How to Use a Shipping Container For Your Garage

You must have already heard by now that decommissioned shipping containers are making headway in the construction business. Shipping containers – steel boxes that are 20 or 40 feet long and 8 feet wide used to store and ship commodities all over the world – are no longer just for these purposes.

There is a growing architectural interest in shipping containers as viable alternative building materials, especially when traditional building materials are getting expensive. Intrepid home builders have made entire container cities out of these refurbished sea crates, so it is doable to learn how to use a shipping container for your garage. First, it is important to secure permission from your local building department if shipping containers can be constructed in the area (since they would have to abide by building codes). Shipping containers are considered non-permanent structures so they are not (property) taxed, which means that you can save not only on building materials but on upkeep as well.

Then you have to identify how much space you need for your garage. This varies from household to household, but it is not unheard of to build two-story garages out of shipping containers given adequate forethought and planning. This should also be consulted with the local building department, as some states put a limit (and number of stories) to square footage of repurposed shipping containers.

Next, you need to detoxify shipping containers to ensure that these become safe storage spaces. You will likely spend a good amount of time inside your garage, so it would help if the interior is not damaging to your health. In particular, container floors are treated with insecticides and fungicides so they become more resistant and durable. Otherwise, you can have the floors removed and substitute cement flooring.

It is important to note that shipping containers, depending on their condition, are priced differently. If you intend to build an outhouse or garage with plenty of windows and doors, you can save more if you opt for units that sustained minor damage since you will be cutting them out anyway.

Pier-type foundations will shore up your containers. You may need to sink down a 2’x2’ square foundation every 10 feet or so, especially when you are stacking up containers to a few stories high. For those who want to learn quickly how to use a shipping container for your garage, 20’x8’x8-1/2′ boxes should suffice for smaller tool sheds.

Preformed channels measuring 2”x3” can be used to strengthen walls and add insulation. You may want to paint the walls and the floors after cleaning them up to cover lingering smells that are typical of shipping containers.

By installing a dry wall on either side of the length of the containers, you can reinforce the walls as well as create a base with which to attach your shelves. For bigger garages, you may need to take out panels on either side and arrange them together so you would have adequate square footage. That way, your shelves can be installed in the middle of the garage and allow greater mobility for you and other users.