Every container comes with a set of doors at one end. That’s great, but what do you do if you want custom doors in the side, too? Most companies that rent and sell containers also perform customization to suit. If you’re buying a container and need some custom doors, this article will cover details about what container companies can customize along with details for doing it yourself.
Customization offered by Container Companies
Most shipping container rental and sales companies offer some kind of customization service. Some keep it more basic, such as side installed roll-up doors, while others will help you design and plan an entire home built with shipping containers. It goes without saying that, if you choose to have the container company perform the customization, it will add to the cost of the container. The upside to this is that you will have a container that is ready to go when you have it delivered. If you have the budget, this really is the best option. If you don’t have the budget, you will need to consider what metalworking tools you have and if you possess sufficient skills to do the work yourself. While you don’t need extraordinary skill at using a torch or welding, you do need solid experience with the basics. Otherwise, all you may succeed in accomplishing are several holes burned through where you were trying to weld.
Types of doors
- Personal Access Doors–A standard door. These doors are pre-hung and made out of steel. They usually include a locking doorknob.
- Roll-up Doors–This door is the kind of door you see on self-storage spaces. The door literally rolls up into a coil as you raise it.
- Top Hinge Door–A door that swings open from the bottom with a hinge at the top. May require additional hardware to raise and lower. Perfect for a portable concession stand, signup booth, or similar application. When open, it provides shade and shelter from the weather.
- Bottom Hinge Door–Similar to the Top Hinge Door, except this door opens from the top with the hinge at the bottom of the door. Ideal for a standing platform or even a ramp, if built strong enough. May need to be equipped for safe opening and closing.
- Sliding Doors–Doors that are mounted on a track that allows them to slide open and out of the way. Generally mounted on the outside of the container.
For the Do It Yourselfer
If you have the metal fabrication and carpentry skills to tackle a project like this, you may want to go for it. You will save money and have something to brag about to your friends. To help you determine if you have what it takes to install your own custom doors, here is a skills checklist:
- All-purpose Cutter/Grinder–know how to use this tool safely and with the right cutting wheel for the metal you are cutting.
- Welding–You will need to know how to weld weathering steel, along with the type of electrode or wire alloy to use
- Industrial Carpentry–If you plan to install an entry door, it will help if you know how to install a steel-framed door.
To re-iterate, if you lack metalworking skills, you probably should leave this to the professionals at the container company. Renting or purchasing the equipment and supplies needed to learn basic metalworking skills will cost at least as much as having the container company do it. Furthermore, your inexperience may cause you to harm yourself by flash burning your eyes, or worse.
After carefully considering your skillset, and determining that you have the requisite skills to tackle this project, you will need to do some planning before you begin work.
Planning the Customization
It’s a good idea to draw out what you plan to do, with details about the door type and where you plan to install it (or them). Make a list of all tools and hardware you will need, along with any locking devices you might utilize for security.
If you plan to install a top hinge door or bottom hinge door, you will also need to work out how you plan to safely open and close the doors. These doors will be heavy enough to make it difficult, even dangerous for some people to lift. To prevent this, you will need some kind of durable winching system in place that will do the lifting for you. These door types will also need some kind of stable support. The top hinge door will likely need the open end to be supported by sturdy steel posts driven into the ground or mounted in stable bases. The bottom hinge door will require stable support at the corners, down the sides, and underneath if it is going to be used as a ramp or if people will be standing on it. Otherwise, the door may become twisted or bent, making it difficult to close and secure.
When planning, it is important to consider how secure your container will be with your new doors. To enhance security, you may want to consider adding an alarm system or some kind of physical barrier preventing a would-be intruder from getting inside of your container. Rollup doors are notoriously insecure, and require additional security measures. This can be in the form of barriers that make it impossible to pry the door up from the bottom, to an improved means by which to lock the roll-up door. Some type of accordion-like folding gate can be installed such that it is secured inside the container, making it impossible to remove from the outside.
When installing your custom doors, care must be taken to make sure they are completely weatherproof, especially if plan to move it a lot. If there’s even a tiny leak, rain will find its way inside when you’re driving 115km/hr down the highway. This can lead to damage of goods or the container interior itself. Even when the container is going to be used at one location for storage, it should be fully weatherproofed. This will prevent damage to whatever you have stored inside the container.
When you need additional doors, it’s best to let the pros at the container company take care of you. If you have the skills, tools, and equipment to do the work yourself, that’s great–you will be able to show off your hard to work to everyone that sees your container. Properly installed, your additional doors will provide you many years of service.