Archive for June, 2009

more on shipping container pools

June 11, 2009

in response to quite a few questions, including clarifications requested by my 10 year old son, here is part 2 on ‘how to build your own shipping container pool.’

the total cost of the project was $22000, more or less, which is about half of the cost of the bids i received to build a concrete 6′ x 30′ lap pool 5′ deep.  great deal, and we recycled something.  also, the look of the pool, and the feel, is completely different.  corrugated smooth metal sides, perfect boxy symmetry jutting right up against our house (there is less than 1″ of clearance between pool and house in a few spots).

the painting/sandblasting process was, by far, the most difficult part of the project, for a number of reasons.  the metal is pretty thin to start out, so the blasters have to be careful not to blast holes right through it as they’re getting ready to paint.  also, after the primer is done, or even after the final coat is painted, i have done minute inspections of every wall and corner, to ensure that any paint divots that might have low coverage get filled with epoxy.  i’m the one who did the filling with epoxy.  when it needs to be painted (or repainted), it has to be completely drained, swept, cleaned, and kept free from debris.  lots of manual labor is involved in building a pool like this, in other words.  i guess on some level that’s the case with any pool, but corin (our son) thinks i didn’t quite communicate with true accuracy how stinking hard it is to try to forge a new path in pool construction.  there are no ‘one stop shops’ for any part of the process.  if you want the pool, you will have to do a lot of labor and find a lot of willing people, who, even though you are paying them, are going to need your encouragement that, indeed, you want to pay them by the hour to weld every curve along the top edge of the pool.

if the pool rusts (you will see this very clearly underwater, even, or outside the pool looking in), it isn’t over yet.  think about all the metal containers in the world, all holding water, and all in various states of maintenance.  you will have just one of these containers, and you happen to have pool equipment sitting next to it and ladders attached to it, and you happen to swim in it, but it is still just a metal water-holding container, so DON’T panic when rust happens.  use underwater epoxy, and every few years, drain it and get it repainted.  it isn’t rocket science, but for the hobbyist pool builder to see rust, it can look a lot like you’ve just invested multiple thousands of dollars in a failing enterprise.

you haven’t.

our experience with choice of waterproofing is the following:  we didn’t think coating the metal to make it like a traditional pool made sense, after seeing the water tanks all over texas (and the rest of the world) and thinking through the technology behind water treatment plant maintenance.  if they can do it, so can we, we thought.  so here in austin, we found the company that maintains and refurbishes metal water tanks (blasting, paint procurement, and painting itself) and we hired them.  they did it all, and when after a year we felt like there were too many spots of rust in different areas (edges, missed corners), we called them back, and (after many trials, travails, and months of waiting) they just repainted today.

it should be only every 5-10 years that we repaint.  and we’re confident to touch up ourselves now, which is a big deal.  the paint is a multipurpose epoxy, made by devoe and the color is light blue.  i’ll try to add a picture later today or tomorrow.  still wet out there.