Shipping Container Flooring to Consider for Your Project

Choosing the best shipping container for your next project can be challenging. Depending on what you plan to use your container for, there is a surprising number of choices for materials, sizes and door styles. One often overlooked but critical part of any container project is the shipping container floor.

If you’ve got questions about your shipping container floor plans, Rent-A-Container has the answers. Below, you’ll find some helpful information we’ve compiled to help you make an informed decision about your shipping container flooring options.

Are you considering buying or renting a shipping container? Contact the expert team at Rent-A-Container to get the help you need. 


shipping container flooring types


Can I Keep the Floor That’s Already in the Shipping Container?

When your new or used container arrives, it’s going to have a robust floor already installed. Whether you keep this floor is going to depend on your intended use and budget. 

Manufacturers design shipping containers to withstand the harsh extremes of the open ocean. Consequently, you will see marine-grade plywood as the most common material for shipping container flooring. 

Marine-grade plywood can last against years of transporting goods. Cheap tropical hardwoods like Keruing or Apitong make up the bulk of marine-grade plywood options.

While sturdy, these tropical hardwoods need harsh chemical treatment to withstand damage from insects and other critters. If you plan on using your container as a living space, insecticide fumes can be an issue. 


Possible Pesticides in Storage Container Floors

Manufacturers use a ton of nasty chemicals to treat hardwood. While potentially harmful to humans, pesticides do a great job fending off insects that would make quick work of the wood.

In a shipping container, pesticides are essential. For your container project, though, you might be using the container as a habitable space like a shed or office. In these cases, the pesticides in marine-grade plywood flooring may be a health risk. 

Before you start tearing up the old shipping container floors, there is a quick way to identify what chemicals may be in your materials.


How to Check a Container Floor for Chemicals

If you are buying your container new, you can always request non-chemical treated flooring. Many manufacturers are offering alternatives in response to customer demands and the sustainability issues tied to using tropical hardwoods.

If you choose a cargo-worthy or one-trip container, however, you may not have the option to choose your shipping container floor. A little detective work can help you find out what chemicals, if any, are part of the timber treatment.

You can find timber treatment information on the container safety convention (CSC) plate. This is one of the many labels on a shipping container. The CSC plate is usually on the container’s front door. 

On the CSC plate, there should be a section called “timber component treatment.” 

Here, you will find three bits of information:

  • Immunity (IM)
  • Treatment chemical
  • Treatment date

Focus on the treatment chemical and treatment date. Once you have information on what pesticides you are dealing with, you can use the World Health Organization recommendations for pesticide hazards to determine how safe the chemicals are.

Keep in mind that the information on the CSC plate might not be correct. Replacing shipping container flooring is a common part of container maintenance. 


Treating a Shipping Container Floor

If you plan to keep the original flooring, there are some options to help mitigate pesticide risks. While toxic fumes from the marine plywood will dissipate over time, sealing the floors with a non-breathable material will solve the issue.

Here are a few popular choices for treating a shipping container floor:

  • Epoxy — Using a solvent-free epoxy made for wood will help trap any toxic pesticide leakage.
  • Non-breathable flooring underlay — You can use a non-breathable flooring underlay underneath tile or imitation wood flooring to seal in fumes.
  • Concrete — A polyethylene plastic sheet is first laid down on the original flooring before you spread the concrete. This creates an airtight barrier.


Removing a Storage Container Floor

While removal of the original flooring is a simple process, it can take some time.

Here is a quick overview of the steps:

  1. Using a reciprocating saw, cut the bolts connecting the flooring panels to the steel frame.
  2. Next, remove each flooring panel with a pry bar.

Once this is complete, you are free to install your new shipping container flooring. But which flooring type should you choose?


Types of Shipping Container Floors

Whether you are using your shipping container for storage, an on-site office or even restaurant space, there are plenty of flooring options.

Here are some common materials that might fit into your shipping container floor plans.


Steel Container Floors

A steel floor overlay is a common addition to a shipping container for industrial applications. Manufacturers utilize ⅛” or ¼” steel sheets to create a durable surface.

Often, the original plywood floors act as a base with the steel sheet welded at the edges of the steel frame.  


Aluminum Container Floors

Another popular flooring option is aluminum. Much like steel, aluminum provides a durable surface that is airtight and waterproof. Another advantage of this flooring type is that cleaning is a breeze.

Some containers will even feature a drain so you can spray the container down for convenient cleaning.


Coin Vinyl Container Floors

Coin vinyl is an excellent material to use in containers with high foot traffic. The material is water-resistant and can stand up to repeated cleanings. Additionally, vinyl flooring protects against harsh acids, oils, dirt and other nasty substances.

Most coin vinyl flooring comes in either tan or gray and is usually rolled right over the original plywood. 


Imitation Wood Vinyl Container Floors

If you are trying for a more attractive interior design for your shipping container, imitation wood vinyl flooring can be a great choice. There are various styles and colors to choose from. Simply  install it over the existing plywood.


Epoxy-Coated Container Floors

A wood-ready and solvent-free epoxy coating can make for an excellent slip-resistant floor. Epoxy creates a sleek finish that can be great for offices and storage space alike.

Epoxy is usually poured over the existing plywood flooring, making it a cheap and efficient option.


Working on a Shipping Container Floor Plan? Call Rent-A-Container

If you are ready to pull the trigger on your shipping container project, Rent-A-Container is standing by to help. We can walk you through your shipping container flooring options and find the best match for your plans.

Whether you are hunting for imitation hardwood for a living space or durable steel for long-term storage, it all starts with a consultation with our experienced team. Give us a call at 800- 880-7061 or reach out online today.


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