Shipping Container Sizes: Everything you need to know

Are you excited to start your very first shipping container project?  Want to leverage these inexpensive boxes of steel for your next home, restaurant or food truck? Well you’re in luck because we’ve assembled the ultimate shipping container size guide for you right here on Food Revolt.

Why is a food truck blog talking about shipping container sizes?  Thats a great question!

The food truck industry, as well as the restaurant and architectural community is embracing shipping containers at an astounding rate. Shipping containers are inexpensive, environmentally pliable and can be customized to please even the most discerning design eye.

Shipping Container Sizes

10 FT20 FT40 FT

Pop Up Anything

The 10FT shipping container is a cute little box that’s perfect for a pop up, a walk up restaurant or a food shack.  They can be pulled behind most regular trucks you would buy at a dealershipshipping container sizes and can be easily placed in tight spaces due to their 8×8 SQ FT area.

These are also perfect solutions for branded cell phone accessory stores, hat stores, product demo stores or anything else your imagination can come up with.

And since everything is about scale when it comes to costs, you can most likely get your 10FT shipping container modified for around $1,000 or under.

With a space this small you could do it yourself if you’re handy.

Food Truck or Tiny House

At 20FT you start to be able to get creative with your business ventures. shipping container sizesSimply Pizza did an excellent job in converting their 20FT container into a mobile pizza eatery that looks part garbage truck, part bistro…but in a very cool and hip way

A 20FT shipping container makes a great pop-up cafe as well, but not really a full blown restaurant although you can really expand the space if you add outdoor seating to compliment.

There is a whole community, globally, around living in “tiny house” and a 20FT shipping container makes a great tiny house.

If you’re not feeling the whole tiny house movement and yearn for extra space then the 20FT container is not your best option.  It makes a great room if you’re stacking containers for a bigger overall home layout.

Restaurant or House

At 40FT and above you can now start building out your dream cafe, or even your signature restaurant or home if you stack multiple shipping containers.  40 linear feet is a lot of space and since shipping containers are 8 feet wide that gives you 320 feet and 640 feet if you simply add another container.  shipping container sizes

With a reliable structure like a shipping container it’s very easy to move up when designing as well.  Their flat rectangular shape makes it simple to “stack” them ontop of each other (always consult with an architect beforehand) and double your space vertically as well.

Going up creates it’s own design obstacles however. Like connecting the upper and lower halves of your home or restaurant with a staircase or elevator.  These are simple problems to solve but must be considered when planning the layout of your new space.

Going vertical is perfect for high density urban spaces and going wide is great for open-space land plots in more spread cities like Los Angeles, Austin, etc.


How big is a Shipping Container?

Standard ISO shipping containers are 8ft (2.43m) wide, 8.5ft (2.59m) high and come in two lengths; 20ft (6.06m) and 40ft (12.2m) and extra tall shipping containers called high-cube containers are available at 9.5ft (2.89m) high.

shipping container sizesThere are smaller 10ft (2.99m) and 8ft (2.43m) containers are also available, but they cannot be shipped in the same way as 20ft and 40ft containers.  The standard ISO 20ft shipping container has a capacity of 33.1m3  which is enough room for almost 100 household washing machines!

Examples of Shipping Container Restaurants

While building with shipping containers isn’t always cheaper than traditional construction methods (sometimes they are though with estimates of 30% savings), the one advantage it has is, speed to market.  If Starbucks wants to roll out 20 new baristas than all it has to do is build them out in one place and “deploy” those units out to the locations for the final finishes and utility hook ups.  Here are some amazing examples of what can be done with restaurants and shipping containers.

Unique idea for shipping containers based on size

We thought this was great and couldn’t NOT pass it along. What a really cool and unique idea for a private dinner setting and a proposal for marriage, all in a shipping container.


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My brother is considering renting a shipping container and wants to learn more about the dimensions. He is using it to temporarily store items in. It would be really helpful for him to know that they can range from anywhere from 10 to 53 feet.