Used shipping containers can save you quite a bit of money versus the cost of new containers, and since shipping containers are built to withstand the rigors of overseas shipping, they may have years of life left on them no matter their age. However, as with buying anything used, you want to ensure you know how to get a quality product and how to avoid unnecessary expenses. Consider a few important factors about buying used shipping containers for overseas shipping.
How will the shipping container be transported to your facility? When you buy a new container, shipping may be included in the price, but when you buy something used, you often need to handle the shipping yourself. You may be able to rent a flatbed truck with a crane in the bed so you can pick up the container, but even if this is cheaper than hiring a transport company to handle the shipping for you, it can still be costly. Note that if you live near a port that offers used shipping containers, your cost may be cheaper than if you live some distance away, so consider getting quotes for this shipping and for renting a truck before you even consider a used container.
2. Be wary of prefabricated and specialized containers
Prefabricated containers, or those that are made special-order for contractors to use as storage containers on jobsites and those made for shipping special equipment, will usually be much more expensive than just a standard metal box. Unless your materials require added insulation, temperature control, ventilation, a rollup door, and features like these, don't be swayed into purchasing a container with these features. They can easily add to your cost but may be very unnecessary.
3. Know the materials
It's good to take time to research the type of material used for shipping containers; look for what is called Cor-Ten steel, which lasts longer than other types of material, if you want to use your container repeatedly and need something tough and durable.
Aluminum is a very common material for shipping containers because it's lightweight and therefore doesn't add much to the shipping costs. However, note that aluminum may rust more easily than other metals, so it may be lighter but may also develop corrosion more quickly. If you're looking at an aluminum container, remember that it may be developing rust in areas that you cannot easily see. If you only need your container for one shipment, then you may consider investing in the lightweight aluminum container, but for long-term use, invest in the strongest and most durable material available.