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Shipping Container Windows Dilemma

It has been a slow week. There has been a lot of rain. Kevin has been sick in bed with “man flu”. So nothing much has happened on the house. But, the downtime did give us a lot of time to consider our current dilemma; how best to install the shipping container windows.

We have mentioned before that our choice in windows is aluminium. But, how do you install the straight edges of an aluminium window in the corrugated sides of a steel shipping container? We need to ensure that no wind or rain can get between the cladding and the container in order to prevent rust and rot. We therefore need some kind of interface between the window and the container that can be completely sealed. But what is the best material to use?

The material that we use is also going to have to be able to withstand everything that the weather can throw at it; from the harsh summer sun to the lingering winter rain and all the wind in between.

What are our options for the interface frame material?

shipping container windows
How do we attach this aluminium window frame to this steel shipping container?


Obviously, the first option is steel and within the category of steel there are several options:

Mild steel: Easy to weld to the container and from there we can bolt in the windows. However, mild steel rusts extremely quickly. We don’t think that this is the best option, especially as rain and dew might sit in the corners.

Corten steel: Corten steel is the type of steel that shipping containers are made out of. It is an excellent choice in that we can easily weld it to the original shipping container structure. It is also slow to rust. However, corten steel is extremely difficult (if not impossible) to purchase here in South Africa.

Stainless steel: This would be Kevin’s first choice as it has excellent anti-corrosion properties as well as being good to weld. However, the expense of this material puts it out of the budget.

The window is straight, but the side panels of the shipping container are not.


Aluminium is not an option because one cannot weld aluminium to steel. The interface frame would have to be riveted to the container, which will leave gaps for wind and water spaces to enter. It is also a similar price to stainless steel. Therefore, out of the two options, stainless steel would be the better choice because it can be welded.


That leaves us with wood.

It cannot be welded, but there are several other ways to attach a wooden frame to the steel of the shipping container.

Yes there would be gaps between the wood and steel, but this will be easily sealed with silicon or a similar product.

Wood will be susceptible to the elements, but this can be kept at bay with the correct paint and maintenance (something that would have to be considered with any of the above materials). It will also be less susceptible if we had the correct wood – something of good quality.

And we do!

We have a stack of old meranti floor boards that were removed from an old house. Because the wood is older, it is denser and better quality than modern meranti. It is perfect and can be re-purposed to make the interface frames.

This is meranti

Shipping Container Windows Installation Dilemma Solved!

So, you guessed it! We’re using wood for the interface frame in order to help with the installation of the shipping container windows.

How exactly are we going to do that? We’ll let you know when we’ve installed our first window.

8 thoughts on “Shipping Container Windows Dilemma

  1. I love wooden window frames! It is going to look really lovely, and Meranti is a beautiful wood. I cannot wait to see the windows fully installed

    1. You can’t have much of a house without windows! 😜

  2. I love Meranti. Oak is also good, but a little pricey, and good oak is not easy to find in South Africa apparently.
    As far as the man-flu goes, don’t knock it. I’ve been down with it over the past week as well and I can tell you it’s worse than having your legs waxed, and I’ve never done that just like no woman has had man-flu.
    Kevin deserves a medal. O:)

    1. Haha! I will let him know… 🏅

  3. Even when he’s resting up in bed, Kevin is still working, doing analysis and planning! I hope he’s up and running again soon, and I look forward to the update once you’ve installed your wooden frames.

    1. Kevin is feeling much better this week. Thank you for your well wishes 😷

  4. Looking forward to the next episode. Always wondered about this.

    1. We are keen to see how it works out too! 😁

What do you think? Let us know!