Most people have need of extra storage in their lives, especially people with large and bulky equipment, containers full of miscellaneous gear and sporting or lawn care equipment that is tough to store anywhere in or around your home.
For separate, nominally secure storage two of the most popular options available today are classic storage sheds and large shipping containers. Both are viable, both have advantages and disadvantages, but is one of these storage solutions clearly the better choice for most people?
Both storage sheds and shipping containers are viable, but considering strictly practical benefits shipping containers are more affordable, more flexible, more durable and more secure.
On the other hand, choose a storage shed if aesthetics and enhancing your property’s appearance, and potentially its value are the prime considerations.
But we are not in the business of giving you drive by opinions around here so keep reading and learn how we reached our conclusions. You’ll get plenty of additional information below.
No matter which option you choose you’re going to have to shell out some cash if you want an external storage solution on your property.
Analyzing this factor will show shipping containers or a far more budget friendly option, both when viewed through the lens of acquisition cost as well as the cost of storage space by the square foot.
Let us take a look at traditional sheds first. You can get sheds in any shape, configuration and size you want, and you have virtually limitless options to customize it, both in the materials used as well as the finishes, decorative options and more.
To simplify things, let us take the most common configuration, the 12 ft by 12 ft single story square shed. A shed this size will provide you with 144 square feet of storage space.
An above average model in this range will run you about $6,000 from a hardware store, and that means you’ll be shelling out a whopping $41.65 per square foot of space.
Now let’s take a look at the challenger, the common shipping container, usually called a short container, which measures 8 ft wide by 20 ft long. This gives us 160 square feet of storage space, but one of these containers will only run you about $3,600 on the high side.
You’ll only be looking at about $22.50 per square foot for storage space utilizing a shipping container.
Comparing shipping containers and traditional sheds for durability is not even a contest. Sheds are most typically constructed from various grades of wood with shingle or metal roofs. Shipping containers, on the other hand, or made from rolled, welded steel, and only feature heavy-duty wood decking on the interior.
A shipping container can withstand stacking pressure in the range of hundreds of thousands of pounds, where your shed is probably kaput if a large branch falls on it.
This is not just bragging rights for who has the toughest toy: You must consider the effects of damage on both your storage solution and the contents.
A wooden or vinyl shed that is battered by large diameter hail, falling branches or, God forbid, a toppling tree is not going to fare very well, and neither will the items you have placed inside.
However, you should definitely expect any shipping container in good repair to withstand falling branches and it is more than capable of deflecting smaller trees that fall on it. Hail will not be a concern in the slightest.
You have more threats to contend with besides natural ones. Especially for preppers who might be looking for more, shall we say, secure Storage solutions a shipping container is absolutely superior to a traditional shed.
A shipping container properly secured with a heavy-duty, high quality security locking system will require power tools and time for a sustained attack in order to breach it. You can break into a wooden shed with nothing more than a crowbar.
I’m not talking about which one is better for the environment; I’m talking about which one is better at protecting your stuff from the environment. Sorry to say that once more the shipping container is completely superior to the old fashioned shed, assuming both are in a more or less equal state of repair.
Your typical garden or yard shed is likely made of wood, possibly with some vinyl components. Though the vinyl may discolor or host algae growths it is more or less impervious to weather.
The same cannot be said for the wood itself, as it will always fall prey to various insect infestations, mold, rot and mildew unless you really keep on top of weatherizing it. With paint or with some other coating expect to do a full overhaul on a shed every few years.
Let us compare this with the heavy duty, weatherized steel that shipping containers are made from.
These are truly containers that are designed to put up with the worst weather imaginable, and even when they’re exterior paint is worn away or breached the steel itself will patina and form a reasonably effective weatherproof coating.
Anything stored outside your home is going to have to contend with the other things that live outside your home, namely animals and insects. You don’t want wildlife, large or small, attacking your storage solution or attacking and infesting what it holds, so this is a consideration that is pretty high up on the list of importance in most places.
Once more, wooden or vinyl sheds suffer here. All sorts of rodents can easily infiltrate any building that has even the smallest of openings; a quarter-inch hole is enough to permit access to a mouse.
Once inside, rodents nibble on things to make room for themselves, make passageways and to gather materials for nesting. This especially sucks if it’s the wiring on your lawn mower or motorcycle!
However, if you instead had your things stored in the impervious steel of a shipping container you wouldn’t have to worry about mice getting in except through a breach or a degraded seal in the doors- so long as you didn’t leave it open of course! Even insects will have a difficult time getting into a shipping container that is in good repair.
When it comes to keeping outside wildlife outside, the shipping container wins again, hands down.
If you choose a shipping container, it will have to be delivered, or if you choose a prefabricated shed it too will have to be delivered. Also, if you are moving, it stands to reason that you will try to take your storage solution with you assuming it is mobile at all.
This is another area where the shipping container excels, being purpose designed and built to withstand repeated rounds of transportation aboard a truck, ship or any other conveyance.
Even the best built prefabricated sheds will not withstand such handling as well as a shipping container, and will noticeably degrade if they are moved more than a handful of times with exacting care.
This might not be an issue for most folks, who move infrequently if they move at all, but it is nice to know that a shipping container affords you the capability to simply pack it up and bring it with you when the situation calls for it.
Unless you have a large parcel of land that affords you the capability to stick your shed or shipping container out of sight around the bend somewhere you’re going to have to live with seeing it, day in and day out.
Especially if you are living in a more suburban setting or a more crowded rural neighborhood the appearance of your storage solution we’ll have a significant impact on the beauty of your property but also on the neighborhood as a whole.
This is where the traditional shed reigns supreme, being available and virtually infinite configurations, sizes, trims and aesthetics to suit any taste, any parcel or any existing home.
A little landscaping around them to match the home and they can truly belong. This will certainly increase the beauty of your property, at best, and at worst it will not detract from it.
The same cannot be said for shipping containers, which are often large, ugly and decidedly industrial looking in appearance. Shipping containers are typically painted in “practical” or commercial colors, ranging from drab pastels to bright, high visibility livery.
They will always look like exactly what they are, and stick out like a sore thumb unless you invest extra resources and time into installing a “vis-mod” kit that can make them look more like a shed and less like what they are- a giant metal box!
When it comes to practical considerations, shipping containers are the clear and obvious winner, being more durable, more affordable and far more adaptable to a variety of storage needs.
However, they are giant and ugly, and that makes traditional sheds a mainstay and far more appealing for typical homeowners.