DIY Dos and Don’ts For Storage Containers

You want to repurpose a shipping container and turn it into a spacious storage unit on your property. You can use it to store all sorts of belongings, from gardening supplies to seasonal vehicles that you don’t want to leave outside in the elements.

Is putting together this storage container unit a good DIY project? Yes and no. You might be capable of tackling some tasks all on your own, while you should reserve some for seasoned professionals. Find out which tasks you can DIY, and which ones should be left to the experts.

Don’t: Move the Container

When it comes to moving a shipping container, you’ll want to hire professionals to get the job done. You’ll need a professional to pick up the container from the available shipyard, drive it to your location and offload it onto your property. You should even hire a professional to move your container short distances—like across your yard.

Why? A shipping container is not a small vessel. It’s not something that can be pushed by a single person. Find out how much does a shipping container weigh when it’s completely empty of cargo — this information should reveal just how difficult shifting the vessel a few inches can be.

Can’t you use your own vehicle? Like a pickup truck or tractor? These vehicles might not have enough towing capacity to move a shipping container safely to your desired destination. Since a shipping container doesn’t have wheels, these vehicles would force you to drag the container across your property. And if they don’t have enough towing capacity, you could do severe damage to your car. More importantly, you could be putting your health and safety at risk.

You’re better off using a forklift designed to lift and transport this type of vessel. You’ll want to hire a professional that has access to this type of forklift and is certified to use it.

Storage Containers

Do: Insulate the Container with Foam

You don’t want to leave your storage container without insulation, even when you’re just using it for storage purposes.

A shipping container’s natural corrugated steel walls aren’t built with insulation, which means the cargo inside will still be affected by changes in temperature. When the weather is sunny and the temperature is hot, the container will absorb that sunshine and heat up the interior. When the weather outside is freezing, the temperature inside the container will drop, too. Adding a layer of insulation will help you keep the interior temperature moderate, no matter the weather outside.

Insulation can also help control the moisture levels inside your container. Without insulation, your container can develop condensation and become humid, depending on the weather outside. This excess moisture could create mold and mildew, and it could permanently damage the items you’re storing.

You can insulate your storage container by placing foam board insulation along the interior walls. This is a project you can complete on your own.

Don’t: Install Other Types of Insulation

What if you’re interested in using different types of insulation, like spray foam or fiberglass batts? In that case, you should hire professionals to tackle the projects.

Spray foam insulation is difficult to install on your own, especially when you’re covering a large space like the interior of a shipping container.

Fiberglass insulation can be hazardous to your health when it’s not handled correctly. This type of insulation will also require more work. You will need to hire contractors to put up wood framing inside the container first, install the batts, cover them with a vapor barrier, and then add a layer of drywall/paneling over them.

Do: Paint the Container

If you don’t like the container’s original paint job, you can change it. First, you’ll have to pressure wash the exterior of the container to remove any dirt and debris. You’ll want a clean surface to work with. Then, let it dry completely.

On a warm sunny day, you can apply a layer of direct-to-metal (DTM) primer to the container with a pneumatic paint sprayer. Once that’s fully dry, spray on a layer of marine-grade DTM paint. Wait until that’s dried to add the next coat. You shouldn’t need more than 2-3 coats.

As long as you have the right supplies and some patience, you can do this task!

Know what’s safe to DIY and what’s not. You don’t want to assume you can handle a project and get yourself in trouble. Sometimes, you’re better off calling the pros!

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