Since the 50s, shipping containers have been the backbone of the global transportation of goods. They have positively affected our day-to-day lives in ways we can’t imagine. The various needs of the logistics chain gave birth to multiple types of shipping containers. Every year around 11 billion tons of goods are transported across the globe with them. Shipping containers have many uses other than transporting goods.

They can be used as storage or buildings as well. So whether you are storing goods or transporting them internationally, shipping containers are the answer. Different uses of shipping containers can require various needs. Fear not; shipping containers can be customized and modified to fit those needs. In today’s article, we will talk about shipping container types.

7 Types of Shipping Containers

What Are Shipping Containers?

Shipping containers are large and durable steel boxes that are used to transport cargo across the globe. These metal boxes are designed to protect your goods from external weather conditions. Their intermodal properties allow them to be transported by ships, trains, and trucks. Shipping containers evolved into various types depending on the goods that they carry.

How Many Types of Containers Are There In Shipping?

There are various types of shipping containers that serve different purposes. Different types of cargo require different types of shipping containers. It is essential to understand the container types if you want your cargo to be safe. Picking a suitable container keeps your cargo safe and saves you money. Using the wrong type of container carries the risk of damaging or losing your cargo, which can cost you both time and money.

Being a part of the shipping industry, it is vital that you understand the different container types and sizes. Let’s take a look at some of the most commonly used container types and sizes to help you find a suitable container. 


  1. Dry Storage Container: Dry storage containers are the most common container types of all. As the name suggests, they are designed to transport dry goods. These containers come in lengths of 20, 40, and 45 feet. Since these are the most common types of containers, a huge portion of the world’s long-distance freight generated by international trade is transported by them. They can also be customized inside to carry specific types of goods.

40ft HC and 45ft HC are the high cube variants of standard shipping containers. Since these containers have additional height, they provide more volume for your goods.

  1. Flat Rack Container: A flat rack container is designed for cargo loading from the top or the sides. They are generally either 20 or 40 feet long and are made from strong steel for durability. 
  2. Open-Top Container: Open-top containers are basically dry storage containers without the top piece. Instead, they have covers that can be secured to the container with ropes to protect against rain or other external damage. They were designed for easy loading and unloading of bulk cargo. 
  3. Tunnel Container: Tunnel containers are basically dry storage containers with doors on both ends of the container. They were designed to be helpful when quick loading and unloading of goods are required.
  4. Open Side Container: Another variation of dry storage containers is open side containers. One long side that can completely open differs them from the regular variant. They were designed for the transportation of wide merchandise. The side can swing open as if there are two large doors, and they can easily be secured back to protect the goods within.
  5. Refrigerated ISO Container: They are container-sized refrigerators. Refrigerated ISO containers are on the other side of the temperature spectrum. They were designed to transport temperature-sensitive cargo, which requires colder temperatures. They rely on external power to control the temperature inside them. Refrigerated ISO containers can maintain temperatures ranging from -65C to 40C. They are also called reefer containers. They require fuel to be powered while they are being transported by trucks.
  6. ISO Container:ISO containers are storage containers for liquid goods. They are constructed with solid steel and anti-corrosive materials to protect the liquid cargo. They can also be used to carry dry goods like sugar. 


Can Shipping Containers Be Used As Buildings?

Container homes or offices have been on the rise in terms of popularity. There are apparent benefits to using shipping containers as buildings; they are relatively inexpensive, eco-friendly, and can be built quickly. Probably one of their most important features is that they can be modified to fit your dreams.

With some search on the internet, you can quickly find excellent examples of container homes, restaurants, cafés, or offices. 

40ft hc export shipping container

Why Do Shipping Containers Have Different Colors?

You may have noticed that the shipping containers have various colors. The colors of the containers are more than just aesthetically pleasing. These colors can help us identify container types and conditions and the shipping lines they belong to. 

Shipping containers from a particular shipping line will have that company’s brand colors. These colors are there solely for marketing and brand association purposes. Shipping containers need to comply with various safety regulations.

Another reason shipping containers have different colors is weather resistance and temperature regulation. Container paints provide a barrier between the steel structure and the external environment. This way, your container is protected from rust and other forms of corrosion. For instance, colors such as gray or white are better at reflecting sunlight.


With so many container types available, it is crucial to pick the right one to keep your goods safe. In fact, choosing the suitable shipping container is one of the most critical business decisions you’ll make since only the right container can save you money by keeping your cargo safe.

No matter the reason you are using shipping containers, there will definitely be one that fits your needs perfectly. Whether you require extra storage, transport goods, or set up a home or office, a shipping container is the perfect answer. So whatever your shipping container project is, we hope this post helped you pick the right type of shipping container for that. 

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