When it comes to purchasing a used shipping container, conducting a comprehensive inspection is crucial. These containers endure significant wear and tear during their initial use, and their conditions can vary widely. Typically, used shipping containers have served in shipping freight and storing goods for around 10-15 years before undergoing inspection and joining our inventory at Van Isle Containers. These containers are often repurposed for many different purposes such as offices, storage units, or even homes.

At Van Isle Containers, we ensure that every used container for sale has been inspected for damages, and all of our containers are guaranteed to be wind and watertight (WWT) at the time of purchase. That being said, it is still important to make sure that the container meets your requirements and expected condition before making a purchase.

Why You Should Buy Used Shipping Containers

The popularity of used shipping containers has risen across various industries, thanks to their many advantages. These containers not only present cost savings but also deliver environmental benefits, along with a diverse range of potential applications.

One key factor driving the popularity of acquiring used shipping containers is the substantial cost savings they provide. In contrast to investing in brand-new containers, used ones are generally much more budget-friendly. This makes them an appealing choice for businesses and individuals seeking cost-effective storage or workplace solutions. These cost savings can be even more significant when buying containers in bulk.

Beyond the financial advantages, buying used shipping containers plays a vital role in promoting environmental sustainability. Opting for the reuse of existing containers rather than manufacturing new ones effectively diminishes the demand for additional production processes and resources. This not only helps in reducing carbon emissions but also conserves energy and raw materials that would otherwise be used in the production of new containers. Additionally, repurposing these containers extends their lifespan and prevents them from contributing to landfill waste.

Used shipping containers can be used in many ways across different industries. They’re good for on-site storage at construction sites or events, and you can also turn them into things like pop-up shops or cafes. These tough steel containers can handle rough weather and provide safe storage for both businesses and residents.

Understanding What You Need for Your Used Shipping Container

When you’re buying a used shipping container for storage or anything else, it’s important to know what you need so you can pick the right one. Two big things to think about are the size of container that you and what specific features it needs to have.

What Size of Used Shipping Container Do You Need?

Start by figuring out what you want to store or do with the container. Think about how much stuff you need to store or move, and then estimate the space you’ll need. Shipping containers come in different sizes, like the common 20-foot and 40-foot options. Knowing how much space you need will help you choose the right size, so you don’t end up with too much or too little storage.

What Features Do You Need? – Standard Containers vs High Cube

Besides size, you should also think about the features you need for what you’re planning. Regular shipping containers are about 8 feet 6 inches tall, but there are also high cube containers that give you more vertical space, around 9 feet 6 inches. If you’ve got taller things or want to use all the vertical space for storage, a high cube container might be a better fit.

Now that you’ve figured out the right size and features you need, you can make a smart choice when buying a used shipping container. Next up is thinking about an inspection. Checking out a second-hand shipping container before you buy involves looking at several important factors.

How to Inspect a Used Shipping Container


When checking out the exterior of a used shipping container, it’s crucial for evaluating its overall condition and functionality. Here are three important things to look for during the exterior inspection:

1. Check for Visible Damage, Rust, and Corrosion: Examine the outside of the container for any noticeable damage like dents or punctures. Pay attention to rust spots or corrosion, as they can indicate potential structural problems. Make a note of any issues for necessary repairs or further evaluation.

2. Assess the Condition of Doors, Locks, and Seals: Test the doors by opening and closing them to ensure they work properly. Look for any signs of misalignment or damage that might compromise security or hinder accessibility. Also, inspect locks and seals to make sure they are in good working order.

3. Inspect the Overall Structure and Framework: Carefully examine all sides of the container for structural issues like bent or twisted panels, loose fasteners, or compromised framework. Pay close attention to welds and joints, checking for any signs of cracking or separation. Identifying these issues is crucial for ensuring the container’s integrity.


During the interior inspection of a shipping container, it’s important to consider a couple of things to guarantee a safe and clean space. Here are two key aspects to focus on:

1. Verify the Absence of Odors or Contaminants: Carefully assess the air quality inside the container to detect any unpleasant smells or potential contaminants. Addressing any issues promptly is crucial for maintaining a healthy environment. Ensuring that the interior is free from harmful substances contributes to the overall safety of the space.

2. Check for Damage and Signs of Pests: Confirm that the interior is free from significant damage by inspecting for visible structural issues such as cracks or leaks. Structural damage could compromise the integrity of the container. Additionally, check for signs of pests like rodents or insects to prevent infestations and uphold a clean environment.

Flooring Inspection

1. Condition of Flooring Material: For wooden flooring, check for signs of rot, decay, or water-induced damage. Keep an eye out for soft spots, discoloration, or any visible deterioration that could compromise the structure. If the flooring is steel, inspect for signs of corrosion or rust that might undermine its strength and durability.

2. Detection of Water Damage or Insect Infestations: Water damage can lead to weakened flooring and structural instability. Look for stains, dampness, or mold growth on both wooden and steel surfaces. Be vigilant for evidence of insect activity, such as holes in wood or burrows in steel, which may indicate an infestation.

Roof Inspection

1. Check for Dents, Holes, and Rust: Carefully examine the entire surface of the container’s roof for any signs of damage such as dents, holes, or areas affected by rust. Dents and holes compromise the structural integrity of the roof, while rust can lead to further deterioration and potential water leakage.

2. Ensure Proper Sealing to Prevent Water Leakage: Pay close attention to the sealing around vents, joints, and any other openings on the roof. Verify that these areas are properly sealed to prevent water from seeping into the container. Look for visible gaps or cracks in the sealant materials that may compromise the water-tightness of the roof.

Container Identification

1. Examine the CSC Plate (Identification Marks): Check the CSC plate, also known as the identification marks, for important information like the unique serial number, size, maximum gross weight, and date of manufacture. Inspecting this plate is crucial to verify that the container adheres to international safety standards for transportation.

2. Verify the Container’s Age and Origin: Assess the age and origin of the container, which can offer valuable insights into its condition and potential lifespan. Determine the age by checking the manufacturing date on the CSC plate or by looking for other markings on the container itself. This information helps you understand how long the container has been in use and estimate its remaining durability.

Ready to Buy a Used Shipping Container?

We’ve emphasized the importance of a thorough inspection when considering the purchase of used shipping containers. By carefully assessing the container’s condition, structural integrity, and potential issues, buyers can make informed decisions and steer clear of costly mistakes.

At Van Isle Containers, we take pride in ensuring our containers undergo rigorous inspections for damages. However, we strongly advise buyers to prioritize their due diligence when buying used shipping containers. Investing time and effort into personal or professional inspections and obtaining all necessary documentation ensures a smooth and satisfying purchasing experience.

If you’re wondering, “Where can I find used shipping containers for sale near me?”—you’re in luck! Van Isle Containers proudly serves all of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Explore our inventory of both new and used shipping containers. We understand that each customer has unique requirements, and we provide a diverse range of options to meet your specific needs.

Whether you’re in need of standard containers or specialized units, our team is ready to assist you in finding the perfect solution. Feel free to reach out with any questions you may have; we’re here to guide you through every step of your container buying journey. Contact us to take the first step.