Make a Splash With Container Pools

Emilee Geist

Shipping containers are kind of like LEGO bricks. Sturdy and stackable, they can be crafted into all sorts of creative things, from fold-out coffee shops to surprisingly stylish modern homes. They also happen to be the perfect starting point for your very own DIY portable swimming pool.

A sleek modern shipping container pool designed by Modpools.
A sleek modern shipping container pool designed by Modpools.

These 40-by-8 foot, 96-square-foot steel boxes can be found virtually anywhere in the world, bought for $5,000 USD or less and easily moved to the location of your choice. While the installation of an in-ground swimming pool can run you between $35,000 and $60,000, a finished DIY shipping container pool will be just a fraction of that cost, not including any decks you might want to add on.

Since they’re rectangular, they’re perfect for lap swimmers or just soaking on a hot day. And best of all, you can take them with you when you move. If 40 feet is too big, a 20-foot container will do the job. The look of a shipping crate in your backyard isn’t for everyone, but if you have a contemporary home, it could even add to the aesthetics.

Close-up view of a Modpools Container Pool's sleek underwater detailing.
Close-up view of a Modpools Container Pool’s sleek underwater detailing.
A transparent panel built into the side of this container pool gives you a clear view of a fun underwater world.
A transparent panel built into the side of this container pool gives you a clear view of a fun underwater world.

To make your own, you’ll probably want to start by getting a permit from your local authorities. You’ll also need a proper foundation. Some people just lay out an even pad of gravel, but a concrete slab is ideal. Since shipping containers aren’t designed to hold water, the walls will also need to be reinforced to withstand the pressure, and you’ll have to waterproof the inside with welding, waterproofing paints, a fiberglass insert, or a concrete liner. The cheapest option is simply a thick vinyl pond liner. More details on the process are available at iContainerHome.

For an example of a DIY shipping crate pool, check out this one created by Brooke in Austin, Texas. She treated it “like an inside-out ship,” making it waterproof from the inside with a product called Water Weld.

A gorgeous DIY shipping container pool in Austin, Texas.
A gorgeous DIY shipping container pool in Austin, Texas.

It took buying an above ground pool skimmer (I buy everything online at Doheny’s – free shipping!), hiring a welder to cut a hole in the side of the pool and fabricate a frame, then coating and painting all the raw metal (and doing a quick re-coat of the bottom of the pool since it was drained anyhow) with Sani-Tred’s multi-step no rust paint system and then Olympic’s Zeron.”

If all of that sounds like too much work but you love the look, you can always have a shipping container swimming pool made for you. Modpools specializes in shipping container pools, and their results speak for themselves. They sometimes insert glass panels so you can see through the sides, build decks around them, or integrate them into the design of an existing home. You can add on smart features to control temperature, jets, and lighting from your smartphone.

Use a divider to turn half of your shipping container pool into a steamy hot tub.
Use a divider to turn half of your shipping container pool into a steamy hot tub.
A sleek modern shipping container pool designed by Modpools.
A sleek modern shipping container pool designed by Modpools.

“Unlike conventional pools that can take weeks to pour and cure, your Modpool can be up and running the day of its arrival. Add a mod pool divider to quickly convert your pool into a hot tub and back again.”

Want to start a little smaller? A dumpster pool might be more your speed. That’s right, we said dumpster — but we swear it’s way cooler than it sounds.

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