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Ultimate Guide To Screwing Anything Into A Shipping Container 

Shipping containers are not a new phenomenon. They’ve been around since 1956, but they didn’t become standard in households until they became a topic of conversation again. This is thanks to the popularity of shows like Shipping Wars and Container Homes. 

As an aspiring and passionate DIYer, you might have an interest in how you can use shipping containers. 

Or you’ve probably found yourself asking if you can use shipping containers for anything. This is because there are some things you can screw into them, right?

Is It Possible To Screw Anything Into A Shipping Container?

Yes, but only if the surface is flat and smooth. Most containers have a rough surface making them unsuitable for screwing anything into them. 

If the surface is flat and smooth, you can use screws to fasten your items to the container without any problems.

Types Of Screws To Use In Your Shipping Container

Any screw will work if it fits appropriately into the pre-drilled holes on your item or in your ship container. There are many different types of screws available today, including:

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Structural Screws (Wood Screws)

Different types of structural screws
Courtesy: Starborn industries

They are used to attach lumber to other or pressure-treated lumber. They come in various diameters and lengths with either square or round heads, although the most common are square heads.

Drywall Screws

Used to attach drywall to studs or joists. They have sharp points that make it easy to go through the drywall paper into the wood framing behind it, but they don’t hold as well as structural screws because they don’t go through the wood framing.

Lag Bolts/Studs (Steel Bolts)

Examples of Lag Bolts/Studs (Steel Bolts)
Courtesy: Pixabay

Lag bolts/studs are large steel bolts that go through two pieces of material at once and are held together by nuts on both ends of the bolt. 

They’re commonly used for attaching decking boards onto joists or rafters from below so that only one side needs to be drilled into place.

Machine Screws 

Different types of machine screws
Courtesy: Technology Student

Machine screws have blunt points that also penetrate easily into the wood and some plastics, but they don’t cut their slot as they go in as a wood screw does; instead, they rely on friction between their threads and those of the nut or bolt head to pull them tight once they’re driving them through whatever object they’re attaching to.

Stainless Steel Self-Drilling Screws

These have a star-shaped head that helps them drill their hole into the surface they’re being driven into, so you don’t need to pre-drill. 

They’re often used for outdoor projects like decking and fencing, where moisture can cause regular screws to rust.

Stainless Steel Sheet Metal Screws

These have parallel threads, so they won’t spin out of place when driving them into sheet metal or thin metal plates (like aluminum). 

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They’re also great for attaching plastic trim pieces because they won’t leave any unwanted holes behind in thin plastic after you remove them again later.

How To Determine The Size Of The Screw For A Shipping Container

Shipping containers have a standard size and screw holes designed to accept a specific size of screw. If you have no idea what size screws to use, we recommend using 1/2″ x 3/8″ flathead screws. They are common and available at most hardware stores. You should be able to find these in any length up to 2″.

Determining The Correct Length Of The Screw For A Shipping Container

The thickness of your material determines the length of your screw. The more material you need to penetrate, the longer your screw will be. 

Also, consider the thickness of your drill bit for drilling pilot holes for your screws. This can affect how much material will be removed from the hole, which helps determine how long your screw needs.

Things To Consider Before Choosing A Screw Type For Your Shipping Container

There are various types and sizes of screws. When choosing a screw to use in your project, it’s essential to consider the following factors:


Different materials have different properties that affect how they can be fastened together. 

For example, metal is stronger than wood but harder to drive into; therefore, you’ll need a different type of screw if you fasten metal onto wood or vice versa.

Head Type

The head of a screw is the part that prevents it from falling out once it’s been driven in place. 

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Choosing a head type depends on what kind of surface you’re driving into, if it’s a soft material like wood or plastic, then a flathead screwdriver will work best; if it’s hard material like metal or concrete, then you’ll need something with a more aggressive grip like an Allen key or hexagonal wrench head.

Thread Pitch

This refers to the distance between threads on the screw’s shank or body. The higher this number is, the more torque can be applied without damaging the threading. 

Piston screws have a higher thread pitch than other types because they’re designed for heavy-duty applications like holding large equipment or machines carrying heavy loads.


The diameter of a screw refers to its thickness from top to bottom. A large-diameter screw will have more threads per inch than a small one, which means it will be more robust and expensive because it requires more material.


As the shipping container industry continues to gain momentum, more and more people will likely want to find out if they can screw something into a shipping container. 

You can put anything you like into a shipping container, assuming you have access to one. 

Just remember to check with the shipper if you are uncertain or unsure about the size of a particular item and what it would do to the overall integrity of a shipping container once it is screwed into the sides of one. 

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