I just got a shipping container for use as storage/workshop and need to figure out how to attach things to the container walls and ceiling, without causing it to leak.

I'd like to hang a garden tool rack on the inside of the doors, and a florescent light fixture from the ceiling. Does anyone know how to accomplish that without causing leaks?

My thoughts so far:

I don't think I can simply screw things into the metal walls as they are fairly thin, and the screws would stick out on the outside.

Welding on the inside would probably work, but I don't have the tools for that, or much metal working experience. I have plenty of woodworking tools and carpentry experience though.

I've also considered drilling holes for bolts and running them through from the outside to attach 2x4's to then screw into- so the head is on the outside and the nut goes on the inside. I'm not sure what that would do for water tightness through, especially on the ceiling where I would want to mount a piece of wood to screw an electrical fixture into. I don't want to cause a leak in the middle of my "wind and water tight" box. So I would need some way to seal around the bolt holes. Caulk or roofing tar?

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    Things such as epoxy adhesives and Jb weld are useful in mounting things like this. You will however need to allow the material time to set. There are for example adhesives used for sinks on Granite Counter tops to hold the mounts - I would look into using those. You might be able to simply mount the bolts with adhesive to them run nuts on them to hold whatever you like.
    – Ken
    Apr 7, 2018 at 15:26
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    Build on the inside, cut a 2x6 to the exact width for the ceiling, then support it with 2 more 2x6 turned flat against the wall, you could put a bolt thru from the outside on wall and countersink the nut on the inside into the wood. Do that every few feet for the entire length and now you have plenty of wood you can screw light and other things into.
    – Tyson
    Apr 7, 2018 at 19:45
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    If you've got some woodworking experience, why not frame out the inside? Otherwise, drilling a hole, putting an anchor bolt through, and sealing it with sealant and a washer could also work, but you're relying on sheet metal for all the load support.
    – Hari
    Apr 7, 2018 at 20:16

4 Answers 4


You can do this without disturbing the walls or ceiling of the container. Frame thin wall sections on opposite sides (use 2x3s instead of 2x4s to minimize the loss of width). Run 2x3 joists between the two sides at the ceiling. You will then have a free-standing, three-sided structure.

With it tight against the walls and ceiling, it can't go anywhere, so you don't need to worry about bracing it so that it doesn't tilt.

You can mount to it, hang lighting fixtures from it, etc., without having to secure it to the container.

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    Mine has little u shaped brackets at top and bottom every 4 feet or so . I'm gonna use that to attach my framing to get mounting points Jan 8, 2022 at 6:54

Use magnets on your lights and hangers for a penetration free install.


Consider using the screws they use to attach metal roofs to attach your furring strips to the ceiling/walls. They have a gasket that should keep the water out. I'm not sure if the self drilling screws will make it through the steel of the shipping container you may have to pre-drill your holes.



The only thing I hate more than sheet metal screws is roof penetrations.

Containers are thick enough that they will take fine machine screw threads like 10-32, 1/4-28, M6-1.0, etc. You can seal that with silicone.

I would consider welding only because I have access to industrial paint. After the welding on the interior burned the paint off the exterior and "heat treated" the metal to make it super rust prone, I would get up there and gritblast to near white metal and use zinc chromate primer followed with epoxy primer as a barrier coat then a paint of choice. If you don't do all that, it will rust out and leak. Hmmm, on second thought... That sounds like a lot of work!!

If the interior paint was solid, I would be more inclined to scuff it up (as in paint prep) and use West System epoxy with adhesive filler to glue a 6"x6" or longer piece of wood or Trex... Or a metal bracket... And then attach to the bracket. Steel would have the advantage of the same coefficient of expansion.

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