13 Helpful Tips for Installing a Container Shelter

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13 Helpful Tips for Installing a Container Shelter

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A container shelter can last up to 20 years before you would need to consider installing a replacement fabric cover. Believe it or not, there’s not much you need to do to maintain a shelter once it’s installed. In fact, the secret to longevity is taking care throughout the initial installation process.

Installing a container shelter can be done in 3 simple stages:

  1. Mark out and place the containers
  2. Assemble and erect the frame
  3. Install and tension the cover

In this post, we’ve covered off some helpful tips for installing a container shelter. The tips are organised in order of the installation process so you can get an idea of where they fit in. These tips are a guide only and should not replace your shelter installation instructions and/or layout drawings.

Please note: These tips don’t just apply to Allshelter container shelters. They are general tips which can be applied to other brands of container mounted shelters. 

Mark Out and Place the Containers

Tip 1: Ensure that the area is nice and flat

When choosing an area to install your container shelter, it’s important to pick an area that is reasonably flat. The flatter the area, the easier your container shelter will be to install. Remember some equipment will be needed to help lift the shelter arches into position – flat and stable ground is needed on all sides for safe access by lifting equipment and Elevated Work Platforms. Refer also to Tip 4 which covers how the ground level can effect your endwall if you’re installing one.

Tip 2: Correctly position your containers

For container positioning, make sure you refer to the layout drawings and/or instructions provided with your container shelter. Please note that taking the time to carefully place your containers will save you time and effort throughout the rest of the installation process. Position your containers to the exact shelter span – dimensions measured at the tops of the container. To square the corners, ensure that both diagonal dimensions between the containers are equal, as shown in the diagrams below.

Container placement diagram

Alternatively, you can use the ‘345 Rule’ to achieve square corners. The 345 Rule or Method is essentially builders’ terminology for Pythagoras Theorem: a2 + b2 = c2.   If for example the short side of the triangle is 3m, and the side that extends from it (at exactly 90 degrees) is 4m, the hypotenuse, or longest side, will be 5m exactly. The 345 rule can be applied to as big or little triangle as necessary.

Check out the diagram below (please note it’s not to scale).

345 Rule Explanation Diagram

Tip 3: Keep the cover rolled up until you need it

We recommend keeping the cover wrapped and rolled up until you need it. This will keep the cover clean – free of dirt, and will prevent it from getting damaged. Also remember that when unrolled, there is a much greater chance of the cover blowing away if it’s not secured.

Tip 4: When installing your containers, ensure to keep them level

As covered in Tip 1, it makes sense to ensure that the area where you’re installing your shelter is nice and flat and that your containers are level. This step is extra important if you happen to be installing endwalls with your shelter.  It’ll  ensure the endwall fits properly (no visible gaps around the frame or at the bottom) and that it sits straight.

Tip 5: A slight tilt to the outside edge of your containers will ensure the water sheds away

Even if you’ve got a guttering system in place, you don’t want water to pool where the cover attaches to the container. In most cases what ever you’re storing underneath your shelter needs to be kept out of the weather, so you don’t want water coming inside your shelter. Only a slight tilt is needed, and will be enough to ensure the water sheds away.

Iinstall the container shelter the Frame

Tip 6: Take careful note of the anchor bracket layout

Make sure you refer to the layout drawings and/or instructions provided with your shelter for anchor bracket positioning. The achor bracket or anchor assemblies are the arc frame supports, and are also what attaches your shelter to the shipping container. It is crucial these brackets are in the correct position, as the rest of the shelter installation will depend on this step being correct. Correct positioning will result in a smooth install of the shelter frame. Use a stringline to assist with positioning.

Tip 7: Take care when positioning screws and bolts

Where possible, place all screws and bolts in a position where they will not come into direct contact with the cover. For the end arches, position your screws or bolts on the underside and inside edge to prevent contact with the edge of the shelter cover or the cover pelmet. For the middle arches, position your screws or bolts on the sides.

Diagram showing positioning of screws

Tip 8: Cover joins, screws and sharp edges

Apply a protective layer (i.e duct tape) over any joins, screws/bolts and sharp edges. This extra step will be added protection and will prevent damage of the cover when it’s pulled over in the next stage. It is also a good idea to apply a continuous length of duct tape along the front and rear edges of the curved frames. Remember to also cover the screws or bolts for your endwall frame and your cover pipes. Note that you can also remove any sharp points with a grinder. 

Image of applying duct tape

Install and Tension the Cover

Tip 9: Install endwalls prior to installing the cover

If you have ordered endwalls with your shelter, we recommend installing these first – prior to fitting the cover – as access can be difficult. The cover pelmet normally sits down over the top of the endwall, so the cover installation should still be an easy process.

Tip 10: Put a drop sheet down first before rolling out the cover

To keep  your cover looking good, we recommend putting a drop sheet or some plastic down first before you roll out the cover. This helps to keep your cover clean.

Tip 11: Install the cover on a day with no wind

This is probably the most important tip of all the tips we can give! You must install your your shelter on a day with no wind. The cover can act like a sail, so wind gusts can result in the cover moving around or even blowing away. When installing, make sure you keep hold of the cover at all times until it is fully secured. This will help prevent damage, and prevent the cover from blowing away. 

Tip 12: Take care when pulling the cover over

As you pull the cover across, we recommend having a person inside the  shelter to check the pulling ropes or cover pipes in the cover don’t snag on the frames. Have an approved Elevated Work Platform (EWP) ready to use for access so you can fix any snagging. Once the cover is in place, square the cover up on both sides and ensure the pelmets are pulled down over the end arches.

Tip 13: Place tension front to back before side to side, and ensure there is even tension

Apply tension in the longitudinal direction first (front to back of shelter). Then apply tension to the sides or the lateral direction second. This is key to ensuring the cover is centred, and that there’s even overhang on each end. It’s difficult to get the cover over each arch if the sides have tension applied. The longitudinal direction should also take the greatest pressure. 

When observed from the outside, the fabric should be firm without any crinkles and look mostly flat between the frames. The cover is over tensioned  (tensioned too tight in the lateral direction) if there is pulling or large dips between the frames. This may result in excessive stress on the fabric seams. See below images showing a comparison of a correctly tension shelter and a poorly tensioned shelter. 

Image of a correctly tensioned shelterA correctly tensioned shelter

Image of a poorly tensioned shelterA poorly tensioned shelter – note the significant dips between the frames and the crinkles

We also recommend repeating tensioning again after a few weeks, after the cover has had time to settle. A well tensioned cover will have a longer lifespan!

All these recommendations should be covered by your install instructions that come with your container shelter. If in doubt, feel free to contact us.

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