Shipping container homes are economical, as building one involves recycling old shipping containers. The containers used for these unique homes are made from metal, which makes them highly durable and resilient.
With all the metal used, you may wonder, do shipping container homes rust?
Rust is a concern with shipping container homes. Exposure to moisture and oxygen leads to oxidation, which is the breakdown of iron-based metals. Rust can weaken the structure of a shipping container home and lead to additional problems, such as leaks and water damage.
Learn more about the dangers of rust and how to keep your shipping container home from corroding.
What Causes Shipping Container Homes to Rust?
When exposed to water and air, metal rusts. Other than the windows and doors, most of the exterior elements of the shipping container home are made with various types of metal, including steel and aluminum. The frame is also metal.
To build a shipping container home, multiple containers are arranged on a foundation. The containers are made from steel posts and rails and covered in corrugated metal panels.
Builders refurbish the containers, reinforce the posts with additional steel, and add siding and roofing. The siding and roofing are also typically made from metal.
When water hits a metal object, the water combines with carbon dioxide from the air to form carbonic acid. The acid begins dissolving the iron elements in the metal. Oxygen in the air bonds with the dissolved iron to form iron oxide, which is what we call “rust.”
Areas of a shipping container home can become exposed to water in multiple ways. You may live in a region that receives heavy rain accumulation throughout the year. Building in coastal regions may expose your home to salty air, which can increase the risk of corrosion.
What Areas of a Container Home Are Most Prone to Corrosion?
Shipping containers are manufactured to protect against rust and corrosion. Containers may spend months at sea exposed to the elements, including heavy rain and salt from the sea.
To protect against rust, metal shipping containers are coated with a protective layer. The protective paint or acrylic finish prevents moisture from reaching the metal underneath.
The metal siding used for the exterior of your shipping container home will also likely contain a protective layer. However, moisture can still reach other areas of the home, including:
- The base of the container
- Wall cavities and crevices
- Window and door frames
Do shipping container homes rust? When left unchecked, rust can create serious problems for your container home. It can weaken the containers, which increases the risk of structural damage during a storm. Rust may also lead to gaps that allow moisture to reach other areas, causing water damage and leaks inside your home.
Protect the Base of the Containers From Moisture
Homes need gutter systems to divert rainwater away from the foundation. This is especially true for shipping container homes, as the containers may create a slight depression in the foundation. The depression allows water to pool around the base of the containers.
Allowing water to pool around the bottoms of the containers significantly increases the risk of corrosion. After corroding areas along the bottoms of the containers, the water may eventually penetrate the wall cavities.
Make sure that your home has an effective gutter system with downspouts that drain rainwater at least several feet away from the foundation.
Use Galvanized Steel Fasteners for Construction
Fasteners are often used to secure metal beams and other structures used to reinforce the container and create frames for windows and doors. Using low-quality components that rust easily increases the risk of connected parts rusting. Moisture can spread through the wall cavities and into all the crevices.
The fasteners and all other metal components should be made with galvanized steel to protect against corrosion. This includes screws, bolts, nails, and washers.
Protect the Roof Against Condensation
Shipping container homes are often made with metal roofs. You can add a protective coating to protect the roof against condensation, which often leads to corrosion.
Protective layers for roofing material are often made from polyester fibers or plastics. The material creates an extra barrier against moisture to increase the life of your roof.
Add Overhang to Protect Windows and Doors
The areas around the windows and doors are prone to corrosion. Protect your windows and doors by installing overhangs. The overhangs shield the window and door frames from rainfall, which keeps small droplets of water from sitting around the window ledge or bottom of the door.
Conclusion: Do Shipping Container Homes Rust?
Rust is a concern when building a shipping container home, even if you add non-metal elements, such as an asphalt roof and vinyl siding. Moisture may penetrate the containers, which are made from metal. You can protect against rust by adding protective layers, effective gutter systems, and overhangs for doors and windows.
Along with the tips discussed, pay attention to signs of corrosion. Detecting rust early may give you time to solve the problem before it spreads.