Standard shipping container dimensions are the same for most types of cargo boxes. The 20 foot freight container is the most common, but overall can range in size from 10 to 53 foot long. Each one is 8 feet wide, and 8’ 6” tall, making standard shipping container dimensions ideal building materials. The size of the construction project determines the length of the freight container needed to complete it. While the space of a single unit may seem small in terms of square footage, when positioned side-by-side the interior size adds up. For example, the 20 foot freight container placed against second one doubles in width to create a 20 foot by 16 foot building.
“High cube” freight containers add extra cubic space to the box, raising the ceiling by a foot, but otherwise shares standard shipping container dimensions. Taller ceilings in the 20 foot freight container allow for dramatic architectural elements and better opportunities to hide things like HVAC ductwork, wires, and pipes. When placed upright in an architectural design, high cube freight containers provide enough room for stairs leading to either a second story or rooftop patio areas in a design that uses double stacked steel shipping boxes.
Standard shipping container dimensions
Refrigerated, or reefer, containers differ slightly when compared to internal spaces of standard shipping container dimensions. This is because their walls, floors, and ceilings need extra space for the various ways manufacturers choose to control the temperature of certain types of cargo. Some rely on generators or other outside sources to power the unit. Others might use water cooling systems or cryogenically frozen gasses. Things like loose insulation and floors textured to drain away liquid make refrigerated freight containers a less than ideal choice for architectural projects. If someone is willing to spend the extra time, then the necessary modifications are certainly possible making them as easy to use as the 20 foot freight container.
Two other types are flat racks and platforms. These are used less often for container housing due to their lack of external structure. Flat racks lack walls and have either stationary or collapsible ends. The lack of structure is a perfect choice for manufacturers who need to haul bulky items like logs or heavy equipment. Standard shipping container dimensions for flat racks are typically 20, 40, or 45 foot long, and between 7’ to 7’ 6” in height. Platforms are another type of flat rack and available in the same lengths. Unlike the 20 foot freight container, their lack sides and ends prevents them from “containing” anything. Engineers recycle use old platforms in bridges and other structures requiring a sturdy base.
The 20 foot freight container, when used alone, makes a great mother-in-law’s suite or a carryout restaurant. Multi-story projects like London’s Container City might employ a dozen or more containers of various sizes and styles. Because of the various types of standard shipping container dimensions complement one another, almost any length works as an alternate to traditional stick-building materials.