Best Spray Paint for a Shipping Container

Updated on January 8, 2020
Alexander Okelo profile image

Alexander is a professional engineer who specializes in the construction of affordable houses and structures using recycled materials.


All too often, we spend most of our time planning on the costs and planning of how the shipping container will be modified. We check on the foundation, the insulation, the aeration, and even the surfacing. But we're not keen on the paint we use for the home.

For container homes, we have to imagine how this will be someone's habitat for as long as they choose to live there. Hence, it has to be safe from chemicals and should also feature other great elements that not only enhance the look but the purpose.

If you want to know what is the best spray paint for your shipping container home, you are in the right place. Below is an in-depth article that shall take you through all you need to know about paints available for your home.

Available Spray Paints in the Market

-Water-Borne Paint

-Alkyd Enamel Paint

-Acrylic Paint

-Polyurethane Paint

-Rust Primer

Types of Spray Paint Available

Seeing that there is a variety of spray paint, here are some of the common types available in the market. The types will feature the benefits as well as other features exhibited by the spray paint.

1. Water-Borne Paint

This is the type of paint that works well in a wet environment. It's water-based and becomes water-resistant once dry. Waterborne paint has resins and pigments in the paint that allow them to disperse once they are in contact with water.

Under extreme temperatures like summer, the water in the paint easily evaporates allowing the paint to dry and stay dry. For these water-based paints, they can be used to apply other areas besides the wall including the floor and ceiling. Just as long as they read Epoxy.

That is to mean that the paint has a hardened surface or layer which adds a solid coating to the surface. Something similar to a protective layer. Other water-soluble paints include acrylic paint. They are water-resistant and maintain color stability even in extreme weather conditions.

This type of paint is best to use as a topcoat or the outermost layer for your shipping container home because of its protective nature, and ability to resist temperatures. It's sturdy and durable in use.

So now you have an understanding of what the waterborne paint is and how it works. Why do you need all that information? Well, being water-based is not only about the appearance it gives, but it's also about what they offer chemically.

Being water-based, they tend to release less harmful emissions to the air than oil-based spray paints. This is because the toxic gases, or rather toxins, tend to dissolve in the water about 60% of it. This, therefore, leaves less harmful chemicals to be polluted in the air.

Waterborne painting systems have the least percentage of VOC emissions compared to any other paint. The volatile organic compounds will have reduced by the time water completely evaporated to form the solid coating.

Common Characteristics of Water-Based Paint

Let's take a look at some of the great features this paint has to make it one of the best spray paints.

  • They are environmentally friendly - most states will highly regulate paint and chemical products with high VOC levels. With the water-based paint, it is improbable to have them regulated.
  • They're readily available since they are approved under state regulations. The faster you acquire, the better for your container home project.
  • They are better in terms of rust prevention and protection. Their quality surpasses that of oil-based paint products.
  • The color on the paint is richer and durable.
  • In case you need to redo the paint, the process will be cut down as it's very clear hence doesn't need to be scraped or sand down.
  • Its performance is highly effective and efficient for all your container works.

In summary, you can conclude that water-based paints offer the best protection in terms of chemical hazards. Less volatile compounds will pollute the environment hence safe and secure for your shipping container home. Their overall appearance is clear and strong providing a beautiful outlook of the surface.

But if you want other varieties, there are several other options to choose from including ones suited for industrial purposes.

2. Alkyd Enamel Paint

This is an industrial-grade paint that has a great durability standard. For over 5 to 10 years, you can be assured of a hard, polished finish. They don't feature all the characteristics as with the water-based, but they are easy to spray on.

They are also cost-effective in that you don't require to spend much on your project to have this paint used. It can be a great choice for huge projects.

3. Acrylic Paint

Next up is the acrylic paint. As mentioned above, it is water-soluble hence a great choice in the paint. The colors are fantastic with a variety of hues to choose from. Also by nature of being waterborne, you are assured of a rich appearance of the shipping container.

The other amazing feature of this paint is that it works best for artistic or mural painting. The precision provides in the painting makes it the best spray paint for a colorful project. Even being easy to apply, they may not have the same longevity as the industrial enamel paint.

4. Polyurethane Paint

Similar to the industrial-grade enamel coating is this. The polyurethane paint has one of the longest lifespans among the paints available in the market. They are heavily used for industrial purposes because it aids save in maintenance costs on repainting.

This type of paint, however, is hazardous to the environment due to the chemicals used to manufacture the product. Because of that, it is crucial to consult a professional before moving ahead with its application.

5. Rust Primer

You could get specific spray paint to cater to specific issues on your shipping container. For example, the rust primer is a type of paint that is sprayed over a rusted area to prevent further spreading of the rust.

Think of it as a base coat when you're applying nail polish. It will smoothen out the area before you can actually start to paint over it. The rust primer secures a rusted area leaving a clear surface for your next painting.

There is a rust treatment known as POR-15 that adds a rust preventive coat on the surface. The coating will dry to a solid rock state that's incapable of peeling, cracking, or chipping. The best part is that it is long-lasting and withstands the wear and tear of regular activities.

Chemically speaking, it's safe to use even to the environment. The sturdy coating will keep moisture away for the metal hence preventing rust from forming further in the container. Plus, because it only acts as a base coat, additional paint can be added at the top of it.

Ceramic Paint Insulation

Let's move to another section on insulation. Shipping container homes need some form of insulation to keep the temperatures at bay under extreme weather conditions. As the insulation is placed, there will be painting added to level out the outlook of the interior. Here's where the ceramic paint will come in.

There are specific painting systems that actually provide the insulation needed to keep the shipping container warm or cool depending on the conditions. So instead of investing in other insulation techniques, you can invest in the best paint insulation.

The ceramic paint insulation is said to have the features of three heat transfer modules; radiation, convection, and conduction. This, therefore, makes it the perfect paint to use if you want to have that perfect homely feeling without the extra costs of insulated walls, roofs, and exteriors.

The ceramic insulation introduced by NASA has not been entirely proven to provide this accurate feature but it is said to be energy efficient, and have the capability to reflect away excess heat. One disadvantage as seen from a study is that with this type of paint, it will slowly fade and offer less and fewer benefits since the more heat or reflects, the less likely it is to maintain its sturdiness.

Features of Insulated Paint

  • Cost-efficient - many people will opt to have a double edge sword rather than a butcher's knife. This is to mean, if the paint can act as an insulator and can also be used to improve the exterior appearance of a shipping container home, then why not. It will save on money as well as the time used to complete the project.
  • The coating will have an anti-corrosion feature to keep rust from forming on the metal. The paint is said to bond with the surface whether it is rusted or not, to provide a stronger and more protective layer to the container.
  • They have the ability to reflect and block excess heat, keeping the surface coal all the time.
  • The paint can act as a top or bottom coat. As the outer coating, the can add a tint while maintaining the richness of the colors. Furthermore, the impact of resistance is very outstanding.

Insulating paint is also one of the best spray paints to use with shipping container homes because of all the amazing features it has to offer. Below we shall look at the spray paints you can use specifically for your shipping container.

Features of Insulated Paint

● Cost-efficient.

● The coating will have anti-corrosion features.

● They have the ability to reflect and block excess heat, keeping the surface coal all the time.

● The paint can act as a top or bottom coat.

Examples of Spray Paint

Rust Grip

This is a rust primer applied directly over a rusted surface or above a previously painted surface. The paint is versatile in that you can use over any of your surfaces without the use of sandblasting.

It has a strength of over 6,000 psi once the paint is dry that's almost two times harder than concrete, which exhibits the strength of just 3,200 psi. One of the best things is that it can work for a shipping container house -- or even cars and trucks -- located in dry or coastal environments. Either way, it remains strong and durable.

For this paint, I would recommend the Corroseal Water-Based Rust Converter Metal Primer, which is waterbased and does not require a lot of surface preparation before applying. You can easily order it from Amazon or a local dealer.

There are of course other primers that you can use, but most of the primers in the market require surface preparation, and/or post-treatment cleaning.

Enamo Grip

For an enamel finished especially for the countertops, the enamo grip can be a good choice. It's made of polyurethane paint to give it a solid yet shiny finish. It's a very high-quality architectural grade paint with excellent water retention, shiny gloss, and can resist the rays from ultraviolet light.

The paint is more of a middle coat which can be tinted or left alone as it is, in your preferred color. The paint is quite thick during actual spraying, hence can be used in leveling the surface. Its strength is also strong enough to resist scratches, chalking, and scuffing.

Super Therm

Finally, the insulating paint that offers cost-effective solutions for your shipping container, the super therm. Not only can it insulate your space, but it can play a huge decorative role. The paint is manufactured by four stellar ceramic compounds, which together combine to offer a reflective layer.

The coating can block out over ten mils of heat, that's (1/100 inch) thick. It is also water-borne hence has the least amount of volatile organic compound. It can resist water damage, growth of mildew, and even fire. It's an all-round solution to tour painting needs.

Happy painting
Happy painting

Final Thoughts

Having read the above text, you now have a broad aspect of what is the best spray paint. The article features the best types available, stating their best and work features of each of them. Depending on your shipping container needs, you have a variety to select from.

As a parting shot, many people search for something with high-quality features, that also maintain longevity preserving its state. From the text, you can see that the best spray paint is the water-soluble type that's not only environmentally friendly but can also be used in various other ways.

Plus, if you're using the paint as an insulator, it's also advisable to have it water-soluble. This is so it can effectively protect the coating from extreme wet conditions.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Alexander Okelo


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