Homes made from shipping containers are relatively cheaper and faster to build. They’re also eco-friendly, as they’re made from recycled shipping containers. They require fewer standard building materials. However, before they’re livable, there’s the need to insulate your shipping container home.
The reason for this is because of the effect of hot and cold weather on the steel-bodied container. Insulating your container home helps to maintain a comfortable interior temperature. It also prevents mold and corrosion, which is usually caused by condensation due to temperature change.
Table of Contents
- Can You Insulate Your Shipping Container home?
- How Much Does it Cost to Insulate Your Shipping Container Home?
- How to Insulate Your Shipping Container Home
- Other eco-friendly ways to insulate container homes
- Shipping Container Insulation from Best to Worst
- How to stop condensation in a container home
Can You Insulate Your Shipping Container home?
Obviously, Yes! Insulation is crucial in the container home construction process. Insulation is more like a cushion that gives you that comfortable interior. As you think about how to insulate your container home, remember that no option is 100% perfect. Each has its pros and cons. While there may be cheap ways to insulate your container home, it may not use eco-friendly insulation materials.
This post will show you how to insulate your container home. Also, the article will highlight some of the best insulations for container homes. But first, below are some factors to consider before insulating a shipping container:
How Much Does it Cost to Insulate Your Shipping Container Home?
Here, the focus is on shipping container insulation costs. You have the option of choosing whether to hire a contractor or apply the DIY approach. Although you have many options when it comes to insulation materials or contractors the average cost of insulating a single shipping container can range from $1500-$3500. A contractor will get the job professionally done fast and with a warranty. However, doing it yourself will save you some money, but your skillset may limit you.
What’s the climate of your region?
This is more or less the core of the decision to insulate a container home. Wet and dry seasons affect the interior and exterior of container homes differently. Once you determine your area’s climatic condition, you can easily know the best type of insulation material to use.
What’s the purpose of the container home?
This is a useful tip for choosing eco-friendly insulation for container homes. What’s the use of your shipping container? Are you building the shipping container home as a permanent residence? Or you only intend to stay there on vacation? If it’s not a permanent residence, you might want to design the structure with less insulation and HVAC power.
Where would you prefer to place the insulation?
Insulation could be internal or external. If you need more indoor space, you could opt for exterior insulation. If you’re concerned about outdoor aesthetics, go for interior insulation. However, note that both options affect the shipping container insulation cost differently.
The choice of insulation material
The focus here is on the health impact of your choice of insulation material. There’re several eco-friendly ways to insulate your container home. Most people who need environmentally friendly materials seldom opt for green insulation options for container homers. From renewable fibers like cotton to recycled paper insulation materials, you have to decide what suits your purpose and goal.
Other factors to consider are thermal resistance and fire protection capacity, layout and surface area of the container home, and if air infiltrates the interior through cracks.
Average Cost Of Insulating A BAsic Container Home
Averagely, insulating a shipping container costs around $1,681.00 to $2,338.60 for a standard container of 20-foot with an 8-foot ceiling. At the same time, a 40-foot container with a 9-foot high will cost around $2,897.00 to $4,5556.20.
The actual cost will depend on the size and the types of materials you use to insulate the shipping container. It is crucial to choose suitable materials when insulating your shipping container.
How to Insulate Your Shipping Container Home
How you insulate a container home is tied to the type of shipping container insulation material you use. Here are the ten eco-friendly ways to insulate your container home:
1. Strawbale or hempcrete
Though unconventional, insulation materials are cheap, eco-friendly insulation materials that are stacked like blocks. They also have low R-values (thermal resistance values) and are perfect for internal and exterior insulation. Especially where climate and temperature change is moderate.
2. Blanket Insulation
These are thick, fluffy, compressible insulation batts. Just like the blanket used to keep warm during winter. The varieties of blanket insulation include fiberglass, slag wool, mineral wool, rock wool, sheep’s wool, and cotton. Blanket insulation is also cheap and commonly used to insulate container homes in western countries. It requires the material fibers mashed into a small cavity between studs, which is then fastened to structural support on the internal walls.
3. Loose-Fill Insulation
This type of insulation involves filing up the container wall cavity containment with small macroscopic insulation materials. Cellulose, loose-fill fiberglass, vermiculite, and perlite insulation all fall under this category. Typically, the insulation material is blown into the cavity by a machine. However, its vapor permeability quality is the reason it’s not considered the best insulation for container homes.
4. Insulation applied via spray pumps
This is another environmentally friendly insulation for container homes commonly called spray insulation. Here, the insulation material exists as a liquid but solidifies when sprayed on the container. Since the insulation material is sprayed, it seals cracks and nooks while restricting heat transfer. Insulation types under this category include Open-Cell Spray Polyurethane Foam (ocSPF), Closed-Cell Spray Polyurethane Foam (ccSPF), non-expanding sprayed-in insulation, Damp-Spray Cellulose Insulation, and Cementitious Foam Insulation.
5. Expanded Foam Insulation
This is a method to insulate your container home with a self-supporting pre-sized board and panel that have been manufactured offsite. The expanded foam insulation is also DIY-friendly. This means that it’s easy to get them attached to the container wall. Cuts for doors and windows can be easily made onsite. Expanded foam insulation also comes in different forms. They include Open Cell Polyurethane Foam Insulation (oc PU Foam), Closed Cell Polyurethane Foam Insulation (cc PU Foam), Extruded Polystyrene Foam Insulation (EPS), Expanded Polystyrene Foam Insulation (XPS), and Polyisocyanurate (Polyiso).
Other ecofriendly ways to insulate container homes
6. Creating a rooftop garden
Transforming the top of your container home into a living or green roof is another cool way to insulate a container home. Though the soil and grace don’t seem to be perfect insulation materials, they reduce solar radiation to an extent during warm seasons. They also give the container home a cool aesthetic when viewed from the sky.
You can also read up 20 Eco-friendly Container Home Tips for Sustainable Living for more Eco-friendly ways to insulate your container home.
7. Use highly reflective barriers
This approach to insulating container homes involves using radiant barriers designed to tackle radiation by reflecting heat. Also, there are some specially designed coatings that serve this purpose.
8. Design the container home to take advantage of passive heating and cooling
It could be the position or the structural design of the container home. The ultimate goal here is to reduce the energy required to heat or cool your container home. Note that the performance of this approach varies with climate.
9. Cork Insulation
This is another environmentally friendly insulation for container homes that involves using an eco-friendly insulation material that is renewable and biodegradable. Cork also has some acoustic properties, which usually sound like an acoustic buffer between the container walls and home interior.
10. Denim Insulation
Denim is just like wool and other natural insulation materials. Although not renewable, but it has a lesser impact on the environment. This is becoming a more popular insulation material, especially with the fast-fashion lifestyle nowadays.
Shipping Container Insulation from Best to Worst
When you Insulate your shipping container home, be sure to prevent it from overheating or freezing, you have to insulate it with the best insulating material. Below is a rank for shipping container insulation from best to worst;
1. Insulation applied via spray pumps:
This is ranked on the list as the best type of Insulation for shipping containers It is the best because it prevents condensation from forming by creating a semi-permeable wall that foams after the spray is applied.
2. Blanket Insulation:
B. I. comes second on the list because it works well in Insulation for shipping containers. This is easy to use and comes in pre-cut batts that fit perfectly to shipping container walls.
3. Expandable Foam Insulation:
It is similar and serves the same purpose as blanket insulation. The slight difference is that it can expand to fit the surface of the container perfectly.
4. Strawbale or hempcrete:
Hempcrete is considered one of the best eco-friendly insulation materials. It has a low thermal resistance and is recommended for both interior and exterior use.
5. Cork Insulation:
Another good way of insulating your shipping container is cork Insulation. It is eco-friendly and works perfectly as an insulator.
More on Shipping Container Insulation from Best to Worst
6. Reflective barriers:
Highly reflective barriers are placed above the roof surface and work by reflecting the sun’s rays and helps in the easy circulation of air in the house. Recommended for shipping containers in tropical areas.
7. Take advantage of passive heating and cooling:
Design the container home to take advantage of passive heating and cooling is a conventional method of building structures in a way that helps in reducing heat energy.
8. Denim Insulator:
Denim Insulator is also eco-friendly, and it is becoming popular and can be used as an insulator material to a small extent.
9. Rooftop Garden:
Creating a rooftop garden at the top of your shipping container home helps insulate it by keeping the container home cool. It is not the best method because the soil is not a perfect insulating material but only reduces solar radiation to some extent.
10. Loose-Fill Insulation
Loose-fill insulation comes last on the list because the materials used for it, like cellulose, vermiculite are not air-permeable, and thus, it’s not considered the best insulating method.
How to stop condensation in a container home
Condensation in your container home is something you want to avoid. Condensation occurs when the temperature inside your shipping container drops to the dew point of the air outside it.
It is what causes water vapor to condense and forms liquid on the container wall. It is the same thing that occurs when you breathe on a cold mirror or window when it rains.
Without a doubt, we can’t do much to affect the outside air temperature of our container since it is natural. But we can work on the inside of our container home to solve it. Experts recommend that we insulate shipping container homes to make the internal environment suitable to live in.
Below are ways to stop condensation in a container home;
The first thing to look out for when buying a container home is adequate ventilation. It is a way to prevent condensation with no additional cost. A well-ventilated container home balances the inside and outside air of the container.
Negligible difference between the temperature of the interior and exterior is reduced when there is condensation. It works well in some regions with less cold weather.
You might need to use ventilation in combination with another method to stop condensation in a much colder region.
When you insulate a shipping container home, it keeps the inside temperature above the dew. When the temperature is maintained, the inside environment is warm, and thus it prevents condensation.
Always remember to consider your climate when choosing a suitable insulating material. This is because the right material goes a long way while insulating your container home.
Using a dehumidifier is an excellent way to combat serious condensation issues. It is a cost-effective and straightforward way of getting rid of excess moisture in the shipping container home.
It is an electric appliance that works to measure humidity and starts working when the humidity is high. A dehumidifier then collects the moisture and prevents condensation and bacteria or mold from forming in the shipping container.
The use of desiccant is similar to that of a dehumidifier. In other words, it works by absorbing the moisture in the air inside the shipping container. Thus, you can place the desiccant on the wall, floor, or roof of your shipping container.
You can choose any of these ways to stop condensation in your shipping container. Lastly, they are all practical and work well depending on the climatic condition where you place the shipping container.
Summarily, the best insulation for container homes is one that suits your design needs and project budget. In deciding to insulate your container home, you might want to speak with an expert to further guide you aright, rather than doing it yourself.