Floors! ~ We Pour Concrete Floors In Our Shipping Container House

To start off, here is a short video walk-through of the job:

Back on August 30th, 2011 (yes, 17 months ago) I framed the floor between containers #3 and #4. Ever since then, every time I have had to walk on or drag the welder on the corrugated metal floor in the space between 3 and 4, I have been aching to pour the concrete floors.

Recently Armando and I poured the smaller hallway and bathroom spaces, but it was the big spaces that I have been drooling over for so long. Finally the day arrived, as did Armando with his friend Dimas in tow. We worked this past Friday and Saturday and got about two-thirds of the big floors poured.

The day before, Armando and I laid out all the rebar and tied it together with tie wire. (Cynthia helped prep those wires for us.) In the next photo you can see burn marks on the far container wall and more burn marks in the foreground. This is where I welded the rebar to give the connection between the two containers more strength. I don’t want the house splitting down the middle if I can help it!


Here is the completed floor in the dry room (this room will have a dehumidifier) in container #3:


Next we poured the little porch off the master bedroom plus the slab on container #4:


Next, the guys had to mix more concrete:


Traffic jam!


Dimas poses for a photo by Cynthia:


Then we poured the big central area of the floor. I “stomped the grapes” to send the larger rocks to the bottom, making finishing easier:


You’ve heard of the Blue Man Group? I’ll be touring with the Blue Hand Group.

I also worked the screed, sometimes with Armando and sometimes solo. Need I say that I am tired and way too sore?


The guys arrived this day unexpectedly early at 6:00 a.m. sharp, just as I was waking up. I hustled to get my clothes on and got to the job to do final preparations. At 1:00 p.m., after the floor was all poured and screeded, I had the guys clean the tools and the work area and sent them home. I stayed another four hours waiting for water to disappear and troweled the surface when appropriate.

After screeding and when the water was mostly gone from the surface, I used the bull float to level the concrete. I tried to buy a bull float but I couldn’t find one in all of Panama. I ended up making one myself; it is four-feet wide and has a twelve-foot-long handle:


I took this photo in the carport. The idea of the bull float is to level the concrete and also to send the larger aggregate downward. To use the bull float, you push down on the handle when pushing away from yourself, and lift up on the handle when pulling toward yourself. This prevents the leading edge from digging into the wet concrete.

Here is the big space after bull floating:


After this water evaporated, I worked the floor with a wooden float to yield this surface:


You can see that the shadows are getting longer. I am getting tireder.

And after waiting yet again, I steel troweled the space to yield the final product, all ready for floor tiles some time in the future:


You can see that the porch slopes downward. At the low edge, I drilled a drain hole at the center of the slab edge. During the pour, I used a piece of PVC pipe to make a drainage trough sloping toward the drain hole. Now when rain blows in, it will drain right out again.

Monday we will start up again and complete the floors in the laundry room and the second bedroom.

Bonus Photos:

We started today off with pancakes and fresh-squeezed mandarin orange juice:


Here’s Jabo, up on the lift for an oil change:


Cynthia is growing catnip. It is an excellent mosquito repellent, too:


Catnip spreads like wildfire, so Cynthia is growing it in a pot. Hmmm, kitty pot.

A lone dahlia popped its head in the back garden:


The Banana Report: They are growing:


Cynthia doesn’t particularly like bananas, but banana bread is another story. I think we’ll have plenty, and I’ll be going on a banana bender!

The flower at the bottom of the banana stalk is really pretty inside:


Here’s a closeup:

Armando says that when the flower falls, the bananas are just about ready to harvest.

Armando says that when the flower falls, the bananas are just about ready to harvest.

An aloe vera plant, going wild:

Cynthia keeps a pot of alo at the door to her studio. It is a quick remedy when she burns herself with hot glass.

Cynthia keeps a pot of aloe vera at the door to her studio. It is a quick remedy when she burns herself with hot glass.

Everything grows so big and lush here in the tropics. This not only applies to plants, but also to wildlife. The other day Armando and I noticed that some birds in the lot to the west of us were all up in arms. Grabbing a machete, we walked into the jungle lot. After a lot of looking, Armando spotted a large boa, mostly submerged in the swampy undergrowth just a couple feet away. It was about four or five inches in diameter and maybe six- or seven-feet in length. We left it alone to do its business with the birds. Sorry, no photo exists of this one that got away.

Spoiler Allert; Big spider photo next. Spiderphobes turn away now and I’ll say goodbye for this post. Thanks for stopping by.

But we did get a picture of a pretty big spider. Cynthia called me to come home to deal with a dead spider in the bedroom, right next to our bed. Even dead, it was giving her the heebie jeebies. Here’s a photo:

How did it die? That is the question. Where was it headed in the night? Did intrepid snake fighter and explorer cat Bob Bob get it? So many questions.

How did it die? That is the question. And where was it headed in the night? Did intrepid snake fighter and explorer cat BobBob get it? So many questions.

That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by.

15 thoughts on “Floors! ~ We Pour Concrete Floors In Our Shipping Container House

  1. For those of you questioning the size of that spider, I’d have to say it was bigger than a small mouse. That was a big marigold flower that was used for comparison.

  2. Hi there Fred! I am wondering what prep work you did to the plywood floor before pouring concrete. Also have you had any problems with rust where the concrete meets the Metal walls? I would like to concrete inside my containers but have been concerned about rusting. ..

    Thank you in advance

    • Hi Korinna, Our containers are from the pre-plywood era. They are one-and-a quarter-inch thick mahogany. We would have loved to have kept them showing, but all the toxic pesticide in them made that a very bad idea. I did nothing, poured directly on top. Once the water is out of the concrete, there really can’t be any additional damage to the wood (I hope). And no, no rust. There was already a lot of paint. I brushed an additional coat or two of paint at any rust spots. Again, once the water is out of the concrete there will be no water source inside the containers. So I’m not very concerned about the wood or metal over the long haul. For plywood floors, I might put down some epoxy paint or maybe some black plastic sheeting. Just my opinion, good luck with your project! Fred

  3. How thick did you pour the concrete? what size rebar did you use? Have you seen any cracking or damage near the walls due to differences in the thermal expansion rates of the two materials?

    • Hi Lee,

      Inside the containers I poured three-inches thick. When it was a single-container-wide pour I used re-mat (6″x6″ wire mesh for slabs). When I poured two-containers wide, I used 3/8″ rebar going the length of the containers and 1/2″ rebar going across the containers. The rebar was centered more or less at 18-inches. I figured that the 1/2″ rebar spanning the width would keep the slab from cracking at the junction between the two containers. So far so good. Only a few small shrinkage cracks. No cracking near the walls.

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