How Much Does a 20ft Shipping Container Weigh?

Shipping containers used to create a office space with colorful mural and plants.
Almere, The Netherlands – April 21, 2022: Tiny offices made of used steel cargo containers in Almere, The Netherlands

Shipping containers have many purposes today, but primarily, they are used to send products overseas. Both individuals utilize shipping containers for transport of both commercial and non-commercial goods. And, anyone that plans on shipping items using one will want to know how much a shipping container weighs as well as how much it can hold.

Generally, there are 10-foot, 20-foot, and 40-foot shipping containers, averaging about 8-feet wide. That’s pretty big, but if you’re wondering more specifics–such as how much a 20ft shipping container weighs– that information can be critical for when it comes to loading the container, how much you can fit on it (especially if the logistics company is charging a fee by weight, though most do by volume), or how sturdy the ground underneath has to be, for instance, if you’re building a shipping container home.

While there’s no denying that a 20-foot shipping container is large, you may be surprised to learn how much it weighs!

How Much Does a Shipping Container Weigh?

Shipping containers are designed to carry large amounts of material or products and are most commonly used in overseas shipping. Here’s a breakdown of how much different size containers weigh. For the purposes of clarity, we will be referring to the tare weight of each container, which is its weight when completely empty, as well as its gross or laden weight.

8 x 10 Shipping Container

An 8 x 10 shipping container has an external length of 10 feet, an external width of eight feet, and an external height of 8.5 feet.

The tare weight of this container is 2,645 pounds. It has a capacity of 19,753 pounds when fully loaded, which means its gross or laden weight would be 22,398 pounds.

8 x 20 Shipping Container

An 8 x 20 shipping container has an external length of 20 feet, an external width of eight feet, and an external height of 8.5 feet.

The tare weight of an 8 x 20 shipping container is 4,914 pounds and it can carry up to a capacity of 47,900 pounds, for a gross weight of 52,813 pounds.

8 x 40 Shipping Container

An 8 x 40 shipping container has an external length of 40 feet, an external width of eight feet, and an external height of 8.5 feet.

The tare weight of this container is 8,159 pounds and it has a capacity of 59,039 pounds, nearly 30 tons. Its gross weight when fully loaded is 67,199 pounds.

Who Uses Shipping Containers?

Shipping containers may be used in a variety of ways, but here are some of the most common uses for them:

  • Construction industry: Contractors and construction companies use shipping containers as a way to store raw materials. Since shipping containers are airtight, wind-proofed, and watertight, they provide protection to ensure that materials aren’t damaged.
  • Education: Schools around the world sometimes use shipping containers to create additional classroom space if they don’t have the funds to expand a school or build a new one.
  • Government: The same things that make shipping containers desirable for construction companies make them a good choice for storing sensitive government documents. In addition to being protected from the elements, shipping containers are difficult to break into.
  • Individuals: Tiny houses are a growing trend and while there are many ways to build them, shipping containers are one of the most affordable and the easiest. The container itself provides a secure exterior and the interior can be modified to suit the owner’s needs.

If you plan to use a shipping container as a tiny home, then it’s important to calculate the internal area before you purchase furniture as well as how much paint you’ll need.

How Much Do Shipping Containers Cost?

Shipping containers can be quite affordable but due to an ongoing shortage, the prices are higher at the end of 2022 than you might think.

The cost of a new 8 x 10 shipping container should be between $1,500 and $2,000 dollars, while the price for an 8 x 20 shipping container can be anywhere from $2,500 and $6,000 dollars. An 8 x 40 container may cost $7,000 or more.

In most cases you can save $1,000 or more by purchasing a used shipping container instead of a new one.

Freight ship loaded with hundreds of shipping containers.
Transportation, containers cargo ship out of the harbor

How Long Does Container Shipping Take?

According to Twill, approximately 80% of all goods worldwide are shipped by sea in shipping containers. Many people are unaware of just how long it takes to ship materials or products by sea.

The first element to consider is the time it takes to load and unload a ship. It’s not uncommon for a single freight ship to carry up to 10,000 containers. Considering the weight of these containers, it should come as no surprise that it takes a long time to fully unload or load a ship.

It can take from one to three days to fully unload or load a ship, according to Flexport. That time must be added to the travel time and–in the case of international shipments–time to clear customs.

Shipping delays became common during the COVID-19 pandemic as shutdowns spread across the world. These issues continued into 2022 and will likely continue into 2023 as ports experience supply chain bottlenecks. Severe weather may also impact the supply chain. Using a time calculator can help you break down your shipping costs.

Could a Shipping Container Be Your Storage or Housing Solution?

Shipping containers have a variety of uses that include shipping (of course) as well as storage and living space. In many cases, buying a storage container may be the least expensive solution for any of these problems, since rental costs can add up over time. Whether you want to downsize and live in a tiny house or need storage space for documents or raw materials, a shipping container might be the solution you need.

This entry was posted in DIY, Lifestyle and tagged , , , , . By Aimee Parrott