Container homes worldwide

Sharing knowledge on container homes, both design and construction


One of the topics when constructing a container home are reinforcements. You need to cut doors and windows, maybe remove entire sections to create open spaces. These openings are creating weak spots in the entire container construction. So you will need to reinforce the structure.

There are two types of reinforcements I would like to point out below. Local and structural.

Local reinforcements

Local reinforcements are when you cut a window or door. This leaves openings that are relatively easy to reinforce. The edge of a cut container wall is also difficult to attach something, so each opening should be reinforced with square tubes. Depending on the type of container and the manufacturer, the width of the corrugated container wall is between 20mm and 50mm. So after cutting a hole, check this width and adjust the square tubing to it. It will make a clean finish, which is easy to work with later. Make sure that you weld the square tubing all the way around, so you don’t have any air leaks.

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Structural reinforcements

Structural reinforcements are needed when you cut away entire sections to create open spaces, or when you don’t stack containers using the corner posts. The container wall itself is not a load bearing structure, so when you for example want to create a cantilever construction, you will need to add some supporting columns inside the wall. The same goes for the container stacked on top. Although the bottom rail is more ridged, I would always add an additional I-beam to prevent the over hanging part to bend after a few decades.

In case of open spaces running the full length of the container, you will need to add either a number of supporting columns or an I-beam to prevent the roof from sagging. If you don’t want a lowered sealing where the beam is installed, you can add it on top of the container. It will need to be big enough to transfer the weight to the corner posts.

In all cases, it is always best to consult a specialized company that can calculate the needed reinforcements and that has software to simulate the stress points, so you know for sure the basic structure is sound for the next 50 years or longer.

When designing a container house, it’s always a good idea to leave as much of the original wall intact as possible. With some clever lay-outs, the necessary reinforcements are limited which saves a lot of money.

Leaving a section left and right, and adding the column in the middle, keeps the structure intact as much as possible. (Copyright Patrick Bradley Architects)
Again, by leaving some sections of the original wall intact, you preserve the structural integrity. (Copyright Patrick Bradley Architects)

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