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Extra Storage Container Features to Consider: Shelving, Door Styles, Locks, Paint, Insulation, and More

In its basic form, a storage container is nothing more than a large box originally designed for shipping. Once people began using them as storage, however, adding modifications and extra features to fulfill a particular purpose was only a matter of time.

In addition to adding items such as shelves, extra security features, and lighting, the right modifications allow you to convert a storage pod into a variety of facilities, including offices, workshops, homes, and more. The modifications you need depend on how you want to use the container.

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Organize Your Storage Container with Shelving

If you're looking for a quick, easy way to organize the contents of your storage container, shelving is the obvious choice. Most shelves do not require permanent modification of the container itself. Instead, you simply hang the shelves from the container's interior D rings. This makes shelving fully adjustable as well as removable in the event you no longer need it.

Adding Doors to a Storage Pod

Standard storage containers include swing-style cargo doors at one end of the unit. These doors typically cover the width and height of the pod to allow the user to easily store and access items. Standard doors also include basic security features, such as a padlock, to protect the items stored within.

Customized doors are one of the main items required by most modifications and conversions. The most common add-on doors include:

  • Standard roll-up door: Made of 26-gauge galvanized steel, these doors usually include a sliding clasp lock. These doors are a popular choice for storing tractors and other heavy equipment items.
  • Heavy-duty roll-up door: Made of either anodized metal aluminum or 16-gauge steel, these doors are typically watertight and often added to containers used to store heavy equipment.
  • Personnel door: Available in both industrial and residential styles, personnel doors typically measure 3' across. Industrial models have steel construction while residential options are made of wood with a metal skin. Security features typically include a deadbolt and handle lock. Doors also often include an overhead drip ledge.
  • Personnel door with security swing arm: Security swing arms are made of steel tubing with a welded lockbox on the arm that swings across the personnel door. Place a padlock inside the lockbox, protecting it from bolt cutters and the thieves who wield them. These supplement the personnel door's standard deadbolt and handle lock.

How to Increase Storage Container Security

Even though storage pods typically come with locking mechanisms for standard cargo doors, many customers prefer to add an extra layer of security. Some door modifications include their own locks, such as the deadbolt and handle lock included with personnel doors. Even so, you may wish to add an extra deterrent. There are three common options:

  • Lockbox: The lockbox welds directly to the container door and houses your padlock, protecting it from would-be thieves and their nasty bolt cutters.
  • Cargo door lock: These two-piece locks include unique keying and are typically made of heavy-duty steel tubing.
  • Security swing arm: This Y-shaped steel tubing includes a hinge that allows the arm to "swing" over your door, with a lock box at the long end of the Y. The lockbox houses your padlock, making it invisible and protecting it from damage.

Adding an Awning to a Storage Pod

When modifying a storage container for retail, vending, and similar applications, awnings are a popular addition. You may also install an awning to span a space between two storage containers, creating a covered section between units to create a parking or work area. The two options are permanent awnings and retractable, motorized models.

Add Lighting and Electricity to Your Storage Container

Many modifications and conversions require lighting, electricity, and data lines to be truly functional. Your manufacturer may install wiring behind walls or run it via a surface-mounted conduit. Lighting, electricity, and data options include:

  • Data and phone connections: Office, retail, and home modifications typically require data and phone connections.
  • Floodlights: These are a popular security item, especially if you also mount motion sensors.
  • LED lights: If you don't have a reliable power source, LED lights easily connect to a small battery for dependable illumination.
  • Overhead lighting: Lighting choices depend on your requirements, but fluorescent fixtures are common. The average 20' unit easily holds two lights while 40' containers comfortably hold four.
  • Porch lights: A popular exterior lighting option above doors.
  • Receptacles: Typical receptacles are 110V and include either two or four outlets and may be mounted flush or exposed. You may also request both interior and exterior receptacles. Ask about waterproof covers for exterior items.

Storage Containers and HVAC

HVAC and window A/C units are popular add-on items for interior climate control. Options include:

  • Commercial through-wall HVAC: Commercial units typically range between 1.5 and 5 tons and can be used for cooling or heating and cooling. You find these most often in more extreme climates.
  • Exhaust fans: Standard sizes range from 10" to 36" and include fan guards and gravity shutters. Options include variable speed controls.
  • Fixed louver vents: Intake louvers are usually paired with exhaust fans, though independent installation is also possible. These vents typically include bird screens.
  • Rooftop turbine vents: This is the most popular, least expensive ventilation option. They require no power source and are a good choice for budget-minded customers.
  • Ventilation and air ducts: You find these most often in mini storage units and sectioned containers to promote airflow between sections. Ducts are nearly always left exposed, as hiding them significantly lowers ceiling height.
  • Window air conditioning unit: A window A/C unit offers easy, relatively inexpensive cooling.

Windows and Skylights for a Storage Container

If you're looking to bring in natural light, windows and skylights are the obvious choice. They are also common additions when converting a storage container. Sizes vary according to the unit's size and your particular needs. Windows typically measure either 2' x 3' or 3' x 3' while skylights start at around 2' x 2'. You may also choose to add exterior security bars for increased security.

Stepping into Your Storage Container

If your storage container is raised or set on a foundation, you likely want to add stairs. Options include portable systems as well as permanent designs. Pricing varies according to size, material, portable versus permanent, and the item's weight capability.

Painting a Storage Container

Many customers choose to add a coat of enamel paint, whether to protect the unit from the elements or for aesthetic reasons. Most vendors offer a variety of colors, typically in an industrial grade. However, you may also choose to paint your storage unit in company colors, add a logo, or use another custom design.

Storage Containers with Insulation or Interior Finishing

This feature is especially popular when modifying a storage unit to serve as office or retail space, create a home or cabin, or convert to some other non-standard option. It's also used when storing items that are sensitive to extreme temperatures, such as foods, beverages, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals.

Common insulation and finishing options include:

  • Spray insulation: Spray insulation reduces heat buildup and condensation and offers the highest insulation value, as there are no gaps and insulation may be sprayed as thick as you like.
  • Fiberglass insulation with paneling: A wood frame is fitted into the unit's interior and includes fiberglass insulation with a paneling overlay.
  • Rigid polystyrene foam paneling: Panels secure to the unit's steel studs or via flat bar welding. You may choose to leave the panels exposed or cover them with plywood or paneling.

Flooring Modifications

Standard storage containers are made of corrugated steel with a plywood floor. This material works well for most standard applications, but not all. Even if you only plan to use the unit as a traditional storage container, you may need to modify the container's floor, depending on what you plan to store. The most common flooring modifications include:

  • Commercial carpet tile: Typically comprised of 18" x 18" carpet tiles individually laid and glued to the standard wood floor, these are a popular choice for office, retail, and home modifications.
  • Steel overlay: This includes a steel sheet installed over the standard wood floor. Common sizes are 1/8" or 1/4" steel sheets. The size you need depends on the application.
  • Vinyl floor covering: This is a solid vinyl sheet glued directly to the container's standard wood floor, available in a wide variety of thicknesses, textures, and colors. The material is oil-resistant and easy to clean, making it a popular choice for storing equipment.

The Cost of Your Add-On Items

Every extra feature and modification adds to your storage container's total price. For example, a standard personnel door averages $300, a lockbox adds around $100, and a retractable awning starts at around $1,500. Like the unit itself, all pricing depends on the size of the unit, the materials used, your vendor, and many other variables. When obtaining quotes, make sure you explain the modifications you want for an accurate comparison of proposals.

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