How to Finish Interior Walls of Shipping Containers

Shipping containers are becoming a useful tool for creating environmentally conscious, readily-available housing and storage.
Recycle used shipping containers into fun, module housing or storage options.Recycle used shipping containers into fun, module housing or storage options.
Of course, shipping container homes present some challenges, including the proper way to finish and decorate the interior walls. Luckily, most shipping containers are made of steel, a surface that will take paint readily. Perhaps the most challenging part of painting the inside of a shipping container is preparing and priming the surface for paint. With any metal surface, it is important to protect the surface from rust.

Step 1

Mix together three parts water and one part mild dish detergent in a bucket. Use a utility sponge to clean the walls of the shipping container. Wipe down each wall with the cleaning solution and allow it to dry completely.

Step 2

Sand down the walls with a sanding sponge. Work in long, even strokes from the top of the wall to the bottom. Use a gentle touch when sanding, as your goal is to rough-up the surface just enough to allow paint to adhere properly.

Step 3

Use a tack cloth pick up any debris left behind by the sanding process.

Step 4

Apply a rust-inhibitor primer to the interior walls with a clean paint roller. Work in long, even strokes moving from the bottom of the wall toward the top. Allow the paint to dry completely and touch up if necessary.

Step 5

Apply a rust-inhibitor or enamel paint to the walls with a clean paint roller to roll on the paint. Work in long, even strokes moving from the bottom of the wall toward the top. Allow the paint to dry completely.

Step 6

Repeat the previous step until the desired number of coats are applied.

Things You Will Need

  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Mild dish detergent
  • Utility sponge
  • Sanding sponge
  • Tack cloth
  • Oil- based, rust-inhibitor primer for steel
  • Paint roller
  • Extension pole
  • Oil-based, rust-inhibitor paint or equipment enamel paint

Tip

  • Read the label of your paint. Some types of paints for metals can take several days to fully cure. Avoid cleaning or leaning against the painted walls until it is fully cured.

Warning

  • For a year-round residence or a storage place that requires heat, it will be necessary to properly insulate your shipping container. Insulating your container from the exterior helps provide further rust protection and also allows the interior walls to maintain an industrial look.