How Do Shipping Container Roof Kits Work?

Most prefabbed container homes won’t come with a roof, other than the flat roof that it comes with. This is typically one of the areas that most people wanting a container home will add first to their new home.

 A Shipping Container Roof Kit is one option to go with for setting up a roof, the other option is to build a roof onto your container home. Whether you decide to add a roof or not is completely up to style, cost, and function.

Depending on your location you may need to add a roof if snow load is going to be an issue for your new home. Not roofing your home will initially save you money. Something to keep in mind is that hot air rises, so most of the heat is lost due to escaping through the roof.

In the long run it will end up saving you quite a bit of money by roofing and insulating your roof by keeping more of the heat in your home.

There are a range of ways to go about adding on a roof to your container home. There are prefabbed roof kits that you can purchase online or locally. You can hire a framing subcontractor to build one for you using traditional building materials, or as a DIY.

There are also some benefits besides saving energy that comes with a roof, such as:

  • Overhang keeps rain off the windows

  • Eliminates the need for a drip bar above the windows

  • Overhang can be built out to provide shade

Roof Kits

There are companies online, and possibly in your local area as well, that sell Shipping Container Roof Kits.

They’re typically made from corrugated steel and are also structurally engineered to withstand various applications and load-bearing capability.

These kits can be purchased for a couple of thousands of dollars and are pretty comparable to building a gabled roof. Typically, these kits can be installed in a day with two people assembling the product.

If you can’t find a roof kit that works for your application, then the next option would be to construct a roof.


Structural Engineering

Before beginning work on your roof, it is vital that you work with a structural engineer, the reason being is that they will calculate to load bearing requirements of your roof, depending on the needs for your area.

Areas that are prone to high winds will need to have roofs engineered with additional bracing in the trusses.

Warmer climates will most likely not need such a strong structural capability but will use more insulation perks.

No matter what type of roof you choose it will need to have adequate ventilation.

A structural engineer will calculate the dead, live, and transient load of your roof.

Most homes are a little cookie cutter to one another, but roof loads can vary quite a bit from region to region and need to be customized per home and needs for that home.

Gabled Roof

When most people think or imagine about roof, a gabled roof is what usually comes to mind as it’s the most common roof style used in a traditional home. Gabled roofs are triangular in shape which has the advantage of water drainage to eliminate leaks in the roof.

Another benefit of a gabled roof is that it provides more ceiling space that you can use as storage, or for other uses. As space is already limited in container homes extra storage is always a bonus.

How to Install a Gabled Roof

The first step in building a gabled roof is to weld right angled steel plates around the perimeter of the container. You may need to hire a welder to perform this step for you. 

The next thing to do will be to attach a wooden beam to the steel plate on each side of the container home.

You will then screw, or nail, the trusses to the wooden beams. Adding purlins (purlin refers to roof framing and are pieces that span parallel to the building eave and support the roof decking or sheeting) across the trusses is the next step. 

After your trusses are set the next step is to add sheeting to cover the trusses. Your engineer will most likely recommend what type of material to use based on your specific needs. Once the trusses are covered you can then move on to some vital projects that need to happen before adding the final covering, whether asphalt shingles, shake shingles, etc.

There are a couple of steps to provide proper ventilation for your roof. On the gable ends you will cut in a vent, one on each end, to provide you with a cross breeze to cool the roof in warm weather.

Trusses will overhang your container, and they are designed that way. You will then need to attach the fascia and soffit underneath the trusses. When installing the soffit board, you should leave about an inch gap in the middle of it to allow air to flow in and out of the roof.

Shed Roof

A shed roof is a sloped roof. This roof is much cheaper and easier to build. It’s possible to have a shed roof built and finished in a few days, versus a week or two for a gabled roof. Another benefit is that the sloped roof is perfect for installing solar panels.

The construction of a sloped roof is similar to building a gabled roof. You will need to weld right angle steel plates around the exterior of the container home. Then add the wooden beam to the steel plates. You will then attach the trusses to the wooden beam. Attach the purlins to make the trusses structurally sound. 

You will then need bracing in the trusses to protect against the wind and other elements. Your structural engineer will have provided the exact dimensions and specifics for your container home.

How to Install a Sloped Roof

The last step is to cover your trusses in sheeting per the specifications of your engineer. Before adding the shingles, or whichever final material you’ve chosen to cover your roof, make sure to cut in the proper ventilation for your home.

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