Shipping Container Insulation

Why Insulate A Shipping Container?

Over the last 15 years, the use cases for shipping containers have increased significantly – no longer are they simply used for transporting goods. Think about self-store facilities, plant rooms and even family homes! Shipping containers are a versatile option when you need to create fast space within a stable structure. When left uninsulated, the freezing cold metal surface will undoubtedly condensate during the winter whilst in summer months, the conduction of the metal will create an internal oven. In most use cases, shipping containers should be insulated to help eliminate the seasonal temperature extremes and provide an ambient and dry internal space.

Shipping Container Condensation

Condensation is a common problem in shipping containers during autumn and winter months. The smallest of temperature differential between the internal and external surface will cause the inside of the metal ceilings to condensate. It’s the resulting surface condensation that can drip onto belongings, plant, machinery and people which can make the sustainability of a shipping container, difficult.

The metal surface acts as a conductor of heat which means it will rapidly transmit the cold external temperature to the interior surface. If the internal air temperature within the container is higher than the surface temperature, this is when surface condensation will form. Opening the doors and allowing ventilation may solve the issue but as a long term solution, this is likely to be unviable.

How To Insulate A Shipping Container

The waves, corrugated surface of a shipping container will make it impossible to provide a seamless thermal layer to all surfaces. Pre-manufactured insulation requires fixing into place and this may require consideration of an internal stud frame or attaching fixings to the container surface itself. With the internal space of shipping containers quite limited, it’s important to choose an insulation material that achieves the best performance per inch. Even when pre-manufactured insulation materials like fibre-batts or PIR board are installed, there is no guarantee that surface condensation can be eliminated whilst the corrugated metal pockets remain behind the insulation.

Why Choose Spray Foam Insulation?

ThermoFoam Nexseal is a closed cell insulation material that offers an exceptionally strong bond to the surface when applied to metal, timber and other substrates. The closed cell foam is spray-applied to the metal surface of shipping containers, following the corrugated undulations to provide seamless, monolithic and airtight insulation. It can be applied in as little as 10-15mm of thickness which would generally be enough to eliminate surface condensation. 50-100mm is needed when better thermal performance is required.

If converting into use as a dwelling, shipping containers still need to meet modern Building Regulations, therefore, the type and thickness of insulation chosen is vital. Spray foam insulation doesn’t require any provision for ventilation gaps and can be applied directly to the surface, therefore saving space. The thermal conductivity (lambda) value of closed cell spray foam insulation is also very low, making it one of the most effective insulation materials per inch. Throw in the speed of install, the lack of requirement for mechanical fixings and the durability of the foam, spray foam should be considered your number one choice for insulating a shipping container.