are affected by numerous factors, from age to condition, to size. Here’s a look at used shipping container prices and what you can expect.
Container Pricing: Condition, Age, and Size
Age, condition, and size affect pricing the most. Naturally, a larger container is more expensive. A standard 40-foot container will cost less than a 40-foot high-cube container (which is taller).
Similarly, the container’s age is another price differentiator. An old container, on average, costs less than a one-trip or relatively new container.
The most significant factor is the condition. Used shipping crates are prone to natural wear-and-tear. Dents, dings, and rust are common on used containers. Therefore, a newer 20-foot shipping container typically costs less than a 20-foot high-cube, if it’s in perfect cosmetic and physical shape and the other isn’t.
For some uses, like storage, the condition and age of the container don’t matter as much. A container with more wear and tear will work just fine as a storage container. The condition is an essential consideration for container buildings, and therefore, the containers used in building projects tend to be more expensive.
Other Factors that Affect Container Prices
Beyond age, condition, and size, a variety of other factors can make a container more or less expensive. As you look for used shipping containers for sale, it’s important to understand that features, delivery and the container’s history can affect what you’ll spend. A few of these other factors include:
- Delivery Costs – Most buyers don’t have the trucks needed to move a used shipping crate. Fortunately, delivery is a convenient option, although it does add to the price. Most used shipping crates are delivered on a per-mile cost, especially for long-distance deliveries. The further you are from the container, the more you can expect to pay.
- History – History refers to the types of materials that were shipped in the container. A container that was used to ship hazardous chemicals, for example, might cost less that one that was used for T-shirts. This type of container might also require cleaning and refurbishing to make it suitable for storage or building.
- Unique Features – Containers can be built with special features – like roll-up doors or refrigeration systems. These features add to their costs. A refrigerated 20-foot container will, on average, cost more than a standard 20-foot container.
- Modifications – For building projects, most containers need to be modified. For example, HVAC, plumbing or electrical outlets may need to be installed, and these modifications add to the cost of a used shipping crate.
Used Shipping Crate Grades
Many cargo crate sellers rate their containers, which provides an overview of the condition. This is one metric of what you can expect to pay. The most expensive used crates have the highest ratings, and they’re also the most cosmetically and physically intact.
Some sellers use a letter grade system. Grade A containers, for example, can be used for shipping, and have little to no cosmetic or physical damage. Grade B containers are typically in reasonably good shape. They might have a few dents and dings or minor rust issues but can be used for storage. Finally, Grade C containers tend to have more extensive rust and corrosion, as well as some dents and dings. This type of container might not look great, but it’d still be reliable for storage.
Containers might also be rated:
- IICL – This type of container is in excellent physical and cosmetic condition and can be used for overseas shipping. An IICL-rated 20-foot container might cost in the ballpark of $3,000 to $5,000.
- Cargo Worthy – Cargo worthy containers are also in great shape and can be inspected and certified for overseas shipping. This type of container is ideal for storage, or with light refurbishment, and they work for building projects.
- Wind & Water Tight – A “WWT” container protects against the elements, but it is not likely suitable for overseas shipping. These are commonly used for storage units.
- As-Is – As Is-rated containers are sold as-is and may have medium to heavy rust issues, as well as dents and dings. An AS IS used shipping crate might cost in the ballpark of $1,250 to $1,500.
In short, a used shipping container might cost from $1,500 to $5,000. The sales price is dependent on many factors, including condition, size, and the container’s features.
Looking to purchase a used shipping container? Baltimore-based K&K Containers can help. We source used shipping crates for all of the Mid-Atlantic and deliver throughout the region.