How Do You Maintain a Container Home?

Maintaining a shipping container home has much to do with first, choosing a container with minimal dents and damage as this can lead to future problems. One must also invest in having a separate roof structure, replacing the floor base, and repainting the container regularly to prevent rust. Regular maintenance includes cleaning off any debris and rust, repainting surfaces, resealing and lubricating openings, and keeping the container safely away from moisture.

Image from A Colorado Firefighter Built His Own Shipping Container Home and Found a New Calling Along the Way – Dwell

If you’re starting out with your container home, we also recommend exploring more foundational tips as well here Lifespan of Container Homes (How to Prolong It!) – prefabie.

Secure its Structural Maintenance

First, you need to secure a good foundation. This is for structural integrity and personal safety. We elaborate more on that here in Why shipping container homes need a foundation – prefabie, but just know that this is a crucial step one!

Next, invest in switching out the floors and getting a separate roof structure. 

Especially after years of service, being tossed around at seaports and heavily stacked, your container’s roof and floor base may have some dents and folds. It’s not to say that you need a flawless container, however, these dents if significant can cause you problems down the road. 

These dents are breaching your structural strength by one, weakening the corten coating, and two, being a potential spot for water to pool and your container to corrode. Both cases will create serious damage to your container that will be harder to fix if left unattended. (1)

Image from You can buy a container home in SA for as little as R100,000 (

First, the roof cannot carry anything on its surface walls as a container’s strength lies in its corners. So if you plan to have a roof garden, roof deck, or solar panels, you’d need to reinforce the roof for it to carry the weight. (2)

Additionally, having a standalone roof to protect your home from the harsh sun and rain will prolong its life. It will also make indoor living conditions more comfortable. Containers are corrugated but flat surfaces. This leads to a lot of debris, water pooling, or snow piles accumulating on top. Having a roof can give you the adequate slope needed for any debris to naturally roll off your roof. (3)

For the roof, have a separate structure built to place above the container’s top face. Make sure the roof will overhang beyond your walls, to also protect the container’s sides from any harsh weather. Protect the container from any moisture by installing gutter systems to safely guide the rainwater a few feet away from your entire structure. (4)

Image from A Colorado Firefighter Built His Own Shipping Container Home and Found a New Calling Along the Way – Dwell

Having siding installed at your home’s base not only gives it more of a traditional home’s look and feel, but it also protects the base from weathering elements. 

Since we lessen our container’s strength with each cut into the metal, try opting for siding that refrains from cuts and holes. Siding that only needs adhesives like vinyl siding and composite wood siding is preferred. You can also use wood siding with mechanical fasteners. (3)

Invest in Quality Materials and Tools

Opt for galvanized steel fasteners when reinforcing your container. During your construction stage, you need quality screws, nails, washers, and bolts to fasten onto your structural components like your beams, columns, and bracing reinforcement for frames. If you skimp on this area of fasteners, these small parts could rust quicker and affect the bigger structures they are attached to.  (4)

A high-quality paint specific for metals is another key factor in good maintenance. Shipping containers are more resistant to rusting but they can still rust. We elaborate on that phenomenon here. However, it is important to note that inspecting your container for rust and repainting your container regularly are both integral to the maintenance of a container home.   (3)

You should also check whether the shipping container was made before 2017. As shipping container homes are a new trend, the paint used for shipping containers prior to 2017 was primarily for transport, being toxic and unsafe for humans. (3)

Regular Inspection and Upkeep

Do note that if you live by the sea, the salty sea air plays a bigger factor in weakening your container. The maintenance of rust inspections and repainting have to be more frequent every year for all coastal homes. (1)

Clean Off all Debris at Least Twice a Year

Even traditional homes need their gutters cleaned out regularly. Homes with solar panels also need regular cleaning to maintain their efficiency in generating power. Leaf and snow piles as well as rain puddles can gather moisture and create significant problems for your container home. 

You may also want to do a check after every big storm, natural disaster or mid-rainy season.

While cleaning, you can also use this time to inspect your container’s roof and ceiling for any leaks, cracks, or patches of rust to anticipate these issues early on. (3)

Image from Eco Shipping Container Home in the Bush – House for Rent in Wattle Bank, Gippsland, VIC, AU | Riparide

Inspect for any Rust or Dirt and Grease it!

You’ll need to schedule a regular inspection of your home. The moment you spot any accumulated dust or a bit of rust, get rid of it immediately to prevent any corrosion. 

Check your hinges, locks, and joints as keeping them clean will ensure they operate smoothly and work well. Cleaning your hinges as well as lubricating your doors, windows, and handles prevents them from getting stuck. (2)

Check All Points of Connection and Joinery

Openings and joinery are always the weak points for any home. Especially with containers, we know the structural strength is lost with each hole cut through. We can’t always avoid not wanting an extra room or window, therefore we must absolutely make sure that all cuts, welds, and openings are properly sealed off from any moisture. (3)

Check any other holes you had to make say for plumbing or electric wires and ensure they’re still protected with an expansive insulated foam spray or the like. (1)

Keep Your Container Safe from All Moisture and Condensation 

A lot of maintenance problems can come from built-up condensation inside the home. This is when moisture is accumulated and forms on your walls or ceiling and can lead to moisture damage.

Despite being made of corten steel, shipping containers are metal nonetheless. Therefore, moisture will always be its number one enemy. Refrain from bringing moist and damp items into your home. Securely close all windows and doors during the wet season or on humid days. Replace your rubber seals and sealants on all openings as needed, since their usual lifespan is about eight to ten years. (2)

Check out our piece on, “How Do You Stop Condensation in your Shipping Container Home” here!

Maintain Peace of Mind

It may seem like a lot to deal with and remember, but good maintenance is a great practice for any type of home’s longevity. Note that these steps are also there to help you avoid bigger problems in the future. 

Also, know that you’re not alone! These home tips are from several container homeowners that want the best for their future community.

Image from Living Big in a Tiny House – Shipping Container Home Designed For Sustainable Family Living


  1. Maintenance on a shipping container | ContainerHomes.Net
  2. Maintenance Tips For Your Container House – Prim Mart
  3. 6 Tips To Help Your Shipping Container Home Last Longer (
  4. Do Shipping Container Homes Rust? | 4 Best Ways to Keep Your Shipping Container Home From Corroding | Container Home Hub