How to Build a Shed Base

August 5, 2014 by
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Storage shed 4000 lincoln How to Build a Shed Base

 

Building a shed may seem like a daunting task to a DIY novice, but fear no more, because by following these simple steps you’ll have a level and sturdy base for your new shed in no time…

Constructing the foundation for your garden building is a fairly hassle-free task for a single person to complete, but when it comes to actually building the shed, we do recommend an extra person is on hand for lifting and placing roof and wall panels in place.

Note: Planning permission is normally not required for a garden building, however, if you live in a conservation area or the building could intrude on a neighbours garden, you may wish to check with neighbours or local council before construction. These methods can be used to create the foundation for a wooden shed base, a metal shed base and a plastic shed base.

Before You Start:

Consider the best site for the your garden building in terms of:

  • General access (for delivery of garden building, access to all sides for maintenance and applying wood treatments etc.)
  • Surrounding area conditions (Foliage, young trees that may grow in the future etc.)
  • Natural light (a light area is best if the building is to be used as a workshop for example)
  • The view of your garden from the planned area (for summerhouses etc.)
  • Consider whether you intend to run an electrical supply to the building.

Which Base is Right for You?

It’s crucial to provide a level and dry foundation for your shed. It is not practical to assemble a shed on an unsound base, otherwise you are running the risk that screw holes connecting the wall panels will not line up. For larger buildings, especially where the shed will be used as a workshop, a full concrete base is your best option. However, generally there are two types of shed bases suitable for a garden building, consider which is best for you and your shed needs:

  • A Concrete Base
  • A Paving Slab Base

Whichever method is more suitable for you, we recommend that you have a 2-inch (5 cm) lip around the base of your garden building. To calculate the size of base required for the particular building you wish to build, add 4 inch to the overall base dimensions to ensure an adequate base size for your shed. Many sheds come with a timber shed base foundation, but this needs to be laid on top of the concrete or slab base.

A Step-By-Step Guide: Concrete Base Method

Tools Required:

  • Pegs and stringapl0129 How to Build a Shed Base
  • Building sand
  • Standard cement (All-in Ballast, cement & water)
  • Timber for base formwork
  • Tape measure
  • Spade
  • Sweeping brush

Step 1

Decide where to position your shed in an optimal space, allow enough distance from hedges or fences for easy access to all sides. Using pegs and string, mark out the base 2 inch (5 cm) larger than the area of the building on each side. Finally, measure diagonally across both sides to ensure the area is square.

base2 How to Build a Shed BaseStep 2

A concrete base requires 3 inch (7.5 cm) of compacted hardcore (all-in ballast or other crushed rubble/gravel) underneath the 3 inch (7.5 cm) concrete layer. The base can be level with the ground or raised above it. If you want it to be level, excavate the top earth to 6 inch (15 cm), to allow for the hardcore layer and 3 inches (7.5 cm) of concrete. Level the area with a rake and spade and remove the pegs.

Step 3

Set up levelled formwork. This involves measuring, cutting and fitting timber, to the shape of the base in order to contain the concrete (as shown in the diagram).Check diagonal measurements to ensure the formwork is square and level, as this will determine whether your shed base is 100% sturdy.Next, spread a layer of well compacted hardcore (all-in ballast or crushed gravel) and cover with a liberal amount of sand. This needs be well compacted and flattened down, preferably with a compacting tool or roller.

base3 How to Build a Shed BaseStep 4

Now, mix concrete using one part cement to five parts all-in one ballast, or use bags of dry-mixed concrete and just add water. Remember small amounts of water should be added at a time and mixed into the concrete. Be careful as excessive amounts may make the cement too sloppy and it needs to stay reasonably dry.Spread the concrete evenly and slightly above the formwork. This can be then levelled off with a long straight edge of timber resting on the formwork using a sawing motion slowly (as shown below) over the entire surface of the freshly laid concrete.

base3 How to Build a Shed BaseIf wet weather is forecast, cover the concrete with polythene for 24-hours. In warm weather, cover the base with damp sacks and sprinkle them with water over the 24-hour period, this will ensure the drying concrete will not shrink and crack.The result is a smooth, sound, level base. The perfect foundation for the construction of a garden building.

A Step-By-Step Guide: Slab Base Method

Tools Required:

  • Pegs and string
  • Flat Face Paving Slabsdownload How to Build a Shed Base
  • Building sand
  • Standard cement (All-in Ballast, cement & water)
  • Rake
  • Tape measure
  • Spade
  • Rubber mallet
  • Sweeping brush

base1 How to Build a Shed BaseStep 1

Decide where to position the shed in an optimal space, allowing enough distance from hedges or fences for easy access to all sides. Using pegs and string, mark out the base 2 inch (5 cm) larger than the area of the building on each side. Finally, test the size by measuring the two diagonals to ensure the area is square.

base4 How to Build a Shed BaseStep 2

Strip the topsoil and dig out to a depth of approx. 2.5 inch (7 cm) to accommodate the base. Level the area with a rake and remove the pegs.

Step 3

Mix together one part cement to eight parts building sand for a dry sand and cement mix. Spread this evenly, ensuring that the mix sits approx. 4 cm in depth. Now, rake this to a level.

base4 How to Build a Shed BaseStep 4

Starting from one corner and working outward, lay the slabs by tapping down on the centre of each slab with a rubber mallet. Using a spirit level, ensure all the slabs are square, level and firmly butted together for a solid base.

Step 5

The completed base should now be level and square. Do one final check with a long straight edge piece of timber to check if the base is level from each corner, and also measure the diagonals to finally check the base is square. Brush off any excess dry sand/cement mix, which could hinder the levelling of the shed.The result is a smooth, sound, level base. The perfect foundation for the construction of a garden building.Note: You can also buy a plastic shed base, these are formed in a mesh with interlocking holes that can then be filled with stones from your local DIY store. Plastic shed bases may be a more cost effective alternative, however, they do lack the character of the more traditional concrete or paving slab base method. There are also

Insulation in Your Shed

Before building your shed on your newly constructed base, you may want to consider insulation for your garden building. Most of the heat lost from a shed is lost through the flooring on shed bases, so you may want to think of installing some insulating materials under the floor of your shed before constructing it. You can find out more about how to insulate your shed in our guide: How to Insulate a Shed. You can also watch the quick video with Nick below

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Shaun Wheatcroft is the community blogger of Garden Buildings Direct

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