How to Deal with Corrosion on Shipping Containers

Shipping containers are a great resource that aid in the shipping of numerous essentials around the world on a daily basis. But, their lives in the outside mean that they are often at the will of the elements and suffer for it. Corrosion seems an inevitable final conclusion to the life cycle of any shipping container.

But is there a way to save your shipping containers from this rusty demise? Perhaps not in the long run, but there are preventative measures you can take and ways that you can combat the slow spread of corrosion.

What is Corrosion?


Corrosion is a natural process; it converts refined metal to a more stable form such as oxide or hydroxide. It is a gradual destruction of materials as a result of their environment. There are ways to prevent this inevitable natural process. Preventive measures include:

  • Choose shipping container made of a non-corrosive metal.
  • Keep the area around the container dry.
  • Apply drying agents.
  • Use moisture barriers.

Prepare the Container                                    

High Pressure Cleaning - 16

But there is also a way to help stop the spread of corrosion and even rejuvenate the shipping container. This process begins with the cleaning of the surface; a lot of grit, dirt and paint chips can build up over the lifetime of a shipping container. So, using a hard brush is advised to remove these small nuisances. To get a superior clean then a power washer is the perfect solution, it will produce an almost spotless container and enable you to deal with the corroded area more effectively. The shipping container should be left to dry fully before moving on to the next step.

You should have removed any of the loose dirt on the container, but to achieve a fully clean and smooth surface you will need to sand the surface. This can be done by hand, but it is recommended that you use an orbital or belt sander in order to save your hands unnecessary pain. It is not necessary to remove all of the paint, but areas of particular flaking, peeling or extreme signs of wear should be the main focus of your sanding.


3d illustration of wagon of freight train with containers on the sky background

After sanding all you have left to do is re-paint the shipping container, since paint can help protect it. A primer layer should be applied; this helps to give a strong base seal which should make the build up of moisture and any future corrosion much more difficult.

Once this initial primer is dried then you must apply the final, thick, layer of paint to the exterior of your shipping container. Most exterior paint products will work, but if you wish to have a preventative rust-specific paint then it is best to ask a professional in regards to which products are most effective when dealing with corrosion.

If you feel that your shipping container has seen its last days and you need a replacement, then don’t hesitate to get in touch on 0208 459 6972 and our friendly team will be happy to help.

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