Not All Containers Are Created Equal: Your Guide to Choosing the Right One

Not All Containers Are Created Equal: Your Guide to Choosing the Right One

Specifying a container can sometimes be a gamble. Do you understand the construction? Is the manufacturer reliable? Is the product designed for commercial use? While each material has its merits but is it suited for your use and will it stand the test of time?  These are all questions we worry about when specifying a product. By getting the answers and following our guide, you’ll be able to choose a product appropriately and ensure you can sleep at night.

When it comes to choosing a container, it's important to consider the weight of the material you will be installing inside of it. The weight of an individual piece can quickly exceed 1000 lbs. when you add the weight of the soil, drain rocks, plant material and water. This is why it's important to use an experienced and seasoned manufacturer since they ensure that the container you select will be able to withstand your weight requirements and won't end up like the container shown below. 


In addition to the weight, when considering your container it's important to know that not every material is appropriate for commercial use. Porous materials such as terra-cotta, light weight concrete, or low fired stoneware ceramics are fine for residential applications but have no place in commercial properties.  Instead you should use materials such as fiberglass, concrete or metal.


When selecting a container, it's also important to know that large pieces need reinforcement. Straight sided containers and any piece over 30” in diameter will need reinforcement of some kind.  The bowl above is fiberglass and as you can see it is constructed correctly, steel reinforcement is bonded to the fiberglass form, this will give the bowl rigidity and insure that it will stand up to heavy soil, rock and water loads. 


Perhaps the most important part of specifying is considering the exterior finish as this is what everyone will see. While structural integrity is the foundation of a long life cycle, if you don’t have a quality long lasting finish the pieces will not look good.  Most manufacturers will use an automotive grade paint on their products.  Which like the paint on your car, will fade over time and scratch quite easily.  While the paint is fine for a car that is cared for it's not acceptable for containers as most people do not ever maintain their containers. So over time wear and tear becomes quite unattractive. 

As an alternative to automotive paint, the above pieces were constructed with a coating of Bronze metal, Bronze is chemically bonded to the surface.  The outcome is that you have a long lasting durable metal finish that can withstand the rigors of any environment.  Since it is real metal, the life cycle is substantially increased when compared to paint and you have outstanding UV, scratch and even graffiti resistance.  Another great benefit of using the Fusion of real metals is weight reduction.

Armed with a little bit of knowledge you will be able to specify containers with confidence.  Always be sure to educate yourself on material used, construction/reinforcement, manufacturer track record and finish.  Be sure not to take any unnecessary risks, it’s not fun and it's expensive to have to replace containers.

About IAP / International Art Properties, Inc.

IAP is a manufacturer of modern containers and furniture since 1974.  IAP is located in the San Francisco Bay Area and actively stocks several thousand pieces at any one time.  We specialize in large commercial grade containers with our unique Fusion finish on lightweight reinforced fiberglass forms.  Our Fusion finish bonds metals such as Bronze, Copper, Nickel, Stainless Steel etc., the end result is a strong lightweight form with a durable long lasting metal finish.  Please visit us at to view our entire collection.

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