Shipping container insulation

Insulating a shipping container

shipping container insulation

Shipping container insulation is the process of adding some type of insulation to the shipping or storage container, if it’s a spray on foam ( open or closed cell ) or a insulating sheathing foam which comes in several thicknesses as sheets. Both types on insulation requires the container to be framed from inside

Shipping containers by design are built almost completely from steel the only two parts that are not steel is the wooden floor and the rubber door seals. With that being said when summer time comes, it gets really hot inside a steel container to the point that you can’t touch the walls without getting burnt.

The shipping container are built to be wind and watertight so there is no were for the hot air to exit the container and there is no way for the cold air to get in. Yes the containers do come with some small air vents installed, but they are really small to move air around and they are all installed at the top of the container walls.

Shipping container insulation?

1: Why would you want to insulate a container?

If the shipping container is going to be used as a storage container and what’s going to be stored in it will not get effected by temperature there is really no need for insulation.

At the same tone people are going to use the container to get items in or out or do some kind of items organizing inside the container, even with the cargo doors open a deep 40’ storage container will get too hot for worker to be inside.

Your stored items might not get effected by the hot temperature inside a shipping container but you or your workers will.

Through the past 15 years we have insulated hundreds of shipping containers from a small 10 ft containers to the largest, the 53 foot shipping containers.

Some of our customers requests for insulating a shipping containers.

  • Just for storage nothing spacial.
  • Water filtering machinery.
  • Mobile workers lunch and brake rooms.
  • Guard shacks.
  • Mobile mini office container.

2: Why not just purchase an insulated shipping container?

The simple answer to that question would be, they just don’t exist. The only shipping containers that comes insulated from the factory are the refrigerated shipping containers.

Several of our customers asks for a used refrigerated containers to use for storage. Some with the refrigeration unit fully functional and some without the refrigeration unit were we remove the refrigeration unit and replace it with a steel wall that can be insulated too.

Insulated refregirated shipping containers.

  • They are more expensive to purchase or rent.
  • They are more heavier than steel containers.
  • They are not easy to modify, adding windows and man doors.
  • They have aluminum flooring, not easy to repair if needed.
  • They have fiberglass interior walls.
  • Really heavy cargo doors.

That not to say that insulated refrigerated shipping containers are useless and should not be used. On the contrary they are perfect in every way for what they were designed for. Keeping product at a certain temperature while they are stored in the container or the move from suppliers to distributors.


sheathing foam shipping container insulation
Insulated storage container
20ft shipping container insulation
Insulating a shipping container

Container insulation step one
Storage container insulation step two
Storage container office
shipping container insulation step three

We are not going to talk about how other companies insulate the shipping containers or the proper way of the insulation, rather we will explain how we have been doing it for the past 15 years with hundreds of happy and satisfied customers.

No matter what the shipping or storage container size and height the process is the same and we use almost the same materials for all insulation.

The list of materials:

  • 2X4 Wood studs.
  • 1.5X1.5 Wood studs.
  • Deck screws.
  • Nails and wood screws.
  • R-7.5 Sheathing foam.
  • OSB or Plywood sheets.
  • Sealant ( Caulking ).

We start by framing the inside of the shipping container using the wood studs. The 2X4 will get fasten to the top rail with what we call ( Deck Screws ). They are a 5/16 torx head self tapping screws.

The 2X4 will go on both sides and front wall top rail only. The cargo door header will take the 1.5X1.5 stud.

The edge of the floor will be framed with the 1.5X1.5 wood studs. These can be fasten to the floor with screws or a nail gun.

Vertical wood studs will be spaced at 4 ft centers, starting from the cargo doors working toward the inside, the last stud will nod be at 4ft center but it will be just fine as long as it’s less that 4ft away from the last stud.

Keep in mind that the 2X4 vertical studs will be standing on there wide edges, The wide face parallel with the container walls.

Same thing will be done to the horizontal studs at the ceiling, Starting again from the cargo doors top header. Wide face parallel with the container ceiling.

We add a small chunks of 1.5X1.5 wood studs between the ceiling studs on top of the 2X4 at the top rail to help holding the OSB short edge.

When the framing is done we start cutting the foam sheets to fill the void between the studs, start with the ceiling or the sides doesn’t really matters at this time.

When all the voids get filled with the foam sheathing we start cutting the OSB or Plywood ( Whatever the customers requested as facing ). We start with the ceiling from the cargo door header and work toward the front. These can be fastened to the studs with wood screws.

After the ceiling is complete we start with the sides starting from the cargo doors again working our way to the inside leaving the last board unfastened.

We cover the front wall first then we install the last two boards. The last one on each side. We do that to make sure that the last two boards are as tight as they can be with the front wall.

The last thing to do is to seal ( Caulking ) the foam covering all the way around the container. This will help sealing any air get trap between the foam and the container steel walls.

The cargo doors do get wood framing, foam sheathing and OSB covering too.

Some cleaning and the shipping container is insulated and ready for delivery.

Common Shipping Container Modifications

container man door
Installing a man door

Installing a metal man door kit on your shipping or storage container for easy and fast access.

Storage container with roll up doors
Installing roll-up doors

Adding one or two roll up door on any side of your storage container making your life a lot easier.

shipping container with windows
Installing windows

Installing windows will not just bring day light to your storage container but it will help in reducing condensation.

Need an insulated shipping container?

Contact us and have it delivered

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