Everything You Need to Know to Turn Your Vision Into Reality.

Are you designing a shipping container structure? As you start to think about a design, you may realize you have a lot of unanswered questions about shipping container modifications. We created this guide to answer frequently asked questions about container modifications to help you design a structure that meets your business needs – read on to learn more.

Shipping Container Windows

Site container with observation windows

How Do You Install a Window in a Shipping Container?

Here at Falcon, when we add doors and windows to shipping containers, we frame the openings with steel tubing. Similarly, we often create custom openings, called utility ports – shaped, rectangular sheets of metal – or pass throughs – appropriately sized steel pipes – to install equipment. Both utility ports and pass throughs allow wires to easily exit the container without the need to cut into the corrugated steel once the container arrives on site.

Roll-Up Doors

Shipping Container Doors

Red Container With Multiple Side Doors

How Do You Open Shipping Container Doors?

Cargo doors use steel bars and a cam and lock system to fasten the doors shut. This is often the tricky part since it may take some finessing to properly align the lock. Always start with the right-hand cargo door and pull both handles at the same time. Check out this how-to video for a step by step walk-through.

Shipping Container Insulation


Do Shipping Containers Get Hot Inside?

Because manufacturers build shipping containers out of steel, they can easily get hot inside. Depending on the external temperature and direct sunlight, an unmodified shipping container will get very hot under direct sunlight. Although, as manufacturers modify shipping containers into repurposed structures, the internal temperature becomes easier to manage thanks to added insulation and air conditioning units. For example, many companies confidently store valuable equipment that’s prone to overheating in modified shipping container equipment shelters, making modified containers easy to regulate.

Shipping Container Stairs


Are Stairs Required for OSHA Compliant Structures?

OSHA is a regulation intended for workplace safety and not a residential safety code. With this in mind, single, mobile, container buildings, such as ground level offices, do not need the stairs to be OSHA compliant. As office structures expand, this may change. If you request a larger OSHA compliant container structure, we will prepare your structure accordingly.

Wall Finishes for Shipping Containers

Shipping Container Interior Wall Panels

What Are the Interior Wall Options for Shipping Containers?

Sanded wood paneling is a great option for companies that frequently relocate their offices and living spaces. The cabinet grade wood has a tight grain and smooth finish, so the walls appear smooth once painted. Trim strips cover the seams between two adjacent panels. Sanded wood paneling is also flexible enough to weather regular relocations without damage, making it ideal for field offices and mobile workforce housing.

PVC wall paneling is durable and easy to clean. The great thing about PVC wall paneling is that it’s moisture resistant. If a container will be used as a mobile bathroom, we usually install PVC paneling so the interior walls can be washed down.

In addition to wall paneling, drywall, aluminum, and perforated steel wall interiors are also available. Read more on shipping container wall paneling options here.

Shipping Container Flooring

Flooring Options

What is the Floor of a Shipping Container Made of?

A shipping container’s floor is constructed of marine grade plywood or bamboo. “Marine grade” means that the wood has more layers than traditional construction plywood, making a more stable floor, less prone to warping. Additionally, container floors are not smooth and have small variations with counter-sunk screw heads. 40-foot shipping containers include a built-in trailer hitch tunnel, meaning there’s about a 10-foot-long steel plate on the non-door end of a 40-foot container.

When customizing the shipping container, many companies have the option to keep the original flooring and add an epoxy coating on top to make it easier to clean. Some companies choose to add new floors on top of the existing plywood or bamboo. These additional flooring options include coin vinyl, vinyl plank, welded steel, or aluminum.

Shipping Container Paint


What Paint Should You Use on Shipping Containers?

At Falcon, we use a variety of paints. However, a hard, shiny alkyd enamel paint works well for most container uses. On the other hand, Falcon chooses to use a waterborne coating system that works just as well and is significantly better for the environment.

If you plan to add a mural to the container, a matte acrylic paint base is the best option. Industrial applications may call for specialized polyurethane paints.


Shipping Container Shelving

40_ft_storage_with_double_shelving - 800

How Do I Install Shelves in a Shipping Container?

To install shelves in a shipping container, you must either weld or bolt the shelves onto the wall, depending on the interior of the unit. Consider bolting or screwing the shelves in place if the interior is built out with drywall or other applicable finishes. If the walls of the containers are un-modified, screw the shelves to the steel walls. When shelves are installed after delivery, we suggest screwing to the steel walls versus welding. Welding often burns away protective paint that can be both unsightly as well as harder to clean and repaint. Instead, after screwing shelves to the walls, any small screws that fully penetrate the steal can be ground off and painted to prevent rust.

Here at Falcon, we can install shelves into the container before we send it out for delivery. This way the work will be taken care of for you and, as you relocate the container in the future, the shelving will stay in place.

Clear Span Buildings


What is a ‘Clear Span’ Building?

When shipping containers are placed side by side and the side walls are removed to create a larger room, it’s called a clear-span. Interior columns and beams maintain the structural integrity of the building.


Shipping Container Additional Questions

How Much Do 20’ and 40’ Shipping Containers Weigh?

An empty 20-foot shipping container weighs between 3,970 lb and 4,850 lb An empty 40-foot shipping container weighs between 8,340 lb and 9,260 lb Keep in mind that containers used to be heavier, so these numbers could change again in the future. Of course, the weight will likely increase with the addition of insulation, drywall, air conditioning units, and other elements.

Shipping Container Floor Plans

To take the guesswork out of shipping container modifications, Falcon has developed standard floor plans for commonly requested container structures. These floor plans are predesigned container options that minimize confusion and are created with our customers’ needs in mind. Learn more about shipping container floor plans here.

Interested in taking the guesswork out of your design?
View our predesigned container floor plans here.


What are 20ft Shipping Container Floor Plans?

A 20-foot shipping container makes a great private office, storage unit, and industrial enclosure. Thanks to the smaller and more compact size of the 20-foot container, this box becomes a great solution for any application working with little space.



How Much Will It Cost to Modify a Shipping Container?

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The cost to modify a shipping container varies depending on the size and intended use of the structure. Falcon has placed pricing on each of our standard floor plan webpages to help our customers decide which solution is right for them. Browse our floorplans based on storage, workspace, bathrooms and locker rooms, industrial enclosures, living space, and multi-containers layouts.

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