9 Ways to Transform Shipping Containers into Business Space

Shipping containers are structurally sound metal boxes you can customize for building. These are corrosion- and weather-resistant since they’re fabricated to withstand harsh weather conditions while at sea. However, after several uses, most containers lay in junkyards to rot. As a solution, builders and architects repurpose them for construction purposes.

Transforming shipping containers into a usable space is a challenging task. It requires proper insulation and added reinforcements when the walls are cut out for windows and doors. Despite that, you can take advantage of their flexibility in function and design to kickstart your business venture.

Here are nine ways to transform shipping containers into business space:

1. Open A Storage Rental Business


Opening a storage rental is the quickest way to turn a shipping container into a business space. Since these metal boxes were initially used to store goods for shipping, you only need a few repairs and modifications to make it work.

Buying a secondhand shipping container is an economical and eco-friendly option. A standard container is a wind and watertight structure. This characteristic is safe and structurally sound enough for storing equipment.

Furthermore, you don’t need to cut out a portion of the wall for doors. You can use the existing container doors to keep the stored items secure. You may also stack them to maximize the land area.

2. Start A Tiny Home Rental Business


Shipping containers have grown in popularity in tiny house communities over the past decade. Since they’re mobile and customizable, homeowners and DIYers can build their own homes without construction backgrounds.

Renting out a shipping container home is popular for those who want to start a vacation rental business. The container’s industrial look creates a different appeal, which invites renters looking for unique accommodation. Moreover, a shipping container’s flat surface is perfect for creating a roof deck. It’s ideal for rental properties with scenic views so guests can enjoy the outdoors.

3. Build A Pop-Up Store


Shipping containers are excellent for building pop-up stores. These work for various retail businesses in reaching out to the public by displaying their products in more accessible spots.

An open-side shipping container is perfect for building pop-up stores. You may use it to display clothes, gift items, and other non-perishable goods with less customization. However, you may also use a standard container.

The insulation you’ll need depends on the product you’ll display. For instance, perishable goods need a temperature-controlled environment. Therefore, it’s best to use appropriate insulation material, plus double- or triple-glazed windows.

4. Establish A Co-Working Space


Since the pandemic started, most adults have been working from home. While it provides convenience for some due to reduced transportation expenses, it also takes a toll on the natural human need for social interactions.

Transforming shipping containers into mobile offices is already a known practice. However, turning them into a shared workspace for those who permanently work from home is new. You can provide a space that promotes creativity and productivity through proper insulation and creative interior design.

You may set membership and hourly rates in establishing a shared workspace rental. You can also offer some drinks, like coffee, tea, and juice through a self-service pantry.

5. Set Up A Mobile Art Gallery


Setting up a mobile art gallery is an excellent choice if you’re an artist or simply looking for a simple way to rent a customized shipping container.

A mobile art gallery is a small building on wheels wherein you can display and sell art pieces. Since it’s movable, you can transport it to different locations to reach more people. It’s like a pop-up store with a larger wall space to hang artworks.

It only takes minor customization to transform a shipping container into a mobile art gallery. You may use the existing doors as is and add insulation, drywall, floorboards, and install some lights and vents.

6. Launch A Café Or Restaurant


Shipping containers can be stacked or combined horizontally to create larger floor space. This method is excellent for launching a café or a restaurant that can accommodate more people at a time.

It’s best to leave the exterior without siding to retain the container’s character. It goes well with industrial-themed cafes and restaurants with stunning interiors. You may also add covered outdoor space for more tables.

In addition, building a café with shipping containers is more cost-efficient than traditional construction. It’s also faster to construct, so you can quickly start your business.

7. Start A Food Takeaway Service


If you’re looking for a business that you can start with a 20-foot shipping container, a food takeaway service is a wise choice. It’s cheaper to build, so you’ll need less capital.

Turning a shipping container into a food takeaway service is like creating a food truck. It’s perfect for serving affordable food and drinks on busy streets. Since it’s small, the plumbing and electrical wiring can be done faster and cheaper.

This option is also very flexible. You can attach the container on wheels or place it on a concrete foundation or slab at your chosen location.

8. Turn Them Into A Microbrewery


A microbrewery is a popular local business that produces traditional craft beer continuously. It requires less space since it only makes about 15,000 barrels a year.

Shipping containers are excellent for starting your microbrewery. You don’t need to cut out walls for windows since you’ll need an enclosed space for the process. The rigid walls of the container and the insulation also create a barrier to prevent contamination.

The total floor area of a 40-foot shipping container is enough for the whole brewing process. Then, you may add another one to turn into a bar for serving your signature craft beer.

9. Create A Music Studio


A home music studio is popular among independent artists and producers. However, a shipping container studio would be a practical option if you’d like to rent one for band rehearsals and recording. Since you’ll need a considerable budget for the equipment, finding an affordable building option is essential.

If you have time for a big DIY project, you can turn an old plain shipping container into a music studio. However, you may need to leave the electrical works and spray foam insulation to the professionals.


Shipping containers offer quick and practical solutions for those who want to start a business. They’re flexible and customizable, providing unlimited possibilities for creativity and innovation.

About Carolyn Lang