Many customers would like to insulate their own shipping container to help keep it warm inside and help prevent any condensation build up. This is a service we can offer in our depots but as it can be a major cost, some customers would like to take this on themselves. In this guide we detail the basic considerations and processes to take when doing your own insulation inside a shipping container.
Many different uses may require a different insulation job, for that reason this guide is for guidance only and we make no guarantees that this process will get you the finish or performance that you require.
How to insulate a shipping container
You can insulate a shipping container in a number of ways including adding insulation and ply-lining or by applying a spray foam but, you must consider the climate where your container will be located. For instance, if the container is going to be located in an area where its very cold, then you’ll need a very thick layer of insulation. A home will need different insulation characteristics to an office (that may only be used during daytimes) and again an office will want different insulation to a basic storage container.
Insulating a shipping container is an absolute priority if you intend to convert a container or group of containers in to a home. Insulation is critically important, not just to protect against high and low temperatures, its vital to prevent condensation which can increase corrosion rates and allow mould to form.
The basic process is very simple, build an internal frame (a bit like a stud wall) inside your shipping container, Your internal wall material will be mounted onto this frame (this might be plywood in a basic storage container or plasterboard in a container house for example) and then your insulation material needed to fill the cavity between the internal wall and the metal of the shipping container.
Types of Insulating material used in shipping containers
The types of insulation that can be used to insulate your shipping container can vary dramatically. Any material with insulating properties can be used. For us this commonly includes Rockwool or Kingspan branded insulation materials. Both types need to have a timber frame installed to hold the insulation in place and this is then covered with either ply or melamine boards.
Spray foam is often asked about when insulating shipping containers. Whilst our yards typically won’t use spray foam in containers, it does seem very popular in the international container home marketplace. Spray foam is another method of insulation that also provides a seamless vapour barrier and is quicker to apply compared to other methods. However, it is a more expensive option. The jury is still out on performance, it will work at least as well as any other insulation material however, even our office is divided on whether we would use spray foam if managing our own conversion. At time of writing online groups we have discussed with this are split.
Icynene® is the industry leading spray foam insulation that solves condensation and insulation issues in shipping containers, homes and commercial buildings. Depending on the type of foam, it can be applied to the inside and outside of the container. (please note that other insulation materials, when fitted properly will also solve any condensation issues too).
Rockwool is another effective insulator that is installed inside the container and then covered with either ply or melamine boards. Rockwool is extremely cheap and as long as you ensure all cavities are well filled, leaving no free air gaps or space this will perform very well.
Kingspan is another type of insulation that we install within the container, we then cover this with ply or melamine boards. Kingspan is a popular brand of insulation and the more expensive insulator will allow for thinner wall cavities, maximising the internal space inside your container conversion.
Realistically however any material that can insulate can be used, giving great scope for anyone wanting to recycle or re-purpose other materials in their shipping container conversion.
Insulating a shipping container is primarily done to protect goods from being damaged by condensation however, with the increasing popularity of using containers for offices, security offices, homes etc., insulation is a must.
Insulation helps reduce noise, it slows the warming and cooling process and will help to reduce energy bills. You can insulate your shipping container or we can do it for you. If you do it yourself, you’ll need to build and install a wooden frame within the container and then install the insulation between the battens. When completed, you can cover the framework and insulation with ply or melamine or some other material of your choice.
Need an insulated shipping container?
Alongside the UK’s biggest online range of shipping containers for sale, we have our network of 16 depots across the UK, all of whom are very experienced repairing and converting shipping containers.
If you need to insulate your own shipping container we hope this helps but we also have our ultimate guide to shipping container condensation treatment options, and we’re also always happy to help you with any brief informal advice on the phone.