Choosing the Right Size Dumpster
When it comes to waste management – whether it’s for a smallish basement cleaning project or a whole-house siding job – dumpster rental is definitely the way to go when it comes to waste removal. It keeps the property looking tidy, it is an enormous time saver compared to hauling pickup loads of garbage, and it’s incredibly easy: The roll-off dumpster appears and disappears with just a phone call.
But for those who aren’t doing roll off dumpster rental regularly, understanding the terminology surrounding rental dumpsters can be a bit confusing, especially when it comes to the dumpster size likely required for a job. Too small and it creates headaches mid-project when it begins to overflow, but too large means wasted dollars on the project. Here, then, is a primer that will get anyone tackling waste management renting like a pro.
Roll-off dumpsters typically come in four different sizes; 10-, 20-, 30-, and 40-yard capacities. But what does that mean? Below is a table depicting the length, width, and height of each size. These measurements are considered fairly standard across the waste collection industry, though they may vary to a certain degree based on the individual hauler.
- Size Exterior Dimensions Capacity/Volume
- 10 yd 12 ft. long x 8 ft. wide x 3.5 ft. high 10 cubic yards
- 20 yd 22 ft. long x 8 ft. wide x 4 ft. high 20 cubic yards
- 30 yd 22 ft. long x 8 ft. wide x 6 ft. high 30 cubic yards
- 40 yd 22 ft. long x 8 ft. wide x 8 ft. high 40 cubic yards
So what is a cubic yard?
Simply put, a cubic yard is a measure of space or volume. For example, say a cube of space is 3 feet long by 3 feet wide by 3 feet high. These measurements equal 1 cubic yard. By knowing the dimensions of a dumpster in feet, you can then calculate the number of cubic yards of debris the dumpster can hold by using the basic formula below:
Multiply length by width by height in feet to determine total cubic feet, then divide the total cubic feet by 27
It’s important to note that dumpster dimensions are generally provided in feet and measured from the outside of the container walls. So, by using the exterior dimensions, the formula above will slightly overestimate cubic yards. To get a more accurate interior volume, use interior dimensions by subtracting approximately 6 to 8 inches off each exterior measurement. An 8 ft. exterior width then becomes 7.4 ft. of interior width. In reality, however, the difference in waste collection between using interior and exterior dimensions is pretty small.
Okay, but what size roll off dumpster should I choose?
Estimating the volume of your debris can be a challenge, especially for household junk or construction and demolition debris. Roofing debris like shingles is a bit more simplified because of the conformity in shape and size. But if you’re removing broken chairs, boxes, and that ancient stationary bike, guesstimating can be a bit trickier. Below are helpful guidelines to consider when choosing the size of the container.
What fits into a 10-yard dumpster?
Generally speaking, a 10-yard dumpster may be appropriate for a smaller residential cleanup or other home projects. It would be the equivalent of about three pickup truck loads of waste.
Think of this size for things like:
- Basement or garage debris cleanout
- 250-square-foot deck removal
- 1,500 square feet of roof shingles (single layer)
- Small kitchen or bath remodeling job
What fits into a 20-yard dumpster?
A 20-yard container is the right dumpster size for average clean-up and remodeling projects. A 20-yarder can hold approximately six pickup truck loads of waste and debris. In general, 20-yard dumpsters are the most widely used containers because they are priced competitively and hold a large amount of debris.
Choose this size for projects such as:
- Basement, attic, or garage cleanup
- Home remodeling projects
- Flooring and carpet removal for a larger home
- 300-400 square feet of decking material
- 2,500-3,000 square feet of roof shingle removal (single layer)
What fits into a 30 -yard dumpster?
A 30-yard roll off dumpster may be the right solution for complete residential cleanouts, large home remodeling projects, new home construction, and commercial remodeling or construction projects. A dumpster this size will hold roughly the equivalent of nine pickup truck loads of waste.
Consider this size for:
- Major home addition or large remodeling project
- New home construction
- Garage demolition
- Complete home window or siding replacement (small- to medium-size home)
What fits into a 40-yard dumpster?
A 40-yard container is ideal for projects that will generate a substantial amount of construction and demolition debris. You can estimate that this would be around 12 pickup truck loads of waste and debris.
Rent this size dumpster for:
- Residential or commercial demolition project
- Commercial roofing project
- Large new home and commercial construction
- Commercial landscaping and excavating
- Large water and fire remediation projects
Choosing a dumpster that’s too small can be an expensive mistake
Stuffing 15 yards of debris in a 10-yard container doesn’t work. It will end up costing more because it’s likely that a pick-up and re-drop will be required before the project is completed. If that happens, the cost for waste removal doubles since your rental charge is based on a single haul, which is where the bulk of cost is for the company providing the roll off dumpster. Since they will have to pay a driver for the time to deliver and pick up a dumpster twice, don’t expect a discount on the second haul. Suffice it to say that ordering a 20-yard container initially is less expensive.
Don’t over-fill the dumpster
It may be tempting to try and work around a dumpster that is too small by piling debris over the rim of the container. Don’t do it. Debris piled over the top is considered a road hazard and the dumpster service cannot legally haul the container. Most drivers will leave the job site and the container won’t be picked up until the debris is leveled off, of which will result in an extra-trip charge. Some drivers may jump up and level your dumpster by throwing out debris. In this case, an “overfilling fee” will be added and the left-over debris still must be disposed of.
Choosing a roll off dumpster size is not an exact science. Calling several local haulers and describing the scope of your project is a good idea. To be fair, it’s difficult for a waste management person to suggest a size without seeing the debris, but good haulers will do their best to help recommend the right container size based on the information you give them. If they are anything like us at Redbox+, we would rather have happy customers who tell their neighbors about us than a few extra dollars from selling you a dumpster rental that was way too big for the job.