There are a number of things that need to be considered when using old shipping containers to build tiny homes. One of the more serious issues involve toxic chemicals used to prevent damage to the contents during shipping. The floors of shipping containers have wood floors and they are often treated with a chemical sealant.
To help prevent bugs from causing damage the use of chemical pesticides are also common. There are a number of ways to remediate the interior of a shipping container to make it safe to be used as a base for a tiny home.
3 Methods of Chemical Remediation of container
Encapsulate with paint
The easy way to eliminate the danger of exposure to any of the potentially toxic chemicals used inside shipping containers to prevent damage from pests is to completely coat the entire inside with a heavy coat of paint.
Step #1 Complete clean the interior of the shipping container with a power washer and let dry completely
Step #2 Select a good quality interior paint with primer
Step #3 Using a paint sprayer filled with the paint that you selected
Step #4 Carefully apply an even coat of paint on all necessary surfaces
Step #5 Let the paint dry over a couple of days
Remove the existing wood flooring and replace the wood flooring
The wood used in the flooring of a typical shipping container has to be treated to prevent damage caused by excessive moisture, saltwater and pests. Unfortunately, these chemicals are potentially toxic which can cause serious health concerns. So, with that said, to be safe, it is a really good idea to remove it.
Step #1 Determine the dimensions of the inside of the shipping container
Step #2 Purchase the lumber needed to completely fill the space where the old wood is being removed
Step #3 Using a circular saw begin making several cuts into the wood flooring to make it easier to remove the wood
Step #4 Using a long, sturdy pry bar to start removing sections of the wood on the floor
Step #5 Once all of the wood is removed, begin measuring the new boards to be used for the replacement flooring
Step #6 Secure each board in place to the bottom of the shipping container
Encapsulate the underlayment with a new subfloor and tile over it
An alternative to replacing the treated wood typically used in the flooring of shipping containers is to totally encapsulate the old flooring. By doing this you completely eliminate the concern of the exposure to any of toxic chemicals typically used as wood treatment. This is done by first completely covering the existing flooring with a layer of marine plywood. Then cover the underlayment with a ceramic tile.
Step #1 Determine the actual measurement of the inside of the container to figure out how much marine plywood you need – each sheet is 4’ x 8’
Step #2 Mark the sheets of plywood so that you can cut them with a circular saw
Step #3 Once you have each piece of plywood cut, apply a liberal amount of adhesive to the back of the board and place it snugly against the wall.
Step #4 Repeat with the remaining boards until the floor is completely covered
Step #5 After selecting what tile you want, put down a liberal amount of thinset (adhesive)
Step #6 Apply a coat of thinset to the back of the tile and place it on the floor and tamp it down until it is level
Step #7 Place a plastic spacer on each edge of the tile
Step #8 Repeat steps #5, 6, and 7, let set overnight
Step #9 Apply the grout to all of the edges of the tile
Step #10 Using a dampened sponge wipe the excess group from the tile and let set
Whichever method you use, your shipping container home will be toxins fee and safe to use. See more about flooring here!