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Standard Shipping Container Dimensions
Jan 17, 2019

While you don’t want to live in a house that forces you to crouch down or crawl while you’re inside it, you don’t necessarily need a home the size of Jupiter, either. The bigger your home, the tougher it is to clean. The larger the home, the higher the tax bill, insurance costs, etc. Besides, you can design an abode that is inspiring, eco-friendly and roomy enough for all your needs out of a shipping container or two.

You may want to opt for three, four or even more shipping containers to develop the home you crave. But standard shipping container dimensions are fairly sizable, especially when it comes to their capacity.

How Big are Shipping Containers?

Even the smallest containers are pretty roomy. When talking about sea container dimensions, we’re talking about the dimensions that make up the shipping container frame.

Shipping Container Standard Dimensions - 20 Foot Long Shipping Container

Dimensions of a shipping container that measure 20 feet long also measure 8 feet wide and 8 feet 6 inches high.

· Cubic capacity: 1,165 cu. ft.

· Interior square footage: approx. 133 sq. ft.

Shipping Container Standard Dimensions - 40 Foot Long Shipping Container

Sea container dimensions for those 40 feet long include standard and high cube (HC) options, both of which are 8 feet wide. The standard version is 8 feet 6 inches high, while the HC version is 1 foot taller, or 9 feet 6 inches high.

· Cubic capacity of standard: 2,350 cu. ft.

· Cubic capacity of HC: 2,694 cu. ft.

· Interior square footage: 273 sq. ft.

How Big are Typical Rooms?

To get a good feel of the size and number of containers you’d need to create your ideal space, you can compare the standard shipping container dimensions with the average dimensions of some the most common room types.

Remember that the size of a room needs to accommodate the room’s functions as well as the furniture and other items that plan to fit into it. While you may have to adjust your room sizes to suit your exact furnishings and needs, you can spot check the typical room sizes to use as a guide when choosing the dimensions of a shipping container.

Living Room/Family Room

· Small: 12’ x 18’ = 216 sq. ft.

· Medium: 16’ x 20’ = 320 sq. ft.

· Large: 22’ x 28’ = 616 sq. ft.

Dining Room

· Small: 10’ x 12’ = 120 sq. ft.

· Medium: 12’ x 16’ = 192 sq. ft.

· Large: 14’ x 18’ = 252 sq. ft.


· Small: 5’ x 10’ = 50 sq. ft.

· Medium: 10’ x 16’ = 160 sq. ft.

· Large: 12’ x 20’ = 240 sq. ft.

Kitchen Eating Area

· Small: 10’ x 10’ = 100 sq. ft.

· Medium: 12’ x 12’ = 144 sq. ft.

· Large: 16’ x 16’ = 256 sq. ft.

Home Office

· Small: 8’ x 10’ = 80 sq. ft.

· Medium: 12’ x 14’ = 168 sq. ft.

· Large: 14’ x 18’ = 252 sq. ft.


· Small: 10’ x 10’ = 100 sq. ft.

· Medium: 12’ x 12’ = 144 sq. ft.

· Large: 14’ x 16’ = 224 sq. ft.


· Small: 6’ x 9’ = 54 sq. ft.

· Medium: 8’ x 12’ = 96 sq. ft.

· Large: 10’ x 16’ = 160 sq. ft.

Pantry, Closets, Storage Areas

· Small: 2’ x 2’= 4 sq. ft.

· Medium: 3’ x 4’ = 12 sq. ft.

· Large: 4’ x 6’ = 24 sq. ft.

Also account for any foyer space, hallways and any additional function, furnishings or utilities that may need their own area, such the washer and dryer.

Dimension Consideration

A few other considerations can come into play when you’re examining the standard shipping container dimensions and planning your container home.

Ceiling Height

If you want the standard 8-foot ceiling height, you’re going to want a high cube container. The interior height of high cube containers is 8 feet 10 inches, giving you a full 10 inches of space for your HVAC, wiring and other connections you need to install above the finished ceiling. The standard shipping container dimensions are 7 feet 10 inches high in the interior, which would leave you with 7-foot ceilings after you installed your connections. High cubes are typically preferred for container housing.

Interior Space

The same way HVAC and electrical accoutrements may eat up some ceiling space, your interior shipping container standard dimensions may lose some space due to insulation, wiring and other items you need to install in the walls. Even if the loss is minimal, and even though the dimensions of shipping containers are sizable, any loss of space can impact the overall feel of your container house interior.

Enclosures (or Lack Thereof)

Even though the containers may come as a fully enclosed unit, you certainly don’t need to keep them that way. You can install plenty of windows, skylights, large, rolling doors or even leave an open space for al fresco dining or entertainment. You can also make use of the roof as a patio or garden area.

Creative Combinations

Placing two containers side-by-side automatically doubles your space, but you don’t have to stick with a boxy, symmetrical look. Container homes have been created with top floors that jut out above bottom floors, creating a shady overhang.

You can also play around with different heights by stacking containers on top of each other. Even if you start with a container or two as the base of your home, you’re also free to build on using traditional building techniques combined with a solid foundation of shipping containers.

Container Dimension Metric Conversions

When we talk about shipping container standard dimensions, we can use the following conversions:

10 ft = 2 991 mm

20 ft = 6 058 mm

30 ft = 9 125 mm

40 ft = 12 192 mm

45 ft = 13 716 mm

The current widths are: 

8’ = 2 438 mm

8.6’ = 2 590.8 mm

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