How to prep a shipping container for cladding
Why add cladding to a shipping container?
Shipping containers’ sides and roofs are made from corrugated steel and so while they are perfectly suited to their life at sea and as part of the structural integrity of the shipping container itself, they have a number of drawbacks when being reused.
With a large surface area they get very cold in the winter and hot in the summer. They create very unusual and sometimes unpleasant acoustics both inside and nearby them, making them unsuitable quiet work spaces inside and at events. But perhaps most simply and importantly, they are not to everyone's taste cosmetically; at worst they will be patched in rust and flaking paint, and at best painted in drab industrial colours perhaps with the logo of a shipping container company down one side. For any or all of these reasons, you might want to clad your container.
How to add cladding to a shipping container
Shipping container cladding could be any number of materials, from high tech composite sheet material to strips of tree bark. Whatever material you choose to cover your shipping container with is not going to attach to the container directly; you will first need to build a frame on the sides of the shipping container and add strips of material such as timber batten at regular intervals for you to attach your cladding to. Most tutorials online will suggest welding strong angle brackets to the exterior of the container for timber battens to attach to, or even gluing timber battens directly to the walls in order to create this frame and structure. Both of these methods involve messy and damaging processes for the container. So let's look at three techniques for creating a frame for fixing cladding to using Domino Clamps, so that the container remains undamaged and the cladding can be removed and reused and perhaps even reattached elsewhere.
Without a doubt the most popular frame material for cladding shipping containers seems to be timber. We provide two simple ways to attach wood and timber to a shipping container.
The first is simply to refer to the hole spacing diagram in the technical specifications in our downloads page and simply drill 12mm or 13mm holes through your large structural vertical or cross beam timbers and bolt them directly to the Domino Clamps.
The second option is to use our plywood bolt on adapters. These little CNC-cut 30mm thick plywood adapters are pre-drilled specifically for Domino Clamps, so all you need to do is to bolt them to your Domino Clamps and then screw your timber frame to them with normal wood screws.
You could also create a sub frame for your cladding using box section steel. The best start for this would be to get a horizontal section of 6m steel running the length of the container from one top corner to the other. This will need some careful marking up of your steel sections so that you can drill holes at the right distance apart so that the holes for bolting the steel to the Domino Clamps are in exactly the right place.
Find out how to make your own angle iron brackets, for Domino Clamps, which will make this option a lot easier.
Pre-drilled steel channel systems like unistrut could also be used to make a clever and relatively lightweight frame, using little more than a metal chop saw and some hand tools. Unistrut’s P1000T channel has slots in the back which would allow you to bolt the product directly to the Domino Clamp, and come up with whatever design of subframe you might need for your particular cladding choice using their wide variety of joiners and accessories. You could then use their sprung channel nuts to bolt your cladding or facia onto the unistrut.
We aim to put together a more detailed How-To’s for each of these options in the coming weeks and months, but for the moment we hope this has given you some ideas on how you might start framing off your container ready for cladding.