One of the reasons why people are increasingly buying shipping containers is that with appropriate maintenance, they can last a long time, regardless of their use. They are made from steel and marine plywood and are built to last. However, as with any material, a shipping container will last longer if it’s well maintained and looked after.

Despite being specially treated to reduce the chance of corrosion, the fact shipping containers are made of steel means rust remains the biggest enemy of the shipping container. This is especially noteworthy as they are made to be at sea – and must, therefore, be able to withstand a bombardment of saltwater.

With this in mind, there are some things that you can do to keep your shipping container in good condition and give it the best chance that you can of a long and useful life.

1.   Ensure it is on a flat surface

One of the most important things that you can do at the beginning is to make sure that your shipping container is kept on a completely flat surface. This isn’t only useful as it will make it stable, but also because it will help to reduce the possibility of water gathering on or underneath the shipping container, which could then lead to rusting.

Some people prefer to stand their shipping container on concrete paving slabs or railway sleepers to ensure that it is completely level and prevent moisture from the ground gathering underneath it.

2.   Deal with dents

It is an occupational hazard when you are loading and unloading that you might get a dent every now and again. They are common on shipping containers but can lead to exposure to water and the subsequent potential for rust. It is especially common for dents to be made on the roof of a shipping container when they are being stacked, so make sure that you check for these when your container is delivered.

If you notice a dent, repair it as soon as possible and treat it with rustproof paint to reduce the chance of corrosion. In fact, you should treat any rust you find to reduce the damage that it can do to your shipping container.

3.   Pay attention to the roof

Shipping containers are designed to bear the weight on their corners. This means that the middle of the roof is not designed to carry much weight. If you are going to stack your shipping containers make sure that the weight is on the corners. It is also important to check that there is limited pressure put on the middle of the roof. This includes snow and rain. It is important that you clear the roof in you notice a gathering of any weight in the middle of the roof.

4.   Remove dirt and water

You will probably want to give your shipping container a clean every now and then, but this isn’t just about making it look presentable. The build-up of dirt and water can, again, create an environment where rust can easily form, so it is important to keep it clean and dry as much as possible.

5.   Lubricate door hinges

Shipping containers in the simplest form only have one moving part – the doors. Even if you have customised your shipping container you will need to make sure that you look after your door hinges by keeping them clean, grit-free, and well-lubricated. You can use lubricating spray to keep your doors swinging as they’re supposed to for instance.

Looking after your shipping container and keeping it both clean and rust-free is the best way to ensure longevity. By carrying out preventative maintenance, you should be able to increase the lifespan of your shipping container. This is particularly important if your container has been customised for specific applications and will, therefore, require significant time, cost and resources to replace.