What are shipping containers made of? Shipping containers have to be incredibly durable. They need to withstand extreme weather conditions at sea in order to protect their cargo. 

Most shipping containers are made from maritime-grade corten steel, sometimes referred to as ‘weathering steel’.

Corten steel is an alloy, which means that it is a combination of steel and other metals. Although it might sound counterintuitive, corten steel is deliberately it is made to rust. When a container is exposed to the elements, a thin layer of oxidisation (i.e. rust) forms on the outer surface of the container. This creates an extra layer of protection on the container, which prevents further rust.

Corten steel is used to manufacture most components of a shipping container because it can be welded

Marine-grade corten steel is used to make the following parts of a shipping container:

  • corrugated walls
  • frame
  • cross members (i.e. beams or joists)
  • cargo doors

Marine-grade plywood is used for the flooring of shipping containers.

Marine-grade plywood is usually used to make the inside floor of a shipping container. This is typically treated with insecticide to prevent bugs and insects from potentially damaging the cargo, and being released elsewhere.

What are shipping containers made of? Is it only steel?

As is the case in many other industries, the shipping industry has seen an increasing use of bamboo in the process of construction. More and more shipping containers now have bamboo flooring. This is a more cost-effective and sustainable option. What’s more, bamboo is durable and naturally mildew-resistant.

After life at sea, many shipping containers are modified and customised for other purposes.

These projects range from simple modifications, such as windows and doors, to complex projects such as container bars and swimming pools! This then requires a range of other materials. Contact us to find out more about shipping container modifications.