Our New Shipping Container Flooring

How to remodel a shipping container’s floor to make it move in ready.   Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home!  Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house! 

It’s been a few months since I last posted about our Upstate Adventure and what’s going on with our shipping container! As some of you might remember we bought a shipping container to turn into a vacation home.  First – we painted the interior – what a difference some white paint makes (life motto!).   But how about those ugly original floors…?!   Well it’s time to redo the flooring to make it safe and move in ready!

Before and After (can you believe it?!)
How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!

Our container has traveled around the world (literally – you should see it’s travel logs that I downloaded) so you can imagine the flooring had some wear and tear to it.   We decided to go with a used shipping container instead of getting a brand new one because we were on a budget and we aren’t scared of DIY projects.  In fact you might even say we like DIY projects and look forward to our weekend escape of getting our clothes dirty.    


How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!

As you can see from these pictures,  the flooring was a mess.  Besides being dirty, there was scratches in the wood and adjustments pieces added on top.
How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!
How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!

First thing first – vacuum up the dirt all over the floor and remove any loose wood.  Be careful of splinters!  This is the easy part but it’s important for the next step.
How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!

Let’s talk about the shipping container floor first.  We don’t know what was shipped in the container – it could have been boxes or it could have been chemicals.  Either way, the original flooring was probably treated (pesticides) and wasn’t safe to use as is.  When redoing a container floor you pretty much have 2 options.  1) Rip out the entire flooring and redo 2)  Seal up the original flooring and cover it up.  We went with Option #2.  Some people rip out the floor with shipping containers and create a vapor barrier with blown-in insulation for the walls if they are extremely worried about chronic exposure of existing pesticides, but this is pretty pricey and you might want to think twice if a shipping container is best for you when you start to calculate costs.  If you are buying a single use container you may be able to specify a “safe” flooring.  

We did a lot of research when it came to the flooring and what products we should use to seal it up.  We wanted the floors to be safe.  Eventually we would be sleeping here on weekend trips, and one day there will be a baby (babies?) crawling around causing madness.   We decided to mix Epoxy Clear Base and Epoxy Curing Agent together to create a sealing effect on the container flooring.  We bought these products off of this horribly designed website and they were helpful in deciding what products would be best.  They focus on redoing boat floors, decks, swimming pools and nuclear reactors (seriously) so they know epoxies.  (Note: the total for these epoxies + shipping was $339.55 ).
How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!

How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!

When the epoxy is mixed with its hardener a chemical reaction is set off and you can feel the heat from the reaction coming off.  Don’t worry if it gets hot as it’s supposed to.  Remember to wear gloves though to keep the splashes off of you.  How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!

After you’re done mixing then you’ll want to apply directly to the clean floors.   We used an ordinary thick nap paint roller to be able to get into the uneven surface.  Depending on the temperature and mix epoxies can harden fast so work quickly.  Start from the back and move forward.
How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!

Now let the epoxy dry (about 7 hours, but to be safe just let sit over night).
How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!

After it dries it will be very shiny and look wet… but it’s dry!
How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!

How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!

After the epoxies dried then we added 1″ foam sheet insulation and 3/4″ OSB wood on top of the sealed flooring. The underside of the container is open so this is the only insulation that the floor will have.  
How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!

How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!

3″ wood screws were used to secure the OSB and sheet insulation to the original flooring.  How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!

How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!

This didn’t take long to do at all.
How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!

So now that the original floors were completely covered it was time for us to approach this project just like we would remodeling our NYC apartment.    We wanted the container’s look overall to be bright, white and have touches of color with the furniture.  For the flooring we went with a modern concrete floor laminate.  We originally were going to go with white plank wood floors but we kept coming back to the concrete look and thought it looked more modern.    I bought the flooring from here (to cover 320 square feet), total price with delivery was $610.22. How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!

First we put Underlayment with Microban under the laminate floor tiles to keep the moisture out, as well as helping to flatten the floor incase it wasn’t even.  If your floor has uneven spots in it you may feel them as the laminate flooring shifts as you walk over it.  
How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!

After that we started putting the tiles down. Since the tiles lock together it was pretty easy to do.  Must haves when laying laminate flooring are a rubber mallet, a pull bar, a plastic block, and plastic spacers.  You can buy kits that include everything but the mallet.  These kits are usually located in the flooring aisles of your local home improvement store.  Laminate flooring snaps together by wedging the ends of two pieces together and then pushing down to snap them in.  Then you take your rubber mallet and pound on the plastic block to force a tight seem between the two pieces.  A pull bar is used around walls where there is no room for the plastic block or for you to swing your mallet.  The spacers go around the edges of your flooring against the walls to keep everything nice and even.  Having a gap around the edges of your flooring is important because it will expand and contract with temperature changes.  If you don’t leave a gap your flooring will buckle and you will have big problems.  The gap eventually gets covered by molding.  
How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!

And just like that the floor was all done and ready to be Swiffered clean (dirty boots!).
How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!

How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!

How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!

One thing to point out.  If you notice on the sides we put down painted white 2x4s and molding.  The long-term plan is to frame, insulate, and drywall the metal walls and even though we are doing this in the future we had to put the base of the frame wall down before we could do the floors.  Most people are going to be doing things in the “proper” order (seal, frame, insulated, drywall, flooring) so this won’t be an issue.  
How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!

Molding hides the ugly gap that is left for the laminate floor expansion.  There are many styles of molding that can be a bit over the top but we went with something minimal that matches our style more.    
How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!

How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!

Overall I’m really happy with how the floor turned out.   By painting the container and redoing the floor it looks brand new now!  I can’t wait to reveal to you the entire furnished container… but you’ll have to wait a little longer! 

Hope you enjoy reading about our little Upstate Adventure!  I can’t wait to show you what’s next… furniture… skylights…. and more!

Edit: Make sure to check out the complete before and after of our shipping container with the final reveal!

How to remodel a shipping container's floor to make it move in ready. Find out how to easily refinish the floors on a budget to turn it into your modern dream home! Great design inspiration and cost info for your shipping container house!

26 Comments

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  • I am having such fun reading this series and really look forward to the next installment! I had never heard of using a shipping container as a home until your series. Of course now that I am aware, I have read more in several places! Your project and abilities are amazing! I am in awe, truly!

    • We have a little bathroom section now with a slick little portable toilet, mirror, etc, but no plumbing so its not very extravagant! For now it gets the job done! I would love a full tub looking out over the view – maybe one day! 🙂

  • Ummmmm what? I can’t believe that’s a shipping container! (And wouldn’t believe if you didn’t have all the before photos.) You did an awesome job and I’m so impressed :). I’m excited to see the skylights. Have a great weekend, Pamela!

  • As always…. an amazing “armchair” adventure for this old lady. I am an old dog learning new tricks thanks to you two ambitious, idea-filled & hard working youngsters! Hope baby is learning as she grows (from the inside out) from her multi-talented mama!
    Blessing to all of you….

  • I am amazed at your DIY skills! I am not at all good at that, but luckily my husband is, and I can at least “pass some tools” 😉 . Your container floor is stunning, agree on the concrete look, goes well with the white and splashes of color! I can’t wait to see the finished look!

  • Holy smokes you’ve done so much with that shipping container – I must have missed the previous post, I didn’t even know it was livable yet!! Are you eventually going to put in plumbing and a bath and kitchenette?

    Looks like spring is finally coming to the mountains, starting on Sunday – let the planting begin!

    • I can’t wait to see what you’re planting! We started our seeds inside here! It has a little kitchen section now – basically just a island since our Summer cooking is usually outside, but no plumbing. I think it’ll come with time, but we’re unsure of what we want the container to turn into so holding off!

  • Wow – it’s AWESOME!! You two are just something else – AND – it seems ‘you two’ are soon gonna be ‘you three’!! Congratulations. Any chance that your carrying twins… like I did? ; o )
    Question – do you have windows… or ‘will you have windows’?

    • I didn’t know you had twins Cecile! Only one here, a girl! <3 We are getting 2 skylights installed this Summer and will be doing glass doors in the opening to bring in natural light!

  • Wow this is so interesting and very cool. Do you have other posts about this shipping container? Id love to learn more about the idea, how you decided on it and how can it be used as a vacation home. Ive never heard of something like this being done. PS your before and after photos are REALLY impressive!

  • Did you guys do anything to degrease or clean the floor further than just sweeping and vaccuuming?

    I just ordered the same epoxy for my container!

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