How to Choose a Dumpster Size


Any home or commercial project inevitably generates waste. To deal with the debris all at once, consider renting a dumpster. While all dumpsters might look the same to the average person, there are things to consider to choose the right one.  

Prices between dumpster sizes vary, so why would you err on the bigger dumpster when you can make do with a less bulky one at half the cost? Conversely, would you risk breakage by overloading a smaller dumpster and additional fees if you were caught doing so? 

The first thing to know about dumpsters is that they come in five sizes: 10, 15, 20, 30, and 40 yards. Each size pertains to the amount of debris the dumpster can accommodate in cubic yards. A cubic yard is more or less five to six bags of 13-gallon trash bags, but don’t let the numbers intimidate you–waste can accumulate quickly. 

To make the most out of what you’ll spend, here are some things to checkout before booking your next dumpster rental:  

Amount of Debris

The amount of debris a building project generates would depend on the level of work done. It’s important to be realistic about the size and scale of the project so you can match this with the right dumpster. 

10-yard dumpsters are a good choice for piecemeal remodeling work or cleaning out one portion of the home. For medium-sized remodeling jobs, you can consider moving up to a 15- or20-yard dumpster.  

30-yard dumpsters are for larger-scale jobs such as major home renovations or commercial renovations, but it would be best to go for the biggest one at 40 yards for large commercial and industrial projects.  

If it helps, you can also measure your debris in terms of truckloads. A 10-yard dumpster is equal to three pickup trucks worth of rubble, while a 20-, 30-, and 40-yard dumpster can be likened to six, nine, and twelve trucks full of debris, respectively. 

Size of Debris

The size of debris to put in the dumpster matters because of two factors to balance–weight and length. While you may want to throw everything into one bin, each dumpster has a size and weight limit to ensure your rubble will be transported safely and securely. 

For 10-, 15-, and 20-yard dumpsters, the optimal range is around 4,000 to 6,000 pounds. On the other hand, the average weight of debris ranges from 7,000 to 10,000 pounds for 30-yard containers, while 40-yard containers can handle up to 12,000 pounds of rubble. 

Another aspect to consider would be the length of the debris. A 10-yard dumpster has dimensions of 14 feet x 7.5feet x 3.5 feet. 15- and 20-yard dumpsters are very similar in dimensions. The only differing factor is the length. A 15-yard dumpster measures 16 feet x 7.5 feet x 4.5 feet, while a 20-yard dumpster is 22 feet x 7.5 feet x 4.5 feet.  

30- and 40-yard dumpsters are excellent for windows or long beams, as these types of debris would need long and deep dumpsters to accommodate their size. The depth of these dumpsters is more extensive than usual at six and eight feet, respectively, while the length and width are identical at 22 feet x 7.5 feet. 

Allowable Contamination

The type of debris that goes into the container also matters. More than just the physical properties, the chemical properties of these substances would also have to be taken into consideration when putting assorted debris together.  

What you would not want is a chemical reaction to occur in your dumpster that would make the waste not only a hassle but an environmental hazard as well. 

On the other hand, some companies use post-consumer debris as fillers or low-cost construction materials. However, it would be best to reuse the debris in its purest form to maximize its strengths. Mixing substances would lower the material’s reuse value, making it less viable as an upcycled material.  

Because of these considerations, many dumpster companies do not allow interaction or contamination of various types of materials in one dumpster. This precaution is worth keeping in mind when disposing of multiple types of debris in a project.  

A bigger number of small dumpsters would work better in this situation. It is best to consult a dumpster company on these requirements as once the debris is mixed, it’s hard to separate them back.  


Sometimes picking the right dumpster size all boils down to logistics. Not all areas are created equal, nor do developers create roads with the primary intention of supporting large construction projects.  

Survey your project area and ask yourself: How accessible are the roads leading to the project site? Does the neighborhood or community impose restrictions on the types of dumpsters or trucks that can pass through?  

Even if you have a sizable amount of waste, if the roads to your place are narrow or restrictive, you might have no choice but to avail yourself of the smaller dumpsters. But if you’re sure a small dumpster won’t cut it, no worries. Some companies offer swap-out or continuous dumpster replenishment services, so you wouldn’t be left without a dumpster as your project continues. 


While choosing a dumpster isn’t rocket science, it also isn’t as simple as blindly picking one out. To select a dumpster that works best, make sure you have a good sense of how much debris you need to be cleared and how big and heavy the waste would be.  

Also, check if all the rubble can be placed in one dumpster to maximize space or if you would need to segregate through multiple dumpsters. Lastly, know the rules and restrictions of the location of your project site; all your optimization will be for naught if your area isn’t able to accommodate it.

Other blog posts

Subscribe to our list for weekly discounts