When it comes to your construction endeavor, whether your strategy involves the utilization of brand-new or pre-owned containers, it becomes paramount to delve into certain considerations with your supplier. This is especially crucial if your aim is to effectively replace the floor or ensure the maintenance of the original flooring.
The most important thing is to find out if the wood used for the container’s floor was treated with pesticides or harmful chemicals. Usually, this is only a concern with used containers that were used to transport cargo at some point. Even if you are buying a new one, it’s important to consider that some manufacturers will assume you want the container floor to be treated unless you specify otherwise.
If you can’t verify this information with the container supplier, try to locate the “consolidated data plate.” Also known as “CSC plate” (Convention for Safe Containers), this plate is usually fixed on the front door of the container and should indicate any harmful chemical treatment.
Understanding the information on the CSC plate for containers: For those unfamiliar with containers, the information on the CSC plate may seem confusing. To simplify, we need to focus on the section titled “Treatment of wood components.”
This section should contain three important pieces of information:
- Immunity (IM)
- Chemical used to treat the floor
- Date of the chemical treatment
Once you know the chemicals used to treat the container floor, you should consult this WHO pesticide classification guide for a better understanding of potential health risks.
It’s important to note that the information contained on a container’s CSC plate is not always 100% accurate or up-to-date. Treatments on container floors that were replaced during the container’s lifespan are generally not annotated. Similarly, a container that was used to transport harmful chemicals may not require any additional documentation, even if a spill occurred.
In the unfortunate situation where the consolidated data plate is missing, and you cannot contact the container manufacturer or supplier to verify the absence of pesticides, we recommend replacing the floor before using it in home construction.
After confirming that the container floor is free of harmful chemicals, you should still conduct a thorough inspection of its condition and structural integrity before proceeding to build the rest of the interior.
Even if you end up buying a container with a floor free of harmful chemicals but not in perfect condition, you’ll have to decide whether to repair it or replace it entirely. Many container home builders make this decision based on the final construction cost. Although cost is a significant factor in most construction decisions, we advise our clients to also consider aesthetics and durability.
When making your decision, it’s important to remember that replacing the container floor after the interior of your container home is finished is generally much more expensive than replacing it in an empty container.
Assuming you have calculated the numbers and decide to keep the original container floor for the construction of your home, there is still work to be done. While you might think that floors in good condition are essentially plug-and-play, most will require sealing or secondary coating to be a viable option. Many builders consider epoxy application as the easiest way to seal the floor of a container, while others opt to use a non-breathable coating to preserve the look of raw wood.
If you decide to use epoxy, make sure it is suitable for sealing wood and free of solvents before starting. Once you have acquired the right epoxy and are ready to apply it, clean the plywood thoroughly with isopropyl alcohol to ensure the best possible adhesion.
Due to the lack of natural ventilation in a container, combined with toxic vapors released during the epoxy curing process, we recommend using a fan for ventilation and avoiding spending too much time inside the container during application. If the budget allows, it is advisable to invest in a respirator designed for this type of work before starting.
If you have specific questions that this guide doesn’t answer or need guidance throughout the process, don’t hesitate to contact a container home expert today. I’ll leave this list available.
Replace the Floor of a Container Home
Assuming you need to replace the floor of your container, there are many replacement options available. Popular materials for container home floors include, among others:
- Commercial carpet tiles
- Bare container floor
- Reclaimed barn wood (LINK)
- Stained concrete
- Rhino lining
- Steel coating
Regardless of the chosen material, the most important considerations when thinking about ideas for container home floors are weather resistance and ease of cleaning. The last thing you want is to have a floor damaged by moisture or perpetually dirty in your new home!
How to Remove the Container Floor
If this is your first time building container homes yourself and you want to replace the floor of a container, you may be wondering how to do it.
To remove the plywood floor from a container, you should start by cutting around the bolt holes that hold it to the container’s bottom. A simple reciprocating saw is the best tool for the job, but a drill with a special bit, a circular saw, or a handsaw will also work.
Once you’ve cut all the bolts from the plywood floor, the only thing holding it in place is tension. Because wood tends to swell in the presence of moisture, this tension can be very difficult to overcome in an older container. Usually, you can break this tension and remove the plywood with a medium-sized lever.
Certain circumstances may require the use of a full-length lever. In extreme situations, you may find it easier to cut the floor into smaller pieces, but this should be reserved as a last resort as it can take quite a long time.
After completely removing the original floor, it’s advisable to consider insulating the space between the steel rails before installing the new floor. Insulating the floor of a container home can significantly improve its energy efficiency and comfort, usually paying off exponentially in the long run by reducing heating and cooling costs.
Even if you plan to keep the original container floor for construction, it’s advisable to consider drilling access holes and insulating with spray foam before covering the floor with any secondary material.
At the end of the day, the decisions you make regarding your container floor can have a significant impact on the overall experience of your container home.
Let me know what you think in the comments below. Are you building your container home? Will you keep the original floor, or do you plan to replace it?