Have you ever wanted to know more about shipping containers? or wanted to ask a question about them? Below we are assembling a list of FAQ for shipping containers along with some answers.

Feel free to send us your questions.

Are Shipping Containers Fire Rated?

Shipping containers are made from very strong galvanized steel, so they are not only extremely tough and weatherproof but highly fire-resistant as well. Shipping containers have been known to withstand fierce Australian bushfires, and even the fire brigade use containers for training drills.

While a standard shipping container is indeed highly fire-resistant, a rating won’t be applied if the container is not insulated.

Dangerous goods or hazardous goods shipping containers, on the other hand, have been purpose-built to house things as combustible as explosives and as hazardous as toxic chemicals.

Are Shipping Containers Eco Friendly?

In a word, yes, shipping containers are eco-friendly, and in a number of different ways. One major way the humble container is kind to the environment is through its ability to be recycled for so many other uses.

These days both new and used shipping containers are being repurposed for all types of other projects, such as housing, office space, mobile food kitchens, pop-up stores and so much more.

So, not only are containers being recycled for building purposes, using them for buildings projects also helps save other resources from being consumed, such as timber, plasterboard, concrete and steel. Much of the construction is already done in the form of the container space itself.

Add in eco-friendly extras like solar power and recycled water, when you build a home or other establishment from a shipping container, you really are playing an important role in helping to keep the planet sustainable.

Are Shipping Containers Mouse Proof?

This really depends on the type of shipping container, as there are a number of different varieties. Standard and refrigerated shipping containers are designed to be airtight, which also makes them watertight and effective at keeping mice out.

A brand new container that’s rated as being airtight will definitely keep out pests of all kinds and there’s no way a mouse will be able to get inside.

Being solid steel, mice cannot gnaw their way through a shipping container wall either. There’s no chance of them getting inside unless they gain entrance when the doors are open.

Are Shipping Containers Are Shipping Containers Flood Proof?

Whether a shipping container is genuinely flood-proof really depends on whether it’s an airtight rated container, and whether that container hasn’t been compromised in any way. Many standard brand new shipping containers have been designed to be airtight to keep dust and pests out, as well as to thoroughly protect the cargo contained within. Even used shipping containers that are A Grade and have been taken care of will maintain their airtight, and thus watertight, integrity.

Shipping containers have been designed for sea transport and will actually float in the event that they go overboard. If you want to use a shipping container for storage in an area that receives heavy rainfall, then you’ll want to choose either a brand new airtight container or a good quality used container with intact door seals that are still airtight.

When you opt for containers that meet these standards, you can be assured that your shipping container will indeed be flood-proof, as well as keeping out dirt and pests, such as cockroaches, rodents and other vermin. To be certain, purchase or hire a new shipping container that has been certified as being 100% airtight and you won’t have any issues with water leaks, no matter how much rain you get.

For even more security against floodwaters, you can place your shipping container up on blocks to increase its elevation. This is just one more level of protection for the goods stored within and your peace of mind.

Are Shipping Containers Safe?

The word “safe” is a very broad term. One thing that’s for certain is a shipping container is built to be extremely tough and durable, withstanding the weather and rigours of extensive sea travel. A brand new shipping container or a high quality used one will be very safe when it comes to the items being stored within its walls.

These containers are made from super strong corrugated steel that is highly fire-resistant, weather-resistant and virtually impervious to the elements. For example, if you choose to build a home or granny flat from a shipping container, you can be assured of a high level of structural integrity and strength, far more so than a dwelling constructed of timber, plasterboard or even concrete.

Shipping containers are designed to be stacked one on top of the other in row after row, so if you build a two, three or even four-storey home out of them, you really won’t find a more secure structure than one built with containers.

A brand new or good quality used shipping container is designed to be airtight and flood-proof, further enhancing its safety aspect and structural qualities. Even when they are modified, so long as too much of the metal structure isn’t cutaway, anything made from a container is going to be safe, secure and extremely strong.

Shipping containers are perfect for transporting goods and possessions overseas and across the land, as well as being one of the safest storage devices on the planet.

Something to consider when buying or hiring a used shipping container is its history. You may not be able to uncover the total history of use for a particular shipping container, but keep in mind that used containers could have been used to house or transport all manner of things. Toxic substances or harsh chemicals might have been in the container and still leeching toxins.

Also, older and more worn shipping containers that have holes and rust are obviously not going to be as safe and secure as a brand new container, or a used one in top quality condition. If you really have concerns about these issues, then you’re better off playing it safe and getting a new container or an A-Grade used shipping container.

Whatever you plan to use a shipping container for, the structural integrity will be like no other.

Are Shipping Containers Are Shipping Containers Rodent Proof?

Not all shipping containers are created equal or built to the same specifications. While brand new and high quality used standard and refrigerated shipping containers are designed to be airtight, and therefore allowing no access point for rats and mice, other containers are designed to be open-top, flat rack and so on. These types of containers are not guaranteed to be rodent-proof.

Airtight containers are also watertight, so therefore even the smallest of pests cannot gain entry. This goes for both brand new and second-hand containers certified as being 100% airtight. Not all used containers will meet these specifications though, due to age, wear and tear and the degradation of the door seals.

For example, used shipping containers have ratings applied to them to indicate the quality of the container’s condition. An A-Grade used shipping containers is one that’s still in very good condition and will be airtight, therefore effective at keeping out rodents. A B Grade used container is in fair condition but isn’t likely to be airtight, so keeping out pests isn’t a guarantee. C Grade used shipping container likely has rust holes in it and won’t stop rodents from entering.

Are Shipping Containers Sustainable?

It really depends on how you make use of the shipping container. If it’s simply rusting away somewhere not being utilised, then it’s not going to be kind to the environment. On the flip side, if you recycle a used shipping container and transform it into something to be used for an alternate purpose, then shipping containers as building material are fully recyclable and very kind to the planet. Any type of recycling of existing materials and structures is helpful, and shipping containers are one of the most versatile structures on the planet.

Just a few ideas that shipping containers can be used for apart from transport and storage are on-site offices, home office space, houses and home extensions, granny flats, workshops, garden sheds, pop-up stores, mobile kitchens, ablution blocks, jail cells, temporary emergency housing and so much more.

Some people opt to create sustainable tiny homes from shipping containers, installing things like solar power, compost toilets, recycling water and collecting rainwater, even planting vegetable gardens on the roof of the container home, which in turn also helps to insulate it.

Shipping containers are long-lasting and are useful in so many ways that they would seriously have to be considered sustainable.

Are Shipping Containers Are Shipping Containers Taxable?

When you buy or hire a shipping container in Australia it is subject to GST, as is the transporting and shipping of goods locally, interstate and overseas. The container itself is a product and transportation is a service, both of which are taxable under Australian law.

Are Shipping Containers Ventilated?

Standard shipping containers are designed to be air and watertight, but they do have small pressure-activated vents along the sides of the container located near the roof. These vents are designed to help reduce a build-up of excessive heat or moisture. However, they are not always effective in preventing condensation from forming on the underside of the roof or on the walls.

If you plan to store goods inside a container and you live in a region where condensation is likely to occur, then you may want to consider installing ventilation in your container.

Your requirements for ventilation really depend on what you’ll be using your shipping container for. If you plan to build a home with one, or a granny flat, you’ll likely be installing windows, insulation and possibly even air conditioning as well.

Other ways to ventilate your shipping container include whirlybirds in the roof (also known as turbine vents), louvre vents or even exhaust fans.

Unless you’re going to be using your shipping container for overseas transportation and want it to be airtight, you’ll really want to modify it and install some custom ventilation of some description.

Can Shipping Container Homes Have Basements?

Just because a house might be constructed primarily from shipping containers, that doesn’t mean a container home can’t be built with a basement just like a regular house.

Let’s say you build your entire house out of two 40 foot shipping containers with not much else used in construction. All you need to do is build the basement area, either out of concrete or even another shipping container that’s been reinforced, cut a hole in the floor and put in a staircase.

If you plan to install a basement for your container home, then the logical process would be to construct the basement first as you build the foundations for your house, and you can definitely utilise a used shipping container for a basement as well. To avoid any chance of the sides or ceiling of the basement collapsing though, it’ll need to be reinforced with either timber or steel beams.

Shipping containers are extremely cheap, strong and very versatile building material. All that’s required is some planning and imagination and you can build virtually anything out of them.

Just look online for some ideas about basements for shipping container homes.

Can Shipping Container Pools Be In-Ground?

Yes. Shipping container pools can be above ground pools or in-ground pools. Each will have its own unique characteristics and construction methods, but both are possible. Many homes across the world have swimming pools built primarily from shipping containers, even with glass sides in some of them.

Not only can you build an in-ground or above ground pool from a new or used shipping container, but you can also build a spa or jacuzzi from a shipping container just as easily.

Shipping containers are the perfect material, size and shape from which to build an in-ground swimming pool.

Can a Shipping Container Withstand a Tornado?

To some degree, a shipping container, by nature of its structure and extremely solid and heavy design, can withstand very severe storms and potentially a tornado. It really depends on how strong the tornado actually is. A shipping container just sitting there on the ground will simply be lifted off the ground by a powerful tornado.

If the shipping container is anchored down it’ll have more chance of withstanding a tornado, but would likely be most effective as a tornado shelter if it was buried in the ground. Using a shipping container underground as a tornado shelter is a very feasible idea.

There are not many structures tougher than a corrugated steel container and they would make the perfect survival shelter if set up the right way, and you reinforce the walls and ceiling so they can’t collapse.
Another positive to a standard shipping container is it has no windows, and there really is no debris to be tossed about.

Any debris striking a shipping container itself is not likely to penetrate the container either unless it’s a particularly strong tornado.

As far as shipping container homes go, although they certainly wouldn’t be tornado-proof, a house made from shipping containers is going to fare far better than most homes built the traditional way; especially if those houses are made from timber. Having said that, by the time you build a house out of containers, it’ll have windows and doors and other additions that really won’t fare well in tornado-like conditions.

Although shipping containers and structures made from them might not be tornado-proof, containers certainly do make for extremely solid building material, and their versatility makes the shipping container one of the best building materials on the market today.

Can Shipping Container Homes Be Moved?

Shipping containers, by design, are made to be completely mobile. They can even be picked up and moved around with forklifts. When it comes to a shipping container home though, it really depends on how your house is designed and built whether it can be moved or not.

Many people who are looking to downsize build tiny houses out of 20-foot cargo containers. Some of these are mounted on wheels so they can be towed like a caravan. Others are mounted on the backs of trucks and are set up somewhat like an RV, and are completely mobile yet stand alone.
A shipping container home, if mounted on blocks or stumps rather than being permanently affixed to a foundation, can be lifted onto a truck like a mobile home and relocated. It’s one of the real attractions of constricting a small home from a container.

It can be an entirely different story if you’re building a larger, more grandiose type of house from one or more shipping containers. In this instance, it’s more than likely that the home will be constructed on proper foundations and perhaps attached to a concrete slab.

The containers themselves will likely be heavily modified, and other materials brought into the construction to bring all the pieces together. Some really stunning homes have been built from several shipping containers, even multiple storey homes, but these houses are not ones that can be moved from location to location, any more than a traditional home can be moved.

Can Shipping Containers Be Buried?

Technically, yes, you can bury a shipping container, depending on the purpose. If you’re wanting to bury one just to be rid of it, there are better options; such as recycling the metal, or transforming the shipping container for another useful purpose, perhaps even a garden shed or workshop.

Keep in mind that you would first have to dig an enormous hole in which to fit the container to be buried. Then, if you don’t fill the container up with dirt, over time it will rust and fall apart, leaving a sinkhole in the ground. This can be extremely dangerous.

If you plan to bury a shipping container in the ground as storage or some sort of bunker and safe zone, then it will need to be reinforced to prevent the collapse of the walls and ceiling, and you’ll also want to make sure all the seams are sealed to prevent moisture and dirt from getting inside.

If it’s an old container you might also consider doing some rustproofing before putting it in the ground, and you’ll likely want to insulate the shipping container as well to regulate the internal temperature.

Can Shipping Containers Be Dismantled?

It really depends on the type of shipping container. There is a shipping container that’s been purposely designed to be easily dismantled and put back together again. It’s called the “flat rack” shipping container and the reason it’s been made this way is so it can be flat packed when not in use so it doesn’t consume so much room. Also, having the ability to flat pack a shipping container also makes it a lot easier to move with a forklift or transport on the back of a truck.

When it comes to standard or regular shipping containers, which are designed to be airtight, dismantling this type of container - if you ever wanted to do it - will require a lot more work, effort and expertise. You’ll really need a cutting torch, grinders and other power tools and equipment to pull apart a standard container.

Transforming shipping containers so they can be used for other purposes is super popular these days, so some form of modification or dismantling of regular shipping containers is very common. As an example, if you were to construct a granny flat in your backyard primarily from a cargo container, you’ll very likely cut some holes in the walls to install windows, and probably remove those two heavy steel entrance doors and replace them with something more appropriate and homely.

Likewise, the floors of shipping containers can be removed so the remainder of the container is resting on a concrete slab, and the slab becomes the floor.

Shipping containers are extremely versatile, and the reason so many people are using them and recycling containers for other purposes. With a little imagination and some effort, you can transform a shipping container into practically anything you desire.

Can Shipping Containers Be Opened From the Inside?

The short answer is no, not as they are. Standard shipping containers lock from the outside and there’s no way they can be opened from within. In order to have a shipping container that can be opened from the inside, you would first have to modify the container to give it this capability.

Changing out the two steel doors for a roller door is one way of achieving this. Another is to install regular house doors on the container so the container can be accessed from both the outside and the inside, just like your home.

Can Shipping Containers Burn?

Asking whether a shipping container can burn is a very interesting question. In their raw state with no internal additions, apart from a plywood floor, shipping containers are nothing more than large rectangular boxes made from solid steel.

A clue to their ability to withstand fires and extreme temperatures, cargo containers are often used by the fire brigade for firefighting training exercises. The heat and flames may scorch the container and possibly even buckle the walls a little, but generally, the container will remain largely intact.

The only exception would be the plywood flooring, which could burn quite readily.

Can Shipping Containers Float?

It largely depends on the condition of the container and the type of shipping container. A brand new shipping container with watertight door seals and no air vents will trap air inside, allowing it to float if it were to fall off the ship and into the sea. However, the container’s ability to float, even when completely airtight, will also depend on what’s inside the container. If the container’s contents are not too dense and allow enough air to be trapped, it will still float. However, if that container was filled to the brim with dense, solid and heavy materials, chances are it would sink.

Many used shipping containers are not airtight due to their age. The door seals might be worn, or there could be small holes in the steel walls due to knocks or rust. Containers in this condition will sink beneath the waves even if they are empty.

Flat rack containers, which are assembled when ready to use, are not watertight and will definitely sink. It’ll be the same result for open top shipping containers, where the ceiling is nothing more than a tarp to cover the roof during transit.

Can Shipping Containers Hold Water?

The short answer is no.

While a brand new shipping container is designed to be airtight and can keep water out, trying to fill one with water and expecting the water to not be able to escape is another story entirely. The main reason a shipping container cannot hold water is due to the plywood flooring. Wooden flooring will allow the seepage of water over time, especially if the container is under pressure by being completely filled.

While shipping containers can be converted to be used as swimming pools, in their original state they are not designed to hold water.


How Are Shipping Containers Insulated

If a shipping container is going to be used for a purpose other than transportation or storage, then insulating the container will probably be necessary. This is especially true if you’ll be transforming a shipping container into a home office, granny flat or man cave.

The simplest and easiest way to insulate the inside of a container to maintain temperature control is with spray-on insulating foam. Application is fast and it’s effective.

Cotton (or denim) insulation is another popular choice. It’s applied in a similar fashion to traditional fibreglass insulation that you would find in the ceiling of a regular house. In shipping containers, both the walls and ceiling are insulated.

Real wool insulation forms a highly-effective barrier against temperature fluctuations. Lanolin contained naturally in sheep’s wool, is also fire retardant, making it a much safer form of insulation over denim.

Yet another good and lightweight open is to line the inside of the container with cork insulation. Cork also has the added benefit of soundproofing, making your shipping container space quiet and tranquil. It’s the perfect choice if the container is being used as a bedroom or granny flat.


Can Shipping Container Survive Bushfires?

Shipping containers are made from solid, reinforced marine grade steel. Therefore, they are extremely fire-resistant and have been known to survive intact after bushfires. Extreme heat can certainly damage the container and buckle the panels, and the weakest link in a shipping container when it comes to fire is the wooden flooring.

To assume a shipping container would melt into a puddle of molten steel is a stretch as bushfires simply don’t get hot enough to act as a furnace. While a container can withstand a bushfire, to be trapped in one during a blaze would likely still be a death sentence.

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