I am needing extra garage space. I have been thinking of building a
pole barn type garage across form my attached garage. The problem is
money right now. I can only afford a gravel floor. I would like to
complete this project myself with maybe some help lifting and things
from my brother. My thinking is 24 feet wide by 32 feet long. (I can
get pre made trusses at 24 feet.)
Is it ok to have a gravel floor? Right now, the lot where the building
would go is about 10 inches different from the highest point to the
Also, I read somewhere of a construction method I had never heard of
before. You would gig holes just like for poles in a pole barn but you
would put posts in there that only stuck out a foot or two. You would
put purlins similar to what you put on the top of pole barn posts
around these lower posts. Then, conventional stick framing similar to a
house was used on top of this. I dont know of anyone around here that
builds that way but it seemed interesting and easier for a man to do
himself because htere were no tall poles to deal with and fiddle with
getting perfectly square and the walls could be built in sections.
I live out in farm country and codes I dont believe will be an issue.
You'd be better off with joists and a plywood floor over a gravel crawl
space. Or just wait and pour concrete.
I think you'll want to make a space that is as livable as possible.
You want it as much like your livingroom as possible, except no carpet.
I would agree, the gravel floor will be a major PIA to deal with. No
way to clean up sawdust, and having sawdust on top of the gravel would
mean taking that entire layer of both off prior to concrete. The
sawdust would decompose and start to leave voids where the concreate
can break out.
Now if purlins are the same as using pier blocks to create a raised
joist floor so you can put electrical and dust collection in the floor,
then you could do that yourself over time. Maybe making a 20x20 pad to
start with and then adding on from there.
In my local area a 30x30 x 2" concrete pad is about $2250 + sales tax.
I have never heard of a slab that was only 2 inches thick?
The other problem is I cant use a wood floor as I also do some welding
and cutting of metal and need a space to park one car.
Ask your concrete company if they do fiberglass reinforced concrete.
that is about as strong as I have ever seen. We use it up here in Vancouver
Canada for radiant floor heat.
We pour it only 1.5" thick on top of the plywood.
I think if you can get the gravel level and compacted you could do a pretty
thin floor with that kind of concrete
still wouldnt want to drive heavy machinery on it though.
From the outside it could look like any other outbuilding/pole barn, just
when you go in the garage door there would be a gravel floor, with a
dividing wall with some steps up to the door of the raised floor portion
(think of an attached garage...)
Actually, I've found carpeting to work out very well in my wood
shop. I started out with just scraps between my feet and the
concrete and liked it so much the next time a used carpet came
available, I grabbed it. Lots easier on breakage and damage when
you drop things, and less of a problem when a board end has to
sit on it. I'd miss it if I didn't have it now.
You'd think it'd be a problem to clean, but it isn't; got an
old, retired Hoover that keeps it looking pretty good.
I've a basement shop in what was a recreation room. When we moved in,
it had pretty tired, low pile glued down carpeting, along with a big
paint stain in the middle. I decided to leave it for the time being
and figured I'd rip it out if it got to be a pain, and then replace it
when (if) we ever moved and turn the room back into a rec room. It
certainly is a lot easier underfoot, and as Pop says, not as hard to
keep clean as I expected. And it really helps muffle the noise.
I don't think I'd put carpet in a shop on purpose, but after living
with it for 10+ years, it's proven to be more practical than I
expected by far. Now we are preparing to move, and it's cleaned up
well enough with a good vacuuming that I'm just going to leave it be.
Even the old paint stain is mostly gone from the repeated vacuumings.
What kind of woodworking are you planning on doing in there? I can't
imagine using power tools on a gravel floor. If you're not using power
tools (neader route) do you really need a 24'x32' shop? Could you get by
with a smaller garden shed type building?
You'll still have to "fiddle with" getting the structure square regardless
of stick or pole construction unless you want a Homer Simpson-esque
building. I've built my own shop and pole barn - stick construction on a
slab, and a pole barn for my tractor & implements. I would say the stick
construction was easier for a 1-man job. Even with the help of your
brother, I wouldn't want to attempt hoisting 24' trusses unless one of you
has some serious know-how or heavy equipment.
I would think long & hard about what you want, save your money, then do it
right the first time. Make do with the garage - somehow - until then.
Mobile bases work wonderfully.
I know it has to be square, I was just saying that it might be easier
sqaring a series of short posts vs tall posts for one person.
I do some welding and cutting too and have two small welders and
cutting torch. SO a wood floor is out.
I also need room to park a car.
I thought about a concrete slap and putting framing directly on top of
it. But the guy quoting the concrete said I would have to have a footer
which ads drastically to the cost. Why would I need a footer?
Is it possible to pour a concrete slab yourself? Is it hard to do?
On 3/8/2006 2:48 PM stryped mumbled something about the following:
At least now we know where you live that you don't want archived.
Ooops, it's now archived. Not that you'll ever explain why you don't
want your posts archive. But that's okay, Tom and I will make sure they
You need a footer so the edge of the slab under the walls does not
crack away form the slab due to the weight of the wall. IIf you
have a footer you can float the floor inside of it, or support the
floor on a ledge on the inside of the footer, though that is more
typical of a industrial construction.
There are construction techniques that combine the two, basicly
a trench is dug for the footer, the outside is boxed in with forms
and the footer and slab are poured altogether then a course or
two of block is laid to raise the wood high enough above grade.
That may or may not fly in your area, depending on the depth
of the frost line.
There is a material called soil cement. This is made by tilling
dry cement into the soil, then wetting and compacting it. This
may or may not be viable for you depending on the composition
of the soil. I think it works best for soil with a high clay content,
OK for high sand content, and not very well at all for high humus
Popular science did an article on soil cement, maybe 35
years ago. It is the kind of thing you might find in back
issues of Mother Jones, though I do not recall specifically
seeing it there. There were one or more US government
studies done (probably by the USDA) that might provide
This sounds like the sort of thing you're looking for, low
tech, low maintenance, costly in sweat but cheap in money.
I have NO personal experience with soil cement so if you try
it, let me know how it works out. ;-)
The key to doing a slab yourself is to either have good technique
and a sufficient number of competent helpers, or good technique
and only do a small section at a time. There is no substitute
for good technique. If the cement sets before it is level and
smooth, you're screwed. I'd start with a section not larger than
4 foot by 4 foot, so I could bust it up if I botched it, and go
from there. The rebar will extend from one section to the
next so you done;t have to worry (excesively) about differential
Working with cement is not too difficult but you need to research
it well and understand the parameters to avoid disaster.
Very fun stuff. Not as much fun as wood, but done right,
it lasts longer.
Could I do a 4x4 section at a time as you say? I mean square off and
form the entire 24x32 area then finishe the entire area by squaring
that off into 4x4 sections? Would it looke right? How do you ensure
each 4x4 area is the same height as the rest? Could I use sack crete?
I will read up on soil cement.
I'm guessing this is in response to my comments.
The answers lie in using the right techniques to make the result
come out as you want. My parent's garage floor was poured in
two sections, I'm not sure exactly why.
When you read up on cement work you will read about very simple
tool called a 'screed'. Proper use of a screed is the key to getting
Cement is caustic it will burn your skin, given prolonged contact.
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