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Considerations for the Floor in Any Container Home

Wooden floors built in shipping containers have become a highly controversial issue in recent years. As people find more and more inventive uses for retired shipping containers, they are proclaiming a positive environmental effect for their recycling efforts. On the other side of the equation, many container floors are manufactured using exotic hardwood trees. While it is still a renewable re, it takes between fifty and sixty years to grow one of these trees that has been cut down to make containers.

Container Home
Container Home

An even bigger problem to consider are the chemicals impregnated in the container floors during production. Australia has very strict specifications for the treatment of shipping container floors; they are treated with severe pesticides and fungicides to prevent alien insects and rodents from hitchhiking in Australia. Wood preservatives containing a variety of organochlorine pesticides, such as aldrin, dieldrin, chlordane and lindane which have been approved in Australia for the treatment of wood used as container structural parts. As a result, manufacturers treat all containers according to Australian specifications, have decided that it is difficult to separate units for each individual country from the fleet and risk the fines and penalties possible if an unapproved container is caught in Australia.

Analysis carried out on these floors and determined that the insecticides could be transferred to the products that are on the container floors. The physical removal of the insecticide from the floor surface is considered the main origin of the toxins. The highest levels of insecticide residues were found in products that were stored on recently treated laminated sawn timber. Toxins such as these mentioned above dissipate considerably after a couple of years, therefore with special preparations, cleaning and sealing with epoxy finishes the chemicals can be isolated. Experts agree that when the degassing of substances is inhibited by a barrier, there is practically no risk. This is comparable to the dangers of paint in the past that have been corrected in older homes.

If the data plate is still on the container, it should indicate the types of chemicals with which the floor was originally treated. Of course if the flooring has been damaged and changed somewhere along the line, the data plate will not help you. Neither will you ever learn what was shipped, nor will you lose on your container during his career on the high seas. If a container will be used for any type of permanent home, such as a portion of a container house, the recommended procedure is to eliminate the original floor, dispose of it and install new floors. You are looking at ten sheets of plywood in a 40 ‘container plus labor; if you plan to live or serve food out of a container, you should include these expenses in your budget.


by J. P. Carrico

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