Painting Your Own Shipping Container

Repainting Shipping Containers

This guide aims to give an overview on shipping container repainting. If supplying a container we will offer a repaint in our yard before delivery, but once on your site the cost of moving it back to our depot for repainting would be prohibitive. Here we provide information and hints for those looking to repaint their own container.

Why Paint my Shipping Container?

Painting adds an extra level of protection between the steel and the elements, which will slow down any corrosion and improve the lifespan of the container. A good coat of quality paint will also improve the appearance of the container, especially important if on view to your visitors and customers.

Used shipping containers have typically been around the world a few times over their 10-15-year lifespan, and paint can fade, flake or be scraped and scratched by the machinery that handles them. Most used containers will have a lot of surface rust and dents, dinks and scrapes. We guarantee they are structurally sound and wind and watertight, however cosmetics cannot be guaranteed on these units. Painting improves the overall appearance of the container, and a wide range of shades are available, so you should be able to find one to match your house, car or corporate colours. Most colours are at standard price; however, some florescent, metallic and pearlescent paints will be more expensive.


Paint for Shipping Containers

Shipping containers are built from a particular steel alloy, COT-TEN A grade, which has particular properties to be aware of. Firstly, the rust that forms on COT-TEN steel is impervious to water, so itself provides protection to the metal underneath. This makes it particularly suitable for applications that will see a lot of weather, and paint is considered fairly optional, depending on the use (Angel of the North being a great example of unpainted Cor-ten steel).

Marine grade paint is always used for shipping containers, this provides good protection from the elements and is very hard-wearing. Our high quality acrylic marine grade paint is hard wearing and has a satin finish. It also comes in a range of colours to suit any taste!


Painting your Shipping Container

Ventilation Shipping ContainerYou can apply paint with a simple brush, or using a spray. If using a spray, you will need to add thinners to the paint. Start by removing any surface dirt, paint flakes and rust cobs. For a basic job you can apply paint at this point with no further preparation. No primer is required. For best possible results you can sand the surface of the container to ensure it is as smooth as possible (this we advise only offers a cosmetic improvement). We would recommend masking off the door seals and locking bars/rods for a great finish, but these can be painted over if required. If you are planning to ship the container at any point you will need to leave the various markings and the metal CSC data plate on show. Otherwise (if not exporting) these can be painted over, or, for a better finish, removed altogether before painting. These can be tricky to remove, particularly from older containers. We suggest using a little heat from a mini blowtorch or similar to soften the adhesive and carefully peeling or scraping off.

Types of Paint to use with Shipping Containers

As standard we supply single pack, high build acrylic self priming topcoat, which can be applied direct to steel. Other paints can be used, although we would always recommend high quality marine paint suitable for painting directly onto steel. Whichever paint you choose please check usage guides carefully. Our paints are very high quality and can be dispatched same day if ordered before midday, we offer both 5 litre tubs of marine grade paint, and 20 litre tubs of marine grade paint for shipping containers 

Our acrylic paint can be applied at -5 degrees and above, with drying time being 20 hours at this temperature, falling to 10 hours at 23 degrees (timings approximate).

How much paint will I need?

A complete external repaint for a 20ft container will require approx 20 litres of our standard paint per coat, for a 40ft shipping container allow 35 litres per coat. These estimates can be reduced by 25% if applying using a spray rather than a brush. You will need to add thinners to the paint if spraying. If repainting in the original colour then one coat is sufficient to give a good coverage, when applying a light colour over a dark one allow for an additional coat.

Paint thickness when dry should be 75 – 120 microns, to achieve this work to 150 – 245 microns when wet, using a wet film comb to measure if necessary.

One coat is sufficient for most uses, but if a high-quality finish is required then we would suggest two coats. A second coat will also be needed if you wish to paint in a light colour, to ensure that coverage is sufficient to cover the old livery. offer the UK’s largest online range of shipping containers for sale with a nationwide network of storage and conversion yards and crane equipped delivery vehicles.

If you need a shipping container feel free to browse our online range of shipping containers for sale, which also includes our ranges of flat pack sheds, container canopies and more. You can also call us on freephone 0808 1234 215 any time 9am – 7pm weekdays and our team will be happy to discuss your requirements. Alternatively, you can use our online shipping container quote form or request a telephone callback. In both cases we aim to get back to you within 1-2 working hours (may take longer for more detailed quotes).

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