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How to Build a Wall Inside a Shipping Container

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

The interior walls of a shipping container need to be perfectly layered and insulated.

The interior walls of a shipping container need to be perfectly layered and insulated.

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?

Three Main Steps

There are three important steps when it comes to building the perfect interior wall in a container home. They are:

  1. Framing
  2. Insulating
  3. Installing Wall Paneling
Welding pieces of metal together

Welding pieces of metal together

Step 1: Frame

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.

Framing Materials

  • 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 metal.

Step 2: Insulate

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.

Insulation Types

  • Fiberglass insulation
  • Polystyrene foam panel insulation
  • Open or closed cell spray
  • Thermal insulation

Fiberglass Insulation

The most common is fiberglass insulation, the reason being that they are of top quality and have a thickness of about 3-1/2 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

Step 3: Install Wall Paneling

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 that is left is the panel, some polishing, and painting.

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

Wall Paneling Options

  • Drywall: This one is more like mud. It has a smooth and nice finishing to it and is best for permanent structures.
  • Sandalwood: Smooth finish with the added advantage or easy portability without damage to the wall.
  • 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


Kim gerard on July 28, 2020:

How do you recommend attachment of

The interior framing to the exterior walls of the container? Construction adhesive? Welding? Thank you

Alexander Okelo (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on August 28, 2019:

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

Jane on August 27, 2019:

Which is better between fiberglass insulation and sprayfoam?

Alexander Okelo (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on July 11, 2019:

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 from USA on July 11, 2019:

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.