Wondering how to modify a shipping container and what materials you can use? When it comes to container conversions, there are endless options in terms of the materials that you can use. From farms to swimming pools, churches to student accommodation, shipping containers have been modified for various purposes, all with unique and interesting designs.
Your imagination can run wild, exploring different cladding, paint and design options. But sometimes, too much choice can be a little overwhelming and confusing. So to give you some guidance to get you started, here are some of the most common materials used to modify shipping containers.
Insulation is a common problem when modifying modular containers. Designed to safely and securely transport cargo across the seas, shipping containers are made to be sturdy and resilient in all weather conditions. This makes them a useful framework on which to design your new home, office, workshop or garden sanctuary. However, they can have problems when it comes to insulation if careful thought isn’t put into the design. For one, shipping containers are often coated in paints to help keep them weather-resistant, which can be dangerous if you breathe in the residual dust. Two, as a giant steel box, they can become extremely warm in hot climates and cold in winter without the proper insulation and ventilation put in. By sealing your container with an air-tight insulation layer, you’ll protect yourself from breathing in any harmful particles and prepare your structure from all elements. There are endless options as to how to insulate your container, so we’ll cover the most common so you know what your most likely options are.
First things first, it’s important to solder the elements on the walls of your container so it’s airtight. After all, you don’t want any water coming in through any holes! Then, you’ll need to spray it with a foam anti-fire insulation. After these two basic steps, the next layer if up to you! If you’re not a fan of the industrial look, ply lining will help to keep the container at a happy medium when it comes to temperature and is also really effective at preventing condensation. Putting pallets on the external walls will also help control the effect of the sun on the container and provide some added insulation. You can also play it smart when it comes to your floors and ceiling. From insulated and laminated flooring to adding double ventilation to the roof to help prevent you from cooking inside your container home. There are lots of ways to maximise the efficiency of every element of your modification.
If you really want to go outside the box, you can make the most of the container’s flat roof by creating a green roof or raised garden. A living roof will help to make your shipping container build as eco-friendly as possible, as well as adding to a natural aesthetic. While a water-collection system on the roof can make the most out of the English weather and reduce your water bill! Or generate become self-sustainable by turning your roof into a power hub for your new home through installing solar panels.
On the subject of turning your container modification that bit more green, you can also use recycled, sustainable materials in other elements of your design. Turn your conversion into a green, eco-friendly endeavour by using recycled materials for the flooring, insulation, decoration – just about anything really. In fact, you can go eco right from the get-go by purchasing a used shipping container instead of a brand new one. Not only will this be cheaper, but you’ll also be upcycling an existing container which has already been used to transport goods across the world! Saving valuable resources and reducing the number of shipping containers not being put to good use.
It’s a common misconception that when modifying cargo containers, you have to use the doors already on the containers as the entrance to your new home. Some people find container doors difficult to open, and not the nicest to look at from an artistic point of view. But rest assured, you don’t have to use the cargo doors on your shipping container if you don’t want to. Because modular containers are such a versatile framework to work with, it’s easy to cut out parts of the steel walls to make room for new, more eye-catching doors and windows.
If you want to stick to traditional doors you’d see in normal family homes, then they can easily be inserted into the walls of the container. Or go for something different, like glass folding and concertina doors that run along the length of the container to let in the most amount of natural light while making the most out of your space. You can customise the doors of your shipping container to give the right look and feel to your new build as well as providing access to the container itself. Likewise, your choice of windows is certainly not limited for your container mod. From skylights to brighten up the room and reduce the need for electricity, to arched, sash and glass block windows for architectural interest. Whatever type of window you want for your container design, you can do it.
Once the foundational elements of your shipping container conversion are in place, it’ time to get creative. As converting a shipping container is a lot cheaper than creating an equivalent size house from scratch, you’ll have some money spare to really go to town with the interior design elements of your modification. From paints, tiles and wallpapers, to the furnishings, flooring and textiles, materials play a key role here. Stick to the stripped-back, oh-so-cool industrial look with a bold yet simple design, using bare bricks (or the illusion of), metals, clean wood and minimalistic finishes. Go full-on hipster with eclectic patterns, quirky artwork and textured walls. Or take inspiration from Scandi and Nordic design with gentle, playful colours, functional and clean layouts and comforting furnishings and textiles to channel the hygge vibe. Whatever interior design theme you’re into, you can make it happen with your shipping container modification.