aerial photo of cargo crates
Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

A Comprehensive Guide to Material Selection for Container Home Building

Hey there, container home enthusiasts! I’m Emily Owens, your go-to source for all things container homes, and today, we’re diving deep into the nitty-gritty world of material selection for your dream container abode. Building a home from shipping containers is not just a trend; it’s a sustainable, cost-effective, and innovative way to create your unique living space. But before you roll up your sleeves and get to work, you’ll need to make some crucial decisions about the materials you’ll use. Don’t worry, I’ve got your back.

The Foundation of Your Dream Home: Choosing the Right Container

The star of the show, of course, is the shipping container itself. These sturdy steel boxes have traveled the world, braving storms and rough seas, and they’re the backbone of your container home. But not all containers are created equal.

Standard or High Cube?

First things first, you need to decide between a standard container and a high cube container. Standard containers are 8 feet tall, while high cube containers give you an extra foot of height, making them perfect for those lofty ceiling designs or to accommodate taller furniture.

New or Used?

Next, consider whether you want a new or used container. New containers are a bit more expensive but come with the advantage of being corrosion-free and in pristine condition. Used containers, on the other hand, can be a budget-friendly option, but they may require some repairs and rust treatment. It’s all about finding the right balance between your budget and your vision.

Size Matters

Container homes come in various sizes, from a single container studio to sprawling multi-container mansions. Think about your needs, the available space on your plot, and, of course, your budget when choosing the number and size of containers to use.

Insulation: Keeping the Comfort In

Now that you’ve got your containers sorted out, it’s time to think about insulation. Container homes can get pretty toasty in the summer and chilly in the winter without proper insulation.

Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam insulation is a popular choice among container home builders. It provides excellent thermal performance, seals gaps effectively, and can be applied both on the interior and exterior of the container walls. While it’s a bit pricier than other options, it’s well worth the investment for the energy savings it offers.

Fiberglass Batt Insulation

house, door, handle

Fiberglass batt insulation is another option, known for its affordability. It’s relatively easy to install and can help regulate the temperature inside your container. However, it’s crucial to ensure a proper vapor barrier to prevent moisture issues.

Rigid Foam Insulation

Rigid foam insulation panels are lightweight and easy to work with. They offer good thermal resistance and can be installed both inside and outside the container walls. Just make sure to choose the right thickness for your climate and heating/cooling needs.

Roofing and Flooring: Overhead and Underfoot

Now, let’s shift our focus to the roof and flooring of your container home.

Roofing Options

When it comes to roofing, you have several choices. Traditional shingles, metal roofing, or even a “green” roof with plants can be excellent options. Your choice will depend on your budget, climate, and personal aesthetics.

Flooring Materials

For flooring, consider materials like hardwood, laminate, or even polished concrete. The key is durability and aesthetics. Remember that you’ll want something that not only looks good but can withstand the test of time.

Windows and Doors: Welcoming the Outdoors In

Windows and doors are your connections to the outside world. They allow natural light to flood your space and provide essential ventilation.


Opt for energy-efficient windows to help with insulation and reduce heating and cooling costs. Large, strategically placed windows can also provide breathtaking views and enhance the feeling of spaciousness.


Container homes often feature sliding glass doors or industrial-style roll-up doors for a unique touch. Make sure they’re well-sealed to maintain your insulation.

Siding and Exterior Finishes: The Facade That Wows

The exterior finish of your container home is what everyone will see. It’s your chance to make a statement and showcase your personality.

Metal Siding

Metal siding can maintain that classic industrial look, and it’s durable and low-maintenance. You can choose from various colors and finishes to suit your style.

Wood Siding

Wood siding gives your container home a warm and natural feel. It’s a versatile option that can be stained or painted to match your preferences.

Cement Board

Cement board siding is an excellent choice for a modern and minimalist look. It’s highly durable and resistant to pests and rot.

Plumbing and Electrical: The Inner Workings

Now, let’s delve into the inner workings of your container home – the plumbing and electrical systems.


plumber, handyman, repair

Plumbing can be a bit trickier in container homes, as you’ll need to plan for waste disposal and water supply. Consider composting toilets and rainwater harvesting systems to make your home more sustainable.


Ensure that your container home has a well-designed electrical system with sufficient outlets and lighting. Solar panels can be a fantastic addition to your energy-efficient setup, allowing you to harness the power of the sun.

Interior Finishes: Making It Yours

Last but not least, it’s time to put the finishing touches on your container home’s interior.

Paint and Wall Coverings

Choose colors and textures that reflect your personal style. Bright, neutral colors can make your space feel open and inviting, while unique wall coverings can add character.

Cabinetry and Fixtures

Invest in quality cabinetry and fixtures that not only look good but also function well. Consider sustainable materials and finishes for an eco-friendly touch.

Furniture and Decor

Don’t forget about furniture and decor. Pick pieces that complement your overall design and provide comfort and functionality.

Wrapping It Up

Building a container home is an exciting journey, and choosing the right materials is a critical part of the process. From the containers themselves to insulation, roofing, and everything in between, your choices will shape the look, feel, and efficiency of your dream home.

Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Your material selections should align with your budget, climate, and personal preferences. So, take your time, do your research, and create a container home that’s uniquely yours.

Happy building, container home enthusiasts! And remember, when in doubt, add a touch of humor and creativity – after all, it’s your home, and it should reflect your personality every step of the way. Cheers to a sustainable and stylish future in your container haven!

Emily Owens is a visionary in the world of architecture and sustainable living, known for her pioneering work in transforming shipping containers into innovative and eco-friendly homes. Born with a deep passion for design and a commitment to environmental sustainability, Emily's journey into the world of container homes has been nothing short of remarkable. Early Life and Education: Emily Owens was born in a small coastal town, where she developed an early appreciation for the beauty of nature and a desire to protect it. Her fascination with architecture and design began at a young age when she would spend hours sketching out creative home concepts on scraps of paper. It was clear from the start that Emily had a unique talent and a clear vision for the future of housing. Emily pursued her academic journey with dedication and purpose. She earned a Bachelor's degree in Architecture from a prestigious university, where she honed her design skills and gained a deep understanding of sustainable building practices. During her studies, she became increasingly drawn to alternative housing solutions that could minimize the environmental impact of construction while providing comfortable and affordable living spaces for people. Container Homes Revolution: After completing her formal education, Emily Owens embarked on a mission to revolutionize the housing industry. She was inspired by the potential of repurposing shipping containers as the building blocks for her sustainable creations. Emily recognized that these steel structures, often discarded and forgotten, could be transformed into functional and aesthetically pleasing homes. Emily founded her own architectural firm, "Owens Container Homes," where she assembled a team of like-minded individuals who shared her passion for sustainability and innovative design. Together, they began designing and building container homes that not only pushed the boundaries of creativity but also set new standards for eco-friendly living. Innovation and Impact: Over the years, Emily Owens and her team have created a diverse portfolio of container homes, each a testament to her dedication to sustainability and her commitment to excellence in design. Her work has received widespread recognition and numerous awards, solidifying her position as a pioneer in the field of container home architecture. Beyond her innovative designs, Emily has been a tireless advocate for environmentally conscious living. She has participated in conferences, given TED talks, and written extensively on the benefits of container homes, emphasizing their efficiency, affordability, and minimal environmental footprint. Legacy and Future: Today, Emily Owens continues to push the boundaries of container home design and sustainable living. Her vision extends beyond just architecture; it encompasses a future where people prioritize eco-friendly choices in all aspects of their lives. She remains dedicated to inspiring others to embrace sustainable living and to see the potential in reimagining the spaces we inhabit. Emily Owens, the woman who turned containers into homes, stands as a beacon of innovation and sustainability. Her legacy is a testament to the power of passion, vision, and determination to make the world a better place—one container at a time.