Shipping containers undergo harsh weather conditions while transportation such as scorching summers, incessant rains, chilly winter storms, and whatnot. Thus, sturdiness is the most important prerequisite for the shipping container designs and floor plans so that it can withstand any kind of stress it is subjected to.

It should be such that hauling across all the modalities of transport becomes a piece of cake. These shipping containers play a pivotal role in keeping the maritime industry moving with the tons of cargo every year.

Since it’s in the job description of a shipping container to secure different types of cargo it ships worldwide. Well, it says ‘secure’ cargo, does that ring a bell? This is where; shipping container floors come into the picture.

Shipping containers floor: An important consideration

Now, to decide on the right container flooring, it is crucial to understand the composition of the container and raw materials utilized in assembling one.

A regular container has an outer steel body and an inner plywood floor. This kind of robust construction is remarkably essential to sustain through the difficult voyage across the ocean. The average duration of a freight contains is nearly about 10-12 years. Thus, the number of trips the container makes across its lifespan is a contributing factor.

Most containers have sea-worthy 1.1 inches or 28 mm thick plywood bars on container shipping floors.

An average container nearly ships all types of commodities; therefore, it requires a resistant structure. To enhance and improve the durability and longevity of shipping containers, it is essential to utilize robust and long-lasting materials.

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Purpose of manufacturing shipping container floors

Long question, short answer. They are built to last long not just years but even for decades.

Just imagine how great it would be if you found everything you need to know in one single user manual, wouldn’t it? Well, we heard you.

Here, we have prepared the most informative 101 guides to the shipping container floors you’ll find. This will contribute to easier and wiser decision-making. We have tried to get you to hold of almost all the frequently asked questions.

Composition of containers floors

A vast majority of shipping container designs have floor plans orchestrated to have plywood flooring. This is mainly made from tropical hardwood. The most commonly used varieties are Keruing and Apitong. They are highly temperature and humidity resistant, thus, fit for use.

But solid wood with its many advantages invites over a few huge problems too. It attracts all kinds of pest attacks making it non-viable for utilization. Therefore, it is important for this hardwood to be pest-free to avoid damage to goods before going into the shipping container floors. They are treated with crude pesticides.

However, now, many harmful pesticides such ad Aldrin and Dieldrin are banned and restricted from use. There are many other pesticides that are still used that deem the shipping container floors toxic.

The currently used pesticides are insecticides such as Basileum, Taelilium 400, and Radaleum. It is believed that these chemicals are only a threat to insects and not to mammals. However, if the chemical is really a concern, and budget is not an issue, it is recommendable to replace the entire floor.

This is understandable in the case of transportation of goods but when the repurposed shipping containers as homes and office cubicles, these floorings pose a high health hazard. Thus, many manufacturers these days are trying to curate shipping containers with other alternative flooring materials.

How a bad container floor can be problematic?

Well, a container floor of a used freight container can be dissipating fumes of harmful oozing chemicals even after many years of treatment with pesticides. even with the new containers, this poses a high-risk health threat as these containers are unsuitable for human inhabitation.

Well, it’s not just this. A bad container floor might also be the reason for the exhaustion of your savings. For instance, you own an old used freight container that has a delaminated floor. You have to ship a large number of goods but you get a call from your freight forwarder that due to the defect in the flooring, some delicate goods worth lacks have been damaged. So, you’ll have to pay a penalty to your customer for causing him a loss due to your ignorance. Moreover, you will lose a consignment and the profit that it was going to generate. In addition to that, you might also lose an old trusted regular customer. And most devastatingly, you’ve just suffered an enormous economic setback thus, you might not be able to get the flooring repaired or replaced. this is turn, might halt your further pre-booked business deals.

Thus, in a nutshell, a damaged or bad container floor can create many problems and be a terrible headache.

How do I fix a damaged floor?

Container damage is inevitable as it may occur at any stage of shipping right from the point of loading till unloading.

If you have given up on replacing or removing a new container floor, the only viable option left here would be to repair the original floor.

Firstly, never sand the flooring. Well, you can put it like this. Just like asbestos, the dust isn’t any good for you. If you’ll let it sit there, it won’t cause any effect as it’s relatively harmless. Treating the existing floor might be the only feasible and more economical option.

How to treat a plywood floor?

If you are someone of the opinion that original shipping container flooring should be intact. Well, the following instruction manual might be just for you.

The most important and pestering concern for one is the hazardous chemicals and their life-threatening after effects. Pesticides would release harmful chemicals that could be hazardous for the health of the inhabitants. Deeming it safer to treat the floors prior to use.

There are many solutions to this, the most popular ones are as below with their step-by-step approach.

1. Epoxy Treatment:
The application of epoxy to the floors will not only act as a sealant but also help to keep the oozing chemicals from the pesticides keep in check. It increases its resistance. It is most useful in the case of shipment of liquids or acids.

  • A solvent-free epoxy is a best-recommended choice for using on wooden floors.
  • Properly clean the plywood floor with isopropyl alcohol prior to epoxy treatment.
  • As a precautionary measure, make sure to keep proper ventilation while dealing with isopropyl alcohol as the fumes could be toxic and irritating.

2. Non breathable flooring underlayment:
An alternate solution instead of using epoxy is flooring underlayment.

  • It’s a simple process where the underlayment is placed under the original flooring.
  • This, in turn, is covered with a layer of tiles.

3. Concrete:
The purpose of concrete is similar to the underlayment i.e., to seal the flooring.

  • Polyethylene plastic covers the original plywood flooring.
  • Then the concrete is laid over the plastic covering.

How to remove the plywood floor?

Well, removing the older wooden flooring and replacing it with a new container might not be feasible for some but it’s indeed the safest approach.

It’s not an individual decision to make. Many factors have to be taken into account before reaching a final decision. History of your shipping container, your budget, and personal prerequisites are to name a few.

To remove the shipping container plywood flooring, follow the following steps.

  • Use a hand saw or reciprocating saw to cut the floor bolts from the cross members that are twelve-inch apart.
  • After cutting all the floor bolts, use a pry bar to force the floor panels upwards and outwards.

It could be a relatively slow process but, in the end, it’s a rewarding one. Lifting of floor and completely removing it makes it easier for insulating the shipping container floor by applying spray foam or panel insulation.

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Alternatives to conventional plywood flooring

It is generally recommendable to change the existing plywood flooring case you are looking out for a new container.

Nowadays, more and more manufacturers are on the lookout for alternative materials for building the shipping container floors. Bamboo is a very popular alternative. Depending upon the purpose of the container, we can modify the shipping container floor. A few most commonly used and standard shipping container floorings used are:

1. Plywood and Bamboo Flooring

These both are very strong and durable materials. The only drawback the former one has is the susceptibility to pest infestation and pesticide treatment. The latter one is a much better alternative in that respect as it does not require any treatment with pesticides.

2. Steel and aluminum

These floorings are overall an excellent choice as they are very sturdy and strong. Their property of water resistance is an important feature for making it very suitable for multiple industrial options.

3. Vinyl

These shipping container floorings are a popular choice when it’s a question of the transportation of oils and acids. Its application is easy. You can easily roll it out and glue it to the surface of the original flooring. It is water-resistant that deems it easy to clean. Furthermore, making it is an excellent choice for portable bathrooms.

4. Homely and office floors- imitation wood vinyl planks+carpet tiles

Over the past few decades, repurposing shipping containers has become a trend. They make very lucrative moving houses and office cubicles. The most commonly used materials to cover the wooden floors are imitation wood, vinyl planks, and carpet tiles.

They are easy to install and replace. They are suitable for inhabiting purposes but not for the shipment of freight.

How do I check the sustainability of containers floor?

If you are purchasing a brand new shipping container, you may request your seller to replace your shipping container with a steel floor or anything alike.

However, used freight containers would require you to do a little background digging. For this, you need to locate the data mentioned on the ‘Container safe prevention plate’. This plate is usually placed on the front door of the container. It contains information about the chemicals utilized for ‘timber component treatment’ under 3 heads: Immunity (IM), Treatment chemical, and treatment date.

Also note, the data plate doesn’t contain any information about the history of damaged or replaced container floors. 

Now that you have all the other information you needed for second-hand containers to buy, you can decide onto whether to replace or remove the existing floor.

When should I replace the shipping containers floor?

When the shipping container is assembled, various examinations are conducted to ensure that the containers are manufactured by following standard ISO norms and specifications or not. Many tests such as stacking tests; floor & roof tests; front end wall, door & sidewall safety tests; strength tests; wind and watertight tests (WWT); and maximum gross weight tests are conducted. Any deviation in the results of these tests from normal values makes the containers liable to be replaced.

If there is any gauge, holes, cracks, or missing layers in the original shipping container flooring, this is an indication for either repairing or replacing this damaged floor.

you can patch the damaged section by putting an alternate flooring over the existing flooring, or treating the entire floor, or any combination of both of these.

If you have purchased a used freight container, there are chances that the shipping floor is already a damaged one. It might have some sort of spelling or crack on the surface. This is known as delamination. It’s not that big of an issue, however, it is advisable to be on the lookout for any further damages in case there arises an even bigger one. This would help the container owners to avoid any loss of goods by addressing the issue sooner than later. 

Buy shipping containers of good floor quality

For instance, you are an inhabitant of south-east Asia and a certain company has put shipping containers for sale in the USA. They claim them to be of good floor quality but you have no means to cross verify. Then how will you be certain of the fact that the seller is a legitimate one and not deceiving you in the cold blood?

Well, the solution is simple. Visit BOXXPORT, list yourself with us, mention your requirements. Voila, there you go, within days or maybe even hours, we’ll find you a suitable seller with legitimate credentials and a verified background. And that too, at the snap of a finger. Also, our multi-negotiation facility is definitely the icing on the cake.

To know more about how BOXXPORT gives you a smooth container trading experience, watch this video.