Raising the Roof

Metal roof on containers

Metal roof on containers

The roof was finished on December 21, 2009 – talk about cutting it close.  Aside from a little snow, the weather was very nice for that time of year.  I actually prefer working in the cold weather for this type of thing – definitely better than doing it in August.  It took three to four people two full days to both frame and panel the roof.

The metal roofing I ended up using was Wheeling Corrugating Paneldrain 29 gauge galvanized panels.  They had several different styles to choose from, but the Paneldrain had a more angular design that matched the walls of the container very well.  The panels went up very fast, especially since they are cut to the exact length of the roof.  The only cuts that needed to be made to the roof itself were two lengthwise ones on the trailing gable end.

Installing the the first panel.

Closeup of the rafter and top plate connection.  You can also see one of the 6″x3″ steel box beams that was welded the length of the containers as support for when the walls are removed.

Gable end showing the blocking between purlins to seal off the roof.  You can also see one of my bigger mistakes here.  I forgot to account for the height of the locking bars above the doors and they don’t clear the rafters.  I plan to router out a place for them in each rafter where they will be held in place with a latch of some sort.  It will hopefully look like a planned custom feature when I’m done.

One half of the roof done.  You can see the ridge vent material applied to the top of the panels.

Steel roofing was applied to the gable ends.  This may get changed out someday depending on how the cabin is eventually finished, but it was an easy thing to do for now.

Closed up tight for the winter.

More pictures:

6 thoughts on “Raising the Roof

  1. Mitchell Parchem

    Hello Steve,

    I really like the look of the completed shell and the going with a metal roof. Have you had the chance to spend a rainy night in the cabin yet ? Some years ago, I bought a second hand truck camper and the noise level of the rain hitting the roof was enough to keep me awake. Is the ‘attic’ space and foam enough to negate the noise or would you recommend a deeper layer of foam ?


    1. Steve Post author


      The most I have experienced was a light rain which wasn’t even noticeable. I’m not sure what a pounding rain would sound like, but I have done enough tent camping in the rain that I doubt it would bother me. There’s always ear plugs if it gets too loud. If I ever find myself in a heavy rain up there I will try to post back what it was like.


  2. gil

    do you think the roof was necessary, what are the problems you can have with out the roof. thanks for reading this, love your cabin.

    1. Steve Post author


      For my design, at least, a roof was necessary. Shipping containers have a slight convex form to the roof that allows water to run off the sides – which is a good thing. When I combined the three containers together, the two connected lengths formed a low spot that water would collect. In my colder climate this water would freeze and thaw throughout the winter, all the while expanding and contracting against the structural beams – probably not a good thing.

      If I was building this design in a much warmer climate, I might consider forgoing a roof, although a roof might be more necessary then to keep the containers shaded. Even if I didn’t add a separate roof, I would need to waterproof the container roofs to prevent any water from leaking though the connections in the low spots.



  3. karl

    I see how you “sealed” off the ends, but how did you protect the sides with windows? I’m making some plans on 2 20′ units where one will be a sleeping unit and the other a kitchen/living unit. I think I’ll steal your simple Gable design as I’m in Texas and would appreciate keeping the shade. My thoughts were to have the 2 units set such that they are aligned with the doors facing each other with about a 10′ gap between them for a deck area. A taller Gable roof will cover the deck area between the units. Also, do you have any thoughts on metal vs non metal sheets?

    1. Chad

      Karl – did you ever do this? I was thinking the same, and I can’t find any good layout/designs. More of a tiny house approach with the real living areas outside.


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