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How Big is a Shipping Container?

Shipping container homes have been gaining massive popularity in the past few years. Their durability, practicality, and sustainability make them a perfect option for many first-time home builders. But the question remains – how big are shipping containers and what can they fit inside?

Shipping containers come in a range of sizes, though most commonly measure 20 ft and 40 ft in length with a width of 8 ft as standard. The most common height of a container is 8 ft 6 in, though high cube containers have an extra foot, topping out at 9 ft 6 in.

As for which one is best – keep reading to find out which one suits your needs.


What sizes do shipping containers come in?

Shipping containers tend to vary in size from 10 ft to 40 ft so you have a lot of options to choose from. In most cases, the sides of containers are corrugated with a depth of 1 in or 2.5 cm. That means 2 in or 5 cm are usually lost from the external width dimension.

The back of the container is also usually corrugated and the container doors are approximately 2 in thick, which means about 3 in or 7.5 cm are lost from the length.


1. 10 ft shipping container

A 10ft shipping container is approximately the size of a single car garage. Therefore, this type of container is suitable for small spaces. The 10 ft size is usually not common in shipping because it is usually made from larger 40 ft containers.

These larger containers are usually cut into four parts, at which point back walls and doors are added back. Here are the specifications of a 10 ft container:

  • Empty weight: 2645 lbs (1200 kg)
  • External length: 10 ft (3.05 m)
  • External width: 8 ft (2.44 m)
  • External height: 8.5 ft (2.59 m)
  • Internal length: 9.1 ft (2.79 m)
  • Internal width: 7.7 ft (2.35 m)
  • Square footage: 80 sq. ft (7.43 m)
  • Capacity: 575 cubic ft (53.4 m3)


2. 20 ft shipping container

A 20ft shipping container has a compact size that makes it easier for it to be transported through smaller vehicles. A container of this size is small enough to be stored in a single parking space.

Here are the specifications of a 20 ft shipping container:

  • Empty weight: 4,000 lbs (1814.37 kg)
  • External length: 20 ft (3.05 m)
  • External width: 8 ft (2.44 m)
  • External height: 8.5 ft (2.59 m)
  • Internal length: 19.1 ft ( 5.82 m)
  • Internal width: 7.7 ft (2.35 m)
  • Square footage: 160 sq. ft (14.86 m)
  • Capacity: 1,150 cubic ft (32.56 m3)


3. 40 ft shipping container

A 40ft shipping container is quite large and can fit in more cargo than the other two containers we’ve discussed above. This container is quite economical and ideal for shipping or storing products. It provides you two 20ft containers and minimizes any inconveniences or expenses of transporting several separated units.

  • Empty weight: 8,000 lbs (3628.74 kg)
  • External length: 40 ft (6.1 m)
  • External width: 8 ft (2.44 m)
  • External height: 8.5 ft (2.59 m)
  • Internal length: 39.1 ft (11.92 m)
  • Internal width: 7.7 ft (2.35 m)
  • Square footage: 320 sq. ft (29.73m2)
  • Capacity: 2,500 cubic ft (70.79 m3)


4. 40 ft shipping container (high cube)

The 40ft high cube shipping container offers more storage space compared to a regular-sized one. This is an ideal shipping container when you need extra space for storage. When you have extra storage space, you won’t need to buy and transport two small containers of either 10ft or 20ft.

  • Empty weight: 9,000 lbs (4082.33 kg)
  • External length: 40 ft (6.1 m)
  • External width: 8 ft (2.44 m)
  • External height: 9.5 ft (2.90 m)
  • Internal length: 39.1 ft (11.92 m)
  • Internal width: 7.7 ft (2.35 m)
  • Square footage: 320 sq. ft (29.73m2)
  • Capacity: 2,700 cubic ft (76.46 m3)


What fits in a 10ft shipping container?

10ft shipping containers are the smallest size offered. However, they still offer adequate space. You can easily convert this container into several things, such as an office or studio bedroom. You can even connect them to form a “pod-like” house. Their compact size makes them a breeze to transport.

A 10ft shipping container is equivalent to a moderately-sized bedroom. It’s about the size of two full-sized beds, with a bit of room to spare. It can fit about:

  • 24,000 bananas
  • 200 flat-screen TVs
  • 100 full-sized mattresses


What fits in a 20ft container?

20 ft containers are one of the most popular options for tiny homes. A 20ft container is double the size of a 10ft container. It is the size of four full-sized beds, with a bit of room to spare. This container can hold household goods from a standard 1 bedroom apartment.

It can fit about:

  • 48,000 bananas
  • 400 flat-screen TVs
  • 200 full-sized mattresses

If space is used efficiently, this can be a perfect container for a tiny home.

This container can be divided into a garage, kitchen and living room, bedrooms, a place for miscellaneous stuff, and a storage area. The benefit of this container is that it offers adequate space to fit your stuff, yet also helps you save on storage space wherever you decide to keep it. Therefore, it offers so much convenience to users.

Another benefit that it includes is that you can use it when you want to move far away since it can properly fit all your stuff if you’re staying in a one or two-bedroom apartment. Therefore, it also offers flexibility.


What fits in a 40ft container?

If you’re looking to build a larger home, a 40 ft container may be the right option for you. With this container, you’ll have plenty of room to move. This container can fit household goods of a 2 or 3 bedroom apartment with a dining and living room, kitchen, and den.

It can fit:

  • 96,000 bananas
  • 800 flat-screen TVs
  • 400 full-sized mattresses

The container is quite large.

If you’re using it for moving, you can divide it into several sections to ensure everything fits perfectly. However, when using the 40ft shipping container, you’ll need to find a large storage space to keep it, such as a big yard to keep it. It may be inconvenient for those with limited space. However, it can be fairly inexpensive to find a cheap place to keep it in the meantime.


Final thoughts

The process of buying a shipping container requires careful consideration. Luckily, shipping containers come in a variety of sizes, so it’s fairly easy to find one that suits your needs. All of the options on this list for perfect for building a tiny house, so it’s ultimately up to you to decide how big or small you’d like it to be.

If you found this article helpful, please feel free to check out my other articles on shipping container homes.