Shipping containers are designed to transport goods in various climates, and the steel of their walls conducts thermal energy. This makes insulation important to prevent your container from baking in the sun or freezing in the winter. Thankfully, there are plenty of insulation materials available to help you turn your shipping container into an eco-friendly home.
Shipping container insulation works by trapping air or other gases inside a complex matrix of tiny cells or passages. This limits the role convection plays within the gas and significantly improves its insulating properties. There are many different types of shipping container insulation, and the right one for you depends on what you plan to use your container for and where it will be stored.
For example, Styrofoam is the most inexpensive shipping container insulation, but it has a low R-value (it stops heat from passing through the wall). On the other hand, extruded polystyrene foam insulation—which is what you’ll find in the insulation kits sold by companies like InSoFast—has a higher R-value but requires more framing to install.
Another common choice is spray foam insulation, which is sprayed directly onto interior surfaces and then hardens to form a protective, water-resistant covering. While not aesthetically pleasing, it’s also very affordable and quick to install.
Some people opt for exterior insulation instead, relying on weather-resistant sheathing to protect their shipping container from the elements. This can be a smart option for containers in wet climates, as it reduces condensation and moisture that would otherwise corrode the metal.