What is a Container Home Lifespan?

What is a Container Home Lifespan?

What Is A Shipping Container Home Lifespan?

Living off grid has become increasingly popular in recent years with the Tiny Home Movement.  People are building homes using various alternative housing options, like shipping containers, that are not only affordable but eco-friendly.  It’s only natural to be curious about the lifespan of a container home and what can be done to extend that lifespan.  Below are some ways that may help with your container home’s longevity. .

How Long Do Shipping Container Homes Last?

A shipping container in new or pristine condition has a life expectancy that will last up to 25 years.  

A storage container used for shipping and transport, that has been in service is typically used for 10 years before it is taken out of service.  The container’s life should then be able to last another 15 years. 

You can have your home built using 20-foot or 40-foot shipping containers.  If you choose a used shipping container make sure to check out the condition of the container – signs of wear and tear, dents and the most important thing about shipping containers may be the presence of rust.   

Attacking rust and corrosion must be immediately addressed to ensure the lifespan of a new or recycled shipping container house.

These lifespans are based on containers as they come standard.  There are some great ways to extend that life even longer to where it’s possible to get another 50 plus years out of your container home.  

Making modifications using recycled or eco-friendly building materials, adding insulation such as spray foam insulation to corrugated walls and even laying down flooring, will help with mildew and condensation issues improving the longevity of container home.

External Factors And Remedies

Living in a wet climate or a location with harsh weather can rust out metal over time more quickly than a dry climate, meaning that without proper maintenance the lifespan of a shipping container home won’t last the full 25 years.

Adding something like external cladding, i.e.; curtain walling, rain screen, timber, etc., will add durability and prolong the life of the container.  If the quality of the clad used is good, you will not experience any rot and/or termite damage.  

Even paint can help extend the life of a container home depending on the type and making sure to repaint no longer than every five years.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the better the home is maintained then the longer it will last.

What Are Shipping Containers Made From?

Shipping containers are either made from weathering steel or CORTEN steel (which is a U.S. Steel trademark name).

COR-TEN is a group of steel made to resist weather corrosion better than other steels.  With it being a metal, it is still likely to experience rust if left untreated. 

Are Container Homes Waterproof?

Metal shipping containers are used in shipping across the oceans and are built with heavy-duty rubber door seals to keep water out from damaging the cargo.

When these steel box containers are repurposed as recycled container homes they are inspected and repaired before they are sold to ensure that the watertight seal is not broken. 

Things like materials used to clad the external part of the container and paint will help in the waterproofing of the exterior of your container so that the interior stays dry. 

If the container exterior is left as is, then staying on top of rust will help continue to keep the container waterproof.  As stated above, it is very important that rust be treated immediately.

What Is Cladding?

Exterior cladding is a layer of materials used to construct a separation of a building’s structure from exterior elements, such as weather and sound.

There are a several different materials that can be used to clad, and often is made up of an assembly of materials that each has its own function and importance in keeping exterior conditions out of the home.

Below is a list of a few types of materials used to clad.  There are a lot of options in this area, and really it depends on climate factors and personal preferences.

Sandwich panels, also known as composite panels or structural insulating panels, consist of two layers of a rigid material that is bonded to both sides of a lightweight core.  The three components become a single composite.

Timber softwoods, such as red cedar, are some of the most popular ways to clad.  Softwoods are knot-free and have a natural resistance to decay and moisture.  With sandpaper and a little bit of sanding, they can be easily stained or painted so you can add your own personal touch.

Hardwoods, like oak, are also great for clad use.  

Thermally modified timbers like Platowood and ThermoWood can also be used.  These softwoods are treated to high temperature that takes away resins and moisture, which results in a stable and durable material.

Shakes and shingles are made from split logs.  Shakes are typically split from a log using chisels and a mallet, while shingles are typically sawed off.  Depending on the type of wood used they can last anywhere from 20 years to 100 years.

Brick slips are thin layers of masonry and look very similar in appearance to conventional bricks.  There are multitudes of styles and colors when it comes to brick slips.

What Paint Is Best For a Container Home?

There are a ton of different exterior paints, and the right one depends on things like climate, metal, wood, and oil vs acrylic paints.  It’s always important when buying paint that you pick one that is right for your climate. 

Paint needs to completely dry for it to be effective.  If it’s colder than 50 degrees then the paint won’t dry, unless you purchase a cold-weather paint.  

In hot areas or in direct sunlight, the paint might dry too fast.  You need to consider things that can affect drying time and the final appearance like the elements, wind, rain, and humidity.

It is highly recommended to use a primer when painting exteriors, especially on metal as the layers of paint will be another barrier between your home and the elements. 

Water-based paint dries much faster than oil-based paint, so if time is against you, or you only have a small window to paint due to weather then water-based is probably a better option.  Dry time with water-based paints is from 1 to 6 hours and with less odor.

Oil-based paint will get a better surface penetration, adhesion, and stain-blocking.  Dry time is much longer at 8-24 hours.  Oil-based paints are typically better for metals that can rust.

The type of paint you choose also is dependent on the type of cladding that has been added to the container home.  If you plan on leaving the exterior of the container as is then it is crucial to use a rust resistance paint.

A finish coat will seal and protect the primer and base coat.  There are four choices of finish paint: flat, semi-gloss, glossy, and satin. The less gloss paint has, the less stain-resistant it is.

Depending on the type of paint used and the material that it is being applied to, it’s possible to go up to 10 years between needing to repaint.  Wood surfaces can sometimes need to be repainted every 5 years.  Things like weather and location also play a factor in how long you can go between needing to repaint.

Longer Lifespan Is Possible 

Your shipping container home can last significantly longer with the proper care right from the start!  Make sure that your container home is rust and corrosion free.  Prep your home for its new environment, paying attention to the climate and elements.  

Whether you clad, paint or both, you will be surprised that with the right materials, how long your container home’s life span will be extended.  Maintained properly you can enjoy the benefits of shipping container living for many years to come!

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