Shipping container houses have become very popular as an affordable housing option to traditional prefabricated homes. Just like a traditional house, there are several things to consider when purchasing a container as a potential home.
For instance, cost, size, condition, location, upkeep and/or maintenance are all important factors, but one that may be overlooked with a container home is the need for insulation.
Does a Shipping Container Home Need Insulation?
The answer to this question is a definite “yes” if you want to protect your home and belongings from condensation and corrosion. Shipping containers are not airtight and will not hold up under various types of hot or cold weather. By insulating your shipping container, you are maintaining the correct environment by controlling moisture and temperature.
Why Do You Need Container Home Insulation?
Shipping container home exterior is made from steel which is known for conducting thermal energy.
It can keep outside air from getting inside but can also get extremely hot by absorbing the heat from the sun through the walls.
This is one of the reasons why insulation is so important for your shipping container home construction.
By insulating your shipping container, you are separating airspace that is conditioned from the outdoors.
The insulating material will help prevent the heat from the warmer side from going to the cooler side and help regulate the internal temperature.
Climate is another factor why insulating your shipping container home is important. Depending on where you live and whether you need additional cooling or heating, you may not need to insulate.
However, if you do live in an area with fluctuating temperatures, insulation may be the right solution. Your climate and external environment may also affect which type or option of insulation should be used.
It’s important to note, as stated above, that by insulating your shipping container home, you can control the environment and avoid possible issues/problems such as condensation, mold and corrosion.
Are You Searching For Ways To Insulate Your Shipping Container Home?
If you are considering insulating the interior of your container you may be wondering, how do you go about choosing the right type of insulation to use. What should you look for? Are there specific things to consider? Let’s answer several questions, starting with what to look for.
Here are some of the main factors to consider when looking at insulating options.
- Overall Performance – Look at the characteristics of insulation types focusing on R-value or given thickness of the insulation, air leakage or prevention of air flowing through, and vapor permeability or the prevention of vapors going through or remaining in.
- Cost – Look at material cost, labor cost and equipment cost. Cost will vary depending on whether you are doing it yourself or hiring a licensed contractor. Cost may also vary depending if you are choosing eco-friendly materials.
Here is a list of the various insulation options available:
- Spray Foam Insulation
- Can be applied to external and internal walls, as well as, underneath the container.
- Expands and hardens for additional sealing, however may require trimming.
- Can paint it once it is dried.
- More expensive than other insulation options.
- Blanket Insulation
- Can be purchased in pre-cut lengths.
- Placed in the cavities between studs which provide rigid support.
- Various types of blanket insulation available:
- Mineral wool, Rock wool and Slag wool
- Sheep wool
- Cotton and Denim
- One of the cheapest insulation options.
- Easy to install.
- Loose-Filled Insulation
- Material chunks applied into a sealed wall cavity.
- Usually blown into cavity with a machine.
- Three kinds of material used:
- Loose-filled Fiberglass
- Expanded Foam Insulation
- Large boards or panels that are pre-sized and self-supporting for regular wall heights.
- Openings must be cut out for doors or windows.
- Easy application – can attach to studs or be glued to container, some types actually have a corrugated shape to prevent air gaps in the container’s interiors.
- Various types of expanded foam insulation available:
- Open Cell Polyurethane
- Closed Cell Polyurethane
- Extruded Polystyrene
- Expanded Polystyrene
Should You Use Exterior Insulation On The Outside Of The Container?
If you are looking to insulate your container dwelling, you may be wondering if you should use exterior insulation on the outside of the container. There are a few ways to insulate the side of the container but what is the best way to insulate your exterior container wall?
When you insulate the walls (exterior) you really have two choices. Going with a wood / building material or going with a natural insulation for your container.
One thing to keep in mind is that exterior insulation can make it more difficult to access the interior of the container for repairs or modifications.
Additionally, it is important to make sure that the insulation is properly sealed and installed so that moisture does not get trapped inside, which can lead to mold and mildew problems.
Container condensation is a real thing to think on whether you want to insulate the exterior or not!
Another thing to consider is the climate where you live. In some areas, exterior insulation may not be necessary if the climate is already relatively mild.
However, if you live in an area with extreme temperatures, exterior insulation can help keep your shipping container comfortable year-round.
Keep in mind that if you can do an environmentally friendly insulation (like doing a garden on the top of your unit) it will help keep your container livable; while providing an attractive form of insulation for your unit!
Ultimately, whether or not you use exterior insulation on the exterior of the container home is up to you. Consider all of the factors involved before making your decision so that you can choose the option that is best for your needs.
Does Your Container Home Construction Process Include Thermal Insulation Of The Floors?
Yes, we recommend you do floor insulation for containers you are planning to live in.
This is an important step in ensuring that your home is comfortable and energy-efficient. By insulating the floors, you can help to keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. The insulation also helps to reduce noise levels and provides a barrier against moisture and pests.
If you live anywhere that snows often, you should always use an economical insulation for the floor. Living in somewhere warmer or with a more mild climate; may allow you to get away with NOT insulating your floor.
Shipping container home insulation matters quite a bit if you are using it as a main residence. If you are using the inside of the container for things like storage or a once a month hunting lodge; then the shipping container itself is all the insulation you need.
Insulating shipping containers (especially the floor) should always be considered, but is not needed for every single application.
How Much Does It Cost To Insulate a Shipping Container Home?
The cost of insulating a shipping container varies depending on if your home is made from one shipping container or multiple shipping containers. The insulation material used matters as well as whether you are hiring a contractor or making this a DIY project.
Here is an estimate of the average insulation cost for a 20-foot single shipping container home, with an 8-foot ceiling height – it can run from about $1500-$3500. A 40-foot shipping container with a 9-foot ceiling height could run anywhere from $2900-$4600.
Remember the range is based on the variables listed above. You do not have to use only one of the insulation types available.
Depending on the size, the location area and/or climate your container home will be in, you may choose to use a variety of insulation options.
Another thing to note is that while doing it yourself will save you money, hiring a professional may not only speed up the completion time but also guarantee a warranty for the work done.
What Is The Cheapest Way To Insulate a Shipping Container?
There are different opinions on what is the cheapest way to insulate, especially those who have favorites. However, one of the most common types of insulation used, is also one of the cheapest and easiest to install – blanket insulation made from fiberglass batts or rolls. See the list of various blanket insulations listed above.
It helps keep cold air out while maintaining the temperature inside. It is thick, fluffy and can be easily cut to use in the walls and ceiling and then secured with nails and/or staples. Another plus, is that this type of insulation is usually available at your local hardware store and/or if you prefer, online.
What Is The Best Method To Insulate a Shipping Container?
When insulating your container home, it is important to prevent freezing and/or overheating by using the best type of insulation material. Again, everyone has their favorite type of insulation for various reasons.
However, one that is considered the best insulation for shipping containers is also easy and fast – spray foam insulation.
It has the highest R-value, ensuring that your container remains insulated for a longer period of time.
Spray foam insulation uses polyurethane materials that can be sprayed onto the interior and exterior walls which acts a vapor barrier that expands and hardens protecting your container with greater thermal resistance and preventing condensation.
And since most containers are known for being coated with extremely toxic paints that protect them at sea, spray foam insulation can trap VOCs that may escape, making your home safer.
There are two types of spray foam insulations – Open-cell Spray Polyurethane Foam (ocSPF) and Closed-cell Spray Polyurethane Foam (ccSPF). The Open-Cell has a lower R-value than the Closed-Cell which has one of the highest R-values per inch. This is one of the reasons why spray foam insulation is one of the most expensive type available.
So Which Shipping Container Insulation Is The Best Insulation Method?
The main thing to consider for your shipping container house when choosing interior insulation really comes down to your location / climate and your finances.
If you are looking to save money on your quest to insulate inside the shipping container; you will most likely choose fiberglass insulation or wool insulation.
If you are looking for the best shipping container insulation for your interior walls you will most likely choose to insulate the interior with polyurethane foam insulation (aka spray foam). While other options like traditional fiberglass insulation as well as foam insulation panels are cheaper; you cannot beat the internal insulation from spray foam at the same thickness.
So really it comes down to cost. You can always try something like natural insulation but 95% of people doing their own shipping container construction will use spray foam or one of the different types of insulation listed above. The biggest thing is that you 100% should have some sort of insulation solution chosen when you are building a shipping container into your home!