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Shipping Container Doors


shipping container doors

Shipping container doors are an integral part of the container structure. Selecting an appropriate door not only helps keep your contents safe but also makes storage containers more accessible and easier to use.

While designing cargo containers, choosing the right doors is an important design consideration.  Additionally, if you're using a shipping container with pre-built doors, knowing the door architecture can help troubleshoot any issues that may hamper the container's accessibility.

Let's look at the design, construction, and types of doors you can opt for to get maximum flexibility for your desired application.


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Elements of Shipping Container Doors

The five essential parts of every storage container door are:

Schematics of Shipping Container Doors

1. Door Body

The body of a cargo door features two vertical hollow leaves, two horizontal C-sections, and a frame consisting of an infilled, corrugated steel paneling.

Four drop-forged steel hinges help hold the body at the rear corners of the containers.

The hinges, also known as blades, allow the door to swing 270 degrees against the container wall.

2. Lockbox

A lockbox is a protective steel box welded on the door that houses a padlock. It protects the items inside the container from theft, tampering, and break-ins.

Position of a High Security Lockbox

3. Lock Rod and Handle

Each door has 2-4 vertical lock rods that enable opening, closing, and locking. The lock rod has a welded cam and knuckle mechanism, known as the cam keeper. Whenever you open the door, the handle rotates and forces the cam out of the keeper.

Lock Rod and Handle

4. Rubber Gaskets

Rubber gaskets help close the gap between the door body and the edges of the container. As a result, they help prevent water ingress and leaks to a certain extent.

5. Hinge Pins

Door hinges act as pivot points on the door, allowing free rotational movement.

Some containers may also have additional utilities such as a security swing arm and shackle-puck locks.

How to Fit Cargo Doors on Shipping Containers?

With the proper equipment, fitting cargo doors can be a DIY process. Due to the weight of the doors, you’ll most likely need a forklift or hoist mechanism in order to lift them. Otherwise, it’s best to hire a professional. Before you start, you’ll also want to ensure that you have the following tools:

  • Tape Measure
  • Angle Grinder
  • 50 mm x 50 mm Steel Tubing
  • Door Clams
  • Welding Equipment
  • Silicon
  • Hinge Plates

These are the basic steps you can follow:

  • Select the door you wish to install: it can be pre-built or a custom door.
  • Measure and mark the area for the door and steel tubing on the container.
  • Use the angle grinder to cut the door opening.
  • Allow the steel to cool.
  • Remove any sharp edges using the angle grinder.
  • Use the steel tubing to make a door frame equal to the door size.
  • Secure the tubing with clamps.
  • Weld the tubing to the corners of the opening.
  • Ensure that the frame is square and level.
  • Prepare a smooth finish by applying silicon between the container shell and door frame.
  • Finally, weld the hinge plates on the side frame and install the door.

Cargo Doors on Shipping Containers.jpg

However, note that you cannot make any changes, or customize the doors of a shipping container unit on rent.

What is the Correct Way to Open and Close Container Doors?

Opening a cargo container may seem tricky, especially if you’re unsure of the door mechanics.

Over the years, the doors may stick or become hard to open and therefore, require additional opening tools or equipment.

However, following these simple steps can help ease the process:

  • Rotate and lift all the latches on one side of the door (represented by symbol 1 in the image below). The above step will free up the handle for rotation.
  • Rotate and lift the handles upwards, as shown with symbol 2. You may have to push in first to release the handle.
  • Hold the handles firmly and pull it towards you, perpendicular to the door's direction. Once the handles lay parallel to each other, the door will open.
  • Repeat steps 1-3 for the other side.

Correct ways to close and open container doors.jpg

Similarly, to close a container door, you must:

  • Firmly press both handles towards the container.
  • Ensure that you lock the hooks at the top and bottom of the rod into the brackets.
  • Tightly secure both handles simultaneously, such that they lie parallel to the container door.
  • Rotate the latches above each handle back to their original position.
  • For additional security, use a padlock to secure your container.

Shipping Container Door Options

Depending upon your needs, you can use the following standard door types:

Cargo Doors

Cargo Doors.jpg

These are heavy-duty, freely swinging doors located at one end of the containers. They find their application in portable storage containers that store tools, machinery, and valuable items but can be challenging to access in constrained spaces.

Personnel Doors

Personnel door on a 20 ft. container

Personnel doors help add more convenience, especially in portable offices, workspaces, and living areas. If your services require frequent container access, these doors can be the best solution for your company.

Roll-Up Doors

roll-up doors.jpg

Roll-up doors or shutter doors lift from the bottom and curl up inside the container. If you do not have adequate space around the storage unit, you must go for these doors.

Sliding Glass Doors

Sliding glass doors.jpg

Glass doors are an aesthetic option for container cafes, shops, and exhibition areas. These stylish doors have a transparent body that enables maximum light to enter inside the unit. However, they might not be as secure as the options mentioned above.

Combination Doors

Combination Doors.jpg

There can be multiple entryways in large office-storage combo containers, each having a different door for easy access. Shipping container modification generally consists of creating various entries according to your business needs.

Troubleshooting: When Shipping Container Doors Don't Operate as Expected

Here are some of the reasons why container doors might stick:

  • The frame may be in a racked position due to improper gear alignment.
  • Warped lock rods due to cargo movement during transit.
  • Corrosion at the hinge pins and blade, leading to seizing.
  • Damage or hardening of the door gasket due to frequent use or cold weather
  • Water entrapment between the doors.
  • Quality issues in the construction

You can use the following standard remedies if your door doesn't open or close properly:

  • Lubricate the locking bar brackets, hinges, and bar guides with an industrial lubricant
  • Apply a generous amount of grease onto the locking bar cams.
  • Check and replace the door hinges, handles, and brackets if you see significant corrosion or damage.

Learn about other accessories you can add to your container.


The security, accessibility, and aesthetics of shipping containers greatly depend on the door. Selecting the right door for your container can help extract maximum benefits. With so many options to choose from, you must pick the one that best suits your needs.

Mobile Modular Portable Storage is a leading supplier of shipping containers. We offer portable storage, office, and combo containers with cargo, personnel, and high-security door options.

Want to know more about door customizations or shipping containers for sale? Contact us on 866-459-7600 or request a quote today.

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How Do You Cut a Window and Door In a Shipping Container?

You can cut open the space for a window or door in a shipping container by following these steps:

  • Measure and mark the area for the door or window and steel frame on the container.
  • Use the angle grinder to cut the door or window opening.
  • Allow the steel to cool.
  • If there are any sharp edges, remove them using the angle grinder.
  • Use rectangular steel tubes to make a frame equal to the door or window size.

How Do You Fit a Window In a Shipping Container?

You can fit a window in a container by cutting out the space required for the window and frame. After you cut out the required area, use tack welding first to secure the frame, and then weld the entire window on the frame.

Watch this video to learn more about building container window openings.

How Do You Put Doors In a Shipping Container?

You can install doors in a container by cutting out the required portion and securing the door on a steel tube frame by welding.

Can You Drill Into a Shipping Container?

Yes, you can drill into a shipping cargo container. However, ensure that you use adequate lubrication and proper tools to avoid damage to the container walls and prevent heat buildup.



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