What is the key to a long-lasting building? The foundation. Your building, whether it is a shed, house, or warehouse, must be built on a solid material for it to last. If you get a storage shed, cabin, or portable garage, a good foundation is crucial to the performance of the building. This article discusses the importance of foundations, what types are best, and steps on DIY shed foundations!
Why Do I Need A Shed Foundation?
Does Every Shed Size Need A Foundation?
What Is The Difference Between A Shed Base And A Shed Foundation?
If you are new to the whole shed-buying process, it’s overwhelming to try and figure out the difference between a shed base and a shed foundation. There is a significant difference between the two. A shed base is the wooden frame on which the entire shed is built. It gives the basic framework for the shed. This means that the runners and the flooring are what make up the shed base.
A shed foundation is the prepared area on which the shed lies. A foundation can be made of gravel, cement, or many other materials. This creates an even surface for the shed to evenly distribute the weight of the shed.
The base of the shed sits directly on top of the shed foundation; together, the base and the foundation provide a strong flooring area.
At Beachy Barns, we build our portable sheds with bases made of treated 4×4 lumber to give our buildings a longlasting and sturdy base. We then recommend our customers to make a good shed foundation, ensuring that your building will stand the test of time.
Does A Plastic Shed Need The Same Shed Foundation As A Custom Built Shed?
Because plastic sheds are often lightweight and cheaply made, most people often do not install the same shed foundation as they would with a custom shed. In our experience, plastic sheds do not last long enough to make a good shed foundation worth it, so it is probably not worth the time or materials necessary to make a good foundation. However, even plastic sheds will last longer if you set them on a gravel foundation or something similar.
What Is The Cheapest Shed Base Option?
Gravel shed foundations are the cheapest foundation option that also provides a durable and sturdy solution. There are cheaper alternatives, but they come with the downside of not being reliable. A foundation of plastic pallets is cheap, but will not give you a quality result. Especially if you do most of the work yourself, a gravel shed foundation is the optimal choice.
What Garden Shed Foundation Is The Easiest To Do On Your Own?
Gravel garden shed foundations are the easiest to do on your own with limited equipment. There are some garden shed “foundations” that are easy to install but don’t make very good foundations, such as deck blocks or a plastic grid.
What Shed Base Is Best For Water Drainage?
The best shed foundation for water drainage is a gravel foundation using washed gravel. Washed gravel allows the water to drain through the foundation into the ground beneath. Regular gravel can work as well, but will sometimes cake up and become semi-impermeable, causing water to pool up around the shed base if it rains heavily.
What Are The Best Garden Shed Foundation Options For Central Ohio?
There are many different types of shed foundations that you can install on your property, but they are not all created equal. There are several factors that are important when choosing a shed foundation to ensure that you have the correct one for you.
First of all, a shed foundation needs to be solid. If you place a shed right on the ground, it may settle at one spot or the other, causing your shed to twist over time. A material like concrete blocks may make a solid foundation most of the time, but you will have problems if they crack or crumble. The best shed foundations are solid and remain sturdy over time.
Second, shed foundations should be able to drain water. If you have water standing around the base of the shed, the moisture will harm the shed over time. Additionally, standing water forms ice during the winter and can cause slipping.
Third, the amount of money and time to spend is important to consider. If you are hoping to do it all yourself, you may choose one over another depending on what your skills are.
The fourth factor is location. Where your shed foundation is located may determine which one you choose. If you are in a swampy area, you will want one that elevates your shed; however, if your shed is on a slope you will want one that is easy to make level.
We are going to take a look at the three best shed foundations for central Ohio. Many other types will do the job, but in our experience, these will outperform the rest. All of these will do a decent job for each of the previously mentioned factors.
If you are looking specifically for a shed for your backyard, check out our Available Inventory or read our articles on 8×10 Storage Sheds, Custom Built Portable Garages, or Everything You Need To Know About 10×10 Sheds.
Using a gravel pad for a shed base is the best option for your shed foundation. Gravel is permeable and allows water to drain through it without eroding the foundation or pooling up. Gravel will also keep your shed at ground level and is a good option if you are building a shed foundation on a sloped surface.
Gravel shed foundations provide good support for the shed because the shed base touches the foundation equally. This prevents your shed base from warping or settling because the weight is spread out evenly.
How To Install A Gravel Foundation
1. Site Preparation
The first step is to prepare the area where you want your portable shed foundation to be and remove any brush or other debris. Once the spot is clear, mark off the area using stakes and string.
If the area is relatively flat, the process should be fairly straightforward. If you want the top of the foundation to be level with the ground, you will need to dig the dirt out. You can do this by hand, although it is easier with machinery. We recommend using 4-6 inches of stone for the small size shed and 8” for a large shed. For a medium-sized shed, dig out 6 inches of dirt to place 6 inches of gravel.
If your shed is on a downhill slope, then you will want to build up the backend. You can build a retaining wall using treated 4x6s and filling in with stone until you have a level surface to pour the concrete on.
If you are placing your shed on an uphill slope, you will want to dig out the back end until you have a flat surface. Use a retaining wall to keep the dirt from filling in up against the shed once you have it installed.
Once you dig out the foundation, run a tamper over it to make sure the dirt is well compacted. If you would like a treated 4×6 lumber border, now is the time to install that. You may need to put blocks underneath before you put the stone in to make sure that the top of of the 4x6s is level with where you want the top of the stone to be.
Pour stone into the foundation area and tamp it well to make sure that it won’t settle at all. Your shed foundation is now ready for a shed.
Concrete Pad Foundations
Note: We recommend that you use a broom finish on the pad to prevent making any slippery spots. This is especially true if you add walkways or an additional concrete pad to park vehicles or equipment beside your shed.
Concrete Pier Foundations
Concrete piers can make an excellent foundation for your portable building. Using a combination of concrete and gravel, a concrete pier foundation uses the sturdiness of concrete and adds the drainage of gravel to create your shed foundation. A concrete pier is a “post” of concrete that is placed at strategic places throughout the foundation. The rest of the foundation is gravel, allowing for good drainage and support.
Concrete pier foundations are best used where the ground is flat or almost flat. If the ground is sloped, we recommend using a concrete pad or gravel for your shed foundation.
If your township requires frost-proof shed foundations, this is a great option as the concrete piers will reach to below the frost level to create a solid base.
1. Site Preparation
Find the spot where you want to place your foundation and make sure that you clear the area. Mark off the space with stakes and string before you start excavating. We recommend making the foundation slightly larger than the shed, similar to the shed in the picture above.
If you have a 12 x 20 portable shed, the foundation should be around 14 x 22 to the outside edges.
Once you have it all mapped out, you can begin the digging process. If you would like the foundation to be all below grade, dig out the entire foundation area around 4-6 inches or deeper, depending on how thick you want the stone layer to be. If you want the stone base to be above the grade, you can skip digging out the entire area.
You are now ready to dig the piers. You will want them to line up with the runners on the shed base; you may need to contact your shed builder in order to know for sure. Figure out exactly where they should be and mark them with paint.
3. Pour Concrete
Once you have the piers dug, it is time to pour the concrete. Using bags of concrete or ordering concrete from the quarry, fill the holes up to the level that you want your shed to sit. Because your shed will sit directly on these piers, they should stick above the dirt grade. You may need to use forms to hold the concrete or Sonotube or something similar.
Your piers need to be level which can be difficult. A laser is the best way to make them level, but if you do not have one, a level and string will work. Drive in stakes on both sides of the shed and run a string at the height that you want the piers to be. You can use the level to adjust the string to be where it needs to be.
Once the concrete is set up, you can remove the forms. If you would like a 4×6 treated post as a border around the edge of the foundation, now is the time to install that. The fill in the area around the piers with crushed stone. Make sure that the stone is on the same level as the top of the piers after you tamp the stone. Once you are done with this step, you can backfill around the foundation and get ready to set your shed.
Is A Gravel Shed Foundation A Good Shed Foundation Option?
A gravel shed foundation is the best option that is available because of the versatility that it affords, how it absorbs water, and the support that it provides the shed. A gravel foundation is easy to install on a slope or on a flat area or any other area you need. Because water is absorbed and drains through the stone, a gravel foundation is the best when it comes to water runoff and preventing puddles of water around the shed base. Gravel foundations also spread the weight of the shed out over a wide area, preventing settling and warping.
Are Concrete Shed Foundations Worth The Money?
Concrete shed foundations will provide you with the most durable and sturdy foundation, giving your portable building a base that will last for years to come. It will definitely pay off to install a good foundation for your shed. Most people will eventually regret trying to cut corners when it comes to cheap foundations.
Can I Put My Shed Directly On The Ground?
No. If you place your shed directly on the ground, your shed will most likely begin to settle at various places, causing the shed to warp. Also, your shed will absorb more moisture from the soil that it is sitting on. Additionally, animals will make their home underneath and burrow tunnels around the area, causing your shed to settle faster. It is not a good idea to skip a foundation for your prebuilt shed.
Are Cinder Blocks A Good Primary Shed Foundation?
They can be. Cinder blocks are an easy and cheap option, but will not provide a sturdy and dependable foundation for your shed or garage. Because the weight is focused on a few focal points, they often tend to settle at those spots. They can crack or crumble and may need to be replaced, especially over a long period of time. Cinder blocks are fine for a short-term solution, but will need upkeep as a long-term shed foundation.