Shipping containers are relatively cheap and can make nice little buildings on your property but they are quite ugly in their natural state. If you could only stucco a shipping container, then it would make it way more appealing to look at, right?
I have never personally applied stucco to a shipping container myself but I have seen them and am sure there is a way, or two that stucco can be applied to them.
Can I Stucco A Shipping Container?
Yes, it is possible to apply stucco to a shipping container and this can be done in a number of different ways. The first way is to simply spray the stucco directly onto the shipping container.
The other two methods I have in mind would be to attach cement board to the container and stucco over that or to install an entire stucco system over the metal contain entirely, like you would a traditional home.
Spraying Stucco Directly On The Container...
If you were to just spray stucco right over the top of a metal storage container, you would still see all of the ripples and edges of the storage container and it wouldn't really hide any of those because you're just spraying a thinner coat of Stucco over the metal.
This is definitely the fastest and cheapest way to stucco one of these storage containers but I would definitely recommend using a wire brush, preferably mounted on an angle grinder to clean up the metal a little bit and use the solution of vinegar afterwards to clean the metal off before spraying any stucco on to the surface.
I would also avoid using water as water could equate to rust and if you applied stucco over these rust spots it would likely be a weak spot in the finish and could possibly flake off later.
Spraying an acrylic or synthetic type of Stucco finish is probably going to be the better route to take as far as finish materials go because a traditional (cement based) stucco finish would not adhere to the metal very well (without the use of metal lath) and would eventually start falling off.
Attaching Cement Board To The Container...
Another route you could take would be to attach some type of cement board to the metal storage container first and then stucco over that with a base coat and finish coat.
This is the second best way to go about stucco in one of these metal containers as it would provide an even plane and would eliminate all of the ridges on the metal container and you would be left with a smooth, flat stucco surface to work with, similar to hanging drywall on the interior of a traditional home.
You would have to use plaster stop on any of the edges as stopping points for the stucco before you hang the cement board to the storage container. These would provide nice clean edges where your stucco would stop and would also provide a depth gauge for the amount of base coat material and finish coat material.
This method would provide an even surface oh, so it would look really good but other than that would provide no significant additional insulating properties, which you will need to consider in certain months of the year where heat and cold might be a concern.
Installing A New Stucco System Altogether...
The best method to stucco one of these metal shipping container would probably be to just apply a whole new 3 coat or one coat stucco system over the walls, giving you much more control over the design aspect and structural aspect. You could also use Styrofoam to get added R-value from these containers, which have little to none to begin with and bump that up quite a bit and simply stucco right over the foam itself.
The hardest part of using a traditional stucco system on one of these metal structures would be attaching the paper to the metal oh, as you would have to stretch it pretty tight and use screws with larger heads on them in order to securely hold the paper in place. I would also recommend using a two-ply 60-minute paper instead of the thinner 10-minute paper as it will stretch better and will be less likely to rip.
Examples I Found Online...
Here is a storage container that I found on tinyhousetalk.com and was actually made by a company that sells tiny homes (Live Simply Homes). The stucco on this container looks to be a complete stucco system, in my opinion judging by the weep screed that runs along the bottom.
The small window is wrapped with foam trim that adds a nice accent piece and they also incorporated some cultured stone of some sort and two small lights.
On the back side of the house (image below), you can see it is a simpler version of the front with two windows and the weep screed that runs along the bottom again.
Below, is an interesting stucco job I found and is a more rustic look but is still a neat idea. The stucco was sprayed on and actually fills the grooves of the shipping container, making the wall appear somewhat even.There is not really any information on the process in the blog post I found the picture on but I assume some sort of metal lath was used in order to get the cement to stick and hang there.
The texture is rough, due to the sprayed on application but if it was painted afterwards, it would look nice.