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New Vs Used Shipping Containers – The Ultimate Guide

In this guide about new Vs used shipping containers, we’ll look at some of the pros and cons of each so you can make a more informed choice.

Whether you are planning on hiring a shipping container, or particularly if you are planning on buying one, you might be tossing up whether you should get a brand new shipping container, or save money by investing in a used cargo container.



  • No Cross Contamination Risk – A brand new shipping container has never been used. Nothing has been stored in it or transported in it, so no matter what you plan to use it for you can be assured there’ll be no cross-contamination issues or the fear of wondering if anything toxic has been inside the container.
  • Pristine Condition – Nothing beats brand new, and a new container will be sparkling both outside and inside. The paintwork will be pristine, with no marks, dents or scratches. It also won’t have any branding from a previous owner either.
  • Sea Worthiness – In order for containers to be transported across the ocean on a container ship, they need to meet certain quality “seaworthiness” standards. With a brand new container, you can be assured it’ll pass these requirements.
  • Air Tight – With brand new seals, you can be certain a new container will be airtight and watertight, keeping dust, debris, moisture and vermin out and ensuring the contents are protected.
  • Forklift Pockets – New containers will almost always be fitted with forklift pockets for easy transportation. Many of the older style containers lacked these pockets, making them much harder to manoeuvre around a yard.
  • Safer To Modify – Although used containers can be used for modifications for some purposes, new containers are perfect for creating pop up shops, roadside restaurants and for building homes and extensions. The reason being is that new containers are free of any contamination.
  • Longer Warranty – A new container will come with a longer manufacturer’s warranty than what you’ll get on a used container, giving you peace of mind that your new investment is covered.

new vs old


  • The Cost – Obviously a brand new shipping container is going to be more expensive to buy than a used container, so you’ll need to decide whether it’s really worth the extra expense, or will a good quality used cargo container do?
  • Too Good for Storage – Unless you’re storing sensitive goods, there’s really no need to go to the extra expense of buying a brand new shipping container if all you’re going to store is old machinery, documents, or anything that could be stored in a decent used cargo container.



  • Great for On-Site Offices – One of the most common uses for a shipping container is to serve as a mobile on-site office on construction sites. There’s really no need to incur the extra cost of buying a shiny new container for this purpose. A used container in pretty good shape will be perfect, as aesthetics are not important.
  • Used Containers Are Cheaper – This is one of the biggest selling points for getting a second-hand shipping container. Used containers come in different quality grades, so the price will vary depending on the condition, but you’ll definitely save some bucks buying a used container as compared to a brand new one.
  • Quality Grades for All Requirements –  There are many things a used shipping container can be used for, and with the condition of the containers graded according to their quality, you can pick up old containers at bargain prices if some dents and rust are not a problem. As an example, if you want to build a secure garden shed or backyard workshop out of a used shipping container, then realistically a B or C Grade container will likely be good enough.
  • Perfect for Ablution Units – Portable toilet facilities are very handy for sporting events, concerts, exhibitions and more. There’s no real need to purchase brand new shipping containers only to transform them into mobile ablution units. Decent quality second-hand containers will be perfectly fine for the task.
  • Great for Hiring Out – Although a new container would be perfect for hiring out to others, a new container will also quickly lose value once it’s been used a few times. It makes more sense to purchase A Grade used shipping containers if you plan to hire them out for transport or storage. They won’t cost as much to buy, won’t lose value anywhere near as fast as a new container, therefore giving you a higher profit margin.

new Vs old


  • Cross Contamination Is a Risk – Whether it’s a refrigerated container or not, if you’re planning on transporting or storing perishable or sensitive items in your container, you have no idea what’s previously been inside a used one. That can be a real concern in this case, and therefore it might be a safer choice to buy a new container.
  • Might Not Be Air Tight – An A-Grade used shipping container should still have airtight and watertight seals, but many other used containers will no longer be airtight. This will allow dirt, moisture and pests access to the contents within the container and possibly cause damage to transported or stored goods. Containers of this quality will not be considered seaworthy for transporting on container ships either.
  • Limited Lifespan – The general life expectancy of a shipping container that is put to regular use is approximately 12 years. If you buy an old container, that’s around 8 or 9 years old, and you plan to use it for transporting cargo, you may not get much use out of it before it ends up in the recycling yard as scrap metal.

New Vs Used

The Takeaway

There are definite positives and negatives for both new vs used shipping containers. It really just depends on what your individual requirements are, which will be the right choice for you.

For the best advice and shipping containers at the right price, talk to the experts at Tiger Containers.

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