All The Details You Need To Know About Shipping Container Sizes!

Do you have a project coming up that requires a shipping container but don’t know where to start? We’ve got you covered!

Shipping containers are used by many throughout the world who need to ship something- (or in some cases build something) that is able to withstand both storage and handling. They are built with strength in mind, the iconic corrugated wall panels (which are those traditional wall or roof metal panels that utilize a repeating u-shaped wave, (aka corrugation) pattern in its design, it’s the wall texture you picture immediately when someone says “shipping container” to you), cargo doors, and cross members are all made of corten steel which is the most special type of steel as it is made to face the highest of weather conditions and wear and tear. 

Now mainly you’ll see a lot of shipping containers in one of two places, one being on a container ship or a boxship, or two, in a yard somewhere where they are all waiting to be used. But nowadays creatives have taken the traditional shipping container and have turned them into buildings like restaurants, office spaces, emergency hospitals, stores, and even houses. That’s right, with the housing market getting more and more expensive every year some people have taken a new “DIY” approach to their dream home by building it through shipping containers like this Container Home (that’s actually available to rent) in the forest of Kalama, Washington:

A small shipping container home in the woods. The container has a walking bridge attached to the top level.

A suspended rope bridge and a perfect porch for a lovely morning sipping your coffee is a fun way of living! Image courtesy of the Wander in RAW blog.

So it’s safe to say there are a lot of different uses for shipping containers that aren’t just for transporting or holding precious goods. But when it comes to managing shipping container sizes there’s a lot of questions you might have and we’re here to answer them! We’ve got the ins and outs of all your shipping container questions along with a few extra inquiries you might have if you have a specific project or need for a shipping container in your life.

In this article you’ll find out along with all the shipping container sizes you can get and its cost:

  • What are the standard sizes for shipping containers?
  • How much do shipping containers cost?
  • How much does a 20 foot container weigh?
  • Are shipping containers waterproof?
  • How much can you fit in a 40 foot shipping container?
  • How much can you fit in a 20 foot shipping container?
  • What is the difference between a 40 foot and 20 foot container?
  • How do you move a shipping container?

What are all the different shipping container sizes you can get? (and shipping container dimensions)

Commonly you’ll find that most shipping containers come in standard sizes of: 

  • 20 ft. (20 ft. long, 8 ft. wide, and 8 ft. 6 in. high)
  • 40 ft. (which is twice the size of the 20 at Rent-A-Container without twice the cost)
  • 10 ft. (8 ft. wide, 10 ft. long, and 8 ft. 6 in. high)


Each standard shipping container size will normally always be around 8 feet wide as that’s most common with all shipping containers. 

However, there are also different variations of these sizes that you can find when you’re looking into these 20 foot and 40 foot options. For instance, you can find your standard sizes of course, the 10, 20, and 40 foot, but there’s also:

  • a 20 foot Double Door option
  • a 20 foot High Cube container
  • a 40 foot Double Door option
  • a 40 foot High Cube container
  • And a whopping 45 foot High Cube container

Rent-A-Container shipping container size comparison infographic

Those are a few of the variations you’ll find if you’re looking for a more specific container to fit your needs. And if you’re looking for an even bigger container, (53 ft and above), and/or a different size which are usually used on farms for storage or to build an establishment like a restaurant, those can be found through specialty listings and orders. 


How much do shipping containers cost?

Both 20 foot and 40 foot shipping containers being the most common sizes you’ll find that you can get a lot more details on these containers more often than not. 

But the real question is how much do these shipping containers cost?

Well, that’s a bit of a complicated answer. We can’t give you a direct number for the cost of a shipping container as shipping container prices vary extensively.


Well, they are commodities subject to wide supply changes as international trade rises and falls. Meaning depending on where you go and when you go looking for a shipping container the cost can vary due to a number of factors.

And let’s not forget about other fees! Make sure to include delivery fees, taxes and other expenses included in the total cost. All of that can change an estimated number greatly.

  • Tip: Having additions and modifications to standard shipping containers like the High Cube and Double Doors will definitely add to your costs so make sure to factor that in when you’re looking into your budget/shipping container needs.

Always buy or lease from a reputable seller with a track-record of providing containers nationwide, like Rent-A-Container.

How much does a 20 foot container weigh?

Now that you know about the strength and corten steel it takes to make a shipping container, you might be interested in how much these weigh. Just from the sounds of it, it seems like it’ll be heavy, and you’d be right!

According to the Bison Jacks website, you’ll commonly you’ll find that an empty 20 foot shipping container will weigh “between 1.8-2.2 metric tonnes (about 3,970 – 4,850 lb)” and an empty 40 foot shipping container will be “3.8 – 4.2 tonne (8,340 – 9,260 lb).” 

So you’ll find that 20 foot containers will weigh just under 5,000 pounds, while 40 foot containers will weigh just under 10,000 pounds empty.

Are shipping containers waterproof?

We mentioned before when we were talking about Rent-A-Container shipping container costs that it said each container is “Wind & Watertight” and that’s because they are.

Shipping containers will seal out wind and water, so there’s no need to worry about your goods being susceptible to damage when you choose to rent and/or buy a shipping container. (That’s why you’ll find that shipping containers are the “go-to” for boat travel as being on the sea with all that water and wind will have no effect on the supplies in the containers).

How much can you fit in a 40 foot shipping container?

We’ve learned by now that a 40 foot shipping container isn’t 40ft X 40ft. It’s a 40 feet long container (the dimensions are always around 40’ long x 8’ wide x 8’6” high- give or take a few inches depending on the vendor), so you’d need to calculate what could feasibly fit into that much space. That’s where your math classes from school will start to pay off!

To keep things safe it’s good to assume that you will get around 2,300 cubic feet- (also depending on the exact sizes of containers). Unless you’re transporting boxes, palates, or other items that all have a similar shape you will need to account for a few key details like the shape and flexibility of your items.

But to put things into perspective, you can realistically fit your things into 90% of the shipping container itself. You sometimes have to account for walkable lanes and devices like dehumidifiers to keep your stuff safe. 

And if you’re a visual thinker, think about being able to fit 400 mattresses in your 40 foot shipping container.

How much can you fit in a 20 foot shipping container?

Just like you know a 40 foot shipping container isn’t 40ft X 40ft, you’ll know that a 20 foot shipping container isn’t 20ft X 20ft. We know that a Rent-A-Container 20 foot shipping container is 20 ft. long, 8 ft. wide, and 8 ft. 6 in. high, and that puts us at around 1,170 cubic feet.

And again for our visual thinkers out there, you can envision 200 double mattresses in your 20 foot shipping container. About half of your total from the 40 foot shipping container.

What is the difference between a 40 foot and 20 foot container?

A comparison chart of 20 foot and 40 foot shipping containers

Now that we know the dimensions and the cubic feet of a 40 foot and 20 foot shipping container, let’s compare the differences between the two:

(And to be clear we are talking only about the standard 40 and 20 foot containers here, there would be more differences between High Cubes and Double Doors).

  • A Standard 20 foot Shipping Container


  • Height: 8ft. 6in.
  • Width: 8ft.
  • Length: 20ft.


  • Height: 7ft. 10in.
  • Width: 7ft. 8.5in.
  • Length: 19ft. 8in.


  • 1,170 cubic feet.


  • Tare Weight: 4,409lbs
  • Max Cargo Weight: 67,200lbs
  • A Standard 40 foot Shipping Container


  • Height: 8ft. 6in.
  • Width: 8ft.
  • Length: 40ft.


  • Height: 7ft. 10in.
  • Width: 7ft. 8.5in.
  • Length: 39ft. 6in.


  • 2,350 cubic ft.


  • Tare Weight: 8333.5lbs
  • Max Cargo Weight: 26,700kgs

You can find more information on both High Cube and costs of 40 foot and 20 foot shipping containers below:

How do you move a shipping container?

So you’ve got the shipping container sizes, you have visuals on how much could fit into your shipping containers, and now you want to know how do you move a shipping container?

Well there are a few ways we’ve already discussed like container ships. But if you’re moving your shipping containers 200 miles or less it’s recommended that you use a Tilt Bed Truck which is a truck that’s bed can be tipped at an angle, hence the name, to let any precious cargo slide off with ease and no damage. And with the machinery behind the “tilt bed” you don’t have to have any additional equipment to move and deliver a shipping container. 

In conclusion:

Shipping containers have a lot of potential uses, from standard shipping and receiving, to creating a potential new home for a blossoming family. And when it comes to researching what might be best for your needs you can look no further than Rent-A-Container as they have the insight and experience to make sure that your venture is well taken care of.