Shipping Container Pools

Shipping Container Pools - Everything You Need to Know

Swimming pools are recreational utilities that many people desire, especially as more parts of the world experience unexpected heat waves. But traditional in-ground pools are costly and could take 8 to 12 weeks or longer to install. Also, imagine all the construction pollution from your home during that time. A shipping container pool is a relatively cheaper and more eco-friendly swimming pool option. 

Learn about all the benefits, drawbacks, and costs; then, you can decide if this is the perfect pool for you.  

What is a shipping container pool?

A shipping container pool is a swimming pool made of upcycled shipping containers. They are durable and can last up to 20 years with proper maintenance. Manufacturers usually make them at a construction plant, and you just fix the parts together at home.

Shipping container pools have standard dimensions and shapes because shipping containers themselves do. The length of a shipping container is either 20 feet or 40 feet, the depth is 9 feet, and the width is 8 feet. The builders can make some changes, but we have observed that shipping container pools are roughly the same in size and shape. 

However, there are many other ways pool builders can design and make basic rectangular-shaped pools unique. For example, you can put a shipping container pool fully or partially in the ground like traditional pools or have them above ground on platforms. 

Like all kinds of pools, a pool like this increases the value of your house if you want to sell it or get a mortgage appraisal. If, for any reason, the buyer does not want a pool, it helps that a container pool is portable, albeit moving it will require some effort and expense. 

Why consider a shipping container swimming pool

Your own shipping container pool can be an easy add-on to your dream home for relaxation. It is also helpful if you have a family member needing physiotherapy or general exercising at home. 

But why a shipping container? We can find the advantages of container swimming pools in their functionality, aesthetics, costs, and recycling capacity. 

Related: Environmental Impact Of Construction And The Built Environment

No need for excavation

In most instances where people use shipping container pools, they place them above the ground. So you can just install the container and not worry about extensive excavation, landscaping policies, and zoning laws. All you need is the right amount of space in your backyard. 

If a contractor has deemed your yard unsuitable for a conventional swimming pool, container pools above the ground are easy to install. And well-done ones are comparable to in-ground pools in terms of functionality.

It is mobile

You could never dig up a traditional in-ground pool to bring along with you when you relocate. But just like shipping container homes, a shipping container pool is portable. You can sell it or move it to your new house. In addition, it is more economical and earth-friendly than commissioning a new pool.

Most container pools are possibly movable, but the above-ground container pool is the easiest to move. Of course, you would need professionals to help to disassemble, transport, and reinstall it.

It is durable

Manufacturers make shipping containers from steel and build them to support tons of weight during stressful open-sea travel. As a result, the durability of recycled shipping container homes and offices is common knowledge, and the same applies to container pools.

It is more affordable compared to traditional pools

An in-ground pool costs anywhere between $28,000 to $100,000. You can save costs if you do it yourself, but you'll spend an average of $35,000. The prices of shipping container pools vary but are usually lower than that of traditional pools. 

The total costs are affected by the size, style, labor, location, and supporting landscaping. However, let us consider that a container pool uses an old shipping container, significantly lowering costs. A smaller length, like 12 feet, will use less material than a 40 feet container. If you choose to put the container pool in the ground, it will cost more than it would above it. 

After checking out various contractor websites, the average cost of a standard shipping container swimming pool comes in at around $20,000. Building it yourself can lower the price by half if you have the resources to do so.

Less on-site construction

Most container pool manufacturers offer prefabricated shipping container pools. They build them at their workshops, delivering them to the site for installation. The building process can take weeks or months, but once complete, the setup can happen as fast as a day, and you are ready to go swimming. 

With the pool built off-site, there’s no need to have construction workers trooping in and out of your home for weeks. You also eliminate construction noise and pollution that hurt your family, neighbors, and environment. 

It recycles shipping containers

Shipping containers used for transporting goods by sea are durable, but they eventually get old. The best thing about a shipping container pool is that it gives a new life to an old shipping container that would otherwise end up scrapped. You'll need to ask your contractors to be sure where they source containers from.

If a shipping container is too weak for the rigors of sea travel, that does not indicate that it has no strength at all. People use these containers for container homes and pools, preventing tons of metal from going to waste. Reusing a shipping container for swimming pools gives it at least 20 extra years of use. 

Also, it helps decrease the demand for concrete and other building materials that traditionally go into building a pool.

You can design it to be childproof

Many parents who want a pool are concerned about preventing the accidental drowning of toddlers and pets. Many shipping container pools are placed above the ground, tall enough that a toddler or pet can't climb over. And they can be placed even higher so a 6-feet tall adult wouldn't be able to climb over.

Some designs also have access doors at the foot of the stairs leading up to the pool. Installing these doors work great for keeping wandering kids and pets out.

Downsides of shipping container pools

Unfortunately, nothing is ever completely perfect, and container swimming pools are no exception. Below are a few drawbacks to consider before deciding on container pools.

Style and size limitations

You can design an inground pool in all shapes and sizes and include other design elements that container pools can’t. Shipping container pools, however, come as rectangles only. Although the pool builders can add some style, it is still the same basic shape. So be prepared to have an unconventional look if you want to keep costs down.

While the size specifications work great for recreation, physical therapy, and competitive training, it doesn't work well for diving. Of course, manufacturers can join multiple containers to increase the size but altering the modular container pool sizes results in extra costs.

Temperature control is a lot of work

The container metal gets hot quickly and cools rapidly. So when it's hot out, your pool is hot too, and when the weather is chilly, your pool is ice cold. So you want it to stay warm in freezing weather and remain cool in the summer.

This problem doesn't affect in-ground pools as much because the surrounding soil provides natural insulation. However, setting up a heating and cooling system for the shipping container pool is an additional recurring expense. To help reduce the environmental impact, solar water heating is the best option to go for here. 

Needs regular maintenance 

Container pools are usually marketed as low-maintenance amenities but may not be so low. You must conduct regular checks for container pool rust and spider cracks on the fiberglass shell. If you’re inspecting the pool, you should set aside some time to do so periodically. If you don’t want to check the pool yourself, you will need to hire a professional, which will cost you additional money. 

Features of shipping container pools

You can expect to find features of a traditional pool in a container pool, but there are some unique features. For example, most shipping container pools feature a pool deck with stairs leading up from the door to the pool area. In addition, wooden pool decks are pretty standard. We list both the regular and special features below.

Lights

A high-end container pool can come with color-changing LED lights. A smart device usually controls the lighting system, and options include controlling the lighting using your smartphone. So you can change the settings to fit the mood and occasions when needed. With these lights, you can make your DIY container pool seem more high-end.

Filtration system

Shipping container pools can use any pool water filtration system, from saltwater, chlorinated water, and mineral water filtration. You get to choose.

Windows

Having glass windows on the side of the container pool is a rare design feature. People enjoy the way it turns the pool into an aquarium. It allows swimmers to see outside the pool while deep underwater and for folks outside to peer into the pool. This feature only works with fully or partially above-ground pools.

Cooling and heating equipment

A gas or electric heating system is essential if you live in a cold climate. But you could live in a hot environment where the summer months get hot enough to make your pool boil. Here, a retractable insulating roof is a feature you should consider.

Doors 

There are usually two doors in a container pool system. One door leads to the pool area and another to the filtration and plumbing systems. Installing a pool access door is great for keeping children and pets from accessing the pool unsupervised. The other door usually has vents to let out heat generated by the machines.

Dividing walls

Some manufacturers offer a removable wall that allows you to turn a small portion of the pool into a hot bath or jacuzzi. You can remove the wall for a full-length pool when you wish.

Automated control

A lot of swimming pool companies offer fully automated shipping container pools. An app on your smartphone controls everything from filtration to pumping and lights.

Installing a shipping container pool

If you have decided this is the pool for you, you can get a manufacturer to produce and install one. Or if you have suitable welding and construction knowledge building your shipping container pool might be fun. 

Whether you want to DIY the container pool project or get professionals to help you, there are certain things you must do.

Find suitable space

Look around your yard and identify where you would like the container pool to stand. You will want to consider the layout of your house, privacy, sun exposure, neighbors' convenience, and so on. 

However, the ideal location would be where you can easily hook up your pool to the necessary utilities. Else installation might be complex. The space you identify should tell you what size container you need.

Get the necessary permissions

It would be a waste of time and resources if you started the project only for local authorities to stop you halfway. The best thing to do is find out what construction permits you need. 

The odds are that in your area, container pools have more flexible policies than conventional ones. As a result, lengthy and expensive processes shouldn’t bog you down, especially in rural areas.

Prepare the space

Now that you have identified your ideal space and obtained the necessary permissions, the next thing is to prepare the area. What you need to do at this stage depends on the ground level you want for the container.

If your yard isn't all flat and leveled, don't worry, container pools also work with yards with uneven terrain, sloping terrain, and other obstacles. You just need a steel and concrete foundation to support the weight. 

You can have a flat bottom, pier, or stem wall foundation to prevent the pool from sinking. It is advisable to consult an engineer to help with this part as containers are hefty, and you don't want accidents.

Prepare utilities

Depending on what features you expect the pool to have, you would have to set up equipment to connect the proper utilities. Get a plumber to fix up the circulation and filtration equipment, an electrician to set up an electricity line, the heater, and any other professional you need.

Install 

Your container will easily get to your house on the back of a truck, but getting it into your yard is a different matter. The best way to transport the container to your backyard is to use a heavy-duty crane to drop it in place. 

Delivery is a bit tricky due to the enormous size of the container, the crane, and the truck. Questions you need to answer include: “will there be enough parking space for the truck and the crane? Are trees, houses, fences, and wires in the way?”

If you buy a prefabricated container, the company may have a crane and can arrange transport. Otherwise, you may need to independently hire a crane contractor to assist with the lifting. The pool company crew will set the container down just right and may help you hook it up to utilities or charge extra for that service.

Building with the DIY method

If you want to build or install by yourself, you'll need more than a knowledge of how to make a metal box waterproof. In addition, you need to have good knowledge of plumbing, electrical wiring, and how to drive cranes and trunks. 

You will need extra hands, and it wouldn't hurt if you got experts to help you with the areas you are not so pro at.

While there is no particular way to build the pool, all methods follow a general process. Read the section above and merge it with these DIY-specific steps.

Get the materials

You start with arranging for the container and other materials to be brought to your house. You can use websites like BoxHub, Craigslist, or valentin.app to find old containers for sale near you. Hire someone to drive the truck and crane if you are not an expert at operating heavy machinery. 

Unlike the case with a traditional pool, a container pool kit may be hard to come by. You will most likely have to work with different suppliers.

Cut the container

Cutting out a top is the first thing you want to do once it arrives. But first, you should cut the container's bottom and use the top as the bottom for your pool. This is because the cargo puts most of its weight on the bottom part and makes it weak over the years; however, the top panel has not carried much weight and is still much stronger.

If you want to adjust the container size, now is the time to do it. First, cut whatever you want and weld it to your desired size. Next, you'll need to mount a steel rim to give the exposed corrugated edges a base.

Reinforce the container

Structural reinforcement ensures the container is still strong enough for the pool project. Patch tiny holes, remove rust, and weld corners that have given way. You'll also need to fix areas bent out of shape or have big bumps from welding. 

Then you wrap steel bands around the container to help maintain structural integrity as the water pressure from the tank pushes outwards.

After this, you'll coat the container with top-grade corrosion-resistant paint. Then add all permanent features before adding either a waterproof coating, fiberglass shell, or polymer coating. Each option has its pros and cons. 

Set up utilities

Next is installing the pool utilities. First, you'll have to dig a trench for an electric line to come from your house to the pool. Then, using a gas-powered water heater, you'll need another channel. The trenches should be deep enough that a pet cannot quickly get to the pipes and electric lines. Also, they won't be exposed and become a safety hazard when it rains.

Alternatively, you can use solar energy to provide clean electricity to the pool. While that may cause a sharp increase in the initial cost, the energy and greenhouse gas savings will make up for it in the long run.

The original container doors can work as your access to the equipment room. This room ideally houses the pumping and circulation system, the pool heater, lighting terminals, and others.

Fill your pool and keep the water healthy

The last thing to do is turn on the pump and get your pool filled up. You can also call a local water supply company to deliver enough water to fill your pool; it helps reduce water costs. You'll want to ensure that you have the correct volume estimate to give the company the correct details.

The water in your container pool needs to be purified, circulated, and chemically balanced so it doesn't get filled with algae and become a health hazard. Apart from the water filter and circulation pump, you'll need to sanitize the water with chlorine, salt, and other sanitizers. It helps to keep the water hardness and pH level balanced. 

This is the time to fix a pool deck if you want one. You should consider building one, as it adds to the beauty and safety of the pool. A balcony with a railing or fence is excellent for added security at that height. 

Where to buy a container pool

Are you looking to order a container pool? They are not hard to find, but some builders don't use old containers but instead demand new ones. That defeats the environmentally friendly purpose, doesn't it? Below are a few suggestions for companies that use recycled containers.

Trek Pools

This company is based in Indiana, but they work with customers from all over the United States. You can customize your container pool with cutting-edge features on their website, and they will send a quote.

Mod Pools

Mod allows you to customize your pool in 3D on their website before you commit. Their designs often feature large glass windows. The services of this company are available in the United States and Canada. 

Steelwater Pools

Another U.S.-based manufacturer, Steelwater, offers a more basic but standard design. But they offer added features too. For example, you customize windows, lighting, heating, jets, and automated control.

Frequently asked questions about container pools

What if my backyard space is tiny?

Shipping containers come in a standard size of 20 feet or 40 feet long, 8 feet wide, and 9 feet deep. But they can cut and weld them into bigger or smaller sizes. So whether you are making it yourself or buying from a container swimming pool company, you can get a size that fits your backyard. Note that using the default container size might cost less if you build it yourself.

How long does it take to install a container pool?

You can install a prefabricated shipping container pool in one day or two; it is not a simple process. However, you'll need help as it is not a one-person job.

Do shipping container pools work as in-ground pools?

Yes, they do. But the container needs to be protected from the surrounding soil unless humidity would cause it to rust. So you need at least a 20 cm retaining wall. But erecting the protection wall would cost more time and money, so the end choice is somewhat down to budget and preference. 

Is rust a problem with shipping container pools?

Not really. Containers would rust when exposed to air and humidity. They use weathering steel with a mixture of alloys to make shipping containers. That kind of steel doesn't rust easily. To prevent corrosion, they coat the container with a top-grade metal coating, which you may need to apply every few years. So a thin layer of rust may form, but it shouldn't go too deep into the material before you notice and fix it. 

What kind of permits do I need for a shipping container pool?

Local authorities in most places like to be aware when exterior construction goes up in residents’ yards. But since a container pool is arguably a temporary structure, we expect permit requirements to vary from place to place. We can assume that even if you don't need a permit for the pool, you might need one for the foundation and utility extension. Your local authority will want to be sure that you did everything correctly and that your pool will not create an environmental or safety hazard.

Can we finance a container pool?

With good credit, you should be able to finance a container pool. A pool adds to a house's sale and mortgage value, so credit unions and lenders are inclined to offer loans for building pools. Many established pool companies work with third-party lenders to provide financed pools for customers. When building the container pool yourself, a home equity loan or another form of personal financing may suit depending on your circumstances.

Alternatives to shipping container swimming pool

There are other eco-friendly and cheaper options if you are still determining if a shipping container pool meets your needs. Although most alternatives are novel, you'll want to do more research.

A plastic pool

Plastic pools come in different shapes and sizes. They are cheap but not quite long-lasting. People use them as kiddie's pools in summer, but they come in adult sizes too. A plastic pool is easy to disassemble and store, which lasts quite a long. 

The problem comes from how to dispose of it properly when you no longer need the pool. Recycling, upcycling, or donating it are better options than sending it to a landfill.

A dumpster pool

A container and a dumpster have similar structures, except the dumpster is smaller and weighs less. In addition, dumpsters already come with the top open, saving you hours of work. We also think the dumpster’s ability to resist rot might be handy. The downside is that it may not work out great with large families due to its size. But a single individual can save big bucks going for this option.

A stock tank pool

Stock tanks are broad and short circular open-top drums farmers use to provide drinking water to their animals. Admittedly, a stock tank isn't great for swimming. At 2-feet deep and 10 feet wide, it's more of an oversized bathtub. However, you could turn an old stock tank pool into an oversized jacuzzi with the correct fittings.

Conclusion

A shipping container pool is more environmentally friendly than a traditional in-ground pool. In addition, it costs less, is portable, and is durable. This article has examined the advantages, disadvantages, costs, installation, and other pertinent information. We hope it helps determine if a shipping container pool is perfect for you.

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Pin Image Portrait Shipping Container Pools - Everything You Need to Know

Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.

Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.

Photo by Ignacio R on Unsplash
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