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What kind of insulation would you recommend for a 20' shipping container being renovated into a home/studio space?

I'm renovating a 20' shipping container into a home/studio space and am wondering what would be the best "green" insulation to use. I will be doing some interior framing so would like to insulate the inside walls and floor. As well, I am building a green roof/deck that is framed using the structural strength of the container (no weight on the center of the roof) and would like to add insulation between the joist supports and deck floor (approx 3" - 9" above the container roof) and the steel roof. This "deck" area will be waterproof sealed for the green roof so the insulation will be enclosed and not exposed to the elements, but will probably be subject to some moisture.


Asked by Sarah Beckstrom
Posted Sun, 01/19/2014 - 01:54


1 Answer

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Because the steel container is such a good conductor (thermal bridge), 100% of the insulation has to be either on the exterior or the interior of the container. You can't mix and match (with exterior insulation on the roof, for example, and interior insulation on the walls).

Shipping containers have low ceilings, so you don't end up with much room inside if you choose interior insulation. So these containers require exterior insulation (usually rigid foam or spray foam).

Of course, you end up having to build a building around the shipping container to hold the insulation -- which makes the whole idea a little crazy. That's why I don't believe that it makes much sense to live or work in a shipping container.

For more information, see:

Low carbon and low cost?

Can I build a Passivhaus using recycled shipping containers?

Answered by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor
Posted Sun, 01/19/2014 - 10:59

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