Built with corten steel, containers are designed to last in the harshest conditions. Think of the exposure to salt on the open ocean, to the heat and UV rays of the Australian sun during summer, and extended rains during winter. Each one of these contribute to corrosion and rust.
The common lifespan of a container used for freight, on rail or road, is 10 or more years.
However, containers for static storage can last much longer because they are lifted and moved much less often. This is when much of the structural damage can occur, from scratches and scrapes that accelerate rusting, to denting and warping that can occur from constant loading and unloading.
When used for onsite storage, containers can last up to 25 years with limited maintenance. Depending on how exposed it is, the locking rods and door seals may deteriorate before this estimate.
Containers used for homes can often last much longer for multiple reasons.
Solid footings keep dampness away from the base, which is usually one of the first parts to show signs of damage if left on soil or dirt.
This extends their life by sealing the unit from water, salt and dirt. The addition of roofing over the structure, which accounts for water runoff, means that water will not pool on top of the container either. This significantly reduces the chances of rust.
Each container that is chosen is often in decent condition. Newer builds, or containers used in protected areas for static storage are the most suitable for home builds because they show less signs of wear and tear, have fewer rust spots and are more structurally sound.
Containers that have done a decade or more on the road or rail are less likely to be suited to container homes. Exposure to the elements, along with the constant loading and unloading into and out of depots means there is often more damage and corrosion. In some instances, there can also be minor warping which won’t affect them in transit, but will cause significant headaches when building a home.
Ongoing maintenance, such as cleaning and painting every 5-7 years, means your container home could last for well over 50 years.