Constructing a sturdy shed floor is a critical part of erecting any storage shed. The floor acts as the foundation for the entire structure, supporting the walls and roof. A poorly built shed floor can result in a shaky or structurally unsound shed.
Additionally, a floor that is not level or does not drain properly can lead to water damage and mold growth inside the shed. Following some basic guidelines and using quality building materials will ensure that your shed’s floor is long-lasting.
Choosing the Right Materials
The most common materials for constructing shed floors include:
- Concrete – Concrete provides an extremely solid and durable surface. However, poured concrete can be more expensive and requires some expertise to work with. Concrete slab kits are easier to install but not quite as sturdy.
- Treated plywood – Plywood is more affordable and easier for DIY builds. Use pressure-treated plywood rated for ground contact. The thickness should be at least 3/4″ for optimum durability.
- Plastic lumber – Plastic lumber, such as Trex decking, makes a great shed floor. It won’t rot, warp or splinter like wood. But it is usually more expensive than plywood.
- Pea gravel – A gravel base topped with pavers or blocks can also be used. Pea gravel offers excellent drainage. Be sure to include edging to contain the gravel.
Consider your budget, DIY skill level, and the size of the shed when deciding on flooring materials. Talk to an expert at your local home improvement store for advice specific to your situation.
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Preparing the Ground
Installing the floor on a proper base is crucial to prevent settling issues over time. Start by excavating and leveling the ground where the shed will sit. Remove any grass, roots and large rocks. Compact the soil thoroughly.
For sheds up to 10′ x 10′, dig down 4″ and lay a 2″- 4″ gravel sub-base. Use crushed stone gravel commonly called road base or #57 stone.
Compact the gravel with a hand tamper or plate compactor. This creates a sub-base that drains well and prevents frost heaving in winter.
Larger sheds may require a thicker 6″- 8″ sub-base, along with buried concrete piers extending below the frost line. Consult local codes for requirements.
Make sure the sub-base is perfectly level across the entire shed footprint. Use a 2×4 with a spirit level to check for any low spots that need more gravel.
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Installing Floor Joists
The most affordable and DIY-friendly foundation is to build the floor just like a deck using pressure-treated joists and plywood.
To start, mark the outline for the shed with stakes and mason’s line. Allow 12″ – 18″ of extra space around the perimeter of the shed for overhang and trimming.
Lay 2×4 or 2×6 joist boards inside the outline spaced 16″ – 24″ on center. Use exterior-grade galvanized nails or deck screws to attach an outer rim joist all around the perimeter.
Check diagonal measurements to ensure the joist frame is square. Also verify that the joists are level across each span. Shim any low spots with composite decking shims prior to installing the flooring boards.
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Adding the Floor Decking
With a solid joist frame in place, you’re ready to deck the floor. Most DIY shed floors use standard 3/4″ pressure-treated plywood. For better weather resistance, look for plywood rated for above ground use.
Cut plywood sheets to size and lay them over the joists in a brickwork pattern. Leave a 1/8″ gap between boards to allow for expansion. Fasten the sheets with galvanized or ceramic-coated deck screws placed every 6″ along panel edges and every 12″ in the field.
Work outward from one end, completing one section at a time. This prevents the cumulative weight from shifting the joists.
If desired, a second layer of plywood can be added at a 45 degree angle. Attach with construction adhesive and screws. The plywood underlayment combined with the diagonal layer creates a remarkably rigid floor.
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To help the floor shed water, brush on a coating of exterior penetrating wood sealant. Allow it to dry fully before continuing with shed construction.
Install exterior skirting or trim boards around the shed’s perimeter. This gives the shed a more finished look and prevents critters from crawling underneath.
The gap between the floor framing and ground should have good airflow. Add vents or mesh screening to promote air circulation and prevent moisture buildup.
Building a sturdy shed floor does not have to be difficult or excessively expensive. With the right planning and techniques, even homeowners with basic DIY skills can construct a shed floor that will last for many years to come.
Taking the time to properly prepare the ground and using quality building materials are the keys to success.
Q: What is the best material for a shed floor?
A: The most popular options are pressure-treated plywood, plastic lumber, concrete slabs, and pea gravel. Plywood is affordable and easy to work with.
Plastic lumber withstands the elements well without rotting. Concrete offers the most durability. Pea gravel provides good drainage.
Q: How thick should the plywood be for a shed floor?
A: 3/4″ pressure-treated plywood is usually recommended for shed floors. Some may opt for two layers with the bottom layer on a diagonal for extra strength. For heavier storage sheds, 5/8″ or even 1″ plywood can provide more support.
Q: Do you need a gravel base under a shed floor?
A: It’s highly recommended to install 4″-8″ of compacted gravel beneath the floor. This prevents settling and heaving from frost. It also helps level any uneven spots and improves drainage under the shed.
Q: What is the correct joist spacing for a shed floor?
A: Joists are typically spaced 16″ to 24″ in the center. 2x4s or 2x6s are commonly used. The exact size depends on the span and weight loads. Follow building codes for joist sizing requirements.
Q: How much space should be left around the shed for trimming?
A: It’s recommended to leave 12″ – 18″ of excess flooring around the perimeter. This allows space for exterior trim boards or skirting while keeping them out of direct contact with the ground.