Container Buyers Guide | Storage Container Guide | S Jones

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Container Buyers Guide

Thinking of buying a new or used shipping container?  Before you choose which one is right for you, why not read our Buyers Guide.  We've put together this handy guide to help you make the right decision.  We hope you find it useful!


  1. Introduction
  2. What can you use shipping containers for?
  3. New or Used?
  4. Buy or Hire?
  5. Delivery - Have you got the space and ground for our vehicles?
  6. Quantity - How much are you storing?
  7. Security - How to make a decision?
  8. Extras - What else do you need to make your container work best for you?
  9. I know what kind of container I need - What now?

You will notice that throughout the Buyers Guide there is text highlighted in red, these are key facts or tips which will really help you to make the correct decision.


Shipping Containers can be the perfect solution for a variety of needs, not only are they secure, wind and water tight and enduring but they are also much cheaper and simpler than an extension or extra building.

What can you use Shipping Containers for?

1. Shipping Containers have 3 main uses; storage, conversion or shipping. From a shipping point of view your container must hold a valid "CSC Plate", this could be described as the containers passport allowing it to be shipped around the world with its' cargo; most new containers are already fitted with CSC Plates and therefore can be shipped, however, most second hand or used containers will have an expired CSC Plate, if you require a used shipping container for the purpose of shipping ensure that your supplier can provide a good quality used container and renew the CSC Plate.

2. From a storage point of view there are literally thousands of different situations and uses for shipping containers from storage of plant and machinery to archiving, chemical storage to stock overflow and extra storage at home. Make sure that the container you wish to purchase for storage is wind and water tight, the seals need to be intact and working and ensure there are no holes or large areas of rust (if purchasing used).

3. Containers can also be converted to fulfil a variety of different requirements, the table below shows a list of some of the projects we have already completed along with some further ideas, this is by no means a comprehensive list but is intended to provide an understanding of the extensive uses of shipping containers:

  • Offices
  • Music Studio's
  • Art Projects
  • Canteens
  • Blast Retardent Units
  • Toilet Blocks
  • Security Huts
  • Workshops
  • Changing Rooms
  • Cafe's
  • Laboratories
  • Shower Rooms
  • Exhibition Stands
  • Saw Mills
  • Butchery
  • Food Stores
  • Multi Stores
  • Tack Room
  • School Rooms
  • Kitchen c/w Roller Shutters
  • Archiving Room
  • Equipment Enclosures
  • Tool Stores
  • Accommodation

As you can see the uses of containers are diverse and many different industries as well as private individuals purchase containers to solve an ongoing problem. A good supplier will ask the correct questions and provide support to ensure that you receive the specification of container that will best suit your bespoke requirements.

Always ask if the company is able to cater for conversion works or added extras that you think will make your container work for you - if they are anything like us, they've heard of it, quoted on it and nine times out of ten completed it before!

New or Used?

1. The definition of "new" and "used" changes slightly when discussing shipping containers purely because the majority of containers are manufactured abroad and therefore need to be shipped to the UK with cargo.

2. A "new" container is also known as a "one-way shipper" or "single trip" container which means it has been shipped with cargo on one occasion to get to the UK and is then available for sale thereafter. This of course means that even new containers can have bumps, scratches and a little damage.

3. The definition of "used" in the container world means that the container has either been in use as a shipping container for, typically, 10-15 years. These containers often have rust patches, bumps and bangs along the corrugations and scratches. However, if you are purchasing your container from a reputable supplier the container should still be wind and water tight, have fully operational doors and seals and no major rust patches and still have many years of service left which can be further extended by a 'mid-life' re-paint.

4. If in doubt about the quality of your container whether buying/hiring new or used ask your supplier for photographs or even better go and visit the unit yourself!

Buy or Hire?

1. In terms of storage many companies will offer containers for hire or sale and hire charges can start from around £1.50 per day whilst charges for purchasing a shipping container rise and fall in accordance with foreign markets. Therefore, your buying decision should take into consideration the current market state. Ask your supplier about the market. If the market is poor you may be better hiring a container, if the market is good then buy and buy quickly, they do not stay cheap for long!

2. Similarly, if you are only looking for short-term storage hire may be the best option whereas for long-term storage purchase is always preferable

3. If you are having any modifications to your shipping container then you will almost certainly have to purchase the unit, very few companies will complete modification works on a hire basis as re-hire is unlikely when works are bespoke.

4. In terms of shipping, you will again almost certainly need to purchase, very few container companies will offer a container for international shipping on a hire basis.

5. Finally, remember to take the delivery charge into consideration. When you hire a container you will need to pay both delivery and collection, which of course will add to the overall cost, whereas when purchasing a container you will only need to pay for delivery.

Delivery - Have you got the space and ground for our vehicles?

1. Crane equipped vehicles are used to deliver a container, these are (often) approximately 65' long and are designed to operate on hard flat ground. If the ground your container is being delivered on is not flat or hard standing or can be problematic in wet weather then please tell your supplier as any problems with delivery can incur waiting or abortive charges to the customer if the delivery cannot be completed due to inaccurate site information.

2. If you have any concerns ask your supplier to arrange a site visit where someone from the haulage company or your supplier will attend site, you will show them where your container needs to be sited and they will assess whether the vehicle will be able to deliver the unit and have enough space to manoeuvre.

Typical crane equipped vehicle3. The vehicle offloads parallel to where the unit needs to be delivered so make sure there is plenty of space for the hi-ab to pull up next to the location.

4. A good supplier should prompt you with these questions for instance; S Jones supply all customers who confirm an order with a delivery questionnaire which is then passed on to hauliers, that way, if the customer has mentioned a problem the haulier can act on it as they see fit - after all, they are the experts!

5. Often delivery can be arranged within 72 hours. If you are looking for a specific time for the unit to be delivered make sure your supplier is fully aware as problems can occur such as traffic jams, extra time on previous sites or breakdowns - it is often preferable for the driver to contact the customer as they leave with your container to provide an Estimated Time of Arrival.

Note: These vehicles can only go on grass if carefully planned and in very dry conditions, the vehicles CANNOT work under overhead power cables or telephone lines. THE SIZES AND ADVICE OUTLINED ABOVE IS A GENERAL IDEA REGARDING HAULAGE - TO PREVENT EXTRA CHARGES ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR SUPPLIER, IF YOU ARE NOT SURE ARRANGE A SITE VISIT.

Quantity - How much are you storing?

1. The industry standard for Shipping Containers is 20ft long x 8ft wide x 8ft 6in (or 9ft 6in) high. To put this into perspective this is approximately the size of a single car garage. If you need less storage a 10ft Container may be ideal and if you need more a 30ft or 40ft container would be perfect. However, both 10ft and 30ft containers are not industry standard and so may cost a little bit more, therefore, if you have the space it is often best to add the extra 10ft!

Standard External Container Dimensions

Container Length 8ft 10ft 20ft 30ft 40ft
Container Width 7ft 1ins 8ft 8ft 8ft 8ft
Container Height:          
» Standard 7ft 5ins 8ft 6ins 8ft 6ins 8ft 6ins 8ft 6ins
» High cube - 9ft 6ins 9ft 6ins 9ft 6ins 9ft 6ins

Standard Internal Container Dimensions

Internal Length 7ft 6ins 9ft 2ins 19ft 3ins 29ft 4ins 39ft 4ins
Internal Width 6ft 11ins 7ft 7ins 7ft 7ins 7ft 7ins 7ft 7ins
Internal Height:          
» Standard 6ft 8ins 7ft 9ins 7ft 9ins 7ft 9ins 7ft 9ins
» High cube - 8ft 9ins 8ft 9ins 8ft 9ins 8ft 9ins
End Door Aperture Width 6ft 10ins as req. 7ft 6ins 7ft 6ins 7ft 6ins
End Door Aperture Height:          
» Standard 6ft 4ins as req. 7ft 5ins 7ft 5ins 7ft 5ins
» High cube - as req. 8ft 5ins 8ft 5ins 8ft 5ins
Floor area 51sq ft 72sq ft 150sq ft 227sq ft 305sq ft
Cubic capacity:          
» Standard 348cu ft 560cu ft 1160cu ft 1760cu ft 2360cu ft
» High cube - 630cu ft 1310cu ft 1985cu ft 2660cu ft
Weight 1 tons 1.5 tons 2.4 tons 3.2 tons 4 tons

2. If you feel that the dimensions above will not suit your requirements there are many other options, high cube containers for example are 1ft higher than standard containers and are ideal for plant. It is often preferable to relay your requirements to your supplier as conversion work can be completed and most specifications can be catered for.

Security - How to make a decision

1. You are looking for a Storage Container most likely because security is important to you. The units are made from corrugated corten steel which is a "copper rich" steel - the copper element within the steel helps to reduce the speed of erosion. The steel is of a 1.6mm-2mm thickness, this makes them extremely secure but it is also important to choose the correct lock to ensure that the metal rods on the inside of the container door are secured from the outside and provide a deterrent to criminals.

CISA 285/75 Lock 2. The most popular lock in the industry is a CISA 285/75 which s a high security sliding shackle "block" lock, when fitted with a "lockbox" on the outside of the container it provides a secure locking system that helps to prevent the use of heavy machinery to access the container.

3. S Jones Containers has created the patented "Contain-A-Lock" padlock protector. To prevent loss or theft of the padlock it is held inside the padlock protector shroud by a simple sliding carriage. Relocking the padlock away from the hasp stops its removal. However, the mechanism still allows full operation of the doors, it is used in conjunction with the CISA lock to improve security further than the common lockbox.

Visit the Accessories page to view the Contain-A-Lock padlock protector.

Extras - What else do you need to make your container work for you?

1. We mentioned earlier about conversions but there are also a variety of extra options that can be applied to your container to make it work for you, it is always worth considering these at the point of purchase as it will be much cheaper for your supplier to carry out the works prior to delivery:

2. Door Positioning: You may require specialist doors on your container so that you can load from the side with a forklift for example or you may require doors at both ends of the container for ease of access rather than the industry standard of doors at one end, these can all be sourced by suppliers and if you have a specification it can often be followed.

Roller Shutter


3. Windows/Personnel Doors: You may want the container converting into a site office or security hut in which case you will require windows and a personnel door to be fitted, again independent specifications can also be accommodated.

4. Partitions: Partitions can be installed within the container if it is being used for more than one function, this would usually be a 50/50 split maybe for an office/store, but individual specifications can often be catered for.

5. Paint: It may be important that your container blends in with the scenery or is painted corporate colours, container companies use RAL paint codes and specialist equipment in order to insure the paintwork stays on the container in poor weather.

6. Cladding: We can also clad containers to give a more natural and rustic appearance.

7. Shelving: Fresh air in a container is wasted space that you have paid for. Make full use of the storage capacity inside your container with shelving to double or treble the amount you can store. This is particularly useful for archiving or storing smaller items in your container, shelving is also ideal for keeping paint or chemicals off the floor in containers.


8. Ramps: If you are storing heavy items it is definitely worth considering a ramp as the container has approximately a 7 inch lip from the floor which can be difficult to lift objects into, a ramp makes this much easier and more convenient.


9. Refrigeration/Heated: You may be using your container to store perishables in which case you may need it to be refrigerated or in some cases heated. This is possible to do with a few suppliers so definitely check on your initial contact.

9ft secure walk-in Cold Room

10. Insulation: Lining and insulation are generally used to control temperature or noise within the container. A simple plywood/insulation lining for basic storage helps prevent condensation where moisture control is not possible or practical. Sturdy panels also mean hooks or shelves can be fitted but this intention must be advised in advance in order that strong ply panels are used. There are many different options for lining and insulation so please speak to your supplier about your intended use so that the most appropriate method can be advised.

Insulation Insulation


11. Ventilation: Shipping containers are fitted with vents but can be prone to condensation in cold weather (e.g. old washing machines can cause havoc when the moisture leaves them!), extra vents can be installed in order to improve the flow of fresh air. Alternatively, many companies offer anti-condensation coating (Grafo-Therm) and moisture traps.

12. Condensation/Moisture Control: As mentioned with the vents; dependent on what you are storing moisture and condensation can sometimes be an issue with containers, therefore, try something like a Moisture Trap or Grafo- Therm, the cost of any anti-condensation treatments or accessories is worth its weight in gold if it means the items you are storing are safe.

This is not a full list of what is available, the sky is quite literally the limit with with container conversions, make sure you ask your supplier about what is available and view some of their past projects prior to purchase to ensure quality.

I know what kind of Container I need....What now?

Now you have made the decision on what kind of container you need you have to find a supplier and know what questions to ask to ensure you receive the container and service you need:

1. Does the supplier have testimonials on their website? The best way to find out how well a company perform is by asking their previous customers, if they have testimonials on their website read them and see if it is the service you are looking for. If they do not have testimonials ask for references.

2. If you contact the company check their industry knowledge. Your buyers guide has a great deal of information that your supplier should know...Test them. Talk to prospective suppliers to see how interested they are in you and your enquiry. They should be asking you questions in order to deliver the service.

3. Know who you are dealing with. Is the company you're talking to an 'office-based' operation (i.e. they don't directly work with containers, just trade them through third parties) or an actual facility that handles containers and directly modifies them.

4. Will the delivery be safe? What preparations and precautions is the supplier volunteering to ensure a safe and professional delivery?

5. Will the quality of the container be up to standard? If you are purchasing a second hand, is it still covered by its CSC plate for shipping (the containers passport!), is it still "wind and water tight"? Are there any large rust patches? Are there any holes? Do the doors open and close easily? Are the door seals intact? Are the floors sound?

If you are purchasing a new container it should definitely be up to scratch!

6. How many containers do you need and will they be the same? Do you need a larger volume of containers? If so, can the supplier offer this many? Do they all need to be the same or similar?

7. Do you provide Site Visits? If you are unsure if you have enough space or suitable ground for the unit to be delivered ask your supplier if you can have a site visit, this is sometimes chargeable but if they have somebody in the area can often do it for a small cost.

Finally...Call S Jones Containers - We hope that our Buyers Guide has helped you with your buying decision, please give us the opportunity to quote on your requirements, we supply all of the items detailed on our Buyers Guide and all of the images are of previous projects completed by us.


  • We will look after you!
  • We have an excellent customer satisfaction rating and are proud of it!
  • You will get the service you want and the product you need.
  • Professionally arranged and hassle-free delivery.
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Please complete this form with your enquiry including either your email address or telephone number and if possible anticipated delivery and we guarantee a swift response, or phone directly on 0800 195 4538, or fill in our container builder quote form.




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S Jones Containers Ltd
Anglian Road
Aldridge, Walsall
West Midlands

Company Reg: 3747019
VAT No: 729700231