Hi From IOWA! I'm hoping to put up a new storage building for some of my project cars & tractors & need some advise on the floor type? I had always thought that cement was best, but I was told by someone recently that if the building is unheated that packed gravel will do as well for moisture? What do you folks think? Thanks John
Proper base prep,folowed by at least 6 mil visqueen and minimum 4000Lb concrete,sealed. Reconsider the heat,as winter is a long time to go without a "fix".
Gravel isn't cheap considering its limitations. You won't regret putting down concrete the first time you need to use a floor jack to change a flat.
(Message edited by WMH on October 31, 2016)
I seem to spend at least half of my life on a creeper and they don't roll on gravel- packed or loose. An engine hoist will not roll either.
For just storage, packed gravel if it cost less. You can put down a plank for a jack or a piece of plywood to lay on. If you are putting a metal roof on, even in a storage building, I would go with plywood and vapor barrier under the roofing.
Tractor tires store better on gravel.
Cement with two inches of styrofoam under it so it doesn't sweat.
If you put down gravel or just leave it with dirt you can always have a 20 X 20 foot concrete area just inside the door to work on.
Put plenty of electrical outlets all the way around the place too. At least on double outlet every 10 feet. They are cheap.
In floor hot water heating is economical to run. Yes it costs a bit more to install. I live in Canada and heat about 6,000 sq ft to about 45-50 F. Yes good insulation, especially in the ceiling (R40 is best), but certainly pays off in the heating bill
I'm looking to install a tankless condensing(95% efficient) home size hot water heater (190,000 BTu) next summer to trim the gas bill even more.
My "indulgence " is that I can walk into the shop and feel like working at any time in reasonable comfort.
Consider on it
When I built my barn I did a perimeter drain system then 12" of gravel, starting with river rock then layers of smaller and smaller gravel. Then we compacted the gravel. Then 2 layers of very heavy visqueen.
Then after rebar 6 full inches of concrete, I think it was 5 sack if I remember right. No moisture no cracks and its been 15 years. The main barn is 5000 sq feet with 3 hoists and no cracks or issues. Interesting, my 1000 sq ft machine shop 4" concrete rebar and not so much base, and I have cracks in that floor.
My advise do a concrete floor the right way and you won't have an issue. Make damn sure you are getting a full sack count when the mud comes.
Things roll better on cement - concrete!
Cement ONLY! I almost made the mistake of not putting in cement 'cause I didn't have the money. On the good advice and an offer of a loan from my 80 y.o. neighbor I borrowed off my retirement annuity instead and put it in. Man am I glad I did. Wouldn't trust a car lift on gravel!!
CONCRETE! You won't regret it
Storage! Storage! Storage!
A possible problem with hot water heating or any other heater which uses gas, coal, oil or any other thing with a flame is dripping fuel from Model T's which is quite common and can lead to a fire. I would recommend a separation between any equipment using a flame and the location where a T is parked. The fumes from the gasoline will burn.
You know I was going to suggest you do half & half if the place is big enough but I now doubt you'd be saving anything. Full Concrete. The gravel has it's place but it's a stop gap measure.
I guess it depends on what the shed is for. If you already have a shop and this is purely a storage space, you can get away with just gravel for awhile. If you're going to build it as a shop space, prep for concrete.
When my grandfather built his garage back in the late fifties or early sixties, he had a dirt floor in it for at least a year before he poured concrete. That way the building had a chance to settle. It worked well, as the concrete didn't crack until no more than five years ago.
Bottom line- If your going to work on your cars and any other type of equipment a cement floor is DEFINATELY the way to go. Spend a little extra money now and be done with it. You'll be glad you did. - End of story.
No,A dirt floor is never good as it has humus in it!!!! Much better to remove dirt first and build a base! Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
As a retired "road builder" by trade - "CEMENT" is just ONE of the ingredients along with sand & gravel to make the finished product of CONCRETE !
Just a point of clarification, fella's !
A concrete floor is a heat sink like things stored in a shop-----it holds heat or cold. My shop has a 100K BTU gas forced air furnace mounted ten feet above the floor because gas fumes flow down next to the floor. Most heat loss in Oregon is the last two feet next to the outside wall and the ceiling.
My shop heats about one degree a minuet from its starting temperature starting often until its brought to the set temperature for an hour or so when the floor and contents are warmed up then comes on infrequently. My gas bill heating my home and shop with gas, hot water, cooking, dryer has never been over 100. a month. Insulation is the key you only buy it once.
Thank you Steve, that's also one of my pet peeves--handed down to me by my father who was particular about the use of certain words!
Concrete in an unheated building will sweat.
Gravel is better in a storage building as your cars will stay drier, especially in the spring when a cold slab would draw moisture in and condense it on everything.
Concrete is better if the space will be insulated and well sealed. I don't turn the heat on in my shop until December because the slab keeps it warm for a few months, as long as I keep things closed up.
Les, I hope you are using glycol in the underfloor heating!
Building codes vary state to state even the area of a state. My area requires a 6 mill vapor barrier under concrete in a living area. I put one in my shop and used glass fiber in the concrete. There is R 40 in the ceiling and R 19 in the walls with all the windows energy efficient. My one mistake was pouring 4 inches of about 3500 lb wish 6 inches in the area of a two post lift was installed. Un like Canada and MN 18 inches is all that's needed for footings below grade. The Water table is just below that living between two lakes. I hear Alaska needs six feet below grade for footings.
Concrete or gravel won't make a difference if your ground is not properly prepared before you add either. All top soil needs to be removed, proper grading in and around the building needs to be done. The building should be higher then the surrounding area so water drains away. And field drains need to be placed around the building. The key is proper prep of the area.
John, when I built my shop on the farm I had a cat come in and scrape the black dirt off and put sand fill in. It was November, then put up a pole building and put concrete in the next summer. That will give you time to think about it, but hurry the dam snow will be here soon!
I scraped the topsoil off with a 4020 and loader then spread the sand with the same. Next i had a farm tiler go in one door and out the other and the machine filled the 18x14' doors.My mistake was using 5 open center [Dayton] truck rims welded to make a sump. The idea was flawed because i.m told never use a round sump? Re rod and 6 to 7" of 6 bag mix. Bud in Wheeler,Mi where it was 73 November first!!!
I heat my barn and machine shop with a high efficiency used motor oil furnace. These new, used motor oil furnaces burn motor oil gear oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid. I keep the barn and machine shop at 62 degrees year around.
My machine tools, lathes, milling machines, and other heavy metal machines are much more accurate when kept at a stable temperature. I hate picking up a piece of cold steel and having it stick to my hand.
I use about 1500 gallons per year and because my wife's Subaru Service Centers generate about 4000 gallons per year I have enough oil to heat her 2 shops and my barn with some left over to give to those less fortunate. Now it costs nearly 75 cents a gallon to have it hauled away to recycle, better to burn it and keep warm.
Heating for free is really nice but the furnace will run about 5 grand. There is annual maintenance that runs about $400.
If you drop a little part on gravel you may never find it. With cement you at least stand a chance.
Unless it rolls, and inevitably it will. Some guy named Murphy told me that.
I have both. For just storage gravel is okay, as long as cars can be driven. For working on cars and moving non-running cars, concrete is BEST. Dropped parts are hard to find in gravel and vehicles are hard to push.
Unless you build a very tall building with a very large door it is so much better to do it when the building is started!! Remember,Never use pipe in a doorway as water will run both ways! Angle iron on a slight out bound tilt works very well but in my doorway i used i side of a school bus frame!! Bud in Wheeler,Mi.PS,Very happy and lucky my Wife bought me another Henry for Christmas yesterday!! Bud.
In Oregon its against the law to sell a wood stove without a EPA current sticker stating its particulates emitted. Every year the law gets stronger just like on modern cars. I wonder when natural gas will not meet the standard? The VW issue is a good lesson all though they work well!
For now at least we are not required to have a EPA check like Portland does. Many folks register there car here if they have property here.
My uncle has a machine shed on his farm in Iowa with a gravel floor that stays dry in the winter but equipment is only parked there. For any mechanical work you'd for sure want cement.
There's a reason why all the driveways in England are gravel. It's cause all the cars leak oil. If it's just storage, then packed gravel or even packed dirt.
Yeah, a little pad big enough for one car to roll around on would be nice. Especially if you could partition or wall it off and just heat the space you were workin on the car in. I can always put o warm clothes, but I can't get paint to dry or other fluids to flow well if it's cold outside.