What Size Dumpster Do I Need?

One of the biggest challenges in doing a major remodel project around the house is finding the right size dumpster. This is because there are so many variables.

There are lots of sizes to choose from.

They are built on a scale that is difficult for the average person to visualize.

Most people rarely need to rent one, so we have no experience.

It is hard to imagine how big your project will look when it is dumped in a dumpster.

We are going to try to demystify the process a bit.

Garbage Bags

You’ve probably already looked at the website of a local dumpster dealer and you’ve seen a picture of an average scale human standing in front of an average scale dumpster.

This is meant to be helpful. Really it is. However, we seldom think of our garbage as being scaled with our body.

Instead, we are much more familiar with the size of a garbage bag. We handle those frequently. We have a sense of their size.  So in order to help you visualize it, we are going to explain it in terms of garbage bags.

Your dumpster choices will be marked in terms of “cubic yards” or “yd³”

On average, 1 cubic yard looks about like a medium size dresser, or about 6 trash bags.

Your smallest dumpster choice, the transition point where it makes more sense to rent a dumpster than to put it out in your own trash can, is 10 cubic yards. So this is about 60 trash bags.

  •             10 yd³ = 60 trash bags
  •             15 yd³ = 75
  •             20 yd³ = 120
  •             30 yd³ = 180
  •             40 yd³ = 240

Pickup trucks

OK so maybe garbage bags aren’t how you think. Maybe you are a do-it-yourself kind of person who understands what it means to throw a shovel in the back of a pickup truck, or what it means to load the pickup truck with mulch or dirt.

And besides, it does get pretty challenging to think about size in terms of 60 garbage bags.

Let’s measure in pickup trucks.

  • 10 yd³ = 3 pickup truck loads
  •             15 yd³ = 4-5
  •             20 yd³ = 6
  •             30 yd³ = 9
  •             40 yd³ = 12

This is an especially helpful measure when you are imagining each of those pick up truck loads being driven to your local dump. If it’s right around the corner three trips is no big deal.

However, if you’re like most folks who are doing a big fix-it-up project around the house, the local dump is NOT right around the corner.

And the further away it is, the more time and effort it adds to your project to haul everything there yourself.

Now you’re loading, driving, unloading, driving back … multiple times. And this is time added to the work of demolition or removal.

Many people might even choose a 10 yd³ dumpster to avoid that pain and hassle of even one or two trips to the dump.

Also, you should round up, and get the next biggest size if you are unsure. No one is judging you for not wanting to make any more trips than you have to. Or making no trips at all.

We hope this guide helped you with your project.

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