Shipping Containers and Rust
Shipping container homes are made out of metal, so of course, they can rust. However, it’s not as cut and, um, dry as that. A lot of it depends on the climate where the container is located. Wet and dry climates will affect shipping containers differently.
When it comes to surface rust, however, it’s important to remember that this doesn’t necessarily indicate that the container itself is worthless. Shipping containers are designed to last and to be rugged in and out of all kinds of weather. In fact, a container marked by surface rust or rust patches can survive a storm just as well as a non-rusted, spankin’-new container.
About Shipping Container Grades
At Container Stop, we have a wide range of containers available for sale or for rent. We have what we call “one-trippers” — so named because they’ve literally only made one trip — to containers that appear battered and bruised. But please keep in mind: Regardless of appearances, all Container Stop containers will protect the contents of what’s inside.
We guarantee it. In fact, Container Stop guarantees that all our containers are wind and watertight.
Our highest-grade containers are like new — with very little dents or dings. Even the paint on these containers shines like new. After these, we grade our containers on the amount of surface damage (dents, dings, rust patches), plus the condition of the paint, floors, and doors. The containers at the lower end of our grading scale can have numerous and large areas of surface rust — but as we mentioned, even these experienced and well-worn containers are safe from the elements.
What is rust, anyway? For the answer, we turn to HowStuffWorks.com:
Rust is the common name for a very common compound, iron oxide … Iron combines very readily with oxygen — so readily, in fact, that pure iron is only rarely found in nature. Iron (or steel) rusting is an example of corrosion — an electrochemical process involving an anode (a piece of metal that readily gives up electrons), an electrolyte (a liquid that helps electrons move) and a cathode (a piece of metal that readily accepts electrons). When a piece of metal corrodes, the electrolyte helps provide oxygen to the anode. As oxygen combines with the metal, electrons are liberated. When they flow through the electrolyte to the cathode, the metal of the anode disappears, swept away by the electrical flow or converted into metal cations in a form such as rust.
That’s certainly a mouthful. For those of us who haven’t taken a chemistry course since 11th grade, it can be difficult to wrap our heads around the science of rusting. But worry not! All it really means is that things rust when they come in contact with water and air. This forms a weak carbonic acid, which begins to corrode, rust, or pit the metal.
Another point: Storage containers are designed to be airtight and watertight; they’re traversing oceans, after all. But once the containers reach dry land, this same protective air- and water-tightness can actually lead to rust. How? Poor ventilation leads to condensation, which can cause the steel container to rust. It’s why we recommend ventilating storage containers.
So do shipping container homes rust over time? Yes — they can, but only over a long, long time, and the effects can be mitigated by the addition of certain types of paint that forestall the accumulation of rust.
Furthermore, most containers are initially constructed with special alloys that form a surface level of rust that helps prevent deeper corrosion (or the corrosion process itself). These are known by various names: weathering steel, cor-ten steel, or corten steel.
And last but not least, homeowners can prevent shipping container rust via vigilant and regular maintenance to fix problem areas if and when they arise.
Let us know if you have any questions!