Shipping Container Pools: The Essential Pros and Cons
They’re cheap, they’re stylish, they look cool...so what’s the catch?
We agree that shipping container pools are awesome, but like anything else in life, they don’t offer a one-size-fits-all type of experience.
Some people are attracted to all that the shipping container design has to offer, while others would not be able to meet their needs with this type of pool.
At River Pools, we manufacture, sell, and install fiberglass swimming pools, but we like to educate our readers about all types of pools. In this article, we’ve offered the essential pros and cons of buying and owning a container pool.
By the time you finish reading this, you should have a better idea as to whether this pool is right for you and your family.
Shipping Container Pool Pros
1. They're often cheaper than other types of pools
Small shipping container pools can cost you less than $17,000 (not including additional charges like water features or deck construction). These smaller pools might give you 96 square feet of space and span around 8 feet across at the widest. That’s about the size of a standard parking spot.
2. They’re stylish
This pool's sleek, modern style is one of the main reasons it has become so popular. Shipping container pools go hand in hand with the new trend of shipping container homes, and a lot of people request these types of pools specifically for the aesthetics.
3. You may not need a gate if your container is above ground
An above ground container pool may not need a large fence built around it, which can eliminate one of the big expenses that go into buying a swimming pool. Instead, you might see many of these pools with a single gate blocking off the entry, which often meet national and local fence requirements.
4. They make excellent lap pools
Calling all athletes! The rectangular shape and vast length of these pools make them excellent for racing and swimming laps. Circular pools are often good enough for swimming laps as well, but shipping containers can provide the length that you need for quality training.
5. You can take the pool with you when you leave
If you’re not settled down in a house yet, or if you’re planning on moving in the future, your shipping container pool can come with you to your new property! This incredible mobility is something that you can’t really get with inground pools.
6. They can be installed in one day
The installation time for a container pool is comparable to that of a fiberglass pool. Vinyl liner and concrete swimming pools, on the other hand, can take months to build. If time is of the essence, your best option would be to choose a ready-to-use shipping container pool or a fiberglass pool.
Shipping Container Pool Cons
1. They can also be just as expensive, if not more expensive than traditional pools
Larger container pools can cost more than $40,000 to purchase, set up, and install. These pools are more spacious with roughly 320 square feet, but the space pretty much only expands lengthwise. Keep in mind that this cost does not include the price of labor, water features, a deck, or fencing.
2. The shipping container look isn’t for everyone
It’s also true that not everyone wants to have part of a train in their backyard. Many pool owners prefer a wider or more creative design with an open water space. Since the cost of a large container pool is comparable to the cost of a vinyl liner, concrete, or fiberglass swimming pool, it can really come down to how you want your pool to look.
3. Above ground containers may offer only one entry and exit point
You might save money by not building a fence or wrap around deck, but your container pool will probably only have one entry and exit point.
How many times have you seen kids crawl out of the deep end just to jump back in? They may not be able to do this if your above ground pool only has a partial deck.
Maintenance is also going to be a problem for you with this type of design. Fishing out leaves and vacuuming won’t be easy if you can’t walk all the way around your pool.
4. They’re all the same shape
Container pools are pretty much all narrow and rectangular, which is nice for swimming laps but not so nice for playing and floating.
Picture your kids playing tag in a gymnasium. They have room to run around and escape the person who’s “it”. Now imagine them playing tag in a narrow hallway. Pool games just aren’t the same in this type of space.
5. The quality is not guaranteed
Shipping container pools are waterproofed either by applying waterproof paint, spraying concrete, fitting a vinyl liner, or inserting a fiberglass shell. Adding a fiberglass shell is one of the most popular methods of making a shipping container suitable for swimming, but not all fiberglass pools are made equal.
As experts in fiberglass, we know all of the pitfalls of creating a fiberglass pool shell. Your shipping container pool manufacturer may not.
To give you a good example, you could end up with spider cracks if the gelcoat is applied poorly or if the shell is not handled with care. Unfortunately, spider cracks can be difficult and expensive to fix, and it’s not something that you should have to deal with.
To see how fiberglass pool shells should be made, check out how we make our fiberglass pools the River Pools Way.
6. The metal will rust
It’s safe to say that if you put an old metal box in your backyard, you’ll probably be battling rust for a long time. More maintenance activities and additional upkeep costs will be required to keep your container pool in good condition.
7. Shipping containers don’t work well with with salt systems
Let’s face it, salt and metal are not really compatible with each other. While the pool will be lined to hold the water, the container shell will still be vulnerable to corrosion. You should expect significant maintenance problems down the road if you integrate a saltwater system.
8. Your pool might be expensive to heat and cool
If you plan to keep your pool above ground, be prepared to spend a lot of money on heating and cooling. The earth surrounding inground pools provides more insulation than most people realize and without it, the perfect water temperature can be difficult and expensive to maintain.
Is a container pool right for you?
If you enjoy the aesthetics, shape, and style of a shipping container, this pool may be right for you. If you're also looking for a lap pool with a simple shape or a pool that can be relocated, a container pool would be right up your alley!
On the flip side, if you want a wider, rounder area for playing and socializing that has unlimited entry points, you probably won’t get it from a shipping container. To get this type of space, you’ll need to go with a traditional pool option like concrete, vinyl liner, or fiberglass.
At River Pools, we manufacture world-class fiberglass pools for homeowners across North America. If you’re shopping around for a swimming pool, why not take a look at our wide selection of models and check out our pricing guide to see if a fiberglass pool could be the one for you?
Be sure to leave a comment below if you have any questions, and download our free ebook for a full breakdown of the differences between concrete, vinyl liner, and fiberglass pools.