Shipping containers are renowned for being used to ship goods across great distances, but they have a vast range of static uses. They make great additions to any construction site as offices or break spaces, and some people even run their entire businesses out of them, such as with pop-up bars and cafes.
But if you need more space than a single container can provide, you might be thinking of buying multiple containers and stacking them on top of one another. While containers stack very well for shipping cargo, you might be wondering whether they can be stacked to create a modular building.
Before you stack your containers, you need to know the safe limit for the number of containers stacked to use them safely. Here’s what you need to know about stacking shipping containers.
Stacking Shipping Containers
How high you stack your containers will depend on their placement. Containers are sturdy structures, but they do have weak points that can cause a structure to collapse if overloaded. They are strongest at their four corners, where their posts fortify them, making their weakest points the middle, with little support in place.
The best way to stack containers is to place them very precisely on top of each other, so all the weight is pressed down on the four corners for maximum support. For containers of varying lengths, you should stack the bigger containers on top of the smaller ones, so the combined weight does not press on the weak midpoint of the big container. But where possible, using the same sized containers is guaranteed to be safer.
For the correct number of containers stacked, consider the maximum stack load of the lowest container, which should be on its documentation. Your stack of containers will only be as strong as its bottom container, so do not exceed this. However, it’s advisable not to stack to the very limit of what the container can hold, as any structural issues could put it at risk of collapsing.
Before you stack, make sure each container is thoroughly inspected to ensure it is structurally sound, as any faulty containers could topple the stack. Don’t forget to factor in other elements like high winds.
Things to Consider When Stacking Containers
Here are some final considerations when it comes to stacking containers on top of one another:
Make sure your containers are placed and stacked correctly. A crane can be used to lift the containers for stacking. They can be attached to the four corners at the top of the container to help lower it down into its exact position on top of the container beneath it.
- Secure the Containers
You need to lock your shipping containers together to secure them in place. Use twist locks to connect the four corners of the shipping containers to one another as they stack. These locks will ensure that your stacked containers remain immovable, secure and safe for use.
- Avoid Low-Quality Containers
Ensure the containers you use are not of low quality and are in good enough shape to handle being stacked. Older containers may not have the structural integrity to withstand stacking.
- Additional Protection
Once the containers are stacked with their twist locks in place, you can add more protective measures to protect against weather damage. Caulk the seams where the containers combine and install flashing to where the upper and lower containers meet to protect against rainwater.
Mistakes to Avoid with Containers
When stacking containers, make sure you avoid the common mistakes and pitfalls:
- Stacking Too Quickly
It can be tempting to get a job done as soon as possible, but stacking containers is not a process to be rushed. Take your time and ensure that everything is done safely and correctly, with plenty of checks throughout. Improper stacking could lead to collapse, causing injury or even death, so make sure the process is not rushed through.
- Using the Wrong Containers
Your containers need to be suitable for stacking, whether that’s their size or structural integrity. When purchasing containers, make sure you inquire from the container company whether their containers are suitable for stacking.
If you need shipping containers for your building project or business, Flintham Cabins can help. We have a vast range of steel containers for hire in London, both new and used. Whether you’re looking to buy or hire, we have a range of units to choose from in varying sizes and styles. We have extensive experience supplying units to our customers’ exact specifications, so do not hesitate to contact us with your requirements.