Considerations for the Floor in Any Container Home

The wooden floors constructed into shipping containers have grown to be a hotly contested matter within the last few years. As people find ever more inventive uses for retired shipping containers they’re proclaiming a positive environmental effect for their recycling efforts. On the other side of the equation, many container floors are manufactured utilizing exotic hardwood trees. While still a renewable resource, it takes fifty to sixty years to grow one of these trees that was cut down to make container floors.

An even bigger problem for consideration is the chemicals impregnated into the container floors during production. Australia has very strict specifications for treating shipping container floors; they are treated with serious pesticides and fungicides to prevent alien bugs and rodents from hitching a ride into Australia. Wood preservatives containing a variety of organochlorine pesticides, like aldrin, dieldrin, chlordane and lindane that have been approved in Australia for treating lumber used as structural parts in cargo containers. Consequently, manufactures treat all containers to the Australian specifications, they decided it is difficult to separate the units for any single country out of the fleet and risk the fines and sanctions possible if an unapproved container is caught going into Australia.

Analyses done on these floors and determined that insecticides might be transferred on to the products sitting on the container floors. The physical pick-up of insecticide from the surface of the floor is considered to be the major origin of toxins. The greatest insecticide residue levels were found in products that were stored on recently treated laminated sawn timber. Toxins like these earlier mentioned do dissipate greatly after a couple of years, so with special prepping, cleanup, and sealing using epoxy finishes the chemicals can be isolated. Experts concur, when the out-gassing of substances is inhibited by a barrier then there is virtually no risk. This is comparable to lead paint hazards in the past which have been corrected in older houses.

If the data plate is still on the container, it should indicate the types of chemicals the floor was originally treated with. Naturally if the flooring was damaged and changed somewhere along the line the data plate will not help you. Nor will you ever learn what was shipped in as well as leaking on your container floor during its high seas career. If a container will be utilized for any type of permanent habitation, like a portion of a container house for instance, the advisable course of action is to eliminate the original flooring, have it properly disposed of and install new flooring. You’re looking at ten sheets of plywood in a 40′ container plus labor; if you’re planning to live in or serve food out of a container then you should include these expenses in your budget.

Mary J. Gibson

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