Ace Containers FAQ’s General


What is a shipping container?

Intermodal shipping containers are large boxes constructed from steel for transporting goods. Intermodal meaning they are designed to universally suit various modes of transports e.g. sea, road and rail. The International Standards Organisation governs the construction of shipping containers; hence they are sometimes referred to as ISO containers.

Their steel construction makes them incredibly secure and weatherproof, able to withstand just about anything the elements can throw at them, especially when the steel panels are properly protected either by a factory paint finish or a professionally applied aftermarket finish such as we provide.

Shipping containers are in ideal solution for short or long-term storage as they are portable, secure and weatherproof. Also, because of their uniform size and shape they also lend themselves to being converted into offices, machinery housings, modular workshop spaces or just about any other purpose you can imagine. If it can be achieved using containers, we CAN and WILL do it.

Why choose Ace Containers?

1. A reputation that you can trust

Ace Containers has been trading under the same name, from the same area and under the same management since our doors first opened 19 years ago. Our Managing Director John Hanson has 35 years of continuous experience in all aspects of the container industry, so we have a long-standing reputation that you the customer can place your trust in.

2. We have our own depot, so why not come and take a look?

Having our own depot means that customers can visit us and view our containers. Whether to view the quality, compare different sizes or types, one-trip quality vs. used, this shop-front experience allows our customers to see what they are getting and buy with confidence with no surprises upon delivery. Because we have the units here in the depot, we check all units before they are released for delivery for your peace of mind.

3. A One Stop Shop

The team at Ace Containers and Northern Containers have decades of experience in all aspects of the container industry. Bespoke container conversion projects are carried out at our premises in Leeds where we offer:

Steel fabrication in our main workshop,
Painting and Grafotherm application in our newly opened paint shop
Joinery and internal fit-out in our dedicated joinery shop
Electrical works, and just about any other modification our clients may need

Because we try to carry out as much as possible “in-house” your project is always under our control and will be carried out to our high standards, on the occasion where we do need to use outside contractors, for sepcialist elements of the conversion, we can either provide our own trusted contractors who work to the same high standards or if you wish to use your own contractors we can prepare the unit to spec, ready for them to carry out their work.

4. Do you modify shipping containers?

YES we do! Not only do we modify shipping containers, we LOVE container conversions and modifications as they often show novel uses and applications for converted containers as well as giving our fabricators a chance to show off what they can do! Previous conversion applications include: generator housings, boiler housings, self-contained modular workshops, catering units and training units for the fire service.

5. Do we buy back containers?

YES, we are always interested in purchasing used containers, whether they were originally purchased from us or not. If you have a container that you no longer need and think it may be of interest to us, the best way to get the ball rolling is to email us some pictures of the unit with the subject line “Used container for sale”, along with its location to

We will assess the quality of the unit based on the pictures you provide and make you a fair offer based on the condition of the unit, current market value and its location (taking into account the cost to get it uplifted and brought back to us).

6. Are containers weatherproof?

YES, shipping containers are designed and constructed with the primary aim of moving all kinds of cargo around the world, while protecting this cargo from the harsh elements at sea. They have strong rubber gaskets fitted around the doors (the only place where water ingress is likely) which create a watertight seal when closed.

Because used containers have spent most of their life in use by shipping lines, they sometimes pick up damage or wear and tear which compromises their weather-proof properties, however we repair all used containers sold by Ace Containers to WIND AND WATERTIGHT standard unless our client states that they do not need the units to be in this condition. So you can be confident that the used container you purchase is fit for purpose.

7. How much does an empty container weigh?

The gross weight of a container in a given size can vary between manufacturers, and sizes which are cut down from a 20’ or 40’ unit can vary depending on the materials used and their construction. However, below are some approximate empty/tare weights for sizes which are factory-built or commonly cut down:

6’ x 6’ cube: 450 KG
8’ x 8’ cube: 630 KG
10’: 825 – 1100 KG
20’: 1950 – 2250 KG
20’ side access: 3000 – 3150 KG
30’: 3000 – 3250 KG
40’: 3700 – 4100 KG

8. What materials are containers constructed from?

The vast majority of containers are constructed from Corten steel, with the panels being 1.6mm to 2mm thickness depending on the age and manufacturer. The cor-ten steel that shipping containers are made from oxidises on the surface to protect itself from corrosion when the paintwork is damaged and it is exposed. Floors are commonly constructed from 28mm hardwood ply although some newer units have steel floors and some manufacturers are moving toward using bamboo flooring because of its renewable properties.

10. Are containers secure?

The steel construction of containers is designed for strength and this strength makes them inherently secure.

From a security point of view the weakest point of a shipping container is the doors. We recommend the use of a lockbox, a steel assembly designed to protect the lock from attack when it is in use and we also provide hardened steel straight-shackle padlocks that work perfectly with the lockbox design that we use.


11. Do containers require maintenance?

When used for moving cargo, containers may pick up damage or wear and tear through loading, unloading, handling etc. that may require attention, however when used for site storage containers require little to no maintenance.

The cor-ten steel that shipping containers are made from oxidises on the surface to protect itself from corrosion when the paintwork is damaged and it is exposed. To give you an idea of their longevity a used container has been used to ship cargo for 12 to 15 years before being sold into the domestic market and it might then be suitable for storage for another 10+ years. Also, properly repainting a used container with a suitable coating can increase its lifespan by protecting the steel from further exposure to the elements.

We recommend that the moving parts of the doors such as hinges and locking bars/cams have oil/grease applied periodically to prevent them becoming stiff through prolonged use, but this is practically the only element of a container that requires maintenance.


12. How is a container delivered?

Containers are delivered using a truck-mounted crane; this lifts the unit off of the truck and places it in position, in the majority of cases the haulier will need to offload the unit from the side of the vehicle so this should be taken into account when planning delivery. There are sometimes limitations such as the reach of the crane, access for the truck, overhead obstructions or obstructions to lift over such as hedges or walls, however if you have any concerns about delivery we are here to help and our trusted hauliers have decades of combined experience to draw upon. On the occasion that we can’t work it out using pictures provided by you and/or Google maps we can come and survey the site if necessary to ensure your container is delivered without a hitch.

13. Preparing for Delivery

The container should ideally be placed on solid level ground but if your site is not completely hard standing then four small bases (approx. 12” x 12”) for the corner posts to sit on is just as good provided they are solid and level throughout. These could be railway sleepers, concrete pads or paving slabs but we must emphasise that they should be level as this prevents the frame of the container from flexing or twisting (often referred to as “racking”) which can cause problems with door opening and closing if the door end is out of square.

4½ to 5 feet clearance should be left at the door end for the doors to open, and if the doors are to be opened all the way and tied back then the same clearance will be needed to the sides of the container.

14. Planning Permission

Containers are treated as a temporary structure and are not subject to planning laws or regulations under normal circumstances provided they are sited responsibly. However if you have any doubts or are in an area where you know stricter-than-usual planning regulations are in force (such as a conservation area) it is advisable to seek advice from your local planning authority and to inform any neighbours (domestic or commercial) who may be affected by the siting of your container prior to delivery.