How to Insulate Shipping Containers: A Guide

how to insulate shipping container


Shipping containers are a great and efficient way to store your belongings. They are versatile and you can use them in almost any situation. You can use them as storage containers or build them into a home, office, or greenhouse.

But what if you want to insulate your shipping container? Keep on reading for tips about how to insulate your shipping containers so that they stay warm and dry.

Draw Up Your Design

Man Designing for Construction

Once you have selected the size and type of container, it is time to design how you want your shipping container to look. Make sure the design is energy-efficient, safe, and attractive.

It should also be easy to use. Incorrectly drawn-up design outlines can lead to problems during construction or operation. This results in financial loss for both parties involved in this project.

Each party involved in this process must understand what the lead designer has asked them to do. If they do not understand, this could lead to problems later on down the line. This is due to discrepancies between expectations and actual results.

Get the Materials You Need

To ensure your insulation project is successful, you should get suitable materials. Along with getting the best contractor and container, it is essential to make sure that you have your tools on hand. This is so that you can complete the job quickly and efficiently.

The following list includes some of the essential items:

  • A good set of hammers is vital for pounding nails into wood surfaces.
  • A power drill with high torque settings is necessary for drilling through metal.

Install the Insulation Foam

The next step is to install the insulation foam. If you have a lot of gaps, use spray foam to fill them in. Use a rigid foam board to seal off any cracks or holes left by this method.

Add a Vapor Barrier

Adding a vapor barrier is a good idea if you want to keep your container dry and warm in the winter or cool in the summer. It can also help prevent mold and mildew. A vapor barrier prevents condensation from forming on the inside of the container. It results in wetting out materials such as paper or cardboard that could cause damage if left exposed for too long.

Vapor barriers also help prevent rot by keeping air currents flowing through the container. And they do so without allowing moisture in or out. This process helps reduce rotting inside your shipping container. This can occur when there is no insulation between its walls and the outside environment.

Add the Insulation Layer Of Your Choice

Now that you have your shipping container, it is time to add the insulation layer of your choice. There are four main types of insulation:

  • Rigid foam
  • Cellular (synthetic) rubber
  • Spray polyurethane foam (SPF)
  • Polyisocyanurate (PI)

Add Breather Membrane

As you saw in the previous step, you must press the insulation material against the container walls. If it is not sealed, there is a chance that moisture will seep into your shipment and damage its contents. A breather membrane can help prevent this by creating an air space between your load and its outer shell. This prevents condensation from forming inside.

This type of barrier contains various materials like polyethylene or polypropylene. Some people prefer using polyester as opposed to other options. This is because it has better moisture resistance capabilities than others.

Install Door and Window Frames, Cill, and Lintels

Young Worker Installing Window

The first step in insulating your shipping container is to install the door and window frames. The door frame should be installed horizontally on each side of the opening, with two screws to secure it at each end (you can use wood or aluminum studs).

Then you will need to install a cill between these two horizontal bars. This will serve as an air barrier inside and out while also acting as insulation between them. You can achieve this by drilling holes through each bar. Then screw in timber strips at each end with screws that go through both sides of the frame.

You may also want to add some insulation around where they meet, so there is less noise passing through them during cold temperatures.

Insulate Your Flooring

The flooring on your shipping container is susceptible to heat loss and can cause significant damage. Insulating it with some material, such as foam board or tiles, would be best.

If you want to go the extra mile and ensure your flooring will last longer, consider a vapor barrier or a radiant barrier. A vapor barrier is a moisture-resistant sheet and a radiant barrier is a heat-reflective sheet. A combination of all three methods can also work well.

Heating, Fiberglass, and Blown-In Cellulose

The first step to insulating your shipping container is to heat it. You can achieve this by using an electric heater or leaving the door open for a few hours.

Once you have warmed up the inside of your shipping container, it is time for insulation. One option is to use heavy-duty fiberglass insulation. This will provide excellent soundproofing and keep out cold air from outside sources. These include things like wind and water that might otherwise seep through holes in walls or doors.

Another option is using blown-in cellulose (also known as “foam plastic”). This cellulose is effective at blocking noise but much more affordable than fiberglass. This material still works well if you use it correctly.

If neither of these options works well for what you want, then consider using something else like a spray foam insulation instead. These tend not only to provide superior noise reduction but also offer other benefits.

These include improved resistance against moisture damage caused by mold growth over time. It usually happens because there is not enough contact between the materials you insulated.

Skin the Container With Exterior Cladding, Tongue and Groove, Or OSB Panels

Exterior cladding is the most expensive option for insulation, but it is also the most durable and fire resistant. It is also beautiful and energy-efficient. This makes it a good choice if you want to keep your container looking its best.

If you are not ready to spend that much money on something, there are other options available. This can help cut down on costs while still providing adequate thermal protection.

There are several types of exterior cladding. These include tongue and groove boards (T&G), OSB panels, and composite materials. An example is spray foam insulation blown into place by fans using compressed air. Or superheated water vapor from boilers running under them at high-pressure levels so they do not crack.

Insulating Your Shipping Container Properly Will Make It More Energy-Efficient

Man insulating loft

It is crucial for transporting goods that need to be cold or hot. When you insulate your shipping container, you will create a more comfortable environment for the people inside. Proper insulation will help keep your container cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

You must use insulating materials such as foam or wool batting with proper ventilation holes. This is so air can flow through the insulation material without causing condensation buildup.

Should I install a Ventilation System in my Shipping Container?

Add a vent system to the shipping container if you want to boost the airflow and protect your belongings. In the long run, the condition of the container commodities will deteriorate due to a lack of ventilation, which will lead to things decaying. Fixing and reinstalling will cost you a significant amount of money.

What is the minimum number of vents required for a shipping container?

A typical container will have anywhere from two to four vents, with the total airflow hole measuring approximately the diameter of a dime. These openings are more for equalizing pressure than exchanging air. Hence they are constructed to keep out seawater.


Follow these guidelines to insulate your shipping container. Remember, it is not always possible for a beginner to follow these steps. This is because different insulation materials might have other requirements for installation procedures.

But if you follow the general steps outlined above, you will create an energy-efficient home or business space. You will be able to save money on your energy bill and also help the environment by reducing carbon emissions from transporting your goods.


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