Guide to Renting a Construction Dumpster

Searching for an easy, time- and cost-effective solution for getting rid of that construction debris? This guide will help.

Almost every project undertaken by a pro ends up with some sort of waste. Whether it’s new construction or a renovation, there’s always debris and materials left over after demolition that need to go to a dump or transfer station of some sort. Hiring a professional dumpster service to haul it all away is the best way to handle it.

But if you’re a new contractor or simply haven’t rented a dumpster before, the world of waste hauling might be confusing. This guide to renting a construction dumpster should help you sort through it all and make the best choice.

How Dumpsters Work

Companies own their dumpsters and rent them to contractors, homeowners, DIYers and businesses for daily or weekly fees. They haul the dumpster by trailer or on a special truck bed to the renter’s address, unload it, then leave it for the agreed-upon time frame.

The renter fills the dumpster with whatever they need to get rid of, just as they would a pickup truck or light-duty trailer. Then the company sends a truck back to the site on the date the rental agreement specifies to pick up the dumpster and take the garbage to the dump.

This service is typically much less time-consuming and often less expensive than renting a pickup truck. That’s the value of a construction dumpster.

When Do You Need a Dumpster?

That depends on the project. Some can be handled without a dumpster; simply load the bed of a pickup truck and take that debris right to the dump. But plenty of other times, a dumpster makes sense.

If the project involves a lot of demolition, a dumpster is the way to go. This may include roofing projects, large kitchen or bathroom renovations, asphalt or concrete demolition, or deck projects. These create a lot of waste, and it’s best to throw it all in a dumpster than make three or four trips to the dump with a truck — an all-day affair.

Also, not all debris is the same. Concrete, asphalt, stone, and roofing shingles are extremely dense for their size and take up far more weight per volume than wood, household debris and other general materials. Putting busted-up materials in a pickup truck can be unsafe or damage the vehicle. A dumpster is a much better choice.

Types and Sizes of Construction Dumpsters

There are essentially two types: trailers and roll-offs.

Trailers are small and come with their own wheels. They can usually be pulled with a full-size pickup truck, so they’re relatively inexpensive to drop off and pick up. Roll-offs can be much larger, requiring a heavy-duty truck with a specialized bed that slides them on and off.

Dumpster sizes are measured in cubic yards, simply known as yards. This describes the volume of debris they can hold. Some companies may offer length and width measurements as well. Trailer dumpster typical sizes include five, 10 and 15 yards. Typical roll-off dumpster sizes include five, six, 10, 12, 15, 20, 30 and 40 yards.

How Much Does a Construction Dumpster Cost?

Dumpster rental costs range wildly based on many factors.

Unlike taking items directly to the dump, where vehicles are weighed on their way in and out and charged by the pound, dumpster companies offer flat rates. Here are some of the factors that impact those rates:

  • Dumpster size: Larger dumpsters are more expensive, but they’re usually less expensive per cubic foot.
  • Debris type: Heavy materials will require smaller dumpsters, and there may be extra fees involved with overweight loads.
  • Rental length: Dumpster companies provide different rates for daily, weekly or monthly rentals.
  • Location: Renting a dumpster in the southern United States will likely be less expensive than the Northeast or West Coast.

Other factors may impact rates at individual rental companies as well. General price ranges per week include:

  • Ten yards: $250 to $450;
  • Twenty yards: $350 to $550;
  • Thirty yards: $450 to $650.

How to Estimate the Dumpster Size You Need

Estimating dumpster size can be tricky. First, tell the dumpster rental company what kind of waste you intend to throw out. For heavy debris, they may limit you to smaller dumpsters their trucks can handle.

Here are some other guidelines:

  • Heavy debris: Five to 10 yards (includes roofing, asphalt, concrete, etc.);
  • Small renovation: 10 yards;
  • Large renovation: 20 to 30 yards;
  • Construction sites: 30 to 40 yards;
  • Home cleanouts: 15 to 20 yards.

How to Pack a Dumpster

Packing a dumpster correctly ensures you use all the space. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Load the big stuff first: Open the door and carry in heavy, awkward-to-carry materials. The floor of the dumpster will be clean to reduce the risk of tripping.
  • Think layers: Put lightweight, compressible materials between layers of heavier objects to squash them and provide more space.
  • Compact what you can: Break down large, voluminous objects like bookshelves, boxes, and wood that might take up too much space.
  • Fill up any gaps: Look for space between large items or alongside the larger objects.
  • Avoid garbage bags if possible: Garbage bags tend to trap air and make it harder to use all the space in the dumpster. The truck that picks up the dumpster will have a roll-up debris cover to make sure nothing blows out.
  • Schedule pickup before it rains: Rain will make the dumpster weigh more and could lead to overweight fees.

Tom Scalisi
Tom Scalisi is an author and writer specializing in the construction and home improvement industries. His career in the trades spans over 15 years as both a contractor and a commercial building mechanic. Tom has written for several blogs and magazines including,,, and more. His first book, "How To Fix Stuff," was published in May 2022. In addition to his professional life, Tom is also an avid baseball fan and coach. He lives in NY's Hudson Valley with his wife, their four children, and two dogs.