Shipping container cladding – is it necessary?

Shipping containers are built to withstand being hurtled around the seven seas, constantly exposed to the elements. As purely functional capsules made out of reinforced steel, they might not be the prettiest of objects (though certain designers and architects may disagree). Sometimes, the corrugated metal shell of a shipping container simply doesn’t fit the aesthetic of a space. Regardless of whether it’s being used as a school classroom, mobile cafe, or construction storage space, there are ways to make your new shipping containers ‘blend in’. One of these is to add cladding. In this post we’ll look at what cladding is, what different types are available, and how to fit it. nn n

What is shipping container cladding? 

n nnQuite simply, it’s a layer of material added to the external surface of your shipping container. Whilst it can act as added insulation (saving you room on the inside of the container), its use is mainly aesthetic. Given that shipping containers can be used for a range of different purposes, from simple storage units to the most ambitious Grand Designs, they need to be fully customisable; cladding allows this, providing an almost unlimited selection of design options. nn n

Shipping container cladding ideas 

n nnIn many ways, shipping containers are a designer’s dream. They can be gutted, chopped, and changed in an infinite number of ways to produce something entirely original. Cladding is merely the icing on the cake, adding that final unique touch to the design. And there are many, many options to choose from. Here are some of the most common (and a few not so common, that we just like): nn n


  • Timber cladding – One of the most popular cladding choices, timber gives a clean and tidy appearance to your shipping container. When fully-waterproofed, it can also help to keep out the wind and rain. 
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  • Brick Slips – Covered in thin strips of brick, a shipping container looks just like a regular building. 
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  • Brushed Steel – For a more modern look, you might want to consider sheets of brushed steel. 
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How to clad a shipping container 

n nnExactly how you clad a shipping container depends on what material you’d like to use. Regardless of whether you opt for timber or brick, however, the first steps are nearly always the same: nn n


  1. Measure – Take measurements of your shipping container, making sure to take account of any opening you might have (doors, windows etc.). 
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  3. Weld brackets – Weld strong steel angle brackets to the exterior of the shipping container, at least 600mm apart in width, and equally spaced between the top and bottom edges of the container. 
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  5. Fix timber studs – Install standard timber 2x2s in the troughs of the corrugated steel surface, attaching them to the welded brackets with timber studs. 
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nOnce you’ve followed these steps, you should have a uniform, sturdy exterior surface to attach your chosen cladding to. nnShipping containers can be both functional and design-friendly. With the addition of cladding, they can slot into almost any context – whether that be a school field or an award-winning housing project. Having read our short guide to shipping container cladding, we hope you’ll be better equipped to kit out your container. nn nnIf you’re looking to rent or buy a shipping container, then get in touch with UnitHire. We have a range of new and used shipping containers of different sizes to suit every purpose. nn 

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