Ultimate Guide to Shipping Container Insulation

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Shipping containers can provide versatile and low-cost solutions for storage, working space, temporary accommodation, plant rooms, and many other uses. They are robust, durable, and easily customised for residential, commercial, or industrial use. Despite their flexibility, one of the most challenging aspects of reusing shipping containers is the ability to control the temperature and manage potential condensation issues. Although this may concern anyone considering shipping containers, good insulation can make shipping containers viable for just about any use. Read our article to learn more about shipping container insulation.

What’s On This Page?

  • Shipping Container Insulation Benefits
  • How To Insulate A Shipping Container
  • What Is The Best Shipping Container Insulation
  • Spray Foam for Shipping Container Insulation
  • Shipping Container Insulation Costs

Shipping Container Insulation Benefits

There are many benefits of shipping container insulation, and it’s important to understand why it is necessary if you intend to repurpose a container for other uses. Made from steel, metal is a conductor of heat, and this can cause considerable temperature extremes throughout the year.

During winter, the walls and ceilings of shipping containers become very cold, and surface condensation can form. Conversely, solar gain through the shipping container structure during the summer can make the inside space extremely hot and difficult to utilise. Here, we look at some problems that shipping container insulation can solve.

Reduces Thermal Bridging

When insulation is installed to create a thermal barrier between a heated interior space and a colder exterior environment, heat transfer through walls and ceilings is significantly reduced. To ensure that thermal bridging is reduced, the insulation must be installed onto the surrounding envelope of the walls, ceiling and floor of the shipping container. Although many types of insulation are available, it is important to choose a material that will fit the steel surfaces and follow the corrugated profile for continuous thermal mass. The success of insulation is always down to the type of material used and how it is installed. 

Solves Condensation Problems

Depending on the insulation material used, it will reduce or eliminate surface condensation problems in shipping containers. Pre-manufactured insulation materials are difficult to fit without additional fixtures, and they will not follow the corrugated profile of the ceiling and walls, which means air pockets will remain behind the insulation.

Unless airtight insulation is used, condensation may form in the corrugated pockets. Enverge Nexseal LE Closed Cell spray foam insulation seals and fills every inch of the steel profile to ensure that surface condensation can’t form. As little as 25mm of spray foam will eliminate surface condensation in the long term, thanks to its durability, adhesion to the substrate and thermal performance.

Stabilises Temperature

Shipping containers are renowned for being freezing cold in the winter and stifling hot in the summer. This is because the steel structure is a conductor of heat, therefore exasperating temperature differentials. A robust thermal layer of insulation installed on the ceiling and walls can help reduce temperature differentials within shipping containers to provide a consistent, year-round ambient temperature.

Enverge Nexseal LE Closed Cell spray foam insulation is the most effective solution to guarantee strong thermal performance thanks to its natural airtightness. Around 50mm will help control the temperature, while thicker layers may be required when converting a shipping container into modular homes, site welfare offices, or plant rooms.

Improves Energy Efficiency

Whenever a heat source is used within a shipping container, it will easily escape through the walls and ceiling. During the winter, this can cause surface condensation, which costs significantly more to maintain a constant temperature.

By insulating the ceiling, walls and floor of a shipping container, the structure’s envelope can be well sealed, which reduces thermal transmittance through the steel substrates. In summer, air conditioning and cooling systems can be turned down as the insulation will work to keep solar gain out, making the internal area cool and comfortable. Choosing the right insulation material will be crucial to the thermal performance of the shipping container.

How To Insulate A Shipping Container

It is essential to insulate the ceiling and walls of a shipping container to ensure that the structure’s envelope is well sealed from heat loss and solar gain. Depending on the end use for the shipping container, pre-manufactured insulation will usually require some form of fixing, framework or covering to hold it into place, whereas spray foam insulation bonds directly to the steel substrate for seamless, monolithic and airtight thermal performance.

If the shipping container is converted into modular accommodation or site welfare offices, it is usually best to frame the walls and ceilings using metal or timber stud work. This should be set approximately 25mm off the surface so that insulation can be installed behind and between the stud work to reduce thermal bridging.

Spray foam insulation is the best way to insulate behind stud work as it expands and fills every crevice to provide a consistent thermal barrier.

What Is The Best Shipping Container Insulation?

Many pre-manufactured insulation methods, such as mineral wool or PIR board, are difficult to make airtight and require additional fixings to hold them into place. The air gaps make temperature and air movement harder to regulate, reducing the insulation’s effectiveness.

If you are looking for a solution to condensation problems, you may have encountered other paint-based coatings. However, these lack thermal mass and do not guarantee the stopping of surface condensation. Spray foam insulation has a thermal mass and bonds to the steel substrate with strong adhesion to ensure durability and performance.

Enverge Nexseal LE Closed Cell spray foam insulation is applied to the substrate as a viscous liquid before expanding by up to 50 times its original size, which helps to fill awkward or harder-to-reach areas of the shipping container.

It’s so effective that it can reduce energy savings by up to 50% compared to other insulation products. Hence, it’s not only the most versatile choice but also the most economical choice, proving the best long-term financial investment.

Spray Foam For Shipping Container Insulation

Spray foam is installed by ThermoFoam-approved professional installers who have the necessary machinery to turn the raw chemical into insulation. You may have come across DIY spray foam kits, which can be bought off the shelf. However, these are not easy to self-apply, and there are many processing variables that determine the success of an installation.

Additionally, the DIY spray foam kits can be more expensive, especially when insulating more than 30 square metres of surface area at more than 25mm thick.

Our experienced installers provide a professional and compliant service that meets your requirements. Whether you need to insulate a storage container or you are converting it into a modular building or home, the ThermoFoam technical team provide project specifications to ensure the result offers long-term durability and thermal performance.

Based on all surfaces being treated, up to 5 shipping containers can be insulated in a single day, which helps speed up the project timeline and return them to use in hours.

Considering its ability to bond to the substrate and follow the corrugated profile, no other insulation material can achieve the same performance and durability as spray foam insulation. Enverge Nexseal LE Closed Cell is one of the UK’s leading spray foam insulation materials.

The high-density finish ensures that the insulation won’t become damaged easily, which means it doesn’t require covering over in many circumstances. Additionally, there is no risk of future degradation or reduction in performance, and it should last the structure’s life.

Shipping Container Insulation Costs

The costs for shipping container insulation vary depending on the material and contractors you use. The cheapest way to insulate a shipping container may not be the best or safest, and pre-manufactured insulation materials often require future top-ups or remedial repairs to maintain their effectiveness. The cost to insulate will depend on the dimensions of your shipping container, the surface area to insulate, and the thickness to be applied, especially if you have customised the structure.

Spray foam insulation is a highly cost-effective option, particularly for larger surface areas, and you can expect to pay around £15 per square metre for anti-condensation treatments and up to £50 per square metre if you are converting the shipping container into living accommodation where Building Regulations need to be reached.

When it comes to shipping container insulation, the old saying “never throw good money after bad” springs to mind. We are approached by many customers who have attempted DIY insulation projects using inferior materials, only to see them fail and cause problems. By choosing spray foam insulation from the start, you may pay a little more upfront but will surely enjoy a lifetime of thermal comfort and performance. Thanks to its tried and tested performance, Enverge Nexseal LE Closed Cell spray foam insulation has become the number one choice for those looking into insulation treatments for shipping containers.

You can enquire with us for shipping container insulation by visiting our page: www.thermofoam.co.uk/all-services/shipping-container-insulation

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