Shipping Container Homes Archives

Shipping container home insulation

If your seriously thinking of a shipping container home there’s no getting away from the fact that you’ll need to insulate it properly.

Most ISO shipping containers are manufactured from Corten steel and so you’ll be looking for insulation that is effective when applied to a metal surface.

Many users contemplating using shipping containers as home building material are put off thinking that rudimentary tasks such as insulation are overly complex or costsly. Luckily this is not the case and insulating your shipping container home is relatively easy with material easily obtainable and no more costly that insulating a standard home.
Whilst there may well be a variety of options open to you for undertaking this task one of the mot popular methods is to use ceramic spray insulation. The benefits for this method is in its simple application and pricing comparable to typical fiberglass/foam insulation (estimated at around $700 per standard ISO shipping container unit).
There are lots of brands available such as SuperTherm, Tempcoat, Lizardskin.  When properly ceramic spray insulation effectively reflects heat and and ultravilolet (stopping the transference of cold and heat). The spray is very effective, can be used on a multitude of paint surface types (which makes it an excellent choice for the various sufaces in a typical shipping container home.)

Applying Container Home insulation

If your using Ceramic spray insulation then it’s a fairly easy process going on similarly to paint. It’ll require a level of preparation and suitable equipment but its relatively easy to get a great finish which when dry can be painted.


As with any home, insulation is a must, if your suing ISO containers there is no need to worry that you’ll struggle – materials are readily available and application is easy enough allowing you to get on with your homebuilding and focusing on the rest of the build.

Insulating your shipping container home.

One of the common issues with shipping container homes is to do with insulation. Like any house build project, when your home is built you’ll need to ensure you dont bake in the summer and freeze in the winter.

Many will worry about rust. You’ll need to check this out in detail but as most shipping containers are made from weathering steel (non corrosive corten steel) which is very robust. While no two container conversions are exactly the same (and budgets will vary) the fact is Shipping containers are not all that different from traditional home builds and you’ll want to consider early on in the planning phase how you’ll go about insulating your container(s). shows what can be done with insulating foam, goes further looking at a variety of options open to those looking to convert containers. is a bit more bold

“There are many ways to insulate your shipping container home. You could spay on the insulation, roll it on and even use some type of ecological form, like egg cartons, etc. The best by far is the spray on type of insulation. This is called a polyurethane foam and it works best in combination with ceramic insulation paint.

Whatever option you go for, as always your plan should cover it from the start of your project!

Shipping container homes interior design

When you think of Shipping container homes you could be forgiven for thinking that the scope of interior design could be limited.  However you’d be surprised to find that you can create some truly wonderful, stunning interiors and that the shipping containers themselves are not limiting factors.

Typically there are two factors that limit what can be achieved – firstly finances – what funds you have available to spend on your home and achieving suitable aesthetics (you’ll notice that many shipping container homes go for a modern contempory look and feel (you dont see many quaint cottage style shipping containers!).

As a taster we’ve put together this short video showing what could be achieved.


Tips on buying shipping containers

Once you’ve decided on using shipping containers as the building blocks for your new home the first question you’ll ask yourself is where will you buy them from.

Luckily there are a variety of options open to you.

What to think about before you buy your shipping container

1/ Obtain quotes from several vendors
2/ Always choose standard ISO containers in order that you are confident that multiple units will stack and fit together.
3/ If your buying a used unit(s) make sure that you inspect thoroughly – (all sides and corners) – check for signs of rust – do all the locking mechanisms work correctly – etc.
4/ If used ask about history – bear in mind you’ll need to get the unit professionally cleaned depending on what it has previously transported

New or used or used containers

This is often one of the key questions you’ll face – new will guarantee a quality unit that will be clean, last a long time and will be ready to go from the start. Buying used, whilst understandably the cheaper option, there will be some initial maintenance to carry out (cleaning and maybe some repairs or treatments).

Where to buy.

Depending on your location there are usually various distributors/sellers in most geographical locations – consider looking for companies that are near major transport hubs (ports specifically) that will be likely to have plenty of units to view (make sure you wear suitable clothing for this task!)

Increasingly many home builders using shipping containers are looking to specialized companies that provide turnkey solutions for purchasing, delivering and kitting out containers.

For more information on this check out our where to buy shipping containers listings page showing companies you could use.

Don’t forget delivery

When you’ve chosen your container(s) don’t forget that you’ll need to consider how it will be transported to your site – the seller may provide this service or you may have to arrange it yourself – do consider how it will be loaded onto your transport!

While the premise of building and designing your new home from shipping containers can be at first exciting it wont take long until the task sinks in and you ask yourself – just where do I start?

As with any home building task it should be viewed as a project – a series of steps that you need to follow in the right sequence to deliver you the desired result. It’ll take some planning, you’ll need to estimate your costs and you’ll probably need some resources to help you with the build – looking to get started? Consider the following…
1/ Plan your home – Get a basic concept of how you want your home – how big will it be, how many containers will you need, consider windows, doors, costs for kitting out (floors, plumbing electrics etc) While it may sound obvious get this documented – get a plan constructed that you can then utilize and share with any resources that you bring into your project.

2/Find your shipping container – will you buy a used container – a new container or perhaps you’ll look for something that comes already partially kitted out – Weigh up the options and consider which suits you best.

3/ Think about how you’ll transport your container – you’ll need to consider two aspects to this
a) How will you ship it from the seller
b) How will you position it when it reaches your build site

You may well find that your seller will help you. But consider that you may need equipment/vehicles (in particular a crane to help you when it gets to your site). Consider the logistics of this (especially if your in a built up area) There may well be safety and other legislative regulations within your area that you’ll need to comply with – make sure you check these out well in advance. If the seller handles this element for you consider the cost of this and ensure you have it included in your budget.

4/ Clean it up! If you’ve purchased a used container – make sure you understand what state its in – what its carried and if it needs any preparation – in particular find out it has contained anything hazardous to humans – if it has you’ll need to get it cleaned and treated before it’s you can inhabit it – best to use an expert service for this – as its not a step to guess!

5/ Build your foundations. As with any home you’ll need to ensure that you have suitable foundations- check out this great video from which takes you through establishing foundations for your project.

6/ Cut to shape!!! – Inline with your plan cut out the basic windows, doors and fit equipment accordingly. Insulate the interior – fit plumbing and electrics. You may also wish to carry out some landscaping of the land to taste.

Shipping Container dimensions

The Shipping container is over fifty years old and is used worldwide to ship every type of goods imaginable. These days they are manufactured from durable weathering steel (typically corrugated). Their cube design enables them to be easily transported and stacked in numbers up to 7 containers high.

There are variety of different shipping containers available in different sizes and capacity. Shipping containers can have a number of specific uses requiring slightly different configuration – for example refrigeration units, open top units, vented units etc. Each unit will usually have a identification code (commonly called a BIC code) that enables tracking of the container during use.

Standard Shipping Container Dimensions

20′ container 40′ container 40′ high-cube container 45′ high-cube container
imperial metric imperial metric imperial metric imperial metric
length 19′ 10 12 6.058 m 40′ 0″ 12.192 m 40′ 0″ 12.192 m 45′ 0″ 13.716 m
width 8′ 0″ 2.438 m 8′ 0″ 2.438 m 8′ 0″ 2.438 m 8′ 0″ 2.438 m
height 8′ 6″ 2.591 m 8′ 6″ 2.591 m 9′ 6″ 2.896 m 9′ 6″ 2.896 m
length 18′ 8 1316 5.710 m 39′ 5 4564 12.032 m 39′ 4″ 12.000 m 44′ 4″ 13.556 m
width 7′ 8 1932 2.352 m 7′ 8 1932 2.352 m 7′ 7″ 2.311 m 7′ 8 1932 2.352 m
height 7′ 9 5764 2.385 m 7′ 9 5764 2.385 m 8′ 9″ 2.650 m 8′ 9 1516 2.698 m
door aperture width 7′ 8 ⅛″ 2.343 m 7′ 8 ⅛″ 2.343 m 7′ 6″ 2.280 m 7′ 8 ⅛″ 2.343 m
height 7′ 5 ¾″ 2.280 m 7′ 5 ¾″ 2.280 m 8′ 5″ 2.560 m 8′ 5 4964 2.585 m
volume 1,169 ft³ 33.1 m³ 2,385 ft³ 67.5 m³ 2,660 ft³ 75.3 m³ 3,040 ft³ 86.1 m³
gross mass
66,139 lb 30,400 kg 66,139 lb 30,400 kg 68,008 lb 30,848 kg 66,139 lb 30,400 kg
empty weight 4,850 lb 2,200 kg 8,380 lb 3,800 kg 8,598 lb 3,900 kg 10,580 lb 4,800 kg
net load 61,289 lb 28,200 kg 57,759 lb 26,600 kg 58,598 lb 26,580 kg 55,559 lb 25,600 kg

Would you live in a shipping container home?

There can be many issues associated with building a home – for example issues such as high costs, space shortages and slow build times can be a real headache. In attempting to mitigate these challenges (and more) associated with home building and an increasing desire for more environmentally friendly and sustainable forms of housing many of us are looking at alternatives to traditional bricks and mortar.

In recent years shipping containers have seen a rapid expansion as a viable alternative to traditional homes.

Shipping containers offer a modular approach and are easily modified. They can be linked and connected or stacked vertically to create intriguing designs that make effective use of space whilst remaining rapid to deploy and relative low cost.

Container homes are traditionally built up from either new or used ISO containers. These are relatively cheap and extremely durable. Whilst the shape of the shipping container may not, at first appearance represent a traditional concept for house, shipping containers can make a surprisingly beautiful home. Several containers can be built into a modular design windows and doors can be cut in and interiors equipped and decorated making it ready for a happy family living environment.

The modular approach (click here for shipping container dimensions) allows architects the freedom to create modern yet functional designs for living. Indeed this approach is not just limited to living space and can be readily applied to working environments also either as rapidly deployed temporary buildings or permanent workspaces.

As the world continues to grow and populations expand the issue of cheap effective and durable homes will continue to gain focus – the future will be all about flexibility and property will need to respond to an ever growing requirement to meet social and environment needs comply with technological barriers..