Lee Raises Havoc in the South… Again… ;)

9 Sep

And I ain’t talking “General Robert E.” either… 😉

In fact, if he could see the mess the tropical storm left his beloved Dixie in, he’d probably shed a tear or two. 


We’re sorry.

We’re not in the office at the moment.

Please leave your message after the tone and then get off your butt and grab a shovel!

This flooding isn’t going to clean itself up…


Yay! It’s… (wait for it)… (here’s it comes)… (any time now.)… mailbag time!


I’ve been reading this evening that shipping containers are treated with extremely toxic paints (i have read about the floors already).  Building out of ISBUs has been a long-time dream of mine.  What has your experience taught you about the toxicity of the paints?  Do they have to be sand blasted???



Hi Will,

You read it right.

The paint used on ISBUs is EXTREMELY toxic.

Anti-fouling paint is “foul stuff” indeed.

Anti-fouling paint is designed to defy Mother Nature at every turn, thus insuring that the contents of said coated Corten Container are safe and snug…

The paint used on the inside and outside of Shipping Containers is based on Lead and Zinc Chromates.

It’s tough stuff and it will defy Mother Nature. It also defies the US Navy, which has banned it’s use for most purposes where humans come into contact with it. In fact, I’m told that the Navy no longer uses it at all. (I’ll double check that later, just out of curiosity.) Anti-fouling paint keeps containers “clean” (“anti-fouling” – non-fouled – get it?) and defies the formation of rust but it’s brutal when it’s exposed to human tissues like lungs and eyes.  You do not want to dislodge or “powder”  this stuff and throw it up into the air you’re trying to breathe.

Couple that with the insecticide that they literally laminate into the flooring and you have your work cut out for you, to turn that steel box into a shelter fit for your family!

After you remove the flooring (or else I will personally come to your house and kick you in a very unpleasant place…), you can either;

(a) sandblast the box to remove the paint (using respirators and breathing apparatus) or you can

(b) encapsulate that horrible crap by using a spray on compound like “Rust-Grip”.

RustGrip is an “encapsulating coating”. Think of it as paint on steroids. It literally bonds itself to whatever is underneath it and then holds on like the devil is chasing it.

That said… I prefer sandblasting.

It’s admittedly more work (okay, a lot more work), but once accomplished… I KNOW that anyone that will ever step foot in that box is now protected. I am seemingly in the minority.

Many prefer “coating the box” to cover up all that horrible anti-fouling paint.

For example… RustGrip (made by SPI Coatings) will safely cover that paint up and get you ready for your next steps.

(You’ve all read my rants about “miracle ceramic coatings”… but YES, I’m actually on record as “supporting” ONE of SPI’s products. RustGrip is great stuff.) 😉

(Excuse me while I go wash my mouth out with soap…)

Whichever route you take, it’s simpler to do your fabrication of the box before you actually seal the box up.

This is accomplished by;

1.  sandblasting the spots where you’ll be “working”…

2.  making your alterations and then…

3.  sandblasting and recoating the entire box.

Why would you do this in this order, you ask?

Well… “Spot sandblasting” prevents the accidental inhalation or ingestion of anything you might release in the grinding, heating, burning, torching, or off-gassing that will occur as you cut, heat and weld the metal surfaces together during the fabrication steps.

When you have everything “hunky freaking dory…”

You shoot on your Rustgrip (you can rent a sprayer to apply it from most big box stores) and then wait for it to dry. Now… everything is safely encapsulated… unless you scratch thru the surface of your outer RustGrip Coating.

Resist the urge to roll RustGrip  onto your containers. You will waste a LOT of the material. Trust me on this.

And yes, before you ask… (and I know I’m gonna get about 50 emails…) I usually go ahead and shoot RustGrip onto the inside of the containers.

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I’m a big fan of  insulating ISBUs on the OUTSIDE with SPF, remember?

Why people insist on making small boxes smaller is really beyond me.

(It should be noted that the only time I’m really a fan of insulating the inside of an ISBU container is when the home owner actually wants to “fly that Corten Flag”  and thumb his/her nose at the neighbors! ) 🙂

Even though the exterior is completely encapsulated by the SPF ( thus getting a vapor and moisture barrier as an added benefit) I know that the Corten Steel is safely tucked into it’s little laminated bed… ready to spit in the eye of any heavy weather it sees coming it’s way.

And BTW… thanks for your interest in “The Nuts and Bolts of ISBU Buildings”.

We’re waiting on “editorial” now to “clear” the book. Many readers already know that we actually added more information to the book at the last minute and then had to resubmit it to the editorial process.

We expect it will ship in the next few weeks if all goes as expected. Everyone who has reserved a copy will be personally contacted in the first round of distribution, before the book and the CAD packages start to ship.

Special note to people still sitting on the fence:

If you’re thinking about securing a copy at the discount price… you better think fast. As soon as we get the call telling us that it’s time to “start the presses”… the price is going up.

We have extended the period of time to reserve your copy at a steep discount.

People who secure a copy now will save over 25% based on the regular price when we start shipping in the next few weeks.

You can find reservation information in the upper right sidebar.

Never again will we send a book to an outside editorial staff. Oy, the headaches…

Best Regards,



2 Responses to “Lee Raises Havoc in the South… Again… ;)”

  1. The Urbivalist (@Urbivalist) September 13, 2011 at 7:16 am #

    Best of luck with the cleanup.

    Great heads up on the anti-fouling removal. So would it not be best to sandblast away ALL of the anti-fouling paint before beginning any alterations?

    • Renaissance Ronin September 13, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

      In a perfect world, you’d start with a clean box. As in sandblasted clean.

      However, it really depends on the duration of your fabrication stage. I don’t like leaving metal naked to the elements for long periods of time. It’s just more oxidation and clean-up to do later, before I finally give “the Emperor his/her new clothes”. 😉

      Remember that most of my builds are “family driven”. The timelines are often protracted to take into consideration work schedules, time off, etc…

      If I can guarantee that my “fab stage” will be less than a week or so, I can justify doing the sandblasting all at once. However… if it’s going to take a family several weekends over the summer to fab out those ISBUs (leaving all that bare metal for a full season or so…)… do yourself a favor and “two stage” the boxes.

      Shoot twice. Once pre-fab and then again, pre-finish.

      Your boxes will thank you for it.

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