New vs Used Shipping Containers: A Comprehensive Guide

New vs Used Shipping Containers: A Comprehensive Guide


The shipping container industry offers a wide array of options, ranging from brand-new, one-trip containers to used ones with years of service. The choice between new and used shipping containers often boils down to factors such as quality, aesthetics, functionality, and cost. In this guide, we'll explore the major differences between these two options, providing insights to help you make the best decision for your needs.

Section 1: Understanding New One-Trip Containers

Quality and Durability

New one-trip containers represent the pinnacle of quality in the shipping container market. Usually less than a year old and used only once, these containers are in good condition. They have never been exposed to the harsh marine environment or container depots, ensuring their durability and aesthetics. Almost all new one trip containers have multiple vents for improved air flow, factory fitted lock boxes, easy opening doors and varnished floors subject to factory specification, making them perfect for self-storage.

New One-Trip Containers

Attribute Description
Quality Highest level of quality and durability
Aesthetics Solid one color, no logos and less wear than used containers
Security Equipped with a factory lock box
Usage Best for modifications for specific purposes

Ideal for Modifications & Conversions

New one-trip containers are the preferred choice for those wishing to modify a shipping container for use as a residence or office. Their excellent condition ensures that important items such as medical supplies, electrical equipment, or even prized possessions will remain in pristine condition.

Cost Considerations

While offering unparalleled quality, new one-trip containers come at a higher price. They are an investment in quality and aesthetics, suitable for those who prioritise these factors.

Section 2: Exploring Used Containers

Functionality and Cost-Effectiveness

Used containers provide a more budget-friendly option for those who are less concerned with cosmetics and more focused on function. Typically from 10 years old, these containers reflect the rigors of the shipping process, often bearing shipping logos, dents, scratches, and rust. Cargo doors on used shipping containers can be hard and heavy to open due to age, this depends on previous upkeep. Used containers do not typically come with lock boxes, although this can be purchased as an optional extra.

Used Containers

Attribute Description
Quality Built to last, functional
Aesthetics May have dents, scratches, and rust
Cost More budget-friendly
Usage Effective for various storage solutions

Refurbished Options

For those looking to extend both the life and visual appeal of their container, refurbished options are available. These containers have been restored to improve their appearance and functionality.

Versatility in Usage

Used containers are ideal for various storage solutions or nonresidential uses. From file and record storage to boat and recreational vehicle storage, and construction storage, the possibilities are vast.

Corrosion and Corrugation

Shipping containers are made of steel, which can corrode over time, especially in harsh environments. Corrugation, the wavy pattern on the sides of containers, adds structural strength, allowing them to withstand heavy loads and resist bending.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Why do shipping containers only last 25 years?
    • Shipping containers are exposed to harsh weather and handling conditions, leading to wear and tear. Proper maintenance can extend their lifespan.
  2. How long does a new shipping container last?
    • A new one-trip container can last up to 30 years with proper care and maintenance.
  3. How many years does a used container last?
    • A used container, typically 9-15 years old, can last another 10-15 years depending on its condition and maintenance.
  4. Do shipping containers hold their value?
    • Yes, shipping containers tend to hold value well, especially if well-maintained. Their versatility and durability contribute to their value retention.
  5. Do shipping containers corrode?
    • Yes, shipping containers can corrode, especially in salty or humid environments. Regular maintenance and protective coatings can mitigate corrosion.
  6. Why are shipping containers corrugated?
    • Corrugation adds structural strength to the containers, allowing them to withstand heavy loads and resist bending.
  7. How much does a shipping container cost?
    • Costs vary based on size, condition, and type. New containers may cost twice as much as used ones. For specific pricing, consult UNIT Group.
  8. Are shipping containers safe for storage?
    • Yes, shipping containers are designed to be secure and weather-resistant, making them safe for various storage needs.


Choosing between new and used shipping containers is a decision that requires careful consideration of factors such as quality, aesthetics, functionality, and budget. New one-trip containers offer the highest level of quality and are ideal for specific modifications, while used containers provide a cost-effective solution for various storage needs.

Whether you're looking to purchase or lease a shipping container, understanding your specific needs and preferences is key to finding the perfect container. For those seeking quality options in the UK, UNIT Group's shipping containers offer a wide range of choices to meet your unique requirements.