How to Build a Wall Inside a Shipping Container

Updated on September 27, 2019
Alexander Okelo profile image

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

Building a Wall Inside a Container Home

A revolution came up and welcomed the idea of using shipping containers to build homes and structures. And just like any other house, the shipping container homes have plans that divide up the container into various livable spaces.

Each space will have to be separated by walls. These are not just any walls, like concrete walls in a brick and mortar house, but are walls that are perfectly layered and insulated to provide the same features as any other wall. Want to know how?

Step-by-Step Guidelines

Well, to make things simple, it would be best to divide it into sections. There are three important steps when it comes to building the perfect interior wall in a container home. They include:

  • Framing
  • Installation
  • Wall Paneling

Welding pieces of metal together
Welding pieces of metal together

Framing of the Shipping Container

You will need professionals to do the framing as you will need to consider other factors beyond just placing a coat of paint on the walls. You will have to think about the electrical wiring, the insulation, switches around the house, and outlets.

The process begins by filling in corrugation inserts. This is optional as some prefer to just start with horizontal or vertical framing over the sheets. After that, they use a foam spray to completely cover the corrugated slots of the sheet.

The inserts are like nicely shaped wood segments that will close any air gaps in the container. The bends in and out of containers as seen in a new container can be filled to look like one flat wall or framed without the inserts.

After the inserts are placed, it is now time to place the framing materials. This is where the paneling will be hooked in. At this point, it is important to note that it is completely optional to add frames on the inside to support the wall.

You could work without the frames and continue with the insulation or drilling of the panels directly onto the outer steel material of the container. This may cause you to have more holes than intended hence harder to install secure insulation in the container.

You can frame with three different types of material. They include:

  • Steel Strips
  • Aluminum
  • Wood Posts

All these are under your control. The metal frames add some strength and durability while the wood is easier to work with and goes well with the insulation and wall paneling.

It is just important to take note of the climatic changes in your environment, plus the cost you are willing to cater for as wood may be cheaper to purchase than the metal.

Materials That Can Be Used for Framing

There are three types of materials that you can use for framing, namely:




Framing is best left to professionals, but if you like a challenge in your life, it shouldn't be that hard!

Insulating the Shipping Container

After all the posts have been placed to frame the interior, you move on to insulating the sea container. Unlike framing where it is not mandatory to frame the interior of a shipping container, with insulation, it is of utmost importance for a shipping container home to be properly insulated. This is because you need to be able to control the temperatures in the home in extreme cold or heat.

There are different types of insulation used in shipping containers. They are:

  1. Fiberglass insulation
  2. Polystyrene foam panel insulation
  3. Open or closed cell spray
  4. Thermal insulation

Fiberglass Insulation

The most common is fiberglass insulation. Reason being they are of top quality and have a thickness of about three and a half inches. They also have an insulation value of R-13 which is good. The fiberglass reinforced panels can overlay the structure to allow it to be water resistant.

Polystyrene Foam Insulation

Next in line comes the polystyrene foam insulation. Also very common but has a slightly less insulation value of R-5. The thickness is only one inch. They are easily paneled with plywood.

Closed Cell Foam Insulation

The closed cell spray foam offers the highest insulation value of R-6 per inch. It is set to completely coat the corrugated part of the steel. This may be the best type of insulation as there is no room for moisture condensation unlike for fiberglass and polystyrene.

Thermal Insulation

Thermal insulation is an electrical method of insulation that used machines meant to warm up the room. They also do a good job when it comes to taking care of the climatic changes in the shipping container.

Fiberglass insulation
Fiberglass insulation

You Can Use Four Types of Insulation on Shipping Containers

Four types of insulation that you can use in shipping container homes are:-

* Fiberglass insulation

* Polystyrene foam panel insulation

* Open or closed cell spray

* Thermal insulation

Wall-Paneling Your Shipping Container Home

After all the insulation has been placed, a panel overlay is important to completely cover the wall so that there are no open seams and spaces. All the technical work is over and all is left is the panel, some polishing, and painting.

Now depending on the use of the shipping container, you can choose different paneling options. There is the:

  • Drywall Option

This one is more like mud. It has a smooth and nice finishing to it and best for permanent structures.

Another smooth option is:

  • Sandalwood

Which also has an added advantage or easy portability without damage to the wall.

The other options available for paneling include:

  • Plywood
  • Fiberglass Reinforced Panels
  • Aluminum
  • Steel
  • Perforated Steel Sheets

Aluminum and steel sheets may not need to be insulated where the climate changes may not be as severe. But these wall panels can be used in rooms that are not frequently used—for instance, storage facilities.

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.

© 2019 Alexander Okelo


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    • Alexander Okelo profile imageAUTHOR

      Alexander Okelo 

      10 months ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Hi, Jane. Spray foam is better compared to fiberglass, but a little bit more expensive and requires specialized skill to effectively apply it.

    • profile image


      10 months ago

      Which is better between fiberglass insulation and sprayfoam?

    • Alexander Okelo profile imageAUTHOR

      Alexander Okelo 

      12 months ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Thanks, Martin Visconti for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoyed reading the article. Feel free to go through the other articles on shipping container homes and ask any questions.

    • Martin Visconti profile image

      Martin Visconti 

      12 months ago from USA

      Hi, I have considered this before as a cheap way to build. Never got around to it but it is nice to read these ideas.




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