Keep Out The Cold (Or Heat) By Insulating Your Container Building
If you are to spend any time in your container building as an office or living space you should always consider insulating the shipping container or containers. This can be done in a number of ways depending on your requirements for the container building and what kind of climate it will be situated in.
4 good reasons to insulate your container build
Firstly, sounds echo in a metal box and insulation will deaden the acoustic problems that could drive the occupant crazy otherwise! At the very least you should have a layer of insulation to reduce the noise problems.
In an area with a hot climate, like Australia, you should definitely consider insulating your shipping container construction. Water vapour in the air condenses on contact with surfaces, and unless you have a layer of insulation in the building this could lead to corrosion of the container and shorten its usable life. Insulation will also slow the warming and cooling process during the day, so for the building to be more comfortable it makes sense to insulate.
The third reason is the reason everyone thinks of for insulation – in cold and temperate climates! With insulation the building will lose less heat and reduce your energy bills in keeping it warm.
Finally, local planning regulations for any permanent building will often require a certain level of insulation. You should always check on these as part of your own planning as you may not be able to go ahead with your build if you do not comply with their regulations.
So, you’ve decided to insulate your container building. One of the things that makes people think twice about insulating is that it can take up space within the building as you pad the inside by up to 6 cms on the roof and sides. So why not insulate from the outside? Utilising the space outside does not reduce your internal living volume.
There are two ways of insulating the building from the outside:
- Natural materials, or
- Spray on foam.
Both of these have close contact with the container and as a result will keep water away from the metal and help prolong its life.
1. Natural materials such as using strawbales over the shipping containers, with a mud/plaster/stucco layer over that to give you a double insulation layer. This is a good solution for hotter climes such as Australia as this method will keep the inside of the container cool even in desert-like temperatures.
2. Spray on foam is considered one of the better insulators but the best stuff for insulation is very poisonous to the environment. Many contain HCFC’s, that are held responsible for the hole in the Ozone Layer over Australia. However, the more expensive expanding polyurethane spray on foam has a high insulating value, and for a relatively thin layer can keep the building warm and dry inside. A number of companies have developed spray on insulation that dispenses with the nastiest of chemicals and use things like shredded newspaper as the main insulating substance, so if you want to avoid planet harming materials then have a look around and see what there is out there!
Traditionally people insulate the building on the inside. A video of how to do this can be seen below this section. It involves making stud walls and insulating the gaps between the studs. Condensation is an issue, so you should consult an expert about how to insulate the building properly using traditional insulation.
There are ‘green’ alternatives to the glass fibre blankets that are mainly used today as well. Sheep’s wool and recycled cotton are used a lot for this type of insulation, which are very sustainable and effective means of keeping your building warm.
Again, do consider spray on insulation for your container building on the inside. Typically the best spray on insulation can only be 2.5 cms thick with the same insulation properties as the fibreglass, wool or cotton blanket insulation options described above.
Need help in deciding?
Gateway Container Sales sells pre-insulated containers that save you the hassle of insulating them yourself. We can supply 20ft or 40ft ‘reefer’ containers that are designed to control the temperature of the goods they carry across the ocean, as well as standard 20ft or 40ft containers that have been retrofitted with insulation. Contact us for a quote on your requirements.